We are launching a new feature – an occasional series where we pose some questions to local LGBTQ (and Allies) to learn more about their personal experiences with LGBTQ culture.
Jeanne Clark has been a long-time LGBT ally – she helped organize one of the first March(es) on Washington and was involved in founding ACTUP in Pittsburgh. Jeanne is currently running for City Council in District 8. She was part of the team that changed Pittsburgh’s home rule charter to make discrimination against LGBT people illegal in the city and helped pass the county ordinance too. She’s also achieved tremendous success advocating on environmental and women’s issues.
(Jeanne is the very first person to respond to our survey – thank you!)
Name. Jeanne Clark
Affiliation: candidate for Pittsburgh City Council; Chair, Women’s Caucus, Allegheny County Democratic Party; Chair, Shadyside Dems; member, Gertrude Stein Political Club of Western Pennsylvania; member, Steel City Stonewall
Tell us about the very first LGBTQ person you met and what that meant for you. Like others in my generation, I grew up with friends and relatives who I now know were LGBTQ; but for the most part, no one acknowledged anything. What I learned in those early years was how bigotry and hate flourished when no one spoke out. I believe the first LGBTQ person who came out to me was a wonderful college roommate. She very patiently educated me about her life and her decision to come out. She also encouraged me to become a “political lesbian,” speaking up for the community regardless of my own sexual orientation. From that time on, I became an activist on LGBTQ issues, and called out bigotry in both my public and private life.
How do you stay informed on LGBTQ issues? By reading and watching everything and anything, relying on friends and family, and through my political activism.
What is the most important issue facing the LGBTQ community today? I have always believed that if the LGBTQ community had truly equal civil rights on every level, we could solve all other problems. So guaranteeing fully equal civil rights in every law, and every place, is the biggest issue we face. The city and county human relations ordinances are a good start, but we must remove all impediments and discriminatory laws from our books on the state, federal, and local levels.
If you could wave a magic wand and change one thing in Pittsburgh’s LGBTQ community, what would it be? Empower the women in the community, and make sure every LGBTQ organization has fully egalitarian governance.
Past or present, favorite LGBTQ character in television, film or literature? I love the entire cast of RENT, particularly Maureen.
What is one simple thing a reader can do to support the LGBTQ community? Speak up! Challenge bigotry, especially your own.
Thank you, Jeanne, for making the time to share your thoughts with us.
Follow Jeanne on Twitter @JeanneKCC
Learn more about Jeanne’s campaign for City Council via her Facebook page, Run Jeanne Run.
To suggest someone to participate in LGBTQ&A, please email pghlesbian at gmail.
NOTE: An earlier version of this post incorrectly stated that Jeanne was running for City Council in District 7. She is running in District 8. The post has been corrected.