Jeff Hopes LGBTQ Community Will Embrace Common Queer Identity #AMPLIFY

Gay Pittsburgh
Jeff is a regular volunteer with GLCC Pittsburgh

Name: Jeff

Age:  66

County of Residence:  Allegheny

Preferred Pronouns: he, him, his

How do you describe your identity? I am a gay man.

Please describe your coming out experience. Where did you find support? What challenges did you face? It took me many years to come out. I was 49 when I finally was able to be honest about myself. I was aware that I was gay since my early 20’s, but for many reasons was not able to accept it. I was married, the father of two children and clergy in a non-supportive denomination. I did find support from the musician in my church who became a life-line for me in the process. I also met another closeted gay man who was a great support and listening ear during the rough stages of the process. Once I was able to admit to my identity, I found many parishioners to be supportive.

How would you describe yourself NOW in terms of “being out”? I am fully out and believe that I am more integrated as a person than ever before.

Tell me about the first LGBTQ person whom you met. What impact did they have on your life? My college was not open about it, but he was gay. At that time it was not possible to be out on the college campus.

Past or present, favorite LGBTQ character or creator in television, film or literature? Please tell us why. I loved the elderly gentlemen from the Welch community in the film, “Pride, the Movie.” He spent many years of his life as a closeted gay man but with the presence of the younger gay friends, was finally able to reveal his true identity.

How do you stay informed about LGBTQ issues? I am active in the community and very versed in issues through conversations, news and on-line information.

Describe your geographical community. We live on Highland Ave in Shadyside, which we lovingly refer to as the gayborhood. We feel very welcome in our Condo building and in the community overall.

Describe your local or regional LGBTQ community. Nexus group through the GLCC, Church friends, local friends. We have also been supportive of the campaign of Hugh McGough and active with that process. Supporting Persad events has also led us into relationship with many gays and lesbians.

Have you ever experienced discrimination based on your identity? Specifically, in a job setting, when applying for housing or while in public. I was removed from my church, forced to retire and relinquish my credentials as clergy. I cannot speak about any other discrimination personally.

Are there issues impacting your LGBTQ neighbors that aren’t visible or part of the local dialogue? Well…..I think there are issues about inclusion for everyone in our community when it comes to planning and implementation of public events, such as Pride. Some voices are not being heard perhaps as clearly as they should be heard.

What would you like to see elected officials do to improve life for LGBTQ Pennsylvanians? Of course – primarily by passing the Equality Act that would end discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.

Please share a lived experience, anecdote or fact about life as an LGBTQ person in your community. We were not sure how supportive our extended families would be with our marriage. Both families have been cordial. We found wonderful support and celebration when we had the Blessing of Our Marriage Covenant service last October.

Beyond discrimination, what other barriers create challenges for your LGBTQ neighbors? I think that there are real personality problems related to identity issues. Self-acceptance and self-love are lacking in some of my LGBTQIA friends. Anger issues continue to surface in myself and others as well.

What LGBTQ friendly resources are available for your neighbors? First United Methodist Church of Pittsburgh is an open, welcoming, affirming and supportive community of Faith. The Circle of Faith occurs on the first Sunday of June as an affirmation of welcome and inclusion in a wide variety of faith communities. (See Facebook Page). Nexus is open to all LGBTQIA persons ages 50+ and their families and friends.

What is your greatest fear for the LGBTQ community in Western Pennsylvania? I fear that intolerance within the LGBTQIA community for the diversity we experience even in our common queer identity will be hurtful to overall acceptance in the larger community.

What is your greatest hope for the LGBTQ community in Western Pennsylvania? I hope that one day being “gay” will not even be thought about when interacting with other persons and that sexual orientation will be accepted simply as part of who we are, nothing unusual.

What can allies do to support your LGBTQ community? Be more than allies, see their role as kinshp.

How can gay men and lesbians support the bisexual, transgender and queer members of our community? Understand that diversity is inclusive of our community as well. Open doors for all as we want doors to be open for us.

What motivated you to take part in this project? Sue’s note to me suggesting that she needed more folks over 55.

Finally, what question should I have asked? Please also share your answer. Can’t think of anything.

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.

You can read the other Q&A responses here.  AMPLIFY! LGBTQ is a project of Most Wanted Fine Art and Pittsburgh Lesbian Correspondents.




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