County of Residence: Allegheny County, formerly Butler and Mercer counties, and a year away in Saint Augustine, Florida
How do you describe your identity? I am a genderqueer artist
Please describe your coming out experience. Where did you find support? What challenges did you face? I did not come out until I was I think 22 years old. I grew up in a certain kind of Christian suburb and attended a college generally regarded as anti LGBT, so any knowledge I had of my sexuality came late and was seen as shameful. I never officially came out, I just started living my life.
How would you describe yourself NOW in terms of “being out”? I sort of came out again as someone under the trans umbrella this past year and in terms of being out now, I feel honest and proud hope and connected to the people around me.
Tell me about the first LGBTQ person whom you met. What impact did they have on your life? No response.
Past or present, favorite LGBTQ character or creator in television, film or literature? Please tell us why. Mykki Blanco is my current favorite LGBTQ creator- a total powerhouse of strength straddling so many lines in fashion, film, music, performance, and current issues while having an unrelenting vulnerability with their communities.
How do you stay informed about LGBTQ issues? I am lucky to be surrounded by active and inquisitive queer people who haven’t stopped asking questions about the world.
Describe your geographical community. I live in an urban community in an arts driven neighborhood. The LGBTQ community is active in shaping a safe Pittsburgh, so when it doesn’t feel safe, action is taken.
Describe your local or regional LGBTQ community. I am proud of where I see our community heading. I know performers and artists and thinkers who commit their time to making great work and giving back to those in need. Pittsburgh feels mobilized, and I think we are often looked upon because of everything going on with the cities constant changes.
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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 was mugged in New York a few years ago with all of my cash from the gig and when I returned to Pittsburgh and went to my bank to discuss any sort of aid like freezing my account from insufficient funds, I was looked on as a person with acrylic nails and a glue in weave and I was laughed at. I’ve never felt outright discrimination in the work place, but I’ve definitely felt that there are certain parts of my identity that I am not allowed to present that any biological woman in the same job is allowed to do. I don’t work in those places anymore and am blessed to be working in a job that is extremely inclusive.
Tell us about your access to health care in Western PA. Has it been LGBTQ competent (or not?) I feel informed of good options for Health Care but have definitely felt weary in the past of seeking certain care.
Are there issues impacting your LGBTQ neighbors that aren’t visible or part of the local dialogue? Trans people, women, femmes and QPOC are consistently subject to erasure.
What would you like to see elected officials do to improve life for LGBTQ Pennsylvanians? Accessible healthcare and workplace protections.
Please share a lived experience, anecdote or fact about life as an LGBTQ person in your community. No response.
Beyond discrimination, what other barriers create challenges for your LGBTQ neighbors? Pittsburgh is a progressing city and often the result of progress is that those who aren’t given agency or privilege are left behind.
What LGBTQ friendly resources are available for your neighbors? PATF, Persad, OpenHouse PGH
What is your greatest fear for the LGBTQ community in Western Pennsylvania? Assimilation.
What is your greatest hope for the LGBTQ community in Western Pennsylvania? Safety, representation, and compassion. None of these things have ever been inherently given to us, and my hope is that we will every day fight to fully realize ourselves and our freedoms and help others to do the same.
What can allies do to support your LGBTQ community? Listen.
How can gay men and lesbians support the bisexual, transgender and queer members of our community? Listen to them. Love them. Protect them.
What motivated you to take part in this project? It’s such a valuable documentation of Pittsburgh and I’m honored to be part of it.
Finally, what question should I have asked? Please also share your answer. Who should have won Best Hair in the Pittsburgh City Paper’s Annual Readers Poll? the moon baby.
Thank you, Sam. (I voted for the moon baby.)
Read the entire AMPLIFY LGBTQ Q&A archive.
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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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