Norman, 67, is a Gay Black Male of African Descent #AMPLIFY

Gay Black Pittsburgh

Name:  Norman

Age:  67

County of Residence: Allegheny

Preferred Pronouns: he/his/him

How do you describe your identity? gay (same gender loving) Black male of African Descent

Please describe your coming out experience. Where did you find support? What challenges did you face? My coming out experience happened in the late 60’s with my sisters when I was in my teens right out of high school. My youngest sister was listening to me on the phone talking with a male friend about some young man or another being so cute. She told 3 of my older sisters who pulled me into one of our bedrooms to tell me about the dangers of having sex with men, (and this was before AIDS even appeared) that it was against the bible and on and on. I let them know that I was keeping myself safe. The conversation ended there.

The support I found was with a group of male and female friends I made in college. The challenges then were keeping my attractions to men private (I never came out to my parents and I never hid my gay friends from them either), ducking professors in gay bars at that time and making sure we all kept ourselves safe out in public.

How would you describe yourself NOW in terms of “being out”? I am out and proud and loved.

Tell me about the first LGBTQ person whom you met. What impact did they have on your life? The first LGBTQ person I met was a very soft spoken male friend of my parents and older brothers who I perceived was gay because I don’t know if he ever was open about his sexual orientation to my parents or my brothers and certainly not to me. His presence in my home and the love he received from my parents and siblings provided me with an awareness that I also as a gay person (even though I did not know at 10-11 years of age that that was what I would later “label” myself as) would be accepted by my family. This person was then and is still, open about his orientation only to certain friends and I am lucky to be one of them.

Past or present, favorite LGBTQ character or creator in television, film or literature? Please tell us why. Larry Kramer.. The Normal Heart. this is one of the most powerful films about LGBTQ people, their strength, their love for each other and their battles with others and themselves. 

How do you stay informed about LGBTQ issues? Friends, newsletters, organizations in Pgh. facebook.

Describe your geographical community.  I am in a small somewhat secluded part of North Oakland.I have been here for just over 20 years. I lived here 17 1/2 years with my partner who has been deceased for 19 years There are at least 7-8 LGBTQ individuals (2 sets of couples) that live in my immediate neighborhood. We all seem to be comfortable and friendly with our cisgender neighbors.

Describe your local or regional LGBTQ community. Progressing, at times dysfunctional, at times cohesive, at times loving, and at times successful,

Have you ever experienced discrimination based on your identity? Specifically, in a job setting, when applying for housing or while in public. Yes, for a brief period during my teaching but it was quickly put to rest by my principal at that time who gave me her full support.

Are there issues impacting your LGBTQ neighbors that aren’t visible or part of the local dialogue? Not aware of any issues at this time.

What would you like to see elected officials do to improve life for LGBTQ Pennsylvanians? Pass a comprehensive non discrimination equality act for the entire state.

Please share a lived experience, anecdote or fact about life as a LGBTQ person in your community.  One thing I know for sure is most people do not like change or differences because it causes craziness and confusion with what they have already learned. Sometimes you have to go slower to pick things apart to add new beliefs and awareness and sometimes you have to say “fuck it” and knock down the doors and walls.
If change comes with love it seems to be more easily accepted.

Beyond discrimination, what other barriers create challenges for your LGBTQ neighbors? Misunderstanding and unfamiliarity with issues and realities such as same gender attraction, gender expression and gender identity.

What LGBTQ friendly resources are available for your neighbors? At this time there is nothing that does not require driving or a long walk. But, within at least 2 miles is GLCC, Persad, PFLAG mtgs. once a month,PATF, Pitt Men’s Study, Children’s Hosbital ‘s Trans children programs Western Psych., Magee Trans Programs

What is your greatest fear for the LGBTQ community in Western Pennsylvania? That a comprehensive non discrimination policy will not be a common goal throughout the LGBTQ communities.

What is your greatest hope for the LGBTQ community in Western Pennsylvania? That a comprehensive non discrimination policy will be a common goal throughout the LGBTQ communities and will be passed.

What can allies do to support your LGBTQ community? be verbal , proactive, loving and caring

How can gay men and lesbians support the bisexual, transgender and queer members of our community? accept them as they are.

What motivated you to take part in this project? I read the input from a friend and decided to take part on his request.

Finally, what question should I have asked? Please also share your answer.  None

Thank you, Norman.

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.

You can read the other Q&A responses here.  AMPLIFY! LGBTQ is a project of Most Wanted Fine Art and Pittsburgh Lesbian Correspondents.

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