County of Residence: Allegheny, Butler county for a couple months when I first moved to PA. I’m originally from a small town in Michigan.
Preferred Pronouns: I’m a girl and a Morgan, but call me whatever you want.
How do you describe your identity? I’m just me. I’m a lesbian but that’s not all I am. I’m a software engineering student, soon to graduate. I’m a competitive personality that loves to cook, weight lift and run. I’m partially deaf. I’m an introvert who loves to live in a good book. I’m a girlfriend, a sister, an aunt and a daughter. I’m many things but these things just make me who I am. I am Morgan.
Please describe your coming out experience. Where did you find support? What challenges did you face? I didn’t come out until right before my senior year in high school. I first came out at camp. I was working as a camp counselor and one of the other counselors wouldn’t stop harassing me. He kept trying to kiss me and pick me up. Finally I had it. I told my boss that I’m gay and that the guy hitting on me was not flattering. My boss, who also had a PhD in ministry, inspired me to be who I was and be open about it. He also told the guy to lay off or he would be fired. The rest of that summer I got to be who I was without a problem. Then when i got home I outted myself with a social issues paper at school. Being in a small town and out was challenging. I got told that I would burn in hell multiple times. The church completely ostracized me and didn’t treat me the same. I lost friends, who thought I wanted them in ways I didn’t. And people kept calling me the lesbian at school. In that time I had met an older woman who I began to have relations with, that gave me more courage to be out. And I made new friends who completely supported me. When I stopped caring about what everyone was saying about me, I became happier.
How would you describe yourself NOW in terms of “being out”? I’m definitely a full blown proud lesbian. I’ve got the most beautiful girlfriend and I’m always proud to show her off. We kiss in public and hold hands. What other people think of me no longer matters to me.
Tell me about the first LGBTQ person whom you met. What impact did they have on your life? I grew up with a girl who had asked me if I could maybe be gay. We fooled around quite a bit in high school. Besides her I was mostly around gay guys at first. But they all helped me to be confident and not to be ashamed of who I am. They taught me to be comfortable in my skin.
Past or present, favorite LGBTQ character or creator in television, film or literature? Please tell us why. Ellen DeGeneres. Mostly her personality. I admire her ability to be outgoing and giving towards so many people. Her sense of style is pretty sweet too.
How do you stay informed about LGBTQ issues? I try to read the news and catch what’s going on. Sometimes my girlfriend and I discuss things and update each other on new news.
Describe your geographical community. Where I currently live isn’t exactly anti gay, people are not generally mean to me about it. But there really don’t seem to be any gay couples here. It’s mostly suburban white heterosexual family’s.
Describe your local or regional LGBTQ community. I live in suburbs. I’ve yet to see any other open gay couples out here.
Have you ever experienced discrimination based on your identity? Specifically, in a job setting, when applying for housing or while in public. I’ve had people state rudely and give disgusted looks at my girlfriend and I in public. But that’s not exactly discrimination. In the workplace I’ve had bosses and customers who have requested sexualized favors and harassed me over it but it was nothing that ever got out of control completely.
Tell us about your access to health care in Western PA. Has it been LGBTQ competent (or not?) I’ve got great insurance so that isn’t exactly an issue. But I did have an experience with a doctor who insisted I might be pregnant based off some symptoms i had when I went to the ER. When I told her I’m gay and definitely not pregnant, she was really rude about. I took her insistent pregnancy test, which was negative. The whole experience was uncomfortable.
Are there issues impacting your LGBTQ neighbors that aren’t visible or part of the local dialogue? I’m not too familiar with what other people go through around here. But in my direct area, it would be really nice if there were more gay friendly hangouts that are not bars or dance clubs. It would be nice to go somewhere and not be stared at the whole time.
What would you like to see elected officials do to improve life for LGBTQ Pennsylvanians? Be up open minded, make it so everyone has the same rights. And stop treating gay relationships like they are specialized relationships. We are the same as everyone else.
Please share a lived experience, anecdote or fact about life as an LGBTQ person in your community. Stop caring what everyone else thinks. At the end of the day, you have to be comfortable with yourself before you can be comfortable with anyone else.
Beyond discrimination, what other barriers create challenges for your LGBTQ neighbors? The fact that everyone puts a label on everything. Being introduced as the lesbian instead of just Morgan. I hate that lesbian is always the first describing word.
What LGBTQ friendly resources are available for your neighbors? I honestly don’t have anything.
What is your greatest fear for the LGBTQ community in Western Pennsylvania? That we won’t progress. That we will get comfortable and be ok with staying how we are.
What is your greatest hope for the LGBTQ community in Western Pennsylvania? To be able to go out and hold hands without it being a public spectacle. To be accepted.
What can allies do to support your LGBTQ community? Just be open minded
How can gay men and lesbians support the bisexual, transgender and queer members of our community? Be an advocate. Show support to the whole community without narrowing it down to just one group
What motivated you to take part in this project? I wanted to be a positive influence to someone else. You never know who is reading the story and what they might be going through.
Finally, what question should I have asked? Please also share your answer. I think you covered it mostly.
Thank you, Morgan.
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.