OK, this just strikes me as weird. The Tribune-Review sent a reporter to OUTrageous Bingo to do a story on the lack of a lesbian scene in Pittsburgh. “Lesbian scene” should always be read as “no lesbians bars,” but we'll get to that in a moment.
OUTrageous Bingo is a mixed event – gay men, lesbians, bisexuals, transgendered men and women, old people, young people, etc. Why not send a reporter to an actual lesbian event (or a queer women's event) where it more likely you'll find a diverse group of people who are a little plugged in and can say with some authority what's missing?
Anyway, I personally get really tired of people moaning that there is no lesbian bar in Pittsburgh. Good grief. Of all the types of lesbian-friendly places I can conceive, one covered in smoke soot and encouraging women to consume alcohol is not high on my list of lesbian friendly ideals. I could take us on a little trip down the wonderful world of lesbian health to see the disproportionate impacts of alchol abuse and nicotine addiction in the lesbian community, but I'll restrain myself. It always strikes me as ironic that women who so enthusiastically support the ESTHER project, a lesbian health project, are the ones complaining about the bar situation.
Now that I got that off my chest, I have to say that the women profiled in the story made some excellent points about many projects and events being dominated by gay men, the small group of the same people who show up for everything, etc. And it is interesting how the younger women are picking up the mantle to get new kinds of things with an old twist organized. Sarah Claire, for example, organizes dance parties at the smoke free Ava Lounge in East Liberty. Cool. Ehrrin Keenan organizes lesbian book club and game nights. Very cool. Kat and Rowan got the potluck up and running smoothly. Awesome. We need to keep that kind of initiative flowing.
Now see Ledcat and I would do all of those things. Except we haven't. Because life gets in the way. Maybe part of the issue is that women have pretty full plates so a once a month or once every other month outing to a lesbian-centric event is enough. Maybe we've integrated as lesbians into society enough that our social needs can be filled outside of a lesbian bar.
Maybe its no longer about retreating to a lesbian-centric space as claiming our own spaces as lesbian-centric. Isn't that what we've been struggling for all these years? I'm not saying we don't need lesbian oriented places. But maybe they aren't bars. Maybe it's the fact that I can walk into Cafe Beleza on teh Northside, holding Ledcat's hand and call her honey without thinking twice about it. Or maybe that we can go out to dinner at the Square Cafe, staffed mainly by lesbians, and do the same thing. Or fly a rainbow windsock on my porch on a street with one other gay couple. Or that I have her picture on my desk at work.
Maybe this is an opportunity to generate a new sense of space and community.
To be fair, the article missed some pretty big things, namely the Dyke March and Celebrate the Night. It missed the queer performance events and the queer arts scene almost completely. It completely missed the Burghosphere.
It also missed the ongoing tension between gay men and lesbians over power and control of LGBTQ resources. This dynamic is at play whether its bar owners complaining about lesbians who drink water all night or the debate about the misanthropic content of drag queen shows.
The sidebar article sums up why this piece was not a hallmark step forward for the lesbians in Pittsburgh. The editor helpfully included a list of contact information for the events described in the main story, which is especially good for those lesbians in the hinterlands that aren't sure how to go about finding these resources. Kudos to the Trib. However, the title of that sidebar? Where the girls are.