Name: Chrissy Costa
County of Residence: Allegheny County, formerly Chicago
How do you describe your identity? Lesbian
Please describe your coming out experience. Where did you find support? What challenges did you face? When I accepted my sexuality I sought a therapist to help me come out to my family. I had become distant to them as I struggled for several years with not wanting to be gay as well as worrying about how they would handle it. When I was finally ready to tell my mom I went over one evening for dinner. I was looking for the perfect time to blurt it out but procrastinated most of that day. As I was on her front porch ready to leave that evening I decided I could no longer withhold and I told her I had something to share. She looked at me curiously and asked if I was pregnant. I laughed and said I was not. Then she asked, “Are you gay?” I said yes. There was a long pause as she looked away from me up into the sky. it felt like hours as I anxiously awaited her response. I was hoping she would tell me it was okay and that she still loved me, but I was afraid she was going to tell me she was disappointed. Finally she looked back at me and said, “I could never eat pussy.” Relieved and yet astonished I replied, “Well, you don’t have to.” She then told me she was just happy that I wasn’t pregnant. And that was that. A week later we were playing pool at Donny’s and she was meeting my friends.
How would you describe yourself NOW in terms of “being out”? I am very out and comfortable with who I am.
Tell me about the first LGBTQ person whom you met. What impact did they have on your life? The first gay man I met was a friend of my mom’s. He was 20 years my senior and was wild, funny and a bit of trouble. He took me everywhere. He was also the first person I came out to. Looking back I realize how instrumental he was to me as I had no idea where to find others like myself.
Past or present, favorite LGBTQ character or creator in television, film or literature? Please tell us why. My favorite LGBTQ character of all time is Peppermint Patty. Why? Because we’ve all been a Peppermint Patty, and we’ve all had a Marcie.
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How do you stay informed about LGBTQ issues? I’m a contributor at QueerPgh. I read several LGBTQ magazines, blogs, and online forums. I also surround myself with activist friends.
Describe your geographical community. I currently live in Braddock, a borough located in the eastern suburbs of Pittsburgh. It’s a community rebuilding itself and I love that I am here at this particular time. Mayor John Fetterman supports the LGBTQ community.
Describe your local or regional LGBTQ community. LGBTQ Pittsburgh has come a long way since my early coming-out days.
Have you ever experienced discrimination based on your identity? Specifically, in a job setting, when applying for housing or while in public. No. I’ve been fortunate.
Tell us about your access to health care in Western PA. Has it been LGBTQ competent (or not?) No response.
Are there issues impacting your LGBTQ neighbors that aren’t visible or part of the local dialogue? I don’t feel that we support each other enough within the LGBTQ community.
What would you like to see elected officials do to improve life for LGBTQ Pennsylvanians? Pass anti-discrimination laws
Please share a lived experience, anecdote or fact about life as an LGBTQ person in your community. I’ve always considered myself to be progressive but recently a lesbian friend and I attended a meeting and were asked to sign in with our preferred pronouns. We looked at each other a little confused as this was the first for both of us. I added “Ms.” in front of my name and she added “Photographer” in front of hers. As a writer I realize I added a prefix and she added her job title, but we weren’t sure what was going on with the pronouns. Then there was a discussion on gender identities and sexual orientation as well as a list of new gender identities and I’m not going to lie, as someone with ADD I tapped out somewhere in the Cs. My friend and I, her being in her 50’s and me at 40, felt very old and out of touch. My point is, I’m sure we’re not alone. I hope as a community we can educate one another and keep a sense of humor along the way.
Beyond discrimination, what other barriers create challenges for your LGBTQ neighbors? Discrimination within the LGBTQ community itself.
What LGBTQ friendly resources are available for your neighbors? Persad, Delta Foundation, GLCC, Gay For Good, Dreams of Hope
What is your greatest fear for the LGBTQ community in Western Pennsylvania? The Trump Administration.
What is your greatest hope for the LGBTQ community in Western Pennsylvania? I’d love to see us become more supportive and inclusive with one another.
What can allies do to support your LGBTQ community? Show up. Speak up. Get involved.
How can gay men and lesbians support the bisexual, transgender and queer members of our community? We can start by acknowledging them.
What motivated you to take part in this project? I was asked to participate and am grateful for the opportunity to share a little of my own story as well.
Finally, what question should I have asked? Please also share your answer. I can’t think of any at the moment.
Thank you, Chrissy!
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AMPLIFY LGBTQ is a series of blog posts designed to give a “signal boost” to the voices of our LGBTQ neighbors throughout Western Pennsylvania. These are glimpses in to the lived experiences of LGBTQ people in Western Pennsylvania as told in their own voices.