PRIDE Interview

By Ashley Staley

To celebrate PRIDE month, Chrysalis Pops manager Ashley Staley interviewed two members of the Chrysalis Community and asked them to share some of their lived experience being part of the LGBTQIA+ community.  Chrysalis Clubhouse Supervisor, Kathy Ziegert and Chrysalis Pops participant Alex share important details about the hardship and hope of this transformational community.  

Thank you KZ and Alex for sharing your story, we appreciate and support you!

1. When did you know? What was it like for you to come out, if you have come out?

KZ: I had some sense in high school when I wished my Speed (movie) poster had Sandra Bullock on it instead of Keanu Reeves. I didn’t actually know until age 19 during college when I ended up having a panic attack while walking to class.  Therapy helped and I was able to surround myself with supportive people. 

Alex: I kinda knew when I was 12/13. I grew up in a homophobic/transphobic household. It was daunting to come out, it was kind of intense. I fisrt came out as bisexual – now I’d identify as queer and asexual. It’s been a journey.

2. How does being a part of the LGBTQIA+ community impact your mental health? (thinking about societal factors, cultural factors, relationships, personal well-being, life satisfaction, stigma, sense of community, etc)

KZ: It certainly impacted my mental health as a young adult. I definitely chose paths that lead me to having co-workers and a community that supported my identity, from staying in Madison to choosing Social Work as a profession. Now that I’m in my 40s, having made these choices earlier, I don’t see this part of my identity impacting my mental health very much. 

Alex: It’s been both reassuring to be a part of a community and terrifying because there is so much hate against the LGBTQ community. I’m afraid to hold my girlfriend’s hand in public, and I’m constantly being misgendered. I’ve been lucky in the sense my parents didn’t disown or kick me out. But they still haven’t accepted who I am.

3. What do you wish people would know or understand more about being a part of the “alphabet mafia”?

KZ: I wish our larger society could embrace the gray and see fluidity with all sorts of ways to express oneself. I also wish we could focus on our commonalities vs our differences. 

Alex: It’s A. not a choice and B. it’s not dangerous – we’re not trying to convert people, we’re not coming after your kids, we’re just trying to love. We want the same rights as straight cis white men.

4. What brings you joy or makes you proud as a member of the LGBTQIA+ community?  

KZ: It brings me joy when my daughter can stand up in her 2nd grade classroom and proudly state she comes from a family with two moms. And it makes me proud that her classmates and school support her. 

Alex: We’ve come so far. I’m proud of our struggle- we shouldn’t have had to struggle, but we have and we’ve come so far. We need to keep working on our issues, but we’ve come a long way. There is gay equality in some states and the flag has been updated to represent more members of the community.