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
Thursday, May 19
by Sue on Thu 19 May 2011 02:15 PM EDT
For 13 years or so, I took pads and tampons for granted. My family had more than its fair share of economic struggles, but my Mom always made sure I had these feminine hygeine products when needed. When I was on my own, it never occured to me that they weren't a necessity. Yes, I'd use coupons or buy generic when necessary, but accessibility was just not an issue.
When I was 25 years old, I was working in social service ministry for an interfaith group of churches in a rural Western Kentucky town. Think no red lights, no restaurants open on Sundays and no social service programs to speak of. No buses, lots of decrepit rental housing and poverty of near two-thirds world dimensions.
Part of my work was to run a small community center, including a thrift store. I had developed a volunteer program to allow local women to help sort the clothing in exchange for credits to purchase what they needed. No one took things for free in this community.
One day, I joined the sorters and noticed they had two piles of "rags" -- so I asked about it, thinking in my 25 year old naive way that they might be for cleaning. There was some unease among the women sorting so I let it drop. Later, a volunteer in her 40s took me aside to explain. She was blunt. Feminine hygeine products were expensive and not covered by food stamps. When faced with spending precious cash, the needs of the children alway took precedence. I got that, but still didn't see where she was going. What did this have to do with cleaning rags? I assured her it was fine with the organization for the women to do what they wanted with anything we couldn't sell.
So she was even more blunt. She explained that she and other local women used literal rags for their periods. They also used rags for toilet paper when things were really tight. I was stunned into silence. Actual rags? Such a thing had never occured to me, even when I was in my feminist-moon-goddess phase of using reusable pads that had been pretty damn expensive and came with a "moon jar" which shows how oblivious I was back then.
I remember staring at her and hearing an almost click on my own emotional maturity as I realized how important my next words would be. I thanked her for explaining it to me and told her that I wanted to help with as much dignity as possible. I asked her to take the lead on this special project since I assumed the other women would feel more comfortable. She agreed. So we began a little pile of menstruation appropriate rags that quietly helped local women.
Then, she apologized to me for exposing me to something uncomfortable as if I was somehow tainted by this glimpse into the real world of rural poverty (and urban poverty I learned later). Admittedly, I was shaken. I kept thinking of how awkward and uncomfortable it would be, as well as messy. I was young enough to feel especially bad for their daughters. I wanted to run out and buy scores of pads, but I knew somehow it was better to go with the plan the women themselves created.
But I was upset. I tried to play cool (I'm sure she saw through me), but it was the sort of systemic eye-opening moment that radically transformed me into a real social worker. How could this happen? What about the rest of the world? What about my high school friends -- did any of them have these experiences? Mind you, I'm an 80's baby which meant much more poverty and financial struggle than neon hair scrunchies and mall rat experiences.
The women who worked with me identified a need and crafted a solution. They weren't embroiled in existential angst because they had bigger issues to face. But I wrestled with this for years. When I returned to Pittsburgh, I learned about similar experiences at food pantries and among women experiencing homelessness. I can say with ease that the initial conversation was a defining moment for me as a social worker and a woman.
I was thrilled when I learned about On The Spot which raises funds to provide feminine hygeine products for high school students in partnership with Planned Parenthood. They have awesomely fun fundraisers featuring homebaked cookies and have done a great job of bringing this conversation into progressive circles.
So, yeah, when I learned about this project, I went right back to that 1996 conversation and still my jaw dropped to think about young girls in the same situation.
The next event is Tuesday, May 24, 2011 from 6-9 PM at Hough's in Greenfield. The event features cookies, 50/50, raffle prizes and much more. Attendees are asked to bring a box of pads (preferred) or tampons along with a financial donation ($5-10).
If you can't attend, you can still help. Donations are accepted at these spots. You can contribute these items to a food pantry drive in your area. You can talk with the Administration at your local middle and high schools to see how prepared they are to help young girls.
And you can help reduce the stigma of asking by making sure the men and boy in your lives can buy a box of tampons without flinching.
On The Spot's website is here. Click to learn more and hope to see you at Hough's on Tuesday.
UPDATE: I forgot to mention that inevitably some good hearted person suggests providing reusable supplies for women and girls in these situations. That's a healthy sentiment, but impractical even dangerous when sanitation is an issue. I think those folks should donate those supplies to food pantries so women can choose them if they want them. That's fine. But I do not think we should impose on anyone, especially young women who probably already feel pretty awful about this aspect of their female identity. Allowing them a "typical" teen girl experience in the midst of whatever chaos created the lack of resources is pretty damn important. There's no one right way to experience our menstrual cycles, but we have to recognize that our choices expand as our privileges expand and craft solutions based on the reality of the girls and women we aspire to help.
Friday, May 6
by Sue on Fri 06 May 2011 02:37 PM EDT
It is hard to keep up with the good stuff, but I'm sure you want to know about it ....
Monday, May 2
by Sue on Mon 02 May 2011 01:20 PM EDT
Dreams of Hope has a summer camp week that sounds awesome.
Dreams of Hope
Summer Arts QAMP!
August 16 - 20th
Dreams of Hope is hosting an overnight camp from August 16 - 20th for LGBTA youth ages 13-17. The camp will be held at the Emma Kaufmann Camp on
In addition to Special Workshops designed specifically for Dreams of Hope on Drumming, Spoken Word, and LGBT and Allies Support and Education, camp will include:
High and Low Ropes Course; Athletics; Instruction and Recreational Swimming; Water Skiing; Canoeing and kayaking; Knee Boarding; Tubing; Arts & Crafts; Hiking; Ceramics; Campfires; Karaoke
Grow their artistic abilities and talents.
Improve their self confidence and self-esteem.
Participate in fun and challenging activities.
Develop friendships with young people from other geographic areas, ethnicity, and socio-economic and racial backgrounds.
Explore issues they face in their schools and neighborhoods, and learn how to combat the obstacles they face.
Have a space where they can relax and be themselves!
Cost is $500 per camper, which includes: Three meals a day plus snacks, all camp activities, round-trip transportation from
FORMS DUE: July 1, 2011 - to secure a place at camp
After July 1, applications will be considered if there is space.
Space is limited to 24 campers, so go on our web site, call, mail, or email to request your registration packet. (Please include your name, address, phone and email.)
Dreams of Hope?www.dreamsofhope.org/camp? firstname.lastname@example.org?(412) 361-2065
Summer Arts QAMP!?
Wednesday, April 13
by Sue on Wed 13 Apr 2011 08:01 AM EDT
GLSEN SAFE PROM FOR ALL
When: Friday, April 29 from 7 pm-11 pm
Where: The University Club
Tickets cost $20. There will be food, drinks, a photographer, and plenty of song and dance. For more info. contact GLSEN Pittsburgh at:
I've seen stories popping up around the county about the inevitable situation of girls wanting to wear tuxes to their proms. In some places (which we never hear about), there's no eyebrows raised. Others go to extreme length to stop the insanity of women wearing pants.
It is good that Pgh simply has a place for all queer kids to not put up with that crap and enjoy the prom experience for a reasonable price. Safe spaces should not be taken for granted and kudo to Pgh GLSEN for continuing to put this event together for Pittsburgh's kids.
Monday, April 4
by Sue on Mon 04 Apr 2011 09:34 AM EDT
I caught this very late last night. Great way to end a weekend.
GLCC Youth Director has been named a Finalist for the 2011 Jefferson Awards. His profile will run in the PG on Wednesday.
His name is Ben Cook and I met him in 2003 when I was on the GLCC Board. I distinctly remember being impressed that he gave up his Fridays to support LGBTQ youth.
He's been there on Friday nights for over ten thousand hours. Ten thousand!
I've found Ben to be an articulate, generous man. I've had a little bit of professional contact with him and his demeanor in his work life reflects the same values that take him to the GLCC. We once had a conversation about the experiences of LGBTQ youth who were homeless and he was very quiet when he described the Friday night pizza snack as the only meal someone would eat that day.
We should all be very proud to have a volunteer like Ben. His work is at the heart of the critical role the GLCC plays in the lives of Pittsburgh's LGBTQ comunity.
Friday, January 28
by Sue on Fri 28 Jan 2011 03:08 PM EST
If you are seeking something interesting to do on Sunday ...
Wednesday, September 29
by Sue on Wed 29 Sep 2010 04:08 PM EDT
From Garden State Equality (NJ) comes word of a Rutgers freshman who committed suicide after a video of him being sexually intimate with another male was circulated by his roommate. The video was made without his knowledge.
For immediate release
Wednesday, September 29, 2010
Statement of Garden State Equality Chair Steven Goldstein, cell (917) 449-8918
All of us at Garden State Equality are in a state of shock over one of the most unconscionable, hate-related deaths of a student in the history of the State of New Jersey. Today we learned that a Rutgers freshman committed suicide by jumping off the George Washington Bridge after his roommate and other students apparently broadcast the freshman - without his knowledge - making out with another man. According to reports, the other students disseminated the video widely by Twitter. The freshman was seemingly so distraught, he leapt to his death.
There are no words sufficient to express our range of feelings today. We are outraged at the perpetrators. We are heartbroken over the tragic loss of a young man who, by all accounts, was brilliant, talented and kind. And we are sickened that anyone in our society, such as the students allegedly responsible for making the surreptitious video, might consider destroying others' lives as a sport. As this case makes its way through the legal system, we can only hope the alleged perpetrators receive the maximum possible sentence.
That the victim's roommate was also a freshman, just months out of high school, demonstrates once again that our high schools are not doing enough to educate their students that harassment, intimidation and bullying of other students is unacceptable in every instance. It is grotesque to think that people such as these alleged perpetrators went onto college without, apparently, ever having been taught basic life lessons of decency - and that they made their way through the educational system before allegedly committing this unconscionable act.
Garden State Equality is currently working on a new anti-school bullying bill that if enacted, would be the nation's strongest such law. It would follow the three anti-bullying laws the state has enacted since 2002, all of which include bullying based on sexual orientation and gender identity and expression.
We have also reached out to the Rutgers University administration and LGBT campus groups. We will keep you apprised of developments.
We are sickened.
With more than 77,000 members, Garden State Equality is New Jersey's largest civil rights organization. Since Garden State Equality's founding in 2004, New Jersey has enacted 211 laws at the state, county and local levels. Garden State Equality is the only statewide advocacy organization in American history to be the subject of an Academy Award-winning? film.
Meanwhile, a 13 year old boy has died after hanging himself after years of bullying because he was gay.
And in Texas, another 13 year old shot and killed himself because of bullying about his gay identity.
Imagine what the 18 year old Rutgers' student endured prior to college? Or how much bullying his roommate got away with to get to the point of posting video on Twitter?
Thank God for grown men like Dan Savage taking a stand with his It Gets Better project on YouTube. It is a damn shame our educators and elected school board officials can't do the same. Damn shame.
This is the sort of thing that makes me quiver with anger when I think about so-called-allied elected officials dragging their feet to make the world better for gay people. You have the power to send a message that might, just might, get some idiot to rethink their opinion that we deserve to be bullied and you WON'T do it?
You basically suck.