Name: Seth Giovanni DiMartile
County of Residence: Allegheny, formerly Philadelphia and Mays Landing, New Jersey
How do you describe your identity? Oh, Lord. I’m bi, but queer and gay are also acceptable, my gender isn’t quite binary; trans, trans boy, transmasculine, boy, guy, and male are all acceptable, I don’t really like the terms man or FTM. I’m white passing, and ethnically Italian, Sicilian, Filipino, and Ashkenazi. I’m also a proud communist 😉
Please describe your coming out experience. Where did you find support? What challenges did you face? I came out twice, first as bi and then as trans. I started in both cases by telling a few close friends who were all supportive. I was outed to the rest of my school after another student was told I had a crush on them and freaked out. It turns out they were deeply closeted themselves and we’re actually friends now, but it was pretty awful at the time. When I came out as trans at school, teachers were pretty good at using my name and pronouns, but I had to use the nurse’s bathroom and I stopped taking swim class even though I loved it because I had nowhere to change. I came out to my parents both times via PowerPoint; we’ve never really had a good relationship and turning it into a presentation was a good way to get them to actually listen. They’re not great people, but to their credit they’ve never attacked me for my gender or sexuality.
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How would you describe yourself NOW in terms of “being out”? I’m definitely out to everyone who matters. I don’t pass, so sometimes I’ll be effectively closeted with strangers if I don’t feel comfortable enough to correct them.
Tell me about the first LGBTQ person whom you met. What impact did they have on your life? I didn’t meet any openly queer or trans people until middle school; looking back I can identify some adults who were closeted when I knew them. I was born shortly before they came out with effective HIV/AIDS drugs, and many of the queer and trans adults who would have been in my life probably died. That being said, one of the first queer people I met who had a big impact on me was an elderly lesbian woman in San Francisco. I wasn’t out to my family yet, but we happened to be on vacation there during pride, and I snuck out with a friend to catch the end of the parade, where I met her. She was so happy just to be free to dance with other women, and she helped give me the courage to come out.
Past or present, favorite LGBTQ character or creator in television, film or literature? Please tell us why. Sam Orchard, the creator of rooster tales. It’s the first place I saw someone who was transmasculine, queer, fem, fat, and mentally ill all in the same person, just like me.
How do you stay informed about LGBTQ issues? Mostly through my social network, both online and in person. People in community groups/spaces or individual friends will share information, and if I want more I can research on my own.
Describe your geographical community. It’s about the same as any major city. I was especially pleased when right after the election I outed myself to my building in a fit of rage induced baking (I sometimes leave treats in the laundry room, that time it was a rainbow cake with a note calling out bigotry) and received several notes of support and gratitude. Another good story was the time I ended up passing notes of mutual affirmation with a gender nonconforming person on the bus like we were back in grade school. Unfortunately, there’s also been several instances of street harassment, shouts of “faggot” and “fuck gays” and such that remind you that nowhere is truly safe.
Describe your local or regional LGBTQ community. I’m still fairly new to where I live but what I’ve experienced is good. I was especially happy when so many people showed up for the trans march after Trump rescinded protection for trans public school students.
Have you ever experienced discrimination based on your identity? Specifically, in a job setting, when applying for housing or while in public. Yes. There’s only been a few times when it was really obvious, getting thrown out of Macy’s for using the wrong dressing room comes to mind, but the problem with discrimination is that it’s usually hard to tell, and sometimes even subconscious. I’ll really never know if any of the jobs I didn’t get or poor customer service I’ve received or whatever was because I’m queer or trans.
Tell us about your access to health care in Western PA. Has it been LGBTQ competent (or not?) I’m very lucky that I was able to find a trans and queer competent general practice when I moved here, and in turn they’ve been able to refer me to the trans and queer competent specialists that I need. The problem is that such competence isn’t a standard part of medical education – when I’ve needed emergency care it’s been just as hit or miss as ever.
Are there issues impacting your LGBTQ neighbors that aren’t visible or part of the local dialogue? I mean there’s always issues that are given more attention than others. One thing that comes to mind is the syphilis epidemic affecting queer men in Allegheny county. I found out from Grindr of all places, and haven’t seen much about it from any community spaces.
What would you like to see elected officials do to improve life for LGBTQ Pennsylvanians? Minimum wage tied to the cost of living, single payer healthcare with universal coverage, more shelters and housing programs, bring back cash assistance, stop fracking and the keystone xl pipeline, more mental health resources, including addiction treatment, decarceration, refuse to stand down or compromise when our rights and our lives are on the line… Did I mention I’m a communist?
Please share a lived experience, anecdote or fact about life as an LGBTQ person in your community. I get to wear a button with my pronouns at work, it’s pretty cool.
Beyond discrimination, what other barriers create challenges for your LGBTQ neighbors? Capitalism. Seriously though, queer and trans people, especially those with intersecting oppressions, are disproportionately affected by poverty and everything that comes with that. There will be no queer liberation without economic justice.
What LGBTQ friendly resources are available for your neighbors?
Metro community health
There’s more, but I’m not great at remembering
What is your greatest fear for the LGBTQ community in Western Pennsylvania? For individuals in the community? Death. Hate crimes are on the rise, and we need to develop more ways to protect ourselves. For the community at large? Assimilation. I want to change the world, not get more acceptance by “acting normal”.
What is your greatest hope for the LGBTQ community in Western Pennsylvania? Achieving gay space luxury communism. Hey, a boy can dream!
What can allies do to support your LGBTQ community? Shut up and listen
How can gay men and lesbians support the bisexual, transgender and queer members of our community? Shut up and listen
What motivated you to take part in this project? A friend shared it on Facebook and I had the time. I never really need an excuse to be outspoken about queer and trans issues.
Finally, what question should I have asked? Please also share your answer. Can’t really think of anything, there’s always more to say but I think this is a good overview.
Thank you, Seth.
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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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