In honor of LGBT History Month, I’ve asked several friends to share something that they consider significant with regard to the regional LGBTQ experience. Here, Mandy L Kivowitz-Delfaver also known as Phat Man Dee, responds. I’ll admit that she made me tear up quite a bit. ~ Sue
My friend Sue Kerr of the wonderful blog Pittsburgh Lesbian Correspondents asked me to
recount an especially memorable moment in my life in Pittsburgh as an LBGTQIA ally…. and it’s an interesting thing to ask of me.
Because while I am for the most part functionally heterosexual, for I mostly am attracted to men or male identified people. I say mostly because I have a few lovely ladies who I’ve been blessed to appreciate romantically over the years. Not a bunch, not more than what you could even count on one hand…. but a few sweethearts with whom I’m still friends. At a young age (15) I came out as bisexual in the school magazine “Allderdice Free Press” and I wish I still had it… I’d love to remember what I said…. but I DO remember what happened afterwards…. I remember girls trying to beat me up in the locker room and boys trying to beat me up on the way home. My sister Elizabeth Kivowitz (11 at the time) was much tougher than I was and without my knowledge went out and stalked these would be bashers and beat them up badly enough they mostly left me alone.
I found community outside of high school anyways. I found my tribe at Pegasus and Zacks Fourth Avenue all ages nights and at the late night showing of Rocky Horror Picture Show at the Kings Court. I even joined Pittsburgh Queer Theatre. Men in fishnets and glitter lips and women in biker jackets and I knew I’d “arrived”!!! It became pretty clear pretty quick that bi was not actually gay…. or so I was told…. but like I said I’m MOSTLY functionally straight…. so I don’t worry on it too much. But I wonder if I’m an ally or a member of the LGBTQIA community…. but it doesn’t matter….. in the end I realize I’m definitely benefiting from CIS het privilege, so I do my best to defend those who need it and help when needed.
I think my most recent experience defending someone was when they wanted to join my voice class which is mostly comprised of young ladies. They asked if they could be in the class, and as they were a youth and therefore they’d be destined to be in my class and not the adult voice class, even though the adult class is more co-ed. One little girl came to me and sensing their potential “differences” the would be student has a ton of “flair and fabulosity” shall we say?? And she said to me “What IS he?!???” And I said “They are a student, who wants to sing, who has excellent taste in spandex stretch pants, my dear!” And she asked again “yes but what is he?!??” And I said “Child that is a person who wants to sing and that’s all we need to know”.
So they joined my class and everyone learned to sing together and I’m very proud of both of them. That is my story of trying to be an ally in Pittsburgh without calling anyone out or calling too much attention to them. Being an ally doesn’t always mean having a big loud battle, sometimes it’s small and matter of fact. We’re all people and however we’ve been made is in the image of the divine energy of love and creation, and creative love energy comes in all shapes, sizes, colors and forms.
Thank you, Mandy.