An occasional series where we pose some questions to local LGBTQ folks (and Allies) to learn more about their personal experiences with LGBTQ culture. Click here for a complete list of all LGBTQ&A profiles.
Stephen Glassman is a true pioneer in Pennsylvania LGBTQ history. His appointment to the PA Human Relations Commission and subsequent appointment as Chairman was the first time an openly gay man served in such a role. Even more astounding is that Pennsylvania’s own statewide non-discrimination protections do NOT include sexual orientation or gender identity. It was a pleasure to be invited to Stephen’s home last week for a Pre-Pride cocktail reception for State Rep Erin Molchany and the steward of HB 300 – State Rep Dan Frankel. Frankel has worked tirelessly to move HB 300 through the State House for years and one of his key allies has been Glassman. Glassman has heard first hand the accounts of those who could not seek redress under state law so its fair to assume he’s one of the most authoritative voices weighing in on policy priorities in Pennsylvania. Stephen is also a two year transplant to Pittsburgh where he heads The Design Center. He told me the other night that he’s had the pleasure of visiting almost each one of the 90 neighborhoods in the City – and marvels about their unique character.
Affiliation: CEO/President, The Design Center. Former Chairman of the PA Human Relations Commission, 2002-2011.
Tell us about the very first LGBTQ person you met and what that meant for you. The first person I remember meeting who was gay when I was 8 years old was my parent’s interior designer. It felt good to know that there were people like me who could be accepted in the world and be productive in their careers. The first person I actually developed a personal relationship with (purely platonic, teacher/student) was a history/Latin teacher in 7th grade. He was outed in a police “sting” along with other teachers when I was 12, and I vividly remember how important it was to me that the Headmaster and the Board of Directors at our school were so supportive of him. He continued to teach effectively and brilliantly until he retired 30 years later. I also know, from subsequent discussions with him when I was in college, how difficult it was for him and his wife to weather this storm for many years afterwards.
How do you stay informed on LGBTQ issues? I read a number of blogs and news listserves every day including the Victory Fund’s “Smartbrief”, regular emails from the National Center for Transgender Equality, The Transgender Law Center, HRC, The Taskforce, Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund, the ACLU LGBT Rights Project, Queer Times, Queer Daily News, etc
What is the most important issue facing the LGBTQ community today? The lack of equal rights protections in employment, housing, public accommodations, education, insurance, credit and lending for LGBT people. Same sex marriage and its attendant federal and state rights is a close second.
If you could wave a magic wand and change one thing in Pittsburgh’s LGBTQ community, what would it be? Much greater visibility for the LGBT community and greater representation in positions of influence and authority, both in the public and private sector.
Past or present, favorite LGBTQ character in television, film or literature? Michael in “Tales of the City” by Armistead Maupin.
What is one simple thing a reader can do to support the LGBTQ community? Be out and proud all the time with everyone, and discuss LGBT issues with those who are uninformed.