Read the entire AMPLIFY LGBTQ Q&A archive.
AMPLIFY LGBTQ is a new occasional 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. The questions, however, may change as we ask each participant to tell us what we’ve missed asking. It is one of the vibrant elements of a blog format – evolution & growth.
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 (because “we” are not listening?) Obviously, my choice of questions does shape the conversation, but beyond that – 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.
Kayden responded to my general request for participants. We don’t know one another, but I realized after reading her survey that we are almost neighbors. Her comments about being safe in social settings resonate with me and give me pause to consider how out I am in this neighborhood. Kayden opted not to submit a photo.
Preferred Pronouns: She, her
County of Residence: Allegheny
Tell me about the first LGBTQ person whom you met. What impact did they have on your life? The first lgbt person I met was my friend Ethan in 11th grade. He came out the same week I met him. He was out of the closet and wanted everyone to know. He was a painter and displayed his talent on just about every fomite he owned, from his backpack to his binder rainbows were splattered everywhere. His pride erittated me to the core. It plucked at a heart string I didn’t want to acknowledge. I was not out and was terrified at the thought of it. I had a very religious upbringing. His constant presence in my life showed me that it was possible to accept myself completely.
How do you describe your identity? white lesbian
How do you stay informed about LGBTQ issues? Tumblr and YouTube.
Past or present, favorite LGBTQ character in television, film or literature? Mary Lambert
How would you describe yourself in terms of “being out”? I am in a committed lesbian relationship. I live with my partner. I am out at my workplace and my coworkers and employer are kind to me and accept me for who I am. I am out to some of my family the rest assume what they want. I do not have a relationship with my father because he does not agree with my lifestyle.
Describe your geographical community. I grew up in a small town on the west coast with a very republican Christian demographic. I now live in the city of Pittsburgh.
Tell me about your local or regional LGBTQ community. I don’t have one. My partner is the only lgbt person I have regular contact with.
Have you ever experienced discrimination based on your identity in a job setting? How about in terms of being served by a business? Please explain. I used to work for a Christian woman who would discriminate and bad mouth the lgbt community. She would vent to me about how perverted possessed by the devil the lgbt community is. If any client who came into her business identified as such she would not serve them any kind of business. She did not know my orientation. I worked for her for 2 years in fear that she would find out that I’m a lesbian and fire me.
Describe your community in terms of being LGBTQ friendly (or not.) I live in the Mexican War streets which is a beautiful accepting place but I am on the northern border which is not as safe.
Are there issues impacting your LGBTQ neighbors that aren’t visible or part of the local dialogue? Not that I am aware of.
What would you like to see elected officials do to improve life for LGBTQ Pennsylvanians? For them to speak out at social events and show support for all genders races and social standing not trust the white gay men.
Please share any anecdotes about life as a LGBTQ person in your community that might help outsiders better understand. There are employers out there who will treat you as an equal and respect you. They will see you for your heart and your skills not for your gender identity or your sexual preference.
Beyond discrimination, what other barriers create challenges for your LGBTQ neighbors? Safety in public places. Will holding hands potentially put my partner and I in danger as we walk through a park or down a side-walk? Social acceptance for the lgbt community has improved in leaps and bounds over the last few years. It’s incredible to be living in this time of such change and improvement in our society but we still need to be wary of that one person who may find us and our lifestyles not to their liking and take it upon themselves to do us harm because of it.
What LGBTQ friendly resources are available for your neighbors? Persad, gay and lesbian center, and the unitarian church community.
What is your greatest fear for the LGBTQ community in Western Pennsylvania? Discrimination in the work place and unequal housing opportunities for lgbt couples and families.
What is your greatest hope for the LGBTQ community in Western Pennsylvania? That Pittsburgh can be a positive place for lgbt mothers and fathers to raise children without discrimination.
What motivated you to take part in this project? I want our community to be equally represented in a positive light from people within our own community.
Finally, what question should I have asked? Please also share your answer. Are there any business or public places that you feel comfortable and safe to socialize with others of the lgbt community in?
Thank you, Kayden.
If you would like to participate in this Q&A series, please visit our online form. You can also email pghlesbian at gmail dot com to participate. We welcome voices from across the community – everyone has a story to tell.
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