Age: No response
County of Residence: Allegheny County, formerly Cambria County
Pronouns: She, Her, I, Me
How do you describe your identity? Bisexual, perhaps?
Please describe your coming out experience. Where did you find support? What challenges did you face? I was hit on by another woman at work – and it felt good to be hit on – period. But also, I found it/her hot. I was working for a Jewish agency and a black woman whom I worked with came on to me even though I was married to a man at the time (she really probably should have had more humility and less hubris). The relationship with the man wasn’t all that fulfilling and that, along with other factors (such as our big age difference in he being older and it now starting to make a difference negatively), made the timing ripe. For a first experience (either that or I was absolutely clueless as to women coming on to me in the past, because I never had this happen to me) in my early 30s, this was quite a tumultuous moment and it took some years to understand it fully. That didn’t last – but I’ve been with an amazing woman now for over 5 years now and surprisingly for me, I’ve come to love her more. That doesn’t mean I don’t find other men or women attractive in either mind, body, or spirit – because I do. But that’s the same for everyone. Just because you’re in a monogonamous, loving relationship, doesn’t mean you can’t be turned on by another person. Its what you do with that. Because my love with my girlfriend, and our relationship is very important to me and I wouldn’t want to compromise that for any man or woman whom I find attractive. Challenges were with my ex-husband’s family – who pretty much never talked/reached out to me again. My own family – mostly my mom (I’m closer and more like my dad in many ways) and somewhat my younger brother – took it hard at first because it was a shock being that I never expressed or had anything truly like this and now I was already 30 yrs old. But – my parents have been wonderful and I am so grateful for them because I know that many parents cannot take it. My parents, you can tell, actually like my girlfriend much more than my ex-husband (she’s just more personable, charming, and inquisitive so its not about gender, but again, about the person). I looked for “support” at first with lesbian groups in Pittsburgh that go out for happy hour, etc…that was fun and like going back to my dating college years, but didn’t last. Its fun for once in a while, I guess and to meet people.
How would you describe yourself NOW in terms of “being out”? I think I’m more out/uncensoredly expressive than ever before – I have a photo of my gf and I in my office and say “my gf” when it’s something that’s going to come out and don’t censor it for others’ benefit (and some would say, potentially my own benefit). I am a more private person to begin with and see no need in personally making any expression about who or what I’m doing and when, BUT, I have found moments where I need to come out to show solidarity, to show that I happen to be one “of them” and for piece of mind!
Tell me about the first LGBTQ person whom you met. What impact did they have on your life? The FIRST – hmmm…probably my mom’s friend Crystal – because we only saw her when visiting from out of town and only saw her for a couple of hours at a time and I didn’t have a lot in common with her growing up, she wasn’t much of an impact on me. She was just a friend who happened to be Lesbian and in a relationship with another woman who sometimes came around.
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Past or present, favorite LGBTQ character or creator in television, film or literature? Please tell us why. Ricky in My So-Called Life tv show of the 1990s comes to mind. Like(d) him a lot. Also really like characters Arizona and also Callie in ABC’s Grey’s Anatomy tv show.
How do you stay informed about LGBTQ issues? I don’t much. But since watching “When We Rise” all this week on ABC, I think I really need to.
Describe your geographical community. Urban. I’ve lived in the east end since moving to Pittsburgh in fall 1999 for college. I’ve lived in the far east end neighborhood of Pittsburgh, the Regent Square neighborhood now for about 7 years. Love it here; liberal neighborhood with an openly lesbian owned restaurant/café, and also the Biddle’s Escape coffeeshop near me is ultra liberal – blatantly so. And I see folks of all kind around me.
Describe your local or regional LGBTQ community. Friends and good acquaintances mostly and not any kind of organized group community for me at this time.
Have you ever experienced discrimination based on your identity? Specifically, in a job setting, when applying for housing or while in public. Being looked at, stared at, and leered at – when out and about in various areas of Pittsburgh, holding hands with my girlfriends over the years and being generally open about our relationship. (Especially when I dated a black woman my age – me being a Caucasian woman)
Tell us about your access to health care in Western PA. Has it been LGBTQ competent (or not?) For me, luckily, and for my health, it’s not been an issue. I’ve bought my own private health care, or have had much of it covered in various jobs I’ve held. And being that I haven’t had any health issues, I’ve been good with that.
Are there issues impacting your LGBTQ neighbors that aren’t visible or part of the local dialogue? Not sure I know how to answer that right now.
What would you like to see elected officials do to improve life for LGBTQ Pennsylvanians? Be open about their sexuality so much that it doesn’t need to be talked about. Health care and job discrimination – no discrimination laws in place, but the opposite.
Please share a lived experience, anecdote or fact about life as an LGBTQ person in your community. Lesbian women’s circles in Pgh run very small and everyone dates everyone and it gets catty – I’ve heard this from 40-50 year old longtime Pittsburgh lesbians in the community, and have had a similar experience myself when I was going out to bars.
I personally don’t really know any people who identify as Bisexual and would like to meet some actual Pittsburgh folks that are so – to exchange some thoughts, advice.
Beyond discrimination, what other barriers create challenges for your LGBTQ neighbors? Just being seen as normal. People calling your life a “lifestyle” is not accurate in any way.
What LGBTQ friendly resources are available for your neighbors? I think one of our neighborhood coffee shops has a group or two that is LGBTQ focused. There’s also the Center that’s downtown, and the Persad Center as well.
What is your greatest fear for the LGBTQ community in Western Pennsylvania? Violence due to sexuality/gender expression – esp. in this Trump administration.
What is your greatest hope for the LGBTQ community in Western Pennsylvania? Openness, transparency, no-need-to-talk-about-it-any-differently. Open and diverse elected officials. A straight person with a husband, wife, and children doesn’t wear a plastic band bracelet to announce whatever it is they are. Why do we? Right now, to explain and to show there are people out there and its not some foreign “other” thing. But in the near future, wouldn’t it be nice if we didn’t do this any more than any straight person would need to?
What can allies do to support your LGBTQ community? Participate openly and Listen
How can gay men and lesbians support the bisexual, transgender and queer members of our community? Not be seperatist, to better listen and understand, to see the greater picture, understand that history has shown these urges to seperate, but that love and solidarity is the answer and its what gets us somewhere and makes us TRULY good people.
What motivated you to take part in this project? Looking up Bisexuality support groups in Pittsburgh because I have some things I’d like to talk and share and get advice about. But not finding anything. Something led me to this online. Thank you for listening!
Finally, what question should I have asked? Please also share your answer. Great question. You’ve tired me out now, so I’ll pass on thinking about this for now.
Thank you, Chica.
Read the entire AMPLIFY LGBTQ Q&A archive.
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AMPLIFY LGBTQ is a series of blog posts designed to give a “signal boost” to the voices of our LGBTQ neighbors throughout Western Pennsylvania. These are glimpses in to the lived experiences of LGBTQ people in Western Pennsylvania as told in their own voices.