“I would say stay true to yourself and who you are as a person. Don’t let your sexuality be all that you are.” says Amy Jay, who is not only a member of the LGBTQ community but is also a fitness expert who has used fitness to build and shape her body and her life. Amy is from Pittsburgh, PA, and is in her early thirties. She’s been practicing fitness since she was four and also knew early on that she was in fact a member of the LGBTQ community.
- When did your fitness journey begin,and why?
I started playing sports at the age of 4. I played softball, basketball, and ran track in high school. I played basketball through college.
- Since starting this fitness journey what have been some milestones that you have achieved?
Since graduating college I’ve struggled to maintain my weight. Like many, I’ve allowed myself to become distracted by love and relationships but recently, I’ve lost 20 pounds in the past two months.
- What are some influences in your life that motivate you?
My family, especially my parents. They’re getting older and I want to be able to take care of them the way they took care of me. My grandmother was diabetic and died of a heart attack when I was 13 years old. She was like “Big Mama” from Soul Food so her death was really a hard pill to swallow for my family. Also, my unborn children – the life they’re going to be born into is going to be hard enough. I don’t want to make it any harder for them.
- Do you have any future goals or ideas that are in mind for you and your fitness Career?
Yes. I would like to own a gym. I would also love to host health and wellness events for the LGBTQ and black communities to educate them on the importance of living a healthy lifestyle.
- Have you ever felt like being a member of the LGBTQ community impacted your life in a negative way?
Most certainly! In certain settings it has made me extremely uncomfortable. I used to go into job interviews with kitten heels just to hide who I am. LOL, never again!
- How do you feel about the spread of awareness and support for the LGBTQ community? How has it affected how open you are with your sexuality and/or sexual preference?
I believe tremendous progress has been made but we are still fighting an uphill battle. The progress has made me more comfortable in my own skin. I didn’t always accept myself because society didn’t accept me. Throughout the years, I have gained confidence in myself by education and pride. I take great pride in who I am. I am more than just a lesbian but an amazing person.
- 7. Have you ever had to come out to anyone? How did you feel?
Yes. I was raised in a Baptist church so coming out was not easy. I battled a lot of emotions including anxiety and depression. I am not ashamed to admit it because it helped mold the woman I am today. When I came out to my family, not all of them were supportive. It was a really rough time in my life and I felt they focused more on my sexuality than the person I was: kind, loving, and gentle. I was angry and resentful for a long time, but eventually I was able to work through those emotions by surrounding myself with people like me, people in my community, the LGBTQ community.
- Now that the LGBTQ community is becoming well-known and acceptable, do you think people are taking advantage of that?
I don’t really have an opinion on anyone else’s life. I focus on me and do my own thing. I don’t know how other people feel or can explain why they do what they do. I just focus on being a good person no matter what.
- How have you been able to gain confidence in yourself over the years? What experiences or moments have helped you shape who you are today?
I love this question. Over the years I have educated myself on areas I have been weak in; personal experiences, books, therapists, and meditation have all played a part in my growth. I have been called vain because I love myself that much and I am completely okay with that. Fitness has been one of the best coping skills for me. I love how it makes me feel, and I feel that I am creating something generational, something that when I am gone, my children and their children will carry on.
- What advice would you, a fitness expert and LGBTQ advocate, give to anyone in the LGBTQ community that’s just beginning a life of acceptance to who they are?
I would say stay true to yourself and who you are as a person. Don’t let your sexuality be all that you are. You’re more than what the eye meets and there are people out there who will accept you for exactly who you are. Do not waste time trying to prove who you are because that love should come from within. You are in control of your life, so don’t rely on other people to make you happy.