County of Residence: Erie
Pronouns: She, her
How do you describe your identity? I am a queer, bisexual woman.
Please describe your coming out experience. Where did you find support? What challenges did you face? I first came out to friends. Thankfully they were very supportive. My husband was amazing, but that’s no surprise. He’s my biggest supporter. I didn’t really face any challenges. I lost a couple of friends, but it was for the best if they didn’t accept me. Family reacted better than I expected.
How would you describe yourself NOW in terms of “being out”? I’m about 95% out, but I feel so free now. It’s amazing to be able to be your authentic self. I didn’t realize how much of a difference I’d feel after coming out. I first came out to friends. Thankfully they were very supportive. My husband was amazing, but that’s no surprise. He’s my biggest supporter. I didn’t really face any challenges. I lost a couple of friends, but it was for the best if they didn’t accept me. Family reacted better than I expected.
Tell me about the first LGBTQ person whom you met. What impact did they have on your life? The first lgbtq person I knew was a cousin. They showed me at a young age that it was okay to be lgbtq.
Past or present, favorite LGBTQ character or creator in television, film or literature? Please tell us why. Callie from Grey’s Anatomy, played by Sara Ramirez. I love how they portrayed her, they didn’t make her out to be a villain or promiscuous because of her bisexuality.
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How do you stay informed about LGBTQ issues? I keep up mainly online. Facebook groups, local newsletters, news sites.
Describe your geographical community. Now that I think of it I’d probably consider this area both urban and rural. We have a larger city, but surrounded by rural areas. It’s pretty lgbtq friendly.
Describe your local or regional LGBTQ community. I think we have a decent sized lgbtq community in my area. There are a number of resources available which is nice.
Have you ever experienced discrimination based on your identity? Specifically, in a job setting, when applying for housing or while in public. Being in a different sex marriage I guess I have what some would consider straight passing privilege. I haven’t faced discrimination in public, but having that type of “privilege” helps erase your identity which is damaging to yourself and the community.
Tell us about your access to health care in Western PA. Has it been LGBTQ competent (or not?) I haven’t encountered problems with healthcare.
Are there issues impacting your LGBTQ neighbors that aren’t visible or part of the local dialogue? No response.
What would you like to see elected officials do to improve life for LGBTQ Pennsylvanians? I would love for there to be a state wide conversion therapy ban. We need to protect our youth.
Please share a lived experience, anecdote or fact about life as an LGBTQ person in your community. I’ve had to correct people before about how being lgbtq isn’t a lifestyle choice. It’s not a lifestyle, it’s not a choice. It’s just who we are.
Beyond discrimination, what other barriers create challenges for your LGBTQ neighbors? No response.
What LGBTQ friendly resources are available for your neighbors? We have the Pennsylvania Equality Project that focuses on our area. We have a small local group starting that’s an extension of the main org and it would be amazing if we could grow. I follow Erie Gay News to keep up with local events. There are lgbtq support groups at different mental health facilities too.
What is your greatest fear for the LGBTQ community in Western Pennsylvania? That rights will be taken away by our current political administration.
What is your greatest hope for the LGBTQ community in Western Pennsylvania? That we can continue to grow in visibility. That everyone is treated as equals.
What can allies do to support your LGBTQ community? Be open minded and stand up for us.
How can gay men and lesbians support the bisexual, transgender and queer members of our community? As a bisexual we face biphobia from both the straight and lg members of our community. That needs to stop especially in our own community. We need to be accepted like anyone else.
What motivated you to take part in this project? I wanted to help increase bi visibility. I also wanted to speak out to help our youth. After the last election I have become more vocal about my identity.
Finally, what question should I have asked? Please also share your answer. Did you come out early in life or later? I came out as an adult and feel that helped my experience. I was more secure in myself. I didn’t come out as a teen because I wasn’t accepting of myself.
Thank you, Tanha.
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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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