Rachael, 21, Describes Bisexual Life in Rural Western PA #AMPLIFY

 

Butler Erie County Bisexual
Rachael has chosen not to submit an image

Being out feels a lot like there’s a clearer, more accurate presentation of myself being shared with the world and that’s how I prefer it.

Name:  Rachael

Age: 21

County of Residence: Butler County, formerly Erie County

Pronouns: She/Her

How do you describe your identity? Bisexual Cis and Caucasian

Please describe your coming out experience. Where did you find support? What challenges did you face? Some family members I haven’t explicitly said anything to, but my friends were clearly supportive of the LGBT+ community before I came out so I felt safe coming out to them. I originally came out to a few people in a GSA meeting in high school. People in this group were all great. During freshman year of college on coming out day, I came out on my social media accounts so it was public, and I told the person I was most scared to tell but still wanted her to know: my mom. I texted her because I knew I wouldn’t be able to say it outloud. From what I remember, she said it was a surprise but that she still loved me (vital info bc I was kinda afraid she might hate me). So, most of my support has been from my amazing friends (especially college ones) because there’s never really judgement, we all just love and reaffirm each other through everything. I think my biggest challenge was letting go of religion more because I understood myself and that I personally couldn’t agree with Catholicism the way I was raised with it. I’m still somewhat religous, but the organized religious body I largely disagree with.


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How would you describe yourself NOW in terms of “being out”? I have a bisexual pride flag that I hang around, so I’m pretty open about it. If people ask me in since and I feel comfortable, I’ll gladly let them know I’m bisexual. It’s like at this point those close to me all know, so there’s no reason for me to hide myself or not be authentically me when I know I’m comfortable with it. Being out feels a lot like there’s a clearer, more accurate presentation of myself being shared with the world and that’s how I prefer it.

Tell me about the first LGBTQ person whom you met. What impact did they have on your life? The first LGBTQ person I met was a middle school/high school friend. I 1st met them in middle school through softball, but once we were in the same high school, he was open to friends about being bi. It was pretty helpful in making me feel like people I knew at least also supported the community and allowed me to know someone else that identified like me, so him being out to our friends was a positive, self assuring impact on me.

Past or present, favorite LGBTQ character or creator in television, film or literature? Please tell us why. Tyler Carter, the vocalist for rock band ISSUES. The band’s song Never Lose Your Flames resonated with me and makes me cry when I see them play it live. His music has just really helped me feel stronger about myself and understand myself better.

How do you stay informed about LGBTQ issues? I follow activists and LGBTQ public figures to know what’s going on.

Describe your geographical community. I grew up in a more rural area so some people were obviously against queer people, but as I’ve gotten older I think more people have become aware they have loved ones in the community, so the area has gotten more open and friendly overtime.

Describe your local or regional LGBTQ community. A good majority of my community are my LGBTQ friends and queer content creators. I could also include my college’s LGBTQ organization.


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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.  I’ve not faced discrimination.

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.  A few kids in high school said things like “Gay is fine but bisexual isn’t, just pick one”. Comments like this have always sounded stupid to me, but I’ve generally not faced many situations based in being bisexual.

Tell us about your access to health care in Western PA. Has it been LGBTQ competent (or not?) I’m a dependent of my mother, but I don’t really have any opinion on their competency.

Are there issues impacting your LGBTQ neighbors that aren’t visible or part of the local dialogue? There are no problems I’m aware of.

What would you like to see elected officials do to improve life for LGBTQ Pennsylvanians? More protections for LGBTQ children and trans folks in general. Definitely work towards banning conversion therapy because the counties where I live and go to college both do not have bans.

Please share a lived experience, anecdote or fact about life as an LGBTQ person in your community. Being able to go to pride events or any inclusive spaces like concerts are SO mentally calming and healing to me. The presence of others you know support and understand you really can lift your mood.

Beyond discrimination, what other barriers create challenges for your LGBTQ neighbors? I’m not sure.

What LGBTQ friendly resources are available for your neighbors? SisTers PGH, Trevor project, You Can Play project

What is your greatest fear for the LGBTQ community in Western Pennsylvania?  That people will forget what brings us together as a community and fail to support one another as we should.

What is your greatest hope for the LGBTQ community in Western Pennsylvania? That we continue to grow out into more rural areas and keep supporting those in our community that need it.

What pieces of local or regional LGBTQ history would you like to preserve and why? N/A

What can allies do to support your LGBTQ community? Listen to the community, acknowledge and support LGBTQ people when they say theres an issue or that they need help.

How can gay men and lesbians support the bisexual, transgender and queer members of our community? Remember straight & cis passing members can and are able to be in the community, and you shouldnt appoint yourselves gatekeepers to the community for any reason. Respect us and remember we all want equal rights together.

What motivated you to take part in this project? I like helping all communities I’m a part of when possible.

Finally, what question should I have asked? Please also share your answer. Can’t think of any, sorry

 

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.