Name: Kool Kase
County of Residence: Allegheny, formerly Butler County
How do you describe your identity? Female, lesbian
Please describe your coming out experience. Where did you find support? What challenges did you face? My challenges came from those same people I looked at for support. I was always an outgoing person and not one to hide things, prior to me coming out I became a bit of a private person not wanting to be around my friends and family due to not knowing how they would look at me. I told one of my sisters, two of my cousins, and one of my closet friends first all separately. They all said the same thing “I know I was wondering when you would come out” from there I was relieved. I was worried they would judge or flip out. That burden was lifted, I was back to being myself. I was out to everyone bringing my girlfriend to everything. Everyone was accepting and didn’t judge at all.
How would you describe yourself NOW in terms of “being out”? I would describe myself as Free. I’m worry-free and a free spirit. Happily at peace with myself.
Tell me about the first LGBTQ person whom you met. What impact did they have on your life? The first LGBTQ person I met was a transgender (male to female). I was about 6 years old. It was so strange to me I didn’t quite understand it. She was my neighbor. It was kind of scary because she was mean to all the kids on the street. My dad told me she was harmless and not to worry, from that point on I wasn’t afraid of her, but I always watched her. That made me realize to be yourself no matter what and to stand firm on your beliefs. No matter if people judged her, teased her, etc she stayed true to herself and her beliefs. None of that made her say “I was born a man so I’ll stay a man” she continued her journey and transformation.
Past or present, favorite LGBTQ character or creator in television, film or literature? Please tell us why. Ellen Degeneres…. I love Ellen’s personality.
How do you stay informed about LGBTQ issues? I stay informed by social media, news outlets, etc.
Describe your geographical community. The city is LGBTQ friendly. There are a lot of establishments we can attend that caters to us. I feel as though each year Pittsburgh is becoming more friendly to our community.
Describe your local or regional LGBTQ community. I believe my local LGBTQ community is developing and uniting with one another. There are a lot of groups within the community. For example there is always “Pride” then there is “Black Pride”, for the “urban”. There are people like myself that attends both and there is a lot more support from each for each other than there has been in the past which leads me to say its uniting.
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Have you ever experienced discrimination based on your identity? Specifically, in a job setting, when applying for housing or while in public. I’ve never experienced discrimination due to my identity as a lesbian. It’s been more sexist as far as being a woman in the business that I am in… entertainment.
Tell us about your access to health care in Western PA. Has it been LGBTQ competent (or not?) Access is open when it comes to Healthcare from my experience. There are many places we can attend as far as LGBTQ friendly facilities.
Are there issues impacting your LGBTQ neighbors that aren’t visible or part of the local dialogue? No, not to my experience.
What would you like to see elected officials do to improve life for LGBTQ Pennsylvanians? To actually show support by participating and/or attending events.
Please share a lived experience, anecdote or fact about life as an LGBTQ person in your community. A day to day reality I go through is the dress code at work. The dress code is business casual, so most of the women has heels and skirts. As a member of the LGBTQ community that doesn’t wear that kind of clothes this can be a difficult rule to follow. I get through daily with my loafers (flats) fitted dess pants and a dress shirt, still keeping my hair nice.
Beyond discrimination, what other barriers create challenges for your LGBTQ neighbors? Unity…
What LGBTQ friendly resources are available for your neighbors? Delta Foundation, Pittsburgh Black Pride, Impulse Pittsburgh
What is your greatest fear for the LGBTQ community in Western Pennsylvania? The city moves backwards in regards to uniting and supporting us as humans.
What is your greatest hope for the LGBTQ community in Western Pennsylvania? I hope we can all unite as one.
What can allies do to support your LGBTQ community? Attending events, sponsorship, etc.
How can gay men and lesbians support the bisexual, transgender and queer members of our community? Supporting rather its going to an event, purchasing, clothes, music, etc. Support with standing with them in fighting for our rights, etc
What motivated you to take part in this project? Speaking with Sue about it. I would like to be a voice within our community.
Finally, what question should I have asked? Please also share your answer. N/A
Thank you, Kase.
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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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