Wednesday, July 13
Friday, July 15
by Sue on Fri 15 Jul 2011 09:29 AM EDT
I read this late last night and choked on whatever was in my glass. This man has zero understanding of LGBT issues. Zero. He needs to be educated and I hope his management team recognizes that he is saying ... well, first read his comments. (Full statement here.)
A slang word? Again, I'm assuming the word is either "fag" or "faggot" but I haven't seen the original article and all of the mainstream media folks are not printing the word. Hopefully, we can clear that up when Men's Journal comes out today.
Anyway, slang word? Let's contrast this to his publicist attributing his comments to his culture.
It would be easy to assume that Harrison and Parise are saying that using the word "fag" or "faggot" is part of African-American culture and thus deserves a pass (pun not intended) because it isn't *intended* to be offensive.
First of all, it is demeaning to imply that the African-American culture embraces a hateful word as part of their culture. It isn't slang. It is a derogatory word for gay men (and the entire LGBTQ community by extension). It conveys a message of disrespect, intolerance and even disgust or hate. There's no way to spin these words as "slang" unless you are on the heterosexual, dismissive side of the "joke." And that's an ugly place to be.
Second, I think there is a cultural component and Parise may be on to something. The culture, however, is male dominated professional sports. This is the fourth incident in less than a month (2 football, 1 baseball and 1 hockey) reported by the media. Four incidents in one month suggests there is in fact a cultural acceptance of the word "fag" within this community. Too bad for the LGBTQ players, staff, coaches and, oh yeah, fans, especially the kids.
NBA star Kobe Bryant was fined heavily for saying this word in a heated moment. It was wrong, he should know better and the fine was justified given the negative impact it has on the kids who look up to him. Period.
Harrison has apparently been stewing on his hatred toward Roger Goodell for some time. He knew this interview was coming and he had fair reason to suspect the topic would arise. In other words, he had ample opportunity to prepare his comments. If he got so worked up in an interview that he "slipped," then he needs to deal with these feeelings b/c they are leading him down some bitter paths and hurting innocent people.
If Harrison thinks the words "fag" and "faggot" or even "homo" are slang terms, he is a homophobic bigot. Sadly, he takes the immature approach of pretending that "offending" people isn't his bad b/c he didn't mean to do so. What a poor role model this man is for youth in America. And what a poor reflection on Pittsburgh and the Steeler Nation.
He needs to be educated. If Tracy Morgan could make time to meet with LGBTQ youth and families to make amends for his words, Harrison could take the time to meet with some of the LGBTQ youth of Pittsburgh or some of the Steeler's LGBTQ fans. He could hear firsthand how these words impact our lives. And maybe his heart would grow a few sizes and he'd be a man who can claim not to be a bigot in spite of the culture of his profession.
I'm willing to facilitate this. I'll be waiting for the call.
Wednesday, July 13
by Sue on Wed 13 Jul 2011 01:50 PM EDT
Like the blues? The Pittsburgh Tote Bag Project is giving away a pair of passes to the Pittsburgh Blues Festival good for Sunday, July 24, 2011 at Hartwood Acres.
You have three opportunities to win:
First, leave a comment on the blog.
Second, leave a comment on their Facebook page.
Finally, mention @Tote4Pgh on your Twitter account.
Drawing will be Tuesday, July 19 at 12 PM!
by Sue on Wed 13 Jul 2011 12:13 PM EDT
UPDATE: If this angers you, please ask the Pittsburgh Pirates to send a different message to the LGBT community, especially youth, by signing the petition to make a video for the It Gets Better Project. Constructive response to a disgusting situation.
So, Steeler's linebacker James Harrison used an anti-gay slur (the Post-Gazette did not print which leads me to assume it was "fag") in his latest rant against NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell in an issue of Men's Journal magazine.
The truly sad moment comes when his agent "spins" the comments as cultural commentary.
His cultural language? Does he mean the culture of football ...or professional sports? Or famous people? Cause dropping "fag" into a rant is not unfamiliar to individuals in these communities. Or does he mean the African-American culture? Cause I don't really think devil-talk and homophobic bigotry is universal to the African-American community.
Team Harrison needs a sit down with GLAAD to do some spin. A lot of LGBTQ folks are fans of the Steelers, but how often can you turn your head to bad behavior (drunk driving, sexual assault allegations, domestic violence) before you are forced to reassess if the team deserves your loyalty?
From Kobe Bryant to Philly's DeSean Jackson, the homophobic tirades are a serious issue and do real damage. Callingg someone a devil probably isn't going to lead to a 14 year old being bullied in a lockeroom. Or erode the self-esteem of a 15 year old who hasn't told anyone he is attracted to other boys. Or egg on the 16 year old who picks on other kids.
Harrison's conduct is unacceptable on many levels, but the "gay slur" is particularly egregious. His agent spinning this as a "cultural" issue is beyond the pale of racist stupidity. I guess we are supposed to assume Kobe, DeSean and James aren't capable of conducting themselves in a respectful, professional manner under stress because they are African-American? How is that a defense? It is horrible and demeaning to these grown adults who certainly have the capacity for self-control.
Just pathetic all across the board.
Thursday, June 30
by Sue on Thu 30 Jun 2011 01:53 PM EDT
We surged past 200 signatures on the petition overnight and now hover around 223.
223 Pirates' fans encouraging the Bucs to take a stance against bullying of LGBTQ youth. This is a great way for you to weigh in and urge our hometown team to stand up for youth right here in our communities. I might say it paves the way for other collaborations down the road.
I went ahead and invited the Diversity Initiatives staff to meet with the Gay & Lesbian Community Center to learn more about what is actually happening on the ground for LGBTQ folks every day, not just on Pride Night at PNC Park. I'm also not sure folks realize that there is a lot of sports enthusiasts in our community.
If the Pirates take this stance against anti-LGBTQ bullying, it will be a grant thing for Pittsburgh to be among the first Major League clubs to "step up to the plate" (ha) and embrace the responsibility of being the City of Champions.
Pennsylvania faces many up-hill challenges for our community and our allies. We still don't have anti-discrimination protections, hate crime protections or protections in our schools. We are struggling to get domestic partner benefits for public employees, unionized or not. We have to fight off another battle over a so-called "marriage protection" amendment. It is a very full plate.
I think we should welcome the Pirates to join us there in whatever capacity they can do it. I wonder if they offer domestic partner benefits?
Please promote the petition. http://www.change.org/petitions/ask-the-pittsburgh-pirates-to-make-a-video-for-the-it-gets-better-project
Wednesday, June 29
by Sue on Wed 29 Jun 2011 09:34 AM EDT
From the City Paper:
Yes, this is a bit daunting. I had actually forgotten this tidbit. Hmmm. Still, "something we are looking to take part in" is not an outright "no thank you." I'm not sure what an effective plan might be. The truth is that there are LGBTQ kids sleeping on the streets in Pittsburgh b/c they got booted from their homes, either directly or due to unrelenting pressure about their identities. There are kids being slammed into lockers, stuffed into lockers, kept from their lockers and having their lockers vandalized. The get beaten up, called "fags" and "dykes" and much worse. They are mocked, belittled and persecuted in the way that only other teens can do.
It is not as if a Pirates video will save these kids from future harassment. But it does acknowledge their persecution and remind them that their are adults who are in their corner.
Pittsburgh is very fortunate to have some resources for LGBTQ youth. Dreams of Hope performing group does amazing storytelling about these and other experiences. The Gay & Lesbian Community Center has a thriving Friday night youth might under the leadership of Ben Cook. Persad has an afterschool program. Faith communities embrace queer youth and remind them that they are loved and safe in their youth programming. And street outreach programs try to connect homeless LGBTQ youth with appropriate services. Families Like Ours provides exposure to other LGBTQ families.
Frankly, I'd like to see the Pirates charitable arm funding some of these efforts. I'd like to think the dialogue won't stop at a video.
But, the video might be the entree we need. It is worth a shot. It has gotten us this far. I'm moved that I don't know most of the folks signing the petition. I don't recognize their names. I do appreciate their comments and the fact that the information is apparently making its way around Pittsburgh.
Please, if you haven't done so, sign the petitions. Share the link on FB and Twitter. Be that one name that gets us past 150 signatures and a little closer to 200.
Tuesday, June 28
by Sue on Tue 28 Jun 2011 12:36 PM EDT
Are you familiar with the "It Gets Better Project"
Recently, a series of Major League Baseball teams have contributed videos to the project. The first team was the San Francisco Giants followed by the Cubs, Red Sox and the Mariners. According to the project, other teams are considering signing on.
So I contacted the Pirates Diversity Manager whom I've met and began a dialogue about the project. I recruited some other folks to advocate for our community and teamed up with Equality PA (they are also working with the Phillies).
The time has come for fans to weigh in so we set up a Change.org petition, much like folks did in the home cities of the teams listed above. Please take a moment to follow the link and sign on. Include a message in the comments section if you like. But please remember, we are in encouragement mode.
The Pirates hosted their first "Pride Night at PNC Park" in 2004 so there is precedent for them to work with our community. And I would hope they would appreciate that taking a stance against bullying based on sexual orientation and gender identity is not exactly a controversial LGBTQ rights stance. It is tremendously important issue and the more allies the project gains, the more we can hope to improve the lives of youth in our community.
Here's the link. Please pass it around. http://www.change.org/petitions/ask-the-pittsburgh-pirates-to-make-a-video-for-the-it-gets-better-project
Friday, June 24
by Sue on Fri 24 Jun 2011 11:58 AM EDT
I feel like I am in the big girl lesbian blogger leagues after receiving my first national anti-gay email commentary in response to being quoted in a Politico.com article on marriage equality. <sniff>
As you may know, the President does not believe in marriage equality. He used to when he was a State Senator, but now that appears to be a paperwork error. He is "evolving," but in spite of collecting a lot of big fat gay money last night at an LGBT fundraiser in NYC, he didn't evolve fast enough to weigh in on the NY marriage equality vote that could come as early as today.
I'm kicking myself because we missed an opportunity to remind him that we paid attention by showing up with some signs and annoyed gay would-be-donors at his Pittsburgh appearance today. Missed opportunity.
Here's a portion of what I shared with Politico.com when the contacted me.
The reported loved the part where I tied Obama's lack of leadership and failure to deliver to the social conservative Democrats denying domestic partner benefitst to their employees because they quiver at the political fallout. (Again, yes, I am still talking about "that" Democrat.) Sort of trickle down lack of leadership. I wonder if the fat cat Democrats on the national level give a damn about lesbian partners being unable to access preventative healthcare because of their actions? But it didn't make it into the piece.
So actually, I thought the email message was spam because it seems to be a fake address so I almost deleted it. Thank goodness curiosity got the better of me. And it is pretty tame compared to when the local lesbian told me she hoped I choked and died on my own bile. Now that's an insult. And sort of a death wish which was kind of creepy. Then there was the gay man who told me all the lesbians in Pittsburgh hate me. I didn't realize anyone was conducting a poll and if there was, sweeping it is a pretty significant accomplishment. I was accused of bullying a gay man of affluence and access which was in poor taste given the recent rash of youth committing suicide over LGBTQ bullying. That one I almost published because it was pretty disgusting to compare yourself to those kids because you think I'm mean to you.
There's more. I'm anti-ally, anti-feminist, anti-LGBTQ family, don't do enough in the community, bitch and moan too much, don't appreciate behind the scenes work, don't trust the white men to "have it under control," and focus too much on dykes and the leather community.
Then there was the time "he who won't be named" lost his cool at a public event because I published his voting record. That was sort of the pinnacle of "arriving" as a blogger.
But this is a whole new level because it is polite and apparently well-intentioned. Plus, it took a bit of time to track me down as my blog was not mentioned in the Politico piece. Here's a snip.
She's so polite, if grammatically challenged. So, Sharon Kass of Washington, D.C., here's to you for validating the time I took to talk with the Politico writer. Here's to you for validating the time I spend blogging, regardless of the fallout. Here's to you for reminding me why the lives and experiences of death-wish issuing lesbians and suicide contemplating LGBTQ youth are worth the effort I invest both here on the blog and in the other work I do.
And here's to you for keeping my interest and desire to expose the ex-gay ministries alleged to be deeply embedded in the "ministries" of two local mega-churches.
You join a long line of folks who don't want to hear it. And that's okay with me. Because I don't represent anyone but myself. And no one is forced to read my blog.
But they do.
Saturday, June 18
by Sue on Sat 18 Jun 2011 11:13 AM EDT
By now, you may have heard of the scandal involving two white heterosexual men posing as lesbian bloggers. One of whom was an editor that recruited me to contribute to the blog, LezGetReal.com
When Syrian-American lesbian blogger Amina Araf was allegedly taken into custody by government authorities, we eventually learned that Amina was really an American man named Tom McMasters. A straight man.
One of "Amina's" biggest supporters, was Paula Brooks editor of LezGetReal. As folks realized that no one had actually met Brooks either (like "Amina"), suspicions were raised and we learned that "Paula" is another straight white married man named Bill Graber. A retired construction worker from Ohio.
This story is unbelievable, but it is true. Both men claim they were trying to help the LGBTQ community. Instead, they have done incredible damage to the credibility of bloggers and other online media sources around the world, especially LGBTQ sources.
I was duped. When Graber, posing as Paula Brooks, approached me about contributing to the site, I checked out the site content and agreed. I haven't contributed too often and most of it has been crossposted from my own blog. But "Paula" pursued me to write about Pennsylvania politics on a more consistent basis. I just didn't have the time.
But I am aghast to be associated with this duplicity. And I'm so sorry that I didn't exercise more due diligence before I pointed you in the direction of LezGetReal for information. It was all based on fraudulent conduct. The information may still be good, but it is a slap in the face of LGBTQ bloggers everywhere.
There's debate over the extent of damage the deceptions crafted by McMasters and Graber have caused. For the new editors at LezGetReal, their is a need to grapple with the personal violatioin and restore the site's credibility.
To be honest this hasn't really registered locally. Marty Griffin hasn't been camped out at Lesbian Central to catch me on film. No one insists I skype them to verify I'm a lesbian. I haven't seen interviews with former compadres who have fingers to point about my sordid heterosexual past (I came out at 28 so there is one.)
To put things in context, my colleague Chris Potter of Slagheap (and the only one who did notice enough to poke at me about it) had this to say:
For me? Well, I'm not a straight white man. I did get duped by one, but it doesn't change my overall opinion of straight white men. Like Santorum. And Gingrich. And Metcalfe. Oh ....
On a more serious note, I will no longer be contributing to LezGetReal because I just have concerns about what is happening in the wake of this revelation - there's a lot of emotion driven decision making. I am fortunate enough to belong to a national LGBTQ blogging group so I've met many of the other bloggers live and in person. I met Pam, Bill and Jeremy along with others so I don't have qualms about contributing to their sites or attributing their writing. I'm under no illusion that John Morgan is a lesbian so that's all good. But I will have to rethink a few things, too.
Credibility is a serious issue for the LGBTQ community. For our community, the mainstream media coverage is pretty skimpy, although getting better. Blogging and citizen journalism are significant tools in the struggle for equality, both here in the US and across the world. We can't afford for even the most well-intentioned ally to play these types of games. There are reasons McMasters and Graber made their choices instead of simply lending their skills and talents to actual lesbian bloggers.
Lots of blog decisions to be made in the near future.
Sunday, June 5
by Sue on Sun 05 Jun 2011 11:53 AM EDT
Target is holding a shareholder meeting here in Pittsburgh on Wednesday, June 8, 2011. This is the first such meeting since the corporation donated $150,000 to support an anti-gay candidate in their election bid.
There was immediate backlash. It is a terrible contradiction to tell us you want our shopping dollars and support us, then try to elect someone who denies us our basic equal rights. More on the donation specifics here. These donations are tricky, but understand that this was from the actual company. Executives within the company also made personal donations (including one from the CEO to Michelle Bachmann) which are troubling, but there's a little more gray when it comes to choices made by employees. The $150,000 donation came from the profits WE generate by shopping at the store, not the salaries of the employees.
Groups have united to plan a protest at the meeting on Wednesday, 12 PM at the new store site in East Liberty (you can't miss it).
Participating organizations include: Keystone Progress, Common Cause, Action United, Delta Foundation, We Are One Pennsylvania.
So why does this matter? Here's the perspective from Common Cause
The LGBTQ community should take heed of this. It is not a coincidence that they chose to support Tom Emmer, a State Rep running for Governor of Minnesota. It was a calculated decision that probably had to do with business, but conveniently overlooked Emmer's strong stance against marriage equality, LGBTQ parentings, and his affiliation with an "incendiary" Christian group. This man was much more Darryl Metcalfe than Tom Corbett if I can make so bold a continuum.
If you work in the East End or can get away for a bit mid-day, please make an effort to head to East Liberty and send a message. Let them know you are paying attention. We can't stop corporations from making huge financial donations to the 2012 elections. Do you want Target funding anti-equality candidates in Western Pennsylvania?
My post on personal choices around boycotting Target and other companies ... another time. It is constructive to know we can participate without the interminable inner struggle about where we spend our dollars. So let's take advantage of this opportunity, queer Pittsburgh, and send a message. We are paying attention.