County of Residence: Allegheny
Preferred Pronouns: They/He/She
How do you describe your identity? I identify as a queer trans gender non binary mermaid witch warrior.
Please describe your coming out experience. Where did you find support? What challenges did you face? I went to chatham college back when it was a women’s college. There were tons of amazing queer and trans people who went there and it was an incredibly supportive environment. At the same time it was hard to come out there because I never felt gay enough. In retrospect I wish I had been more gay while studying at Chatham.
How would you describe yourself NOW in terms of “being out”? Now being queer seems simple, obvious, and *knock on wood* easy. I surround myself with supportive people, queer friendly careers, and I have managed to educate my family and drastically change our relationship. My family is one of my greatest prides. They often thank me for helping them change and be more accepting and open and continue to learn from me and show support even when I have struggles in the queer community. Being trans is hard for me because while I feel very much male I also feel like a woman. I also feel like neither. At times I want to transition and other times I am completely happy being in this body. At this point I have accepted that my gender fluctuates and i have stopped doubting myself but it can be hard to be visible. Sometimes I have guilt for feeling safe in my female body. Sometimes I resent not being able to be seen as the person I am unless people really get to know me. I think I still have some growing to do in terms of my gender identity. I’m not really sure but I think that trans people who have paved the path for me to feel these feelings and know I can be supported is incredible and brave and revolutionary.
Tell me about the first LGBTQ person whom you met. What impact did they have on your life? The first gay woman I ever met was one of my bow best friends Beth. She was very flamboyant and social. My first experience is that I was intimidated by her and felt that I wasnt gay because I wasnt gay like her. Now we are both pleasantly queer in our own unique ways.
Past or present, favorite LGBTQ character or creator in television, film or literature? Please tell us why. I was just introduced to the clicks.. The lead singer of the clicks is such an amazing singer and inspiration. Jeanette winterson is an amazing queer writer who often subverts gender and writes incredible magical realism.
How do you stay informed about LGBTQ issues? I read articles about gender from ‘the gender therapist’ I like to study gender as a massage therapist and reiki practioner, I hope to specialize in working with clients who are queer and trans.
Describe your geographical community. I think its pretty queer friendly but the institutions in pittsburgh can be dangerous and unhealthy. Especially schools. The education, acceptance and representation of queer and trans, and non binary people is almost nonexistent. Schools in pittsburgh really exaggerate and promote heteronormativity. I would love to teach but I can’t handle the oppressive environment.
Describe your local or regional LGBTQ community. I have a great group of friends locally and across the US
Have you ever experienced discrimination based on your identity? Specifically, in a job setting, when applying for housing or while in public. I have been involved in a hate crime where my friend that I was holding hands with was threatened at gun point. There was a rally the next day and police arrested 4 or 5 protestors. The criminal was never found. I’m not sure they really tried that hard to find him.
Tell us about your access to health care in Western PA. Has it been LGBTQ competent (or not?) I dont partake in standard health care.
Are there issues impacting your LGBTQ neighbors that aren’t visible or part of the local dialogue? Yes, the issues facing queer POC’s are not given enough support by the local gay organizations in pgh. The work that queer people of color do is not recognized or financially supported enough. The delta foundation especially has problems.
What would you like to see elected officials do to improve life for LGBTQ Pennsylvanians? Quit their jobs. The government is garbage.
Please share a lived experience, anecdote or fact about life as an LGBTQ person in your community. Our lives are really vibrant, tragic, beautiful, and striving for freedom.
Beyond discrimination, what other barriers create challenges for your LGBTQ neighbors? misogyny, lack of accountability in the queer community, interpersonal conflict that harms the community, rape culture, the need for more resources to support people in healing.
What LGBTQ friendly resources are available for your neighbors? Online support is great. I hope to create a healing space someday in pittsburgh for queer people and eventually in the rural areas.
What is your greatest fear for the LGBTQ community in Western Pennsylvania? Queer and trans people not getting support therapeutically and financially. Feeling stuck and alone.
What is your greatest hope for the LGBTQ community in Western Pennsylvania? Moving to the rural areas and living off the land and healing.
What can allies do to support your LGBTQ community? Acknowledge queerness is normal and straightness is a facade.
How can gay men and lesbians support the bisexual, transgender and queer members of our community? Financially if u have it.
What motivated you to take part in this project? Sharing my story
Finally, what question should I have asked? Please also share your answer. None
Thank you, Lav.
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.