County of Residence: Allegheny
How do you describe your identity? Aromantic asexual Indian American
Please describe your coming out experience. Where did you find support? What challenges did you face? I came out through a video on facebook to friends. It was generally positive, although some of my female friends asked very intrusive offensive questions and some of my male friends still tried to date me.
How would you describe yourself NOW in terms of “being out”? I am not out at college except a few people in the LGBTQ club. I’m out in my LGBTQ meetup as well.
Tell me about the first LGBTQ person whom you met. What impact did they have on your life? My uncle who helped raise me. I didn’t know he was gay till I was a teenager so his sexuality had no impact on me to be honest.
Past or present, favorite LGBTQ character or creator in television, film or literature? Please tell us why. None. Nothing has really resonated with me yet. There’s Tod in Bojack Horseman but I don’t watch that show and only watched Tod’s asexual clips. I identify much more strongly with being aro and have yet to find a really good character who resonates with me.
How do you stay informed about LGBTQ issues? I hear about stuff on facebook but I generally don’t as they usually don’t apply to me. I find out about aro ace issues through various facebook pages.
Describe your geographical community. No. I think if I came out as aro ace at home or school people would be ok with it but they wouldn’t underatand and they’d ask inappropriate questions. I’ve frequently been pressured into dating men because people think I need to losen up and don’t consider that I might not be attracted to men.
Describe your local or regional LGBTQ community. Mostly older lesbians and trans people. There’s a new LGBTQ 20s meetup which is fun but still small so far. I started an aro ace meetup. Our first meeting is in 2 weeks.
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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. No.
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 can feel men ogling at me or having romantic intentions when speaking to me frequently in college. There are few women around so the men don’t know how to act sometimes.
Tell us about your access to health care in Western PA. Has it been LGBTQ competent (or not?) Health services and counseling at my school. It’s very inclusive to lgbtq students. It’s been extremely helpful.
Are there issues impacting your LGBTQ neighbors that aren’t visible or part of the local dialogue? Not sure.
What would you like to see elected officials do to improve life for LGBTQ Pennsylvanians? Have a more cohesive LGBTQ community. There are many different organizations that do different things. It’s hard to know where to find people. It’s also hard to find a community when first searching. There needs to be a better online and physical presence.
Please share a lived experience, anecdote or fact about life as an LGBTQ person in your community. I went to a lab to learn about research. One of the grad students was ogling at me and his friend laughed that he was getting “excited”. There was no awareness on their end that their behavior/words were inappropriate but alluding to my attractiveness in a professional setting is highly inappropriate. I must deal with such comments on a regular basis.
Beyond discrimination, what other barriers create challenges for your LGBTQ neighbors? Social isolation which causes depression
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What LGBTQ friendly resources are available for your neighbors? Meetups
What is your greatest fear for the LGBTQ community in Western Pennsylvania? Loneliness & depression/suicide
What is your greatest hope for the LGBTQ community in Western Pennsylvania? To be more active and visible
What pieces of local or regional LGBTQ history would you like to preserve and why? Dont know about local history.
What can allies do to support your LGBTQ community? I think all students should recieve sensitivity and awareness training. I don’t know about non-student communities.
How can gay men and lesbians support the bisexual, transgender and queer members of our community? Don’t make your communities just for gay & trans people. Don’t expect queer to mean those two things only. Don’t make lgbtq spaces just about sex or dating.
What motivated you to take part in this project? I was messaged
Finally, what question should I have asked? Please also share your answer. What makes you feel safe and comfortable? Platonic spaces where I can trust people to be my friend and nothing else.
Thank you, Priya
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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