Sunday morning musings

Now this is a nice way to wake up.  Yesterday, we had a really strange day including the purchase of our Charlie Brown Christmas Tree which was marked down to $10.00.  Typically, we get a nice big one, but this year feels different so we scaled back.  Even so, the tree is taller (just slightly) than Ledcat.  It fits nicely in the living room and was much easier to wrangle through the front door.  So I think we have a new tradition.  $10.00 is a good deal.  Pointsettas cost more than that.

I stayed up late last night wading through the comments section and responding to email messages.  Then I slept without coughing and woke up to coffee and a non-blizzard.  Ha. 

Today, I'm just making some random musings. 

The Guardian reports a lack of lesbian (and other queer) foster parents, especially tragic given the increasing number of LGBTQ teens in the system because of their sexual orientation/gender identity.  My colleagues at the GLCC tell me that there are multiple homeless gay youth who show up for the youth programs each week.  My colleagues at my agency affirm that there are homeless gay youth living on the streets because they aren't comfortable in the existing shelter structures.  So if you've considered it, there are young people who need you right here in Pittsburgh.

The New York Times affirms that separate but equal, in terms of civil unions versus marriage, is not equal.   Civil unions should convey all civil benefits, but they don't.  New Jersey has evidence to demonstrate this and the Governor plans to do something about it by pushing the legislator to take action.  Incrementalism vs fairness will be locked in a death grip for sometime. 

Plans are underway for a Pittsburgh based protest as part of the National DOMA protest under the “Join the Impact” umbrella.  This will be on January 10, 2009.  I haven't found any concrete details yet, but put this date on your calendar.  Even if marriage isn't your top issue, sending a signal about the activist energy in the LGBTQ community is powerful and gives our legislative allies leverage on our other more immediate issuers here in Pennsylvania.  And, frankly, you will get a real lift from being part of something bigger than yourself.  It might motivate you to start a blog or write a letter or join Steel City Stonewall.  I hope we see more local advocacy leaders at this protest.  I'll keep you informed.

Now for Rick Warren.  I doubt I have to bring you up to speed on that raging debate.  PageOneQ has just about every link on the blogosphere, including what Barney Frank has to say and how the HRC is handling the matter. I'm personally interested in what the members of our local LGBTQ community of faith think about it.  Do you have some thoughts to share with me, either via comment or via email? 

Personally, I think it was a misstep on the part of Obama, but he's known for reaching waaaay across the divide to build unity.  The problem is that there doesn't seem to be a lot of middle ground between evangelicals who believe that homosexuality is a sinful lifestyle and homosexuals who want equal rights.  Or is there?  I have friends who identify as evangelicals.  I know they feel there is some choice in the matter and that marriage is a no-no,  but our interpersonal bond has opened up a lot of middle ground especially as they've gotten to know Ledcat (or about Ledcat through our conversations).  The trick is flipping the switch between their friend Sue, the lesbian and all lesbians and all LGBTQ individuals.  That's a challenge our community struggles to address — to out ourselves to the ordinary person in our life who is a fervent Christian instead of just challenging the wingnut on the other side of the protest sign or the hate letter. 

Still, this decision is also very symbolic and there is great fear in the community that Obama will backpedal on any sort of equal rights issues to avoid damaging coalitions he needs to advance his other priorities.  The fear is legitimate because it is going to take a long time to generate consensus on gay marriage.  Even as the polls show that repealing Don't Ask, Don't Tell is acceptable to most Americans, the conventional wisdom is that the military has to come to Congress for this be a real culture change.  So what's a progressive minded President to do aside from beginning those dialogues?  Perhaps he can introduce more Americans to openly gay folks by appointing them to serve in positions for which they are qualified and for which they have been excluded because they aren't in the closet!

Oopss.  Too late.  All the Cabinet positions for which openly gay individuals were being considered have been filled.  By individuals who identify as heterosexual (you never know).  From The Advocate.com:

Steve Elmendorf, a former deputy campaign manager for John Kerry and senior adviser to Dick Gephardt, called it “very disappointing” that a number of high-quality LGBT candidates had been passed over. “It’s a very diverse and inclusive cabinet for every community except for the gay and lesbian community,” he said.

Not that anyone’s counting, but the 22 cabinet-level positions as announced/projected include three Latinos, two Asian Americans, four African-Americans, five women, and, yes, two Republicans.

Elmendorf observed that the top-tier White House staff doesn’t appear to have any LGBT people in it either. “That just makes the Rick Warren thing an extra kick in the stomach,” he said.

So, what does this mean for all the average queers in Pittsburgh?

First, I really would like to see leaders in our faith community take a more active role in advocacy.  I'd like to see a contingent of the Spirituality Group marching alongside the always present PFLAG folks.  I'd like a thoughtful written response to the Rick Warren debacle.  I'd like them to speak out on ensuring that queer families and individuals struggling in a recessed economny are not forgotten by the safety net providers, including faith based groups.  I'd love to hear from them and know what's happening on that level.

Second, we need to channel all these emerging energies into some cohesive force which means I'm going to drag out my oft-used battle cry for the LGBTQ advocacy leaders to get themselves into order.  Surely SOMEONE in the community can have a chat with the Mayor's people. Someone knows a staffer or two.  Someone can intervene to turn the advisory council discussion in a more productive and fair direction.  I hate that it takes behind the scenes discussion, but clearly the folks involved are clammed up tight.  My prediction based on the evidence at hand?  This will be another Domestic Registry situation … no outcome, just fanfare. 

Well, there's a Charlie Brown tree to decorate and, apparently, housework!

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  • After my initial disgust when I heard Rick Warren would be saying a prayer at the inauguration, I got over it when I realized that this is just a blip in our march toward equality. Yeah, Obama is going to make some decisions and choices we're not going to be crazy about. But it's probably a shrewd move to get a little more dialogue going with the evangelicals, which means they won't be bashing him at every turn. Sounds bizarre, but I've seen how politics works. Obama is very much in the mold of Roosevelt in keeping enemies close. That's my two cents.

  • After my initial disgust when I heard Rick Warren would be saying a prayer at the inauguration, I got over it when I realized that this is just a blip in our march toward equality. Yeah, Obama is going to make some decisions and choices we're not going to be crazy about. But it's probably a shrewd move to get a little more dialogue going with the evangelicals, which means they won't be bashing him at every turn. Sounds bizarre, but I've seen how politics works. Obama is very much in the mold of Roosevelt in keeping enemies close. That's my two cents.

  • My disgust is still here, George. I'm still not convinced President Obama is going to actually do anything to improve the lives of gay people until he's much further along in his presidency. I think he owes us some sign or some gesture of support much like he is offering the evangelicals. Still, if he gets to work on the economy, it might be a big help to my family so I do have my priorities straight.
    I am interested in what Sue wrote about the local religious folks. I did see a lot of email being sent out about Janet Edwards and lesbian marriage. Where are all those voices on the issues of gay social justice? Besides the pulpits. I know they are walking the walk because I see folks at the soup kitchens and other places we frequent. I am literally asking if they should be talking the talk a bit more and speaking out publicly on more than marriage and ordination. Is there anyone from that community on the Internet?
    Obama as Roosevelt is very appealing.

  • My disgust is still here, George. I'm still not convinced President Obama is going to actually do anything to improve the lives of gay people until he's much further along in his presidency. I think he owes us some sign or some gesture of support much like he is offering the evangelicals. Still, if he gets to work on the economy, it might be a big help to my family so I do have my priorities straight.
    I am interested in what Sue wrote about the local religious folks. I did see a lot of email being sent out about Janet Edwards and lesbian marriage. Where are all those voices on the issues of gay social justice? Besides the pulpits. I know they are walking the walk because I see folks at the soup kitchens and other places we frequent. I am literally asking if they should be talking the talk a bit more and speaking out publicly on more than marriage and ordination. Is there anyone from that community on the Internet?
    Obama as Roosevelt is very appealing.

  • HRC has a Religion Council under their Religion and Faith program. Look for info under the “The Issues” link on their website. They have been and will continue to mobilize people of faith to respond and be engaged. Locally, the PFLAG advocacy committee is in process of compiling a list of “welcoming congregations” in the Pittsburgh area. We're right in the middle of fine tuning the list and double checking our contacts but I would be happy to send out what we have at this point to anyone interested.

  • HRC has a Religion Council under their Religion and Faith program. Look for info under the “The Issues” link on their website. They have been and will continue to mobilize people of faith to respond and be engaged. Locally, the PFLAG advocacy committee is in process of compiling a list of “welcoming congregations” in the Pittsburgh area. We're right in the middle of fine tuning the list and double checking our contacts but I would be happy to send out what we have at this point to anyone interested.

  • Thanks for posting, Dana.
    What I personally would like is a list of contacts within the local LGBTQ faith community that are willing to speak with me about current events, either on or off the record. Leaders and folks willing to be liaisons to the advocacy community.

  • AD-Vo-CATES in Pittsburgh = pretend leaders who whine about us not getting involved. Here's my advice. Take a look at how inspiring you are. NOT. You may have ambition but so did the dude who assassinated Harvey Milk. No one is paying attention to you because you just aren't that interesting. Next.

  • AD-Vo-CATES in Pittsburgh = pretend leaders who whine about us not getting involved. Here's my advice. Take a look at how inspiring you are. NOT. You may have ambition but so did the dude who assassinated Harvey Milk. No one is paying attention to you because you just aren't that interesting. Next.

  • Advocacy has turned into another way to co-opt power from the community. At least the bar owners are trying to protect their living. These other fancypants are trying to carve out some high faluting niche for themselves to mollify their savior complexes. It is the same 3 or 4 people at every meeting, on every board and in all the photo ops. Phooey.

  • Advocacy has turned into another way to co-opt power from the community. At least the bar owners are trying to protect their living. These other fancypants are trying to carve out some high faluting niche for themselves to mollify their savior complexes. It is the same 3 or 4 people at every meeting, on every board and in all the photo ops. Phooey.

  • Apparently, there is some discontent in the ranks. The self-described leaders feel slighted when people don't attend their meetings and then criticize their decisions and actions. They try to reach out and build connections, but feel rebuffed. They seem to be genuinely hurt and puzzled by this reaction and tend to shift blame for people not acknowledging their good intentions.
    On the other hand, the average gays seem to feel as if they are not part of the decision-making and have little access to information. The outreach is not connecting with them where they are now such as being parents with childcare issues. They complain because they have no other outlet to express their frustration.
    Clearly, there is a breakdown in basic organizing. Gay politics in Pittsburgh is just as secretive and behind the scenes as any other politics. We all have to accept that fact. There has been no real effective grassroots outreach in over a dozen years. Rather, there has been a “professionalization” from activist to advocate. This change has created a divide between those making decisions and those impacted by the decisions. The result is that a few people are doing the same thing over and over again with the end result being very little. And we have a growing group of people not at the table who are just giving up any opportunity to participate in a process they don't trust or feel invested in. Everyone is being stubborn and the end results are empty gestures, token legislation and the almost complete disenfranchisement of gay people who are either left out or opt out.
    I would expect that the leaders need to take the first step in changing this dynamic. There's no other first step that will be effective. Otherwise, we'll continue to chase opportunities with a few people at the table rather than creating opportunities with a groundswell of community support. If you want to turn out 50 people for your meeting, you have to do something differently. You can't just blame folks for not responding. Reflect on your message, your messengers and your method of delivery. Gentle men and ladies, try to walk through the defensive reaction and recognize that leadership brings a responsibility to your people. That's the piece our Mayor and Gary Van Horn seem to be missing – they are stewards, not dictators.
    A Merry Christmas to all and my respectful wishes for a peaceful New Year.

  • Apparently, there is some discontent in the ranks. The self-described leaders feel slighted when people don't attend their meetings and then criticize their decisions and actions. They try to reach out and build connections, but feel rebuffed. They seem to be genuinely hurt and puzzled by this reaction and tend to shift blame for people not acknowledging their good intentions.
    On the other hand, the average gays seem to feel as if they are not part of the decision-making and have little access to information. The outreach is not connecting with them where they are now such as being parents with childcare issues. They complain because they have no other outlet to express their frustration.
    Clearly, there is a breakdown in basic organizing. Gay politics in Pittsburgh is just as secretive and behind the scenes as any other politics. We all have to accept that fact. There has been no real effective grassroots outreach in over a dozen years. Rather, there has been a “professionalization” from activist to advocate. This change has created a divide between those making decisions and those impacted by the decisions. The result is that a few people are doing the same thing over and over again with the end result being very little. And we have a growing group of people not at the table who are just giving up any opportunity to participate in a process they don't trust or feel invested in. Everyone is being stubborn and the end results are empty gestures, token legislation and the almost complete disenfranchisement of gay people who are either left out or opt out.
    I would expect that the leaders need to take the first step in changing this dynamic. There's no other first step that will be effective. Otherwise, we'll continue to chase opportunities with a few people at the table rather than creating opportunities with a groundswell of community support. If you want to turn out 50 people for your meeting, you have to do something differently. You can't just blame folks for not responding. Reflect on your message, your messengers and your method of delivery. Gentle men and ladies, try to walk through the defensive reaction and recognize that leadership brings a responsibility to your people. That's the piece our Mayor and Gary Van Horn seem to be missing – they are stewards, not dictators.
    A Merry Christmas to all and my respectful wishes for a peaceful New Year.

  • You offer a thoughtful analysis, Hessman. It is possible to have a discussion that is based on realities and not worry about tipping around people's feelings. My personal observation is that Steel City Stonewall has been making the best effort to reach out to the community and be accessible. I share Sue's appreciation for their hardwork. The random people should work through open channels instead of emulating the sneakiness that pervades our elected bodies. That is all I have to say.

  • You offer a thoughtful analysis, Hessman. It is possible to have a discussion that is based on realities and not worry about tipping around people's feelings. My personal observation is that Steel City Stonewall has been making the best effort to reach out to the community and be accessible. I share Sue's appreciation for their hardwork. The random people should work through open channels instead of emulating the sneakiness that pervades our elected bodies. That is all I have to say.

  • While I am grateful that people step up to take on leadership roles, I can't help but cheer those who want to pull back the curtains between us and them. This is exactly the kind of shenanigans that led to a Congressional vote on an ENDA bill that excludes a whole group of people. That happened because the HRC abandoned its leadership role. We don't want that to happen here in Pennsylvania any further than it already has.
    Still, maybe we should give these folks a chance to step up. Maybe change is possible. Maybe you are being a little harsh. Maybe we should ask them to publicly identify their nominations to the Mayor's committee so we KNOW they are trying to make this a viable tool for the community.
    So, let's ask the leaders of the local groups such as Steel City, that Marriage group, Gertrude Stein Club to announce their nominations for the committee. If they decline, we'll have to assume they are part of the problem of the lack of transparency. If they accept, we'll have some evidence that they care what we think. Each group should be able to nominate at least 2 individuals from all their members. Six qualified nominations would be a big help.
    Fair enough?
    An entire post without foul language. What is happening to the blogosphere.

  • While I am grateful that people step up to take on leadership roles, I can't help but cheer those who want to pull back the curtains between us and them. This is exactly the kind of shenanigans that led to a Congressional vote on an ENDA bill that excludes a whole group of people. That happened because the HRC abandoned its leadership role. We don't want that to happen here in Pennsylvania any further than it already has.
    Still, maybe we should give these folks a chance to step up. Maybe change is possible. Maybe you are being a little harsh. Maybe we should ask them to publicly identify their nominations to the Mayor's committee so we KNOW they are trying to make this a viable tool for the community.
    So, let's ask the leaders of the local groups such as Steel City, that Marriage group, Gertrude Stein Club to announce their nominations for the committee. If they decline, we'll have to assume they are part of the problem of the lack of transparency. If they accept, we'll have some evidence that they care what we think. Each group should be able to nominate at least 2 individuals from all their members. Six qualified nominations would be a big help.
    Fair enough?
    An entire post without foul language. What is happening to the blogosphere.

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