As an elderly Queer person, I chronically worry about and struggle with poverty and homelessness. And I’m aware that there are a lot of local Queer and Trans folks who are homeless or struggling with food insecurity.
County of Residence: Allegheny County, previously San Francisco
Pronouns: He/Him & They/Them
How do you describe your identity? Nonbinary Transmasculine & Queer. Hedonist, Kinkster, Pansexual & Polyam. Satanist. Asian Pacific Islander, disabled, medically retired.
Please describe your coming out experience. Where did you find support? What challenges did you face? My parents and extended family do not accept my gender or sexuality. It was obvious that I was genderqueer at a very young age (5). My family severely physically and emotionally abused me for my whole life and made me homeless when I came out as Queer at 19. I found support within the very small NC LGBT community where I lived at the time. Other Queer folks gave me a couch to sleep on and helped me to get a job at the local gay bar.
How would you describe yourself NOW in terms of “being out”? I’m fairly out as far as my gender expression and sexual preferences. I don’t make it a point to out myself to everyone, but I’m certainly not ashamed of who I am.
Tell me about the first LGBTQ person whom you met. What impact did they have on your life? When I was in the 7th grade, my next door neighbor was a teen girl who was my age. She always talked about her attraction to both boys and girls. Having her as a friend gave me a lot of permission to explore my own bisexuality. She was my very first sexual partner.
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Past or present, favorite LGBTQ character or creator in television, film or literature? Please tell us why. My favorite LGBTQ TV characters are Jack and Karen from the comedy show, Will & Grace. They’re hilarious and make the perfect Fag and his Hag.
How do you stay informed about LGBTQ issues? Mostly Facebook groups and local friends.
Describe your geographical community. I live just outside of downtown Pittsburgh, so it’s not quite as LGBTQ friendly, but I feel very safe here.
Describe your local or regional LGBTQ community. Pittsburgh is very diverse and Queer friendly. There’s a fairly large nonbinary and transgender community. There’s a large and active LGBTQ and Kinky community here, with several bars and adult clubs.
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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, many times. I have definitely experienced job and housing discrimination throughout my life because of my gender and sexuality.
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. Yes, I have. I experience micro aggressions such as people staring and giving me dirty looks, or misgendering me, or by asking inappropriate or embarrassing personal questions.
Tell us about your access to health care in Western PA. Has it been LGBTQ competent (or not?) Yes, I’ve been fortunate to be able to receive LGBTQ competent healthcare here. Yes, I expect it to be competent because Pittsburrgh is known for its world class medical hospitals.
Are there issues impacting your LGBTQ neighbors that aren’t visible or part of the local dialogue? I think that homeless services for LGBTQ folks could be a lot better. As an elderly Queer person, I chronically worry about and struggle with poverty and homelessness. And I’m aware that there are a lot of local Queer and Trans folks who are homeless or struggling with food insecurity.
What would you like to see elected officials do to improve life for LGBTQ Pennsylvanians? Better legal protection against job & housing discrimination. Better legal protections and safer living conditions for LGBTQ inmates. Harsher legal penalties for LGBTQ violence and hate crimes.
Please share a lived experience, anecdote or fact about life as an LGBTQ person in your community. I want to have my own experiences with gender and sexuality, and to be free to safely express my masculinity and femininity as I choose.
Beyond discrimination, what other barriers create challenges for your LGBTQ neighbors? Lack of access to public transportation makes it difficult or impossible to work at particular jobs. Lack of access to better paying jobs keeps many of us in poverty.
What LGBTQ friendly resources are available for your neighbors? Central Wellness Outreach Center. Metro Community Health Center. Persad Center. Pittsburgh Transmasculine Facebook group.
What is your greatest fear for the LGBTQ community in Western Pennsylvania? My greatest fear is having Republicans or other conservatives in public office continually trying to strip my humanity and rights away.
What is your greatest hope for the LGBTQ community in Western Pennsylvania? My greatest hope is for an even larger and more diverse LGBTQ community, and the competent medical services, jobs, housing, and transit to support it.
What pieces of local or regional LGBTQ history would you like to preserve and why? I don’t know.
What can allies do to support your LGBTQ community? Become politically active. Vote. Write or call representatives. Attend community meetings. Protest.
How can gay men and lesbians support the bisexual, transgender and queer members of our community? Include us in all events. Help raise money to support basic human needs services.
What motivated you to take part in this project? I think participation is important if one wants to see community improvements.
Finally, what question should I have asked? Please also share your answer. N/A
Thank you, Vincent.
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.