County of Residence: Allegheny, previously Westmoreland
Preferred Pronouns: Lesbian
How do you describe your identity? Tomboy, butch
Please describe your coming out experience. Where did you find support? What challenges did you face? I didn’t know I was gay until I was 33 (1993) and met a women I fell for. Actually, she wrote me a letter and I didn’t want to lose her so I agreed to get into a relationship.
I told my family when I was in my late 30’s when this woman and I were together constantly. No one was surprised actually. My dad was great. My mom would not have been but she passed away before I even knew I was gay (she died in 1991).
How would you describe yourself NOW in terms of “being out”? I’m out and don’t really care what anyone thinks.
Tell me about the first LGBTQ person whom you met. What impact did they have on your life? In college…a student thought I was gay and “made moves” on me. I told her I was not gay. I guess I wasn’t happy people thought I may be gay. I was/am a tom boy and have a deep voice.
But I did meet Elton John in 1990 in his dressing room in Atlantic City. That was awesome!
Past or present, favorite LGBTQ character or creator in television, film or literature? Please tell us why. Ellen. Her sitcom was on when I was first coming out and actually came out the week she did.
How do you stay informed about LGBTQ issues? Facebook mostly. My new girlfriend.
Describe your geographical community. I live in the East Suburbs and in the same neighborhood where I grew up. No gay community BUT my neighbors are aware and are great.
Describe your local or regional LGBTQ community. I go to Pride every year. My new girlfriend (we dated years ago and are now back together) knows more about the gay community and even worked for OUT. She will let me know if something is happening and see if we want to attend.
Have you ever experienced discrimination based on your identity? Specifically, in a job setting, when applying for housing or while in public. No. I’m a former US Marine and tend to be intimidating (whether I’m trying to or not) so no one ever really messes with me on any level.
Are there issues impacting your LGBTQ neighbors that aren’t visible or part of the local dialogue? No idea.
What would you like to see elected officials do to improve life for LGBTQ Pennsylvanians? Not allow people to be fired based on sexuality. Regardless….if that happened to me, I’d sue for wrongful termination!
Please share a lived experience, anecdote or fact about life as an LGBTQ person in your community. Just be yourself. Avoid those that are racist and hang around gay friendly areas like Shadyside and Elmsworth and Squirrel Hill. Don’t let the homophobic people bother you or affect your life.
Beyond discrimination, what other barriers create challenges for your LGBTQ neighbors? Not sure. I really don’t give a damn what others think.
What LGBTQ friendly resources are available for your neighbors? LGBTQ Community Center has many activities. Many gay pages on facebook.
What is your greatest fear for the LGBTQ community in Western Pennsylvania? That they are not comfortable coming out.
What is your greatest hope for the LGBTQ community in Western Pennsylvania? I wish I knew more people in the Eastern Suburbs. That there are more get-togethers with gays outside of the city.
What can allies do to support your LGBTQ community? Let it be know you are allies.
How can gay men and lesbians support the bisexual, transgender and queer members of our community? Be active.
What motivated you to take part in this project? I like to fill out gay surveys.
Finally, what question should I have asked? Please also share your answer. Do you find it difficult to meet someone in Western PA. YES!! I mean I now have a girlfriend but I did find it hard to meet someone. Did not like the online dating sites but there is no other option. And yes, I attended every possible local event to meet someone to no avail.
Thank you, Mair.
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.