Shaquanna Wants Families To Have Positive Conversations With LGBTQ Relatives #AMPLIFY


Name:  Shaquanna

Age: 32

County of Residence:  Allegheny

Preferred Pronouns: Female

How do you describe your identity? Organic! 

Please describe your coming out experience. Where did you find support? What challenges did you face?   Being the oldest sister of three sisters, I grew up in a household where it was okay to voice your opinion, and speak your mind without the fear of getting in trouble. Mommy and daughter(s) time was every single day in my home. We shared many of secrets, laughed, cried, and just loved one another. I came out to my entire family at the age of eleven. It was an honest and very open discussion. My family was pleased and proud of me for not being ashamed of my sexuality.

Thankfully, I’ve never been “closeted”, and extremely blessed to have grown up in a family where it was a mandatory that we always speak our minds, and share our feelings.

How would you describe yourself NOW in terms of “being out”? Very much alive, and never silenced.

Tell me about the first LGBTQ person whom you met. What impact did they have on your life?  At the curious age of 12, growing up in New York’s diverse section of Brooklyn, I had a major crush on one of my neighborhood mates. She was tall, absolutely beautiful, and super funny. What I didn’t know was that she was actually a he.

After finding this information to be true, it didn’t change my feelings at all towards her. In fact, I was even more intrigued, and excited to know that individuals who identified themselves as LGBTQ lived around me! Needless to say, we remained great friends.

I have a great deal of respect for people who are comfortable with who they are. No matter what they identify themselves as, in regards to their sexual orientation. It is the bravery of many that will help others confidently identify with who they were born to be. Which is exactly what my friend has done for me.

Past or present, favorite LGBTQ character or creator in television, film or literature? Please tell us why. Gladys Bentley. She was bold, courageous, and musically influential.

How do you stay informed about LGBTQ issues?  Social media. 

Describe your geographical community.  I’d say my community is an urban community, and is very much so LGBTQ friendly. At least in my presence.

Describe your local or regional LGBTQ community. We are very much alive here in Pittsburgh, but I would love to more of an integrated community, versus a segregated bunch.

Have you ever experienced discrimination based on your identity? Specifically, in a job setting, when applying for housing or while in public.  Never.

Are there issues impacting your LGBTQ neighbors that aren’t visible or part of the local dialogue? No.

What would you like to see elected officials do to improve life for LGBTQ Pennsylvanians? Pass laws that ban any kind of discrimination via the work place or even publicly.

Please share a lived experience, anecdote or fact about life as an LGBTQ person in your community.  No matter what you identify yourself as, and no matter what others may perceive you to be, you can always be an asset to your community and the world just by being kind to one another, and fulfilling your purpose with an open heart towards human nature.

Beyond discrimination, what other barriers create challenges for your LGBTQ neighbors? Not enough families having open discussions about being LGBTQ. We need more families that will encourage the conversation with positivity and love instead of shame and negativity.

What LGBTQ friendly resources are available for your neighbors? Of course it would have to be Pittsburgh Lesbian Correspondents!

What is your greatest fear for the LGBTQ community in Western Pennsylvania? I fear nothing, and only see great things happening for the future of our community. 

What is your greatest hope for the LGBTQ community in Western Pennsylvania?  That we can all live in a world where love will always conquer all.

What can allies do to support your LGBTQ community? Promote families to support positive conversations about the LGBTQ community.

How can gay men and lesbians support the bisexual, transgender and queer members of our community?  Respect and love.

What motivated you to take part in this project? Easy! It’s my community!

Finally, what question should I have asked? Please also share your answer. Do you think the LGBTQ community is a stronger force today, versus fifty years ago?

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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