To date, the AMPLIFY project has published over 270 Q&A’s from the Western Pennsylvania region. These stories capture important moments in LGBTQ History, from the current day and extending as far back as the Kennedy Administration in terms of lived experiences of LGBTQ people.
I’ve asked some folks to weigh in on the impact of this project on their own lives and the larger community to help put the project in the proper context for LGBTQ History Month this October. We will publish as we receive the responses. If you would like to share your thoughts, please email us pghlesbian at gmail dot com.
These folks are both LGBTQ and allies. If they took the time to share, it is because they genuinely care about the project and the people who invest their everyday lives into the Q&A’s.
I think it’s imperative that we accomplices keep asking everyone we know in the LGBTQIA+ community to participate, while respecting the decisions of those who decide it’s not for them. All voices deserve to be heard.
Your Name: Anne E. Lynch
Your Age: 38
Your Pronouns: She/her
How do you describe your identity? Straight accomplice
Please tell us about the first LGBTQ person you met and what impact they had on your life? It’s difficult to identify the first LGBTQ person I met. Having grown up in a small town in the South, I knew people in high school who much later – and usually once they had moved hundreds to thousands of miles away – came out of the closet. So while I knew them earlier, I didn’t know them as openly LGBTQ. It was my freshman year of college at the University of Pittsburgh where I met the first openly LGBTQ people I know. It was a lovely feeling, knowing they did not have to hide their true selves here (unlike back in Louisiana). Seeing them live their lives with fearless authenticity, and seeing people whom I had known for years come out and do the same, truly made me wonder why so much hate was directed at them, and made me vow to always have their backs.
How does the AMPLIFY project resonate with you? I have loved reading peoples’ stories, especially the many whom I have known. Sometimes it hurts to read the oppression they’ve faced – some to the point of remaining anonymous. It’s important to sit with that feeling of hurt, recognizing that I can never actually know precisely how that oppression feels directly. I can use my voice to amplify the voices of those who have participated in situations where I am but they are not, such as the foundation community.
What moments or pieces of LGBTQ history from Western Pennsylvania do you think are overlooked, forgotten, or misunderstood? All of it! Being someone passionate about history, I think we don’t realize just what all has happened in Southwestern Pennsylvania regarding LGBTQ history. To that end, and largely inspired by this questionnaire, Three Rivers Community Foundation will be posting a piece of regional LGBTQ history tidbits every day in October on our Facebook and Twitter feeds.
There are an estimated 80,000-2000,000 LGBTQ residents of Western Pennsylvania per the 2010 Census. 270 have completed the Q&A. Whose voices are missing or underrepresented or simply not (yet) in this archive? How do we reach those people to invite them to contribute their stories? I would love to see some Indigenous contributions to the Q&A, along with more people of color in general. More contributors from outside Allegheny County would be a welcome read, too, as they often have needs and issues that we don’t hear as much about in the city. As to how to reach them, there’s the rub. It’s hard to open oneself up to answer the interview questions, I’m sure. It’s putting oneself on display, and not everyone is comfortable with that, even with the option of being anonymous. I think it’s imperative that we accomplices keep asking everyone we know in the LGBTQIA+ community to participate, while respecting the decisions of those who decide it’s not for them. All voices deserve to be heard.
What has #AMPLIFY taught you about the region’s LGBTQ community and our history?
The widespread history of racism within our LGBTQ community’s leadership has come, not as a shock per se, but has become so clear with the #AMPLIFY interviews I’ve read. That racism is also not history – it remains current.
Finally, during LGBT History Month in October, what one concrete action will you pledge to take to amplify our history? As mentioned above, I am using my position at Three Rivers Community Foundation to post regional LGBTQ history every day during October. I also pledge to write a guest post for Pittsburgh Lesbian Correspondents, to go more in-depth about a local LGBTQ history story. I look forward to seeing what other people pledge, so I can be inspired to do more.
Any other thoughts on the #AMPLIFY project or LGBTQ History Month? Keep going! This is a wonderful resource.
Thank you, Anne.
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Celebrate LGBTQ history!