Scott Describes Life As a Middle-Aged Gay Bear in Rural Armstrong County

Gay Armstrong County
Scott submitted this image to represent him.

Name:  Scott

Age: 48

County of Residence: Armstrong

Preferred Pronouns: He/Him/His

How do you describe your identity? A gay man

Please describe your coming out experience. Where did you find support? What challenges did you face? My mother found a photo of me kissing a guy while snooping in my room. My parents response was that they can’t control what I do but I was to keep it out of their house. No friends or dates were welcome

I learned very fast to support myself and gain an inner strength. Also to be multiple people. One person at home, one person at school, one person when I went out

How would you describe yourself NOW in terms of “being out”? Completely out, but I don’t feel a need to announce it. I just live my life as me

Tell me about the first LGBTQ person whom you met. What impact did they have on your life? Not one particular person. Went to Pegasus one night out of curiosity. Found there were more guys just like me

Past or present, favorite LGBTQ character or creator in television, film or literature? Please tell us why. Kd Lang. Like a diamond she doesn’t have just one side ( that is what I say I am). Multiple sides with flaws in it. She lets her music speak to you and puts herself out there as just herself. Nothing more, nothing less.

How do you stay informed about LGBTQ issues? Online, used to also include the gay Pgh paper but we don’t have one anymore

Describe your geographical community. Is it LGBTQ friendly? How so (or not?). Very rural. It is 50/50 due to the age gap. The younger being very accepting,the older being very non-accepting

Describe your local or regional LGBTQ community. Up here there isn’t one, this is a very rural area. There are gay and lesbians in the area but this is too much of a farmer community to have a real community. Luckily I’m only 30 min from down town

Have you ever experienced discrimination based on your identity? Specifically, in a job setting, when applying for housing or while in public. Once at work, my boss (who I had a personality clash with) sent me a pink lunch bag with gourmet chocolate in it. Turned it into our HR dept and was told I could apply to transfer to a different area or quit.

Shortly thereafter after I was out on medical leave from a surgery and was “retired”. Because I was on medical leave and not able to return to work I was also denied unemployment.

Are there issues impacting your LGBTQ neighbors that aren’t visible or part of the local dialogue? Can’t speak for my neighbors only myself.

What would you like to see elected officials do to improve life for LGBTQ Pennsylvanians? Get discrimination laws passed

Please share a lived experience, anecdote or fact about life as a LGBTQ person in your community. Being a middle age bear here, I find our community discriminates within itself. If you are over a certain age and not a model body you disappear in our community

I get to travel from time to time and I don’t see this in other cities. As a matter of fact when I tell someone where I’m from I get the same reaction. Pittsburgh has a reputation for being snobby, rude and very hard to approach.

Beyond discrimination, what other barriers create challenges for your LGBTQ neighbors? An older rural community

What LGBTQ friendly resources are available for your neighbors? None. Have to travel to the city to find any.

What is your greatest fear for the LGBTQ community in Western Pennsylvania? That we are going to segregate ourselves to a point where we are no longer a “community”.

I remember back when it was just pride and just being gay, there was no LGBTQ… We were one group TOGETHER. I see too much ME, MY Group, not WE and OUR group. Be you a cis male, black trans , whoever at some level someone is experiencing the same thing

I always say, labels are for cans not for people. The best Pride theme ( which I still think they use today) was from 30 years ago down in key West. It is ” We are ONE human race” and that is what the celebrate

What is your greatest hope for the LGBTQ community in Western Pennsylvania? See previous question, that we can turn ourselves in the right direction

What can allies do to support your LGBTQ community? Reach out and pull people into your community even those they live a little bit further away

How can gay men and lesbians support the bisexual, transgender and queer members of our community? By treating everyone the same. As a human being.

What motivated you to take part in this project?  Sue asked. 

Finally, what question should I have asked? Please also share your answer. As a cis white male how I feel when people say we are a privileged group? Which I feel isn’t true because you have to be part of a particular clique; it isn’t the same for all.

Thank you, Scott.

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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