Name: Roman Barker
County of Residence: Allegheny, formerly Westmoreland
Preferred Pronouns: He/Him/Sir
How do you describe your identity? I am a Caucasian male
Please describe your coming out experience. Where did you find support? What challenges did you face? I started out telling my mom I was “bi” – first you have to understand that my mom and I are very close and I felt extremely comfortable telling her anything- She was pissed ! Then I told her I was a lesbian and she became even angrier I remember one fight specifically where she was talking on the phone to one of her friends about me while I was in the room and we started arguing she said to me “we had the perfect mother/daughter relationship until u decided to be gay” I said “I didn’t decide to be gay I just decided to tell you I am gay” I am now transgender and my mom and I have a great relationship she is one of my biggest supporters !
How would you describe yourself NOW in terms of “being out”? I have been on testosterone for almost 2 years I am FTM I am so comfortable in my own skin finally ! I have a great support network and things are finally coming together
Tell me about the first LGBTQ person whom you met. What impact did they have on your life? His name was Nick and he was so care free and openly gay I loved it ! He made me feel like I wasn’t a “friek”
Past or present, favorite LGBTQ character or creator in television, film or literature? Please tell us why. Brandon Teena was a really big influence for me. I remember watching that movie and feeling so heartbroken for him and his struggles. I could relate to his inner turmoil. Being transgender and knowing to the depth of your soul that you are a man but society doesn’t agree
How do you stay informed about LGBTQ issues? Mostly social media.
Describe your geographical community. My community seems friendly enough but I think I pass as a man so maybe if they knew I was transgender they wouldn’t be as friendly
Describe your local or regional LGBTQ community. I don’t really go out much. We go to pride every year and sometimes the big gay picnic.
Have you ever experienced discrimination based on your identity? Specifically, in a job setting, when applying for housing or while in public. Yes. Currently my drivers license does not match my outer appearance so I recently applied for a job and the gentleman was very excited about hiring me we spoke on the phone and whenever I went in he asked for my ID for records well I got “the look” and never heard from him again
Are there issues impacting your LGBTQ neighbors that aren’t visible or part of the local dialogue? Not sure
What would you like to see elected officials do to improve life for LGBTQ Pennsylvanians? Pass the law that forbids termination of employment due to sexual preference
Please share a lived experience, anecdote or fact about life as an LGBTQ person in your community. Lately I pass as a man so whenever me and my family go out weather to church or to dinner I get called sir and that NEVER gets old 😀
Beyond discrimination, what other barriers create challenges for your LGBTQ neighbors? For me it’s making the outside match the inside and unfortunately insurance doesn’t pay for “top surgery ” so u r constantly running the risk of being outed
What LGBTQ friendly resources are available for your neighbors? Don’t know
What is your greatest fear for the LGBTQ community in Western Pennsylvania? My greatest fear is that the violence against us will never stop! The unbelievably inhumane things that some people are capable of is just heartbreaking and for what ??
What is your greatest hope for the LGBTQ community in Western Pennsylvania? That we will one day be able to live free from discrimination and persicution
What can allies do to support your LGBTQ community? Just love each other it cost absolutely nothing to be kind to someone, to smile at someone,so let’s do more of that.
How can gay men and lesbians support the bisexual, transgender and queer members of our community? We should all support each other
What motivated you to take part in this project? If one person reading this is thinking they might be transgender and reading this gave them that small piece of courage or motivation to persue that to feel whole then that makes me smile
Finally, what question should I have asked? Please also share your answer. Why do u think there is so much hate and discrimination in our community ? I think it’s fear. Fear of the unknown,fear of being different, and lastly fear of being rejected. The thing about fear is that it is a crypling parasite but can be an amazing motivator so please just love each other.
Thank you, Roman.
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.