County of Residence: Allegheny
Preferred Pronouns: She/her
How do you describe your identity? Lesbian, soon-to-be-wife, momma.
Please describe your coming out experience. Where did you find support? What challenges did you face? I was in my painted blue bedroom with posters of Shakira, Destiny Child, Amgelina Jolie, SI swimsuit models and Shaina Twain reading a magazine. My mom came into my room and said,” Are you gay? We don’t care. Just want to be on the same page.” I looked at her and said,”Nope, bi.” My mom giggled and said ,”Honey, you are a lesbian. I give you two weeks.” Well she was right. I for sure am a lesbian. I was bullied at school so I worked hard and graduated as a junior.
How would you describe yourself NOW in terms of “being out”? I am COMPLETELY out. Nothing is hidden.
Tell me about the first LGBTQ person whom you met. What impact did they have on your life? I met a friend while away at camp at 14 years old. By this point in my life I knew who I was and was so excited to meet someone similar to me. Of course we were teenagers so this girl and I spoke of all our female celebrity crushes. I was so excited to have met someone attracted to females.
Past or present, favorite LGBTQ character or creator in television, film or literature? Please tell us why. Stereotypical of me but Ellen because she has been out and outspoken for years. I also love the moms on the cartoon Clarence. They don’t even make a big deal about it. They are just your average parents.
How do you stay informed about LGBTQ issues? Blogs, FB, Steel City Democrats, magazines, news, social situations.
Describe your geographical community. We live in an urban environment. It depends on where you go in the city. Some areas are fine, not great, and other areas I am a little nervous being in.
Describe your local or regional LGBTQ community. Our neighbors are all supportive. Our community though is lacking. I honestly feel divided and categorized which is awful. The LGBTQ community needs to stick together.
Have you ever experienced discrimination based on your identity? Specifically, in a job setting, when applying for housing or while in public. Never but I know that isn’t the case for many. My fiancé was denied a rental property for a business bc of being a lesbian.
Are there issues impacting your LGBTQ neighbors that aren’t visible or part of the local dialogue? I’m Im sure there are but I cannot think of any at the moment.
What would you like to see elected officials do to improve life for LGBTQ Pennsylvanians? Continue to fight for equality and get rid of any discrimination issues.
Please share a lived experience, anecdote or fact about life as an LGBTQ person in your community. Being a same-sex parent makes me sensitive towards certain subjects. I cannot stand when someone asks my fiancé and I who the “real” mom is, the biological parent. It is so ignorant. Would you ask a heterosexual couple that? No! We are both real moms.
Beyond discrimination, what other barriers create challenges for your LGBTQ neighbors? Filling out applications, legal documents, and medical documents. They most always ask husband, wife or mother, father. We just cross out the male titles and put in what we want.
What LGBTQ friendly resources are available for your neighbors? Persad, Delta Foundation, GLCCP, FLOs.
What is your greatest fear for the LGBTQ community in Western Pennsylvania? Trump. Cruz.
What is your greatest hope for the LGBTQ community in Western Pennsylvania? A progressive leader(s).
What can allies do to support your LGBTQ community? Speak up and always be supportive. Protect your loved ones when they aren’t around or when they are.
How can gay men and lesbians support the bisexual, transgender and queer members of our community? Same as hetero allies, speak up and be supportive.
What motivated you to take part in this project? A friend already did the interview.
Finally, what question should I have asked? Please also share your answer. Maybe ask about LGBTQ parenting in our community.
Thank you, Camellia.
Read the entire AMPLIFY LGBTQ Q&A archive.
AMPLIFY LGBTQ is a 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.
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. 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.
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