Name: Brian Kleber
County of Residence: Westmoreland County
How do you describe your identity? Trans nonbinary masculine presenting queer sexual
Please describe your coming out experience. Where did you find support? What challenges did you face? I originally came out as a cis-gender lesbian because I didn’t have the words for what I was feeling until I met my first somewhat open trans woman. I immediately identified with the trans part of her story. That sparked the start of my gender identity exploration.
Where I found support was and still is mainly online. I am involved with a bunch of transgender Facebook group pages and I’ve made friends amongst a lot of queer friends (many whom happen to be clergy in the United Methodist Church). I do however attend a local United Methodist Church where my senior pastor happens to be my biggest face-to-face supporter.
Challenges I face are there is a lack of LGBTQA resources within Westmoreland County. There is a local PFLAG that meets once a month on a Sunday that I recently started attending. Other than that, there really isn’t much. Hence why a majority of my support comes from online sources.
How would you describe yourself NOW in terms of “being out”? Being out now is actually easier for me. It was scary and uncharted waters at first. But I am now completely open about being trans and nonbinary. This has brought a new level of freedom and a weight has been lifted off my shoulders. I am free to be me. I am living as my true self and have a full, happy life.
Tell me about the first LGBTQ person whom you met. What impact did they have on your life? I have a friend who happens to be trans nonbinary and is a deacon in my denomination. I have yet to meet them in person but we talk very frequently through Facebook messenger. They have become a dear friend, mentor in the faith, and are my pastor for queer issues related to my faith. My friend has managed to walk with me through hard times and good times. They. Have showed me it’s possible to be both queer and Christian.
Past or present, favorite LGBTQ character or creator in television, film or literature? Please tell us why. Rev Elizabeth Edman writer of Queer Virtue. She wrote this amazing book that explains how our queer identity and Christian identity co-inside with each other & how Christianity is inherently queer in nature. She really changed my theological beliefs and impacted my faith through this book.
How do you stay informed about LGBTQ issues? Through FB, Greensburg PFLAG and other online resources
Describe your geographical community. It is both rural and urban, but I live directly in an urban part of my community. It is not very LGBTQ friendly because it is a highly conservative religious community with people who are not very progressive.
Describe your local or regional LGBTQ community. The only real LGBTQ community we have in Westmoreland County is PFLAG. Our PFLAG is small but it is nice to have something rather than nothing.
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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. Yes, I was kicked out of my home church of 10 years for coming out.
Have you experienced microaggressions based on your identity? Think everyday indignities & slights that you experience, but would not characterize as discrimination. Please describe in your own words. I am constantly misgendered or treated as a female even when clearly am dressed as a man. People will say sorry but a lot of times they don’t mean it.
Tell us about your access to health care in Western PA. Has it been LGBTQ competent (or not?) Westmoreland County has no LGBTQ competent doctors that I have been able to find. I have to go to Monroeville for my hormones and Pittsburgh for gender therapy services. I am hoping to one day have easier access.
Are there issues impacting your LGBTQ neighbors that aren’t visible or part of the local dialogue? The lack of acceptance, welcoming, inclusive and affirming places of worship.
What would you like to see elected officials do to improve life for LGBTQ Pennsylvanians? More resources for places other than Pittsburgh.
Please share a lived experience, anecdote or fact about life as an LGBTQ person in your community. When I came out to my current pastor as transgender, her response was “You look like a Brian. Have you picked a middle name yet?” She kept on loving, accepting, welcoming, and affirming me even after I came out.
Beyond discrimination, what other barriers create challenges for your LGBTQ neighbors? Lack of LGBTQ-specific resources
What LGBTQ friendly resources are available for your neighbors? PFLAG Greensburg, LGTBQ Interfaith Network, Persad
What is your greatest fear for the LGBTQ community in Western Pennsylvania? We will continue to face persecution for who we are and who we love.
What is your greatest hope for the LGBTQ community in Western Pennsylvania? That we will be welcomed with open arms.
What can allies do to support your LGBTQ community? Ask us our pronouns and how we identify and what we need individually because everyone is different.
How can gay men and lesbians support the bisexual, transgender and queer members of our community? To recognize that bisexual, transgender, nonbinary and queer members exist and we have every right to be in community with you. Help us by backing us up when you see others putting us down if we are out or just in general.
What motivated you to take part in this project? Talking with someone I met
Finally, what question should I have asked? Please also share your answer. I can’t think of anything.
Thank you, Brian.
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.