County of Residence: Allegheny, formerly Erie
Pronouns: Mrs, Her
How do you describe your identity? Ummm. I am a lesbian woman. I am white Italian. Wink*
Please describe your coming out experience. Where did you find support? What challenges did you face? I officially came out at 16 to my parents after my dad had seen me on tv in a gay pride parade. I have never had any notable challenges with being gay. My mom and dad were happy i opened up to them. So were my close friends. Even at work… I have never had any problems being open.
How would you describe yourself NOW in terms of “being out”? Completely. I even say my wife in casual conversation with others. Lol. Sometimes they think i just meant something else. I am femme so i think it is a surprise for some.
Tell me about the first LGBTQ person whom you met. What impact did they have on your life? My best friend Phil… He was a flamboyant gorgeous gay man. I was 14 and he was 21. He got me into my first gay club and we would dance every weekend. I loved it.
Past or present, favorite LGBTQ character or creator in television, film or literature? Please tell us why. I grew up watching the lword. Which i had to sneak to watch. Not because its a lesbian show… But because of the sexual content. I could relate the most to that show… Because it was like a grown up version of my group of girl friends in erie pa. And i remember always wanting to be the couple bev and tina that settled down and had a baby. And not the shane that i seemed to be lol. Dont worry im bev now. Haha
How do you stay informed about LGBTQ issues? The internet… Mostly friends keep me aware. I try to support as many events as i can.
Describe your geographical community. Well again… The inner city is very gay friendly. Even the daycare we chose made sure they asked questions so they could address us properly. My wife is madre and i am momma. Unfortunately.. We are moving due to the low ratings of the city schools. This is a big issue for me. I dont want to be in a predominantly white straight school district. Erie pa is more mixed and i like that.
Describe your local or regional LGBTQ community. Well, I live in friendship. I see more and more flags out lately. I actually just sold my house to a gay couple. Pittsburgh has been very gay friendly. But thats because i live in the inner city i think.
Have you ever experienced discrimination based on your identity? Specifically, in a job setting, when applying for housing or while in public. No. Not that i am aware of.
Tell us about your access to health care in Western PA. Has it been LGBTQ competent (or not?) Yes it has…. Even having our child we never had to search of someone. The first two drs we had loved us and our son. We had. Doctors that went above and beyond to help is conceive and deliver our son. Answered all of our nontraditional questions.
Are there issues impacting your LGBTQ neighbors that aren’t visible or part of the local dialogue? Not that i am aware of.
What would you like to see elected officials do to improve life for LGBTQ Pennsylvanians? I think the main issue right now is trans people. There are still too many trans people who are jobless or forced into sex work because of unemployment. They have a list of felony friendly employers…. My employer is very gay friendly and has a trans woman working for them. She floats from bank to bank. I have actually had customers refuse to go to her. I let my direct supervisor know. And she supported me calling out the customers next time that might happen.
Please share a lived experience, anecdote or fact about life as an LGBTQ person in your community. I love pittsburgh
Beyond discrimination, what other barriers create challenges for your LGBTQ neighbors? Schools!
What LGBTQ friendly resources are available for your neighbors? Persad.. Is a life saver.
What is your greatest fear for the LGBTQ community in Western Pennsylvania? Trans people not getting same rights….
What is your greatest hope for the LGBTQ community in Western Pennsylvania? Trans people getting the same rights…
What can allies do to support your LGBTQ community? Support and volunteer.
How can gay men and lesbians support the bisexual, transgender and queer members of our community? Word of mouth. Hiring them.. Giving references for jobs and housing. Good starts at home. Help a friend.
What motivated you to take part in this project? Anything to help.
Finally, what question should I have asked? Please also share your answer. Not sure. You did a great detailed job.
Thank you, Wendi.
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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.
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