This June, we are honoring Pride and highlighting our LGBTQ+ members! Meet Olivia

“Hey ya’ll! My name is Olivia & I live in Lancaster with my wife, older daughter & her partner, two grandbabies, younger daughter, three pups, a cat & two chickens. There is literally NEVER a dull moment. I was born & raised in Lancaster and feel very grateful to call this place home. I’ve worked in the nonprofit world for nearly twenty years with a focus on disability rights, equity & human services. “

Q: What are some of your most cherished moments or memories from past Pride celebrations? Is there a particular Pride event or experience that stands out to you?

A:“In 2009, Lancaster Pride’s second year (I believe), the festival was held at Buchanan Park. I was an advisor for Hempfield High School’s GSA & the kids had worked hard making necklaces and bracelets and banners & other items to sell to raise money for GSA events and activities. We showed up early- set up our stand- and it started raining. And raining. AND raining. By the end of Pride we were all covered in mud, soaked and utterly euphoric- a memory I’ll cherish forever. The kids had an amazing time, the rain did not dampen any spirits (HA!) and we all had a blast. Now, when I go to Pride, I love seeing the diversity & beauty in our community- from allies to folks who’ve just come out to elders who have paved the way & fought for the rights & privileges we have today. It sounds so cliché- but that’s my favorite part- the beauty in everyone’s unique story that comes together to celebrate as one.”

Q: In your opinion, what is the most significant progress or positive change that the LGBTQ+ community has achieved in recent years? How does it inspire you personally?

A:“It always feels a little wild to ‘live through history’. I mean- we all do this, but to step back & reflect on it is…something. I’m in my 30’s, and I’ve experienced my marriage going from being ‘illegal’ in the eyes of the state & federal government to being legal, my wife’s service in the Army go from ‘Don’t Ask Don’t Tell’ to allowing servicemembers to serve openly, LGBTQ+ TV shows & movies go from being very niche and low-budget to Queer characters being key stars of mainstream casts- and the list goes on. BUT there is still SO much work to be done. In PA- someone can be fired for being LGBTQ+, kicked out of housing for being LGBTQ+ or denied basic accommodations for being LGBTQ+- because we’re not protected under nondiscrimination laws. PA House Bill 300- the PA Fairness Act- would amend existing legislation to include LGBTQ+ folks and ensure EVERYONE is protected. It’s an important time to tell our state reps that PA needs to pass this bill.”

Q: Can you share a heartwarming or funny anecdote related to your LGBTQ+ journey or experiences? Something that brings a smile to your face when you think about it during Pride Month.

A:I attend my first Pride Fest in 2006 with my now wife, along the river in Harrisburg. The schedule listed ‘Female Illusionists’, which I naively assumed preformed some type of magic or illusions show! HA! Imagine my surprise when it was suddenly attending my first Drag Show! We were having a blast until one of the preforms had a -significant- wardrobe malfunction that was SO hilarious. The Queen artfully recovered & I still laugh about how shocked & embarrassed I was.”

Q: How has the Lancaster and/or TCF community impacted your LGBTQ+ journey? Any tips for connecting with others locally?

A:“TCF has cultivated the most welcoming environment- where there is such beautiful, universal acceptance & belonging. That has really stood out to me. Lancaster County can feel like a difficult place to be open about who you are- but there are amazing places like TCF- where you can be authentically accepted for who you are- no matter who that is. If you’re looking to connect & build community- you can start small. Check out an event Lancaster Pride’s hosting this month or visit a group at the Lancaster LGBTQ+ Coalition. You can find your people- there’re out there, I promise.”