‘The word Queer means strength’

Briana Patterson, Ft. Knox/Radcliff

So here’s my story, the very short version:

I’m originally from Kentucky. I grew in an emotionally abusive household where I traumatized by my alcoholic father.

I moved to San Francisco when I was 18 to go to school for Graphic Design. I fell in love with SF and the culture. Over the years, my depression and childhood trauma began to surface and I began to battle with it on a daily basis.

I had abusive relationships of my own, began to self harm and attempted suicide multiple times.

My sexuality identity was the only thing about myself that I didnt hate. I got involved with the Kink community in SF and I realized that I wanted to start my own loose leaf tea business and become a Massage therapist so I could lead erotic massage workshops. I met my most recent ex at a kink event and it was love at first sight.

Fast forward a year. I had the most painful mental breakdown of my entire life when I quit my job to focus on my tea business. I couldn’t make enough money with my business and was no longer able to still life in San Francisco.

That was devastating. I moved in with my ex and was completely crippled by my depression. I began going to therapy and my life turned around.

I was able to work again and was feeling hopefull. My ex broke up with me because of the depression after almost four years together. Since I was getting better, he told me that I could handle the breakup. This was October 2018.

So I moved back home. December 2018.

Since I moved here, I walk beside my depression and anxiety. I’m not ashamed of them. They are part of my story and they do not define me.

What does the word queer mean to you? How do you identify?

The word Queer means strength, overcoming adversity and not answering to anyone about who you should be or who you should love. I identify as Queer because I love people and their stories regardless of gender or how they choose identify.

Why? Or why don’t you identify as anything at all?

I used to get so caught up in labeling myself because I thought I needed one to be able to communicate to people who I am and who I am attracted to. It used to cause me so much stress and I found my self always having to answer questions like “Why?” or “Since when?” or “Are you sure?”

Where are you originally from and explain how was it growing up/living in Kentucky?

I’m originally from Kentucky. I was born in Ft. Knox, moved around a little bit when I was younger and spent most of my childhood in Radcliff. I lived in an abusive household, so honestly I hated Kentucky. I associated everything about Kentucky with my father.

What would you say to any person struggling to come into their own identity?

Listen to your inner voice and separate yourself from expectations.

How does your own identity run how you carry yourself? Or does it?

I used to think I should always be feminine. I would always wear makeup, wigs and dresses. I thought I needed attention and acceptance from guys. When I came into my identity, I rock my natural short hair, wear makeup occasionally and i’m not afraid to dress boyish if I want to. I don’t watch what I say around people anymore regarding my lifestyle. There’s a huge weight lifted without me needing a label of lesbian, bi or straight.

Do you feel excluded from the “mainstream” queer community? Why or why not?

Yes, because i’ve had boyfriends, people dont see me as Queer. Maybe I don’t give off a “gay” enough vibe?

Where do you feel “at your best” (safe, happy, fabulous, comfortable, etc)


Who influenced the life you live now?

Not so much as a “who,” but San Francisco was life changing. What I saw there and who I became there influences everything I do now. Depression and PTSD have also been an influence to guide me down paths that have made me stronger.

12th Kentucky city adopts LGBTQ+ Fairness Ordinance!

DAYTON — With a unanimous vote of 5-0 tonight, the Northern Kentucky town of Dayton, population 5,338, became the twelfth city in the Commonwealth with a Fairness Ordinance prohibiting LGBTQ discrimination in employment, housing, and public accommodations.

“Dayton is extremely excited to be able to join the other eleven cities, out of 419 in the Commonwealth, to continue to be the welcoming community we know and love,” said Dayton Mayor Ben Baker upon the ordinance’s passage. “If any other river cities need help in embracing the Fairness Ordinance, please reach out. We urge our state leaders to adopt these protections—in Kentucky, y’all means all.”

Dayton City Councilman Joe Neary added, “I genuinely hope this carries up to the state level so cities don’t have to deal by this city by city. I can’t believe we’ll only be the twelfth in the Commonwealth.”

“We expect Dayton will be the first in a series of Northern Kentucky cities to adopt Fairness Ordinances,” shared Northern Kentucky Fairness leader Bonnie Meyer, who also helps run the Northern Kentucky Pride Festival. “We were proud to see Covington challenge its peer cities to follow their lead on LGBTQ rights.”

Eleven other Kentucky cities have adopted local Fairness Ordinances, covering just over a quarter of the state’s population—Louisville (1999), Lexington (1999), Covington (2003), Vicco (2013), Frankfort (2013), Morehead (2013), Danville (2014), Midway (2015), Paducah (2018), Maysville (2018), and Henderson (2019). 2020 will mark the 20th anniversary of the introduction of a Statewide Fairness Law, which has only ever received two informational hearings in the Kentucky General Assembly. This year, nearly a quarter of state legislators co-sponsored the measure.

West Louisville woman aims to inspire Queer, black business owners

I identify as a Lesbian an my pronouns are she, her and hers.

I grew up in West Louisville on 40th and Market Street. Growing up for me was pretty dope and from growing up in the west end, urban community, I’ve definitely seen a lot.

My mom was a single parent and broke her back to take care of me. I also attended traditional school all my life and graduated from male high school in 2009. Back in the 90s growing up, it was bad but not as bad as you think. I definitely was living in the hood, but growing up…it just wasn’t that bad for me there.

In high school I was in the closet of course. I probably didn’t really come out as a lesbian until after high school at 18. It was rough coming out and growing through that, but it also wasn’t bad. I dealt with a lot of family issues. The outside world accepted me, but family didn’t.

When it comes to issues, I can walk around with my girlfriend’s hand and feel comfortable, but racial issues are worse than LGBTQ+ issues with me. I get blatant disrespect for being black sometimes, but not for being a lesbian. Maybe it’s the way I carry myself with confidence, but I tell myself all the time I need to brace for homophobic remarks.

For anyone struggling to come into their own, just keep growing. Keep doing the self-work. Keep learning yourself. Keep paying attention to who you want to become and who you want to be. Not just sexuality, but even as a person as whole. Work on becoming an inspiration to the person that’s just like you. Don’t give up don’t let anybody change you. People will ridicule you and make you second-guess yourself. Don’t question yourself and don’t change for nobody. Stick to it. Whatever you want to be. And if you’re a parent with a queer child — do not beat them up. Your kids are dealing with enough outside bullying; they don’t need to go home to the same thing — that’s shitty. Be there for them.

People are really killing themselves over this. I’ve been there! It took me a while to dig myself out of that dark place. And we have to do it by ourselves so often.

When it comes to issues within the LGBTQ+ community, there is no unity; there’s not togetherness. It’s not there. When pride and stuff comes, its very white oriented. You see a lot of white pride. Racism is bad right now and going into pride, I wanna feel welcome regardless of what color I am. Minorities can be scared to come out to white focused events.

There isn’t a lot of stuff for black queer folk to do.

I think supporting one another and standing together and being behind each other would help unify us.

Let’s Mix

I feel my best when I’m bartending. When I’m doing something for my business and myself. Helping people, serving people.

Let’s Mix started in 2016 when I graduated college and had degree in electronics and decided to go to bartending school.

Next thing you know on Facebook, everyone started inboxing me that they needed me to bartend so I thought I’d turn it into a business. That’s how it happened.

Some of my goals for my business are getting a mobile bar built and teaching bartending classes.

Eventually I wouldn’t mind opening up a bartending school! I want to inspire someone else who wants to bartend. We so, so many small girls are the face of bartending. You don’t see many people looking like me. I want to be a voice to anyone who wants to start a business. No matter your race, sexuality. No matter how big or small. Hopefully my story will be an inspiration and people can learn from it.

I want to be looked at as this person who made it — someone from West Louisville and someone who is gay as well.

For more information or booking, Contact Chan at letsmixent@gmail.com (502) 298-8017.

Overcoming Addiction: Finding Recovery through powerful self-expression

Barrett Gargala

“You don’t look gay.” I’ve heard it 1,000 times. Who are you to label me? I get to choose how I see myself and today I choose joy.

Being queer to me has nothing to do with who I love but how I feel. I want other people to realize the power in expressing sexuality- feminine, masculine, or other. The end.

I believe we’re all human and constantly in the process of discovering who we are, how we feel, what we like, and how we fit in. All I ever ask of the person next to me is to be open to collaboration, communication and self awareness.

I don’t need everyone to agree with me and my beliefs, but feel it’s necessary for everyone to respect others beliefs without criticizing the way they choose to live.

Editor’s Note: Like many members of our Queer Kentucky community, Barrett has lived through trauma and addiction. We encourage any and all folx to tell their stories of overcoming adversity in hopes to inspire someone else. We value and appreciate the vulnerability of those who share to help others.

Learn more about Barret and her journey of coming out and addiction via the Zen Life podcast. Episode 68: “Addiction Does Not Discriminate” The story of recovering and loving back to life after addiction.”

“There is no story more raw and real than the one of our guest today.  Meet Barrett Gargala.  Shannon and Brittany first met Barrett when she was just a young, ’20- something’ trying to make it in the business of Lululemon. 

Little did they know, Barrett was struggling with some dark addiction demons that traveled with her since her college days. 

Barret first started avoiding her problems early into her college days and it wasn’t until 18 months ago that she finally sought the help she always needed.  As Barrett says, “you could have put me in a steel box and I still would have been an addict.”  Learn more about Barrett and how she is still learning to love herself back to life after addiction.

Lesbian Heaven existed, and it was located in Germantown

By Sarah Gardiner, Nanny Goat Books

Photo by: Camilla Jasis-Wallace

The first time I walked into Purrswaytions was on New Years Eve 2015. 

I was supposed to be on my way to New York, but the flight was canceled and I was desperate for any sort of lesbian energy. Pulling out my phone, I googled the nearest queer bar, saw the word “dive” in the description, and knew I’d found my home for the night. 

Stepping over the threshold was like stepping into a different Louisville than the one where I grew up. This Louisville was loud and glittery and very, very full of lesbians. Femmes and dykes, studs and chapsticks, queer women of every kind milled around the bar. Even more people gathered around pool tables in a room off to the side, and I could hear the unmistakable thump of a dance floor in the back. 

Lesbian Heaven existed, and it was located in Germantown. 

Since that night, Purrswaytions has become something of a home base for me and my queer life in Louisville. Some of my best friends have been made over beers at the rainbow lit bar, and I’ve had the joy of getting to know the lovely owners, Matt and Tina, who care more about their community than any other bar owners I’ve ever met. Over the 7+ years they have owned Purr, they’ve truly created a family of regulars who support one another and take care of each other in times of need. If someone is sick or in need of a little help, they have time and time again hosted fundraisers and benefits to bring the community together and lend whatever support they could spare. 

I’ve traveled a lot, lived in major cities with queer scenes bigger than my younger, Kentucky-bred lesbian self could dream of. But none of these bars and none of these places have ever felt as welcoming as walking through the doors of Purrswaytions and being greeted on a first-name basis. 

There are awesome people everywhere, and Louisville is lucky enough to have an abundance of queer-owned and queer-friendly spaces, but to make a community into a family you need to have a home. Purrswaytions is an underrated home in the Louisville queer community. Give it a chance—hell, give it a few—you just never know who you’re going to meet at such a queer staple. And, in the mean time, you’ll have the chance to support your local lesbian bar and hang around some truly lovely people. 

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