Bill, 52, is a Gay Man Living in a Small Town in Cambria County #AMPLIFY

Gay Cambria County

 

Name: Bill

Age:  52

County of Residence: Cambria, formerly Indiana

Preferred Pronouns: he, him

How do you describe your identity? A white gay man who is not butch or fem.

Please describe your coming out experience. Where did you find support? What challenges did you face? I never formally came out to most family members. Over time it became obvious but not mentioned. My father is very prejudice and homophobic. Although I am not forcing it down his throat, I am not hiding my current relationship either.

How would you describe yourself NOW in terms of “being out”? I am out to coworkers, family and friends.

Tell me about the first LGBTQ person whom you met. What impact did they have on your life? I first met Stephan when I was 17. He was younger than myself but already out. We became friends and he introduced me to the community on campus and to social events held in the area.

Past or present, favorite LGBTQ character or creator in television, film or literature? Please tell us why. I enjoyed the fun, light portrayal of the LGBTQ community as seen on Will and Grace. The issues were addressed but not negatively.

How do you stay informed about LGBTQ issues? Internet and social media.

Describe your geographical community.  This is a small town. We still collect our mail from the post office.

Describe your local or regional LGBTQ community. My partner and I basically stay to ourselves. The community exists here and we know many people but are really not close with anyone. There is not much going on here as far as events or functions for the LGBTQ community. There is a bar close by but we have never been there as a couple. We have been together for six years. So, I haven’t been there since before then.

Have you ever experienced discrimination based on your identity? Specifically, in a job setting, when applying for housing or while in public. I was asked to not patronize a local bar. Someone had said I was gay. The owners asked me to leave.

Are there issues impacting your LGBTQ neighbors that aren’t visible or part of the local dialogue? I know of no other LGBTQ living here.

What would you like to see elected officials do to improve life for LGBTQ Pennsylvanians? End discrimination by employers and land lords. Put protections in place for our right to a fair and equal life.

Please share a lived experience, anecdote or fact about life as an LGBTQ person in your community. The last time I went to a church service the preacher said “social and moral decay is all around us. Look at the homosexuals.” Obviously church is not where we should be taught hate. I have never gone back.

Beyond discrimination, what other barriers create challenges for your LGBTQ neighbors? I see financial challenges being faced by a trans gendered friend as she struggles to keep employment.

What LGBTQ friendly resources are available for your neighbors? I know of nothing in this area. Even PFLAG no loner exists here.

What is your greatest fear for the LGBTQ community in Western Pennsylvania? Retaliation for our advances.

What is your greatest hope for the LGBTQ community in Western Pennsylvania? Marriage equality is only the beginning towards establishing equality for all. My hope would be that we all be treated fairly and equally.

What can allies do to support your LGBTQ community? Educate and inform so there is less hate.

How can gay men and lesbians support the bisexual, transgender and queer members of our community? Together we are stronger.

What motivated you to take part in this project? I have participated in other surveys for the LGBTQ community. This is a way to share information.

Finally, what question should I have asked? Please also share your answer. Do you feel safe in your community? Not always but I can take care of myself.

Thank you, Bill.

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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