Bill, 62, is a Gay Man Being Visible in Mercer County #AMPLIFY

Gay Man Mercer County


 I remember in New Castle the highest paying factory job was impossible for gay men to get because they relied on reference only from people who already worked there and there was an understanding among them that they wouldn’t give a positive reference to a gay man.

Name: Bill

Age: 62

County of Residence: Mercer County, formerly Lawrence County

Pronouns: Him/he

How do you describe your identity? Gay male

Please describe your coming out experience. Where did you find support? What challenges did you face?  Didn’t come out till after my parents passed away. Knew that they were way too opposed, so I didn’t even go there. Two months later I was out to all my friends without any problem.

How would you describe yourself NOW in terms of “being out”? My life is great I’m married to a wonderful man.

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Tell me about the first LGBTQ person whom you met. What impact did they have on your life? He was a classmate in Jr high. He was also a sexual predator. I just avoided him. There wasn’t much impact to my life. He ended up getting arrested for burglary and sent to youth detention and was out of my life for good

Past or present, favorite LGBTQ character or creator in television, film or literature? Please tell us why. The characters of Modern Family in a humorous way depict the way we really are. I think it helps the straight world see that we are real people.

How do you stay informed about LGBTQ issues? Internet

Describe your geographical community. We live in Sharon very close to downtown. We’re not experiencing any negative reactions. We are part of the art community which is very strong and very gay friendly. I work at the big box home improvement store and I do hear customers conversations many of whom are very proud Trump conservatives that are anti gay and racist also.

Describe your local or regional LGBTQ community. We have no community. That’s the problem. When I was single I would meet gay couples at events like Waterfire and we could have a great conversation and I would invite them to my house or to socialize with them and never got a response. Now that I’m married it’s still the same. I know these couples I’ve met are considerably above my income level and I’ve met more discrimination from people over that than being gay. It seems there are so many low income leeches in this area that neither gay or straight people want to interact with people below their income level.

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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.  Only had a problem in my first job. Was called a few insulting names. I didn’t report it because I knew I was leaving the job soon.

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. I have been asked which one is the man. I always answered that both of us are

Tell us about your access to health care in Western PA. Has it been LGBTQ competent (or not?) Never any problem with any of our doctors they have been wonderful. I did have a problem with a nurse when I was with my first partner and my doctor fired her.

Are there issues impacting your LGBTQ neighbors that aren’t visible or part of the local dialogue? I do know of one gender fluid person that is having a hard time staying employed and is sometimes homeless. There is also a drug problem going on in this situation so they are not welcome with their family

What would you like to see elected officials do to improve life for LGBTQ Pennsylvanians? Be as antiTrump as possible.

Please share a lived experience, anecdote or fact about life as an LGBTQ person in your community. I remember in New Castle the highest paying factory job was impossible for gay men to get because they relied on reference only from people who already worked there and there was an understanding among them that they wouldn’t give a positive reference to a gay man.

Beyond discrimination, what other barriers create challenges for your LGBTQ neighbors? We have no unity here

What LGBTQ friendly resources are available for your neighbors? We have none. Closest organization is in Youngstown Ohio

What is your greatest fear for the LGBTQ community in Western Pennsylvania?  With Trump being so antigay it’s empowered the redneck community. I fear they my start harassing the gay people.

What is your greatest hope for the LGBTQ community in Western Pennsylvania? We get a normal President

What pieces of local or regional LGBTQ history would you like to preserve and why? We have none

What can allies do to support your LGBTQ community? Vote Blue

How can gay men and lesbians support the bisexual, transgender and queer members of our community? Just stand against harassment. If you see it say something

What motivated you to take part in this project? We need a community. We need to be visible

Finally, what question should I have asked? Please also share your answer. How many people are still living in the closet and why?

Thank you, Bill

Read the entire AMPLIFY LGBTQ Q&A archive.

Submit your own Q&A using our online form.

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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