Name: Kathi Boyle
County of Residence: Allegheny. I was born in Carbon County so lived there for the first 6 weeks of my life. My family then moved to Tennessee.
Preferred Pronouns: She, her, hers
How do you describe your identity? White lesbian.
Please describe your coming out experience. Where did you find support? What challenges did you face? Joan was my support. I had many obstacles including my own homophobia. I was raising my two sons as a single parent and working for a school system in WV. I could have been fired for even a rumor that I was a lesbian.
How would you describe yourself NOW in terms of “being out”? I am inexcusably out.
Tell me about the first LGBTQ person whom you met. What impact did they have on your life? My dear friend Joan was the first woman that I thought was a lesbian. She had , and still does, a tremendous impact on my life spiritually and emotionally – and she is freaking FUNNY!
Past or present, favorite LGBTQ character or creator in television, film or literature? Please tell us why. Lilly Tomlinson because of her show “The Search for Intelligent Life in the Universe.”
How do you stay informed about LGBTQ issues? Through my work with seniors at the Persad Center and social media.
Describe your geographical community. We are surrounded by gay and gay friendly neighbors.
Describe your local or regional LGBTQ community. We live in a very “gay” area in Swissvale.
Have you ever experienced discrimination based on your identity? Specifically, in a job setting, when applying for housing or while in public. I was very frightened by a man in Borders in the South Hills in 1992. I was looking at books in the LGBT section of the store. A very big white man screamed ” those G–D— faggots even have their own book section?”. I turned and left the store. I was embarrassed and frightened.
Are there issues impacting your LGBTQ neighbors that aren’t visible or part of the local dialogue? I am not aware of any.
What would you like to see elected officials do to improve life for LGBTQ Pennsylvanians? Get a statewide non discrimination act passed.
Please share a lived experience, anecdote or fact about life as an LGBTQ person in your community. I love the opportunity I have to provide cultural competence training to senior serving agencies.
My concern about the senior LGBTQ community is that so many of this community are not connected to services and are isolated. I get frustrated trying to do outreach in the rural counties. I need LGBTQA to send referrals to me so we can offer support to these individuals.
Beyond discrimination, what other barriers create challenges for your LGBTQ neighbors? Poverty and fear are what I see in the lives of the LGBTQ seniors I visit in rural counties.
What LGBTQ friendly resources are available for your neighbors? SAGE at the Persad Center. Additionally, there are several organizations that have trained their staff to begin cultural competence: Community Life, UPMC Senior facilities, Allegheny Agency on Aging, are a few.
What is your greatest fear for the LGBTQ community in Western Pennsylvania? Complacency with just having non discrimination protection in Allegheny County. We need to fight for all of our state.
What is your greatest hope for the LGBTQ community in Western Pennsylvania? Less internal fighting and more understanding of and acceptance of our differences.
What can allies do to support your LGBTQ community? Share resources that we do not yet have access to.
How can gay men and lesbians support the bisexual, transgender and queer members of our community? Understanding and acceptance.
What motivated you to take part in this project? Because you are hard to refuse.
Finally, what question should I have asked? Please also share your answer. I don’t know…
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.