LGBTQ Proud – Pride Profiles
University of Pittsburgh School of Law class of 2020 graduate
What does Pride mean to you?
Pride to me is all about putting authenticity on display. Frequently as LGBTQ people operating in a heteronormative world, we self-police and modify our behavior in order to maintain societal norms and not come across as overtly or intimidatingly queer. Pride is the opportunity to shed all those preconceived notions and place your true self on display as a multi-faceted member of society. Pride represents an ideal worth fighting for, a world where individuals are viewed holistically and their lived experiences are validated, cherished and accepted.
What do you find inspirational about Pride?
Pride is a celebration of the struggle by our LGBTQ foremothers and forefathers who endured the societal, political, and emotional struggle to improve the lives of LGBTQ people and solidify rights for future generations. Pride month provides the opportunity to reflect on the milestones that our community has achieved and provides a context for each of us to evaluate our actions and measure how they are advancing the cause for future generations of LGBTQ individuals.
What is your favorite LGBTQ character from a movie, TV show, or book and why?
My favorite LGBTQ character is probably Michael Novotny from the US adaptation of Queer As Folk. As a child of the 90s there were not many visible LGBTQ characters on TV that were not used as one episode comic relief or as a vehicle for a short-lived HIV/AIDS plot-line. This is what made Michael Novotny, and Queer as Folk as a show, so impactful for me. Queer as Folk displayed LGBTQ characters in full color, living lives that were interesting and complex while never shying away from the sexual nature of being homosexual. Michael specifically represented something I had never seen before, a gay man who was living an ordinary life looking for love (and who eventually navigated the subject of HIV/AIDS in a relationship, providing a sense of normalcy to a typically sensationalized topic).
What movie, TV show, or book would you recommend to someone who wants to be a better LGBTQ ally?
I would recommend RuPaul’s Drag Race to someone who is looking to be a better LGBTQ ally. While I am personally biased as Drag Race is my favorite TV show in general, and has been for many years, I believe the show broaches LGBTQ topics in an entertaining and accessible way. Viewers are presented with LGBTQ performers who present their success stories, struggles, and aspirations in an entertaining competition format that is unequivocally and unapologetically queer. Plus, LGBTQ advocacy aside, the show is chock-full of shade, fierce reads, and show-stopping looks.
Who is your LGBTQ hero or role model and why?
My LGBTQ hero is Laverne Cox. Laverne as an African-American Transgender woman experienced mainstream success with Orange Is The New Black and rather than using her notoriety to advance her career, she shared the stage with her LGBTQ brothers and sisters, using her platform to advocate for LGBTQ Rights. She has also never shied away from uncomfortable conversations and remained steadfast when transgender rights were not a hot topic in mainstream society. Laverne is a success.
What are your feelings about starting your career as a young LGBTQ lawyer in the world today?
I am optimistic as a young LGBTQ lawyer joining the profession. The last few years have seen major advancements for LGBTQ individuals and this work was all championed by the the legal profession. I also believe that many law firms have begun to embrace a more comprehensive view of diversity in the legal view and value the perspective that LGBTQ attorneys bring. As an LGBTQ law student I have been mentored by so many incredible attorneys who took the time to believe in me, to mentor me and to expand my horizons in the Pittsburgh market.
What do you hope to achieve in your legal career?
I would say that I, like most people, want to create a career of significance. After five years of graduate schooling (two years of grad school before law school), I am ready to dive into the profession and really carve out a place for myself. Law school has shown me how impactful attorneys can be, both locally and within the larger societal context, and I would love to be able to contribute to the advancement of LGBTQ people, and our culture at large. While COVID-19 has changed the employment landscape and life after the Pennsylvania Bar Exam is more difficult to predict than anyone previously expected, I remain optimistic about my future and look forward to establishing my full-time legal career in the Pittsburgh area and working to serve the LGBTQ community as much as I can.