County of Residence: Washington
Preferred Pronouns: Feminine pronouns. She, her, etc.
How do you describe your identity? White, female, lesbian
Please describe your coming out experience. Where did you find support? What challenges did you face? I came out at 31 and I was married to a man at the time. I faced so much ridicule and judgement from family and so-called friends. The biggest response to “I’m gay” was “no you’re not.” I lost the person who was supposed to be my best friend. It was the hardest year of my life, coming to terms with myself and dealing with everyone else’s reactions. But the more time that passed, the more things healed. My family accepts me and they see how happy I am with my wife. I learned who my real friends at and I made some fantastic new ones. I found most of my support via online forums, the biggest one being Lavender Visions, which helps women who are in heterosexual marriages with coming out.
How would you describe yourself NOW in terms of “being out”? Happy and honest. When I came out I swore I would never lie about anything again, and I have kept to that. I’m in an incredible marriage with the woman of my dreams and my life makes so much more sense now. The freedom of being out and being honest is like flying!
Tell me about the first LGBTQ person whom you met. What impact did they have on your life? A boy from high school. I live in a small town where LGBT people stayed pretty closeted in the 90s, but I was already friends with this boy and him coming out didn’t make a difference to me. He was still the same person.
Past or present, favorite LGBTQ character or creator in television, film or literature? Please tell us why. I’ve always respected Ellen DeGeneres for breaking the mold in mainstream television. I also admire Melissa Etheridge as a musical figure.
How do you stay informed about LGBTQ issues? Online forums and blogs. Facebook groups.
Describe your geographical community. I live in a small town about 45 minutes south of Pittsburgh. I haven’t run into any problems with discrimination, fortunately.
Describe your local or regional LGBTQ community. I’m mostly familiar with the Delta Foundation.
Have you ever experienced discrimination based on your identity? Specifically, in a job setting, when applying for housing or while in public. No, and for that I am thankful. My wife, on the other hand, worked briefly for an establishment that was privately owned and she had to hide her sexuality for fear of getting fired.
Are there issues impacting your LGBTQ neighbors that aren’t visible or part of the local dialogue? Nothing I don’t all ready see being discussed.
What would you like to see elected officials do to improve life for LGBTQ Pennsylvanians? Put a very strong emphasis on workplace equality. Sexuality and gender should never be an issue.
Please share a lived experience, anecdote or fact about life as an LGBTQ person in your community. When my wife and I applied for our marriage license at the Washington County courthouse, marriage equality in PA had only been around for about five months. We were nervous going in, wondering how we would be treated, but as soon as we requested our marriage license, the clerks all congratulated us and they were very nice. The clerk who took our information actually apologized to us for the forms not being updated from still saying husband and wife.
Beyond discrimination, what other barriers create challenges for your LGBTQ neighbors? Having not had many negative experiences, I’m not sure what else outside the discrimination circle.
What LGBTQ friendly resources are available for your neighbors? Delta Foundation, free confidential STD testing at certain places in Pittsburgh, GLAAD, and even just the gay bars and clubs that provide a relaxed, comfortable atmosphere.
What is your greatest fear for the LGBTQ community in Western Pennsylvania? Workplace discrimination by private employers like my wife dealt with a couple years ago. Also, politicians trying to take away our rights.
What is your greatest hope for the LGBTQ community in Western Pennsylvania? The same as it is for the world; for discrimination based on sexuality, gender, race, religion, etc., to just stop.
What can allies do to support your LGBTQ community? Keep advertising and spreading the word.
How can gay men and lesbians support the bisexual, transgender and queer members of our community? Don’t discriminate against them. They deserve the same respect as humans as everyone else.
What motivated you to take part in this project? To have my voice heard as part of the LGBT community, which I am proud to be a part of.
Finally, what question should I have asked? Please also share your answer. I think you covered everything. 😊
Read the entire AMPLIFY LGBTQ Q&A archive.
AMPLIFY LGBTQ is a series of blog posts designed to give a “signal boost” to the voices of our LGBTQ neighbors throughout Western Pennsylvania. We are using a Q&A format and will minimize editing their responses.
Our intent is to highlight the voices of marginalized members of our community who are not always invited to the table or whose voices are not heard. These are glimpses in to the lived experiences of LGBTQ people in Western Pennsylvania as told in their own voices. If you would like to participate, please email me pghlesbian at gmail or visit the online Q&A.