Name: Rae Bush
County of Residence: Allegheny, previously Washington County
Pronouns: she / her
How do you describe your identity? White, Transgender Female, Irish, pansexual (if you love each other the sex can work itself out later), however I am currently monogamously a trans lesbian.
Please describe your coming out experience. Where did you find support? What challenges did you face? I am not yet completely out. I have out to public, and social media. I still have a (very republican) brother that is not yet aware. And I’m still in process of coming out at work. I’ve found some support online, and my workplace has a great LGBTQ+ employee resource group that has been with me and helping me along this path. Work also has a transitioning policy in place already and HR is being very helpful.
How would you describe yourself NOW in terms of “being out”? Almost there. However I’m beginning to tire. It’s not just burning the candle at both ends, it’s collecting the dripping wax to make a new candle. I would also describe myself as happy, more so than I have been in many years.
Tell me about the first LGBTQ person whom you met. What impact did they have on your life? In the neighborhood where I grew up there was a young gay boy. He hung out with the girls most of the time. They hung out with him and talked to him like one of their own. Some of these girls I considered to be my best friends but I never got to connect with them at the same level as he did. I was jealous so we didn’t get along well.
Past or present, favorite LGBTQ character or creator in television, film or literature? Please tell us why. I’ll overlook the fact that you slighted music and answer with Freddie Mercury and as a close second Rob Halford. Because they’ve shown the world that it doesn’t matter. A good song is a good song, and if the singer is gay it’s still a good song.
How do you stay informed about LGBTQ issues? Mostly via social media, following key people and pages.
Describe your geographical community. I’m suburban, I haven’t had any real issues like in stores or restaurants in my area. I have lived in rural areas where it was not lgbtq friendly. Much as I’d like to be in the country again, that’s probably not going to happen.
Describe your local or regional LGBTQ community. I’m going to start with my LGBTQ employee resource group.. they are wonderful and super supportive. The trans folk that I’ve met are warm and accepting. And I’m so glad for having met them. They have helped me simply by talking about the things they’ve encountered.
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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. Nope I haven’t had to deal with that yet.
Have you experienced microagressions based on your identity? Think everyday indignities & slights that you experience, but would not characterize as discrimination. Please describe in your own words. Oh yeah, just about every other time I go downtown. I’ll hear comments as I walk past. I’ve had people I’ve worked with for 20+ years suddenly decide they need me to be made aware of just how straight they are.
Tell us about your access to health care in Western PA. Has it been LGBTQ competent (or not?) I can’t evaluate that yet.
Are there issues impacting your LGBTQ neighbors that aren’t visible or part of the local dialogue? Yeah, I see a lot of alcoholism. Which makes sense because it seems like almost all the gathering spots are in bars.
Also, a lot of the community events aren’t easily accessible to employed single parents… for example events at Persad that start at 6 on a weekday… I can’t get home, feed the kid, and then get to Persad by 6. And events that start at 11:30 and go till 2am on a weekday.. seriously?
What would you like to see elected officials do to improve life for LGBTQ Pennsylvanians? I’ve lost all faith in politicians a long time ago. If there is one that happens to come along that’s really trying to make a difference then they could work on equality.
Please share a lived experience, anecdote or fact about life as an LGBTQ person in your community. I really don’t have anything here
Beyond discrimination, what other barriers create challenges for your LGBTQ neighbors? one word: RESTROOMS
What LGBTQ friendly resources are available for your neighbors? There’s lots of online resources available. Google really is your friend. Facebook lgbtq pages are useful too… surf a few to look at their posts… if they seem active and in touch then subscribe to the page.
What is your greatest fear for the LGBTQ community in Western Pennsylvania? trumpism. people who think that because an ass like trump is in office they can then act in any disrespectful or hurtful manner they choose without repercussions.
What is your greatest hope for the LGBTQ community in Western Pennsylvania? uhh… universal equality and acceptance
What can allies do to support your LGBTQ community? they can stand up and be the voice for us in stiuations where don’t have a voice yet.
How can gay men and lesbians support the bisexual, transgender and queer members of our community? open your hearts and understand we’re not so different. Accept us. Join in our conversations and be willing to help with our issues because some of the battles we are faced with are battles that they’ve already won.
What motivated you to take part in this project? I was asked. And after carefully vetting the person who asked I decided that maybe some of the things I say could help or inspire someone in the future
Finally, what question should I have asked? Please also share your answer. What places have you visited that you found to be LGBTQ friendly? Best Buy.. I’ve been there dressed androgynous with only my nails painted as a real clue to my gender. And the greeter nailed it.. addressed me as ma’am and was very polite.
Thank you, Rae.
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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