As part of our role as the Official Social Media Sponsor of the ReelQ LGBTQ Film Festival, we are featuring a few Q&A’s with those involved. Today, we are delighted to share the AMPLIFY contribution from Brian who is hosting a fundraiser for the organization on Saturday evening. Be sure to check out Brian’s cultural talk magazine, Burgh Vivant.
County of Residence: Beaver, formerly Fayette County, Allegheny County
Preferred Pronouns: him, he, his
How do you describe your identity? I’m an old soul. Someone who claimed to be psychic told me that once. Otherwise, a gentleman, a scholar, an artist, and a communicator. A loyal friend. Fair and diplomatic. I strive to find humor and intrigue anywhere. An adventurer at heart.
Please describe your coming out experience. Where did you find support? What challenges did you face? I was blessed to have a painless and positive experience. My heart goes out to those who were not as fortunate.
How would you describe yourself NOW in terms of “being out”? Oh, I’m fine, thank you.
Tell me about the first LGBTQ person whom you met. What impact did they have on your life? Working as an actor in the Berkshires in my teens, I had the great good fortune of having, for lack of a better term, exceptional gay role models. Actors, directors, writers, poets, and artists who were considerably older than I, but treated me as an adult. In working with them and socializing with them I observed the challenges they had faced in life, and despite them, how they were so beautifully and unapologetically themselves. I remember being invited to their parties and social gatherings and seeing old people, young people, gay people, straight people, and people of all races and walks of life, celebrating and having a marvelous time. I distinctly remember observing one such party, saying to myself, “it’s okay to be whatever you want to be. If you are kind and accepting to others, you’ll never be without friends.”
Past or present, favorite LGBTQ character or creator in television, film or literature? Please tell us why. I have several favorites in regard to creators in film and television. Though they’ve never publicly confirmed their LGBTQ status, and I certainly won’t presume to do so here.
How do you stay informed about LGBTQ issues? The news and social media. Also, I’m very thankful for like-minded friends of mine who are much more closely tuned in to these issues than I. I always learn things from them and can look forward to a lively conversation.
Describe your geographical community. Pittsburgh? I feel its very LGBTQ friendly. I realize that my viewpoint may be skewed however. I feel that having lived as an artist among artists, I may have been sheltered and have a biased opinion.
Describe your local or regional LGBTQ community. I perceive the LGBTQ community in Pittsburgh as supportive. I’ve observed many times the public outcry over an injustice done. This may not be fully realized yet in terms of local and state legislature, but its coming. The support is here. Its coming. I really do believe that.
Have you ever experienced discrimination based on your identity? Specifically, in a job setting, when applying for housing or while in public. I have not.
Tell us about your access to health care in Western PA. Has it been LGBTQ competent (or not?) I have had no unpleasant experiences.
We want to AMPLIFY your story, too. Please take our Q&A using the online form!
Are there issues impacting your LGBTQ neighbors that aren’t visible or part of the local dialogue? There are activists and organizations at work in Pittsburgh that are working to bring these issues to light and to support. I’m sure there are issues impacting my LGBTQ neighbors that I am unaware of and could benefit from learning more about.
What would you like to see elected officials do to improve life for LGBTQ Pennsylvanians? Protect LGBTQ individuals from workplace discrimination. Pennsylvania is shamefully behind on this one.
Please share a lived experience, anecdote or fact about life as an LGBTQ person in your community. While dining out with a friend recently, I was doing some frivolous tongue-in-cheek complaining about being single. The 8 year old at the next table must have overheard. As his parents rose to leave and pay the bill, he stopped at my table, placed his hand on my arm, and said very seriously, “It gets better.”
Beyond discrimination, what other barriers create challenges for your LGBTQ neighbors? Lack of awareness on the part of the community at large as to what those challenges are.
What LGBTQ friendly resources are available for your neighbors? The Gay and Lesbian Community Center of Pittsburgh, The Persad Center, and the Pittsburgh AIDS Task Force.
What is your greatest fear for the LGBTQ community in Western Pennsylvania? That despite its tireless efforts towards being inclusive, it will become exclusive.
What is your greatest hope for the LGBTQ community in Western Pennsylvania? Recognition and acceptance. Great progress has been made, but there is still some road to travel.
What can allies do to support your LGBTQ community? VOTE ACCORDINGLY.
How can gay men and lesbians support the bisexual, transgender and queer members of our community? Listen. Accept. Embrace.
What motivated you to take part in this project? Sue Kerr asked me, and I have great respect for Sue as a voice for the LGBTQ Community in Pittsburgh.
Finally, what question should I have asked? Please also share your answer. We’re good, thanks!
Thank you, Brian!
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.