34 - Andrea Muffly
Married to Kirby Oliver
Colorado Springs, CO
Pediatric Occupational Therapist. Wife. Queer Friends Founder. Chicken Mom.
With the infinite possibilities of gender identity and expression, when did you know something was different?
“I knew pretty early on, but didn’t have the words to describe it, or even know what ‘it’ was. I remember being about 7 years old, listening to CDs with friends, and everyone is pouring over the CD collection (Backstreet Boys, N’SYNC, Britney Spears, etc) and suddenly one girl asks which boy band member we would want to marry? Everyone started fighting over Nick and Lance, and I remember wondering why no one was fighting me for Britney?”
On her coming out experience...
“I already knew I was gay in high school, but being out didn’t really feel like it was an option. I told a few close friends and that was it. The day before I left for college I told my Mom.
When I was at college I was immediately out. It felt like a fresh start. A do over. A chance to be authentic. I went to undergraduate and graduate school at a very liberal college in upstate New York. Having that distance from home, gave me a chance to question the roles I had been in at home. I jumped headfirst into the LGBT community groups on campus, and I felt like I was able to learn so much about myself during that period of my life.”
Was there a celebrity or teacher/friend that made you question your sexuality?
“I think in addition to Britney Spears, Shania Twain... I was a big country fan, and still am…”
Biggest fears/concerns with coming out?
“Separating, going to college out of state, and coming back not really sure what it would look like when I got back. So it was just a lot of unknowns at the time. It felt kind of, ‘I don’t know what the future will look like, I’m making this up as I go’.”
What in your opinion is the most frustrating thing you’ve noticed within the community?
“I think that it hides sometimes. Especially in Colorado Springs, there are a lot of LGBT spectrum folks out there but there’s not a real sense of active community. Even within the community, there’s all these different small groups that still don’t talk to each other. It’s hard to know, do I jump into one group and then can’t get into another group? Can I just meet all the groups? Why do we have to segregate when we’re already a smaller portion of the community?”
What is your favorite thing about the community?
“I think how open they are to supporting each other. When we started the Meetup/Facebook group, Queer Friends Colorado Springs, we found all these people who were ready to be a part of the community. Getting to meet all these different folks really gave us a sense of the LGBT Community in Colorado Springs and a way to join in. It feels great being in such a grassroots group where people are actively creating these safe spaces. Everyone is so involved, sometimes at one Meetup Event someone will bring up an event and the next week it will show up as a new event on the Queer Friends Calendar. It’s cool to see such an active response to helping people create community.”
One thing to tell younger you? Any advice for anyone who feels like they can’t come out?
“I think going after what you think you want, even if you’re not sure if that’s your forever path... Just don’t be afraid to try new things even if you don’t have any role models because you’ll be able to find what works for you. Come out at a time that works for you.”
What are you most proud of?
“Being comfortable enough in my own skin that I’m able to question who I am and why I believe certain things. Figuring out this is who I am and not caring how other people interpret it.”
With the current state of the nation and world, what’s one thing you would change if you had the power?
“I think I’m biased working in healthcare... But access to healthcare, especially therapy and mental health services. The way the system is set up now, healthcare services are so cost prohibitive no one is able to go in for preventative care. By the time individuals are able to access services they are already at their breakdown point. If we were able to provide free and accessible preventative healthcare the nation would be in a much better state.”