September 2009 marks my debut article with Cue Pittsburgh, the region's newest LGBT publication. A glossy magazine (think Whirl with more tiaras, fewer furs), Cue's success shows that Pittsburgh's community really is expanding in multiple directions.
I was asked to pen a piece about local florist and gourmet gift entrepreneur, K.S. Kennedy. You've read my account of his resurrection after a devastating fire. In this piece, I chose to focus in on a new fascination for me — the emergence of mini community “hubs” instead of a “gay” neighborhood. A Pleasant Present in Squirrel Hill is a great example as would be several local gay bars, including Cattivo's emergence as a lesbian hub.
What's unique about the hubs is the creation of a safe, affirming space combined with integration into the larger community. What I notice about Cattivo is the constant influx of neighborhood folks seeking pizza (ah, that pizza). Long gone are the days of South Hills brats lesbian baiting outside of CJs. Pop into A Pleasant Present for some rainbow merchandise and you'll inevitably bump into some very straight shoppers enthralled with the latest cool gift Michael has on display. Get your hair done at Veraldi's Salon in Oakland and the same thing happens, albeit with a little bit of a feminist/vegetarian/Buddhist twist.
The same is true of K.S. Kennedy Gourmet Gift and Floral. We started shopping there because we learned he sold fair trade roses and wanted to support family. Fast forward 10 months and he's a dear friend. We drop in to check out the new merchandise, pick up fair trade organic coffee, get the neighborhood scoop and ALWAYS meet new people, gay and straight.
When Pittsburgh's OUT offered me a chance to co-host a vodcast (is that really a word – so awkward) with Ledcat, the first person I called was Kerry. He was thrilled for us and threw out a dozen ideas that would benefit lesbians around the region. And it was Kerry who urged Joe at CUE Pittsburgh to offer me the chance to write the piece. Yes, folks, you can work for multiple media outlets and be fully committed to building both into powerhouses. It is called freelancing.
That's the kind of community support we need to continue building and I honestly think it is going to come from the hubs tucked here and there about the region. The Gay & Lesbian Community Center would be well served to tap into that neighborhood power to create channels of communication.
Check out the new issue of CUE Pittsburgh. Check out the new issue of Pittsburgh's OUT.
And definitely check out our new vodcast Sister ShOUT! on Out Online this coming Sunday night. Kerry will be watching!