Western PA Bloggers Team Up To Promote LGBT Equality

My colleague Tom Waters drafted this explanation of a joint initiative we are launching …

Two prominent western PA bloggers are joining forces to host a first ever LGBTQA bloggers and social media summit. Sue Kerr, primary blogger at Pittsburgh Lesbian Correspondents and Thomas C Waters of thomascwaters.com are planning a get together that they hope will be informative, interesting and meaningful for gay, lesbian, bi, trans, queer and allied friends who are active in any aspects of social media. The preliminary work on an agenda is done, and the next phase is to find a date that may help attract the most participants. A survey is posted here to gather ideas about date and time. 

Some might say that the rise of microblogging, has meant that the blog is dead, but Kerr and Waters feel the exact

Then Governor Ed Rendell kicks off Pride March June 2006

opposite is true. There is greater need today for thorough and meaningful reporting via blog and spread throughout by social media. There is a role to be played everywhere on Tumblr, Pinterest, Facebook, Google +, as well as other social media tools and platforms. These two hope to encourage more people who are working within any of these medias to communicate, work together, and increase our presence through LGBTQA voices.

“I want to cast a wide net” explains Kerr “and bring people together who may not be aware of each other so we can amplify the message.” Waters adds, ” there are as many viewpoints as their are LGBTQA persons and by inviting lots of dialogue, more diverse opinions and ideas will get shared and understood.” too often the mainstream media reduces LGBTQ stories to quick sound items, and our roles can be to help provide more complete, stories with depth and meaning.

A “summit” may sound a bit intimidating, but it isn’t meant to be.  Rather, this isn’t just getting together for coffee and chitchat. Our goal is to start a process where individuals who often work in isolation, now feel they have a network or more support, ad as a group, we own the role we can play in communication and activism.

For more information, use the survey, or contact Sue Kerr or Thomas Waters

I want to add a personal bit.

I do think people are likely to wonder why Tom and I are teaming up – we don’t often agree. I think however its actually sad that all these years later — 6.5 since I began blogging — there’s just the two of us. And while our disagreements may be public, its easy to overlook that 1) we often have each other’s back and 2) it would be terribly uninteresting if the ONLY TWO LGBT BLOGGERS in Pittsbugh agreed on things all of the time.

And one thing up on which we agree is the need to amplify the voices we know are there … the live journals, the tweets, the tumblrs and the folks diligently working to use social media in their efforts to secure equality for all of us.

Personally, I’m gravely concerned that people misunderstand the status of LGBT rights in Pennsylvania. The fact is that we have not a single statewide right (yes, second parent adoption is permitted, but its not a law.)  I’m concerned that so many LGBT persons and our allies misunderstand this reality or misinterpret the impact of federal achievements like executive orders or even federal laws like the Matthew Shepherd Hate Crimes Act. The lack of awareness hurts us and feeds the power of people who hate us.

Yes, hate. They hate what we represent and they will use us as political fodder to advance their own power. You need look no further than Daryl Metcalfe’s latest attack on Planned Parenthood. Or back up to the Voter ID law designed to correct the non-existent problem of voter fraud. Or how about the tightening of SNAP (food stamps) asset tests when again the degree of fraud was miniscule. Clearly – women, marginalized people, poor neighbors are among those under assault.

I included a photo I really enjoy – then Governor Ed Rendell kicking off the Pride march in 2006. That was pretty heady for me. He stood on the platform and used a bullhorn to proudly announce he supported marriage equality. In 2006. In spite of that support and the slim majorities in the Pennsylvania House, we have no rights codified in PA law. That’s not to suggest there hasn’t been progress … I’ve covered that in detail in other posts. But the personal commitment of our leader does not necessarily translate into job protections and housing and safe schools for our community.

I didn’t know Thomas in 2006. Now I do. I didn’t know Rayden and all the others using social media. And now I do. I didn’t have a national platform thru Bilerico. Now I do. But I’ll be honest. Its exhausting writing about this. Its lonely. And I’d love to spend some time with others.

This agenda is not about marriage equality. It is about equality. Marriage is part of that. I throw that out because I want to make sure everyone feels welcome to bring their agenda to the table.

So please take a few moments to complete the survey. We hope to kick off with some sort of meeting in June … casual, not a formal training. To make that happen, we need your input now.

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