County of Residence: Allegheny, previously Washington County.
How do you describe your identity? i am gay
Please describe your coming out experience. Where did you find support? What challenges did you face? my mother has not spoken to me for almost 20 years as a result, though she has known since i was 13. my father and i are estranged as well.
How would you describe yourself NOW in terms of “being out”? open
Tell me about the first LGBTQ person whom you met. What impact did they have on your life? neighbors when i was a teenager…helped me understand myself
Past or present, favorite LGBTQ character or creator in television, film or literature? Please tell us why. Kate Clinton, Margaret Cho, Suzanne Westenhoefer, Melissa Etheridge and kd lang. I grew up listening to these talented women and relied on humor and music to survive
How do you stay informed about LGBTQ issues? Washington Blade in D.C. where i am from
Describe your geographical community. Pittsburgh is pretty accepting, in my opinion
Describe your local or regional LGBTQ community. pittsburgh has a wonderful lgbt community
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Have you ever experienced discrimination based on your identity? Specifically, in a job setting, when applying for housing or while in public. i haven’t always been accepted at job locations, but mostly i have been accepted outside of my family.
Have you experienced microagressions based on your identity? Think everyday indiginities & slights that you experience, but would not characterize as discrimination. Please describe in your own words. i don’t always like the looks I get in certain places. makes me sad and uncomfortable because I’m a really nice person, but when people judge based on your looks, it’s really upsetting.
Tell us about your access to health care in Western PA. Has it been LGBTQ competent (or not?) n/a
Are there issues impacting your LGBTQ neighbors that aren’t visible or part of the local dialogue? i think some neighbors in some communities think they should be worried about the safety of their children just because their neighbors might be gay. I do know that is still a problem we all face, and it’s ridiculous, of course.
What would you like to see elected officials do to improve life for LGBTQ Pennsylvanians? I have always wanted the same rights as everyone else. Are we getting to the point where we’re pushing straight people away because we’re still demanding more and more…. that’s the root problem right now within our community and a serious debate is brewing. But for the “T” part of the community, wanting validation for the gender they choose, for equal access restrooms, all legitimate issues. I think officials need to educate their communities more, because I think transgender/pronouns/bathroom issues are still hot topics for the communities to be educated about.
Please share a lived experience, anecdote or fact about life as an LGBTQ person in your community. Our LGBT community is small in Pittsburgh though I feel there are divisions within the community. Not unlike cliques. There is the burlesque/drag community, there is the high tech/professional community, there is an artistic community…but we’re all in this together and I enjoy meeting people from all the little groups, and having them meet each other. We all need each other and I feel so much love and care in our community that I’m not getting from my own family.
Beyond discrimination, what other barriers create challenges for your LGBTQ neighbors? I think schools are still dealing with bias and lack of education with gay families. I think there’s still some discrimination at certain job locations.
What LGBTQ friendly resources are available for your neighbors? Persad, Proud Haven, various Facebook LGBT communities, etc.
What is your greatest fear for the LGBTQ community in Western Pennsylvania? that politics are going backwards, and rights being taken away that we just started enjoying.
What is your greatest hope for the LGBTQ community in Western Pennsylvania? politics allow us to keep going forward, and a more general acceptance of who we all are at jobs, communities, etc.
What can allies do to support your LGBTQ community? educate, educate, educate….the young, the old, school boards, heads and managers of companies, etc.
How can gay men and lesbians support the bisexual, transgender and queer members of our community? stop being so dramatic/catty and accept we’re all in this together, and we need each other as a small, tight-knit community.
What motivated you to take part in this project? friend asked me to do it
Finally, what question should I have asked? Please also share your answer. n/a
Thank you, Rain.
Read the entire AMPLIFY LGBTQ Q&A archive.
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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.