Thursday, December 17
by Sue on Thu 17 Dec 2009 07:14 PM EST
Has been a busy week at Lesbian Central. Steel City holiday party Weds eve was nice -- they (we?)are looking for new board members. Give it some thought; you don't have to be a political junkie to make an impact. You just have to care and be willing to roll up your sleeves.
I'd like to see some LGBT parents get involved. The front burner issues, such as domestic partner benefits and anti-dicriminatio legislation, should hit home for those raising children. Your voices are needed at the table for the sake of your children.
I've also been working long hours seeking donations for holiday projects. Response has been delightful and very humbling. It really lifts you up to see someone smile over unexpected Christmas present, young and old alike.
If you'd like to help, it is not too late. Gifts of socks, gloves, blankets and $5 gift cards to Subway and similar restaurants can be "gifted" to people on xmas day, folks who are taking shelter in the mangers about town. Contact me if you can help.
I am hoping to work on a story about local and municipal folks using social media. I have been compiling a Twitter list of Pgh and PA pols using Twitter -- I have 51 so far. Check it out and let me know if you have adds.
More later when I am at my laptop, if I'm not asleep! I have to find a 4T Steeler or Pens shirt for my nephew. Any suggestions?
Pittsburgh Lesbian Correspondents
Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry
Sunday, December 13
by Sue on Sun 13 Dec 2009 10:43 PM EST
I know I won't have time to blog tomorrow so here are a few end of weekend thoughts ...
Saturday's Handmade Arcade was a really nice event. Picked up some good gifts for my brother, mother-in-law and work folks. Ran into a handful of acquaintances, but mostly reveled in the DIY niceness that pervades the event. As someone who hates crowds, I appreciated the high ceilings to help me keep the jostling and bustling in perspective. I missed some of the odd ball items we've found in the past -- Dolly Parton notebooks, record coasters, fuzze furry little knit pencil tops ... but overall, it is a great event for Pittsburgh. I texted my friend looking for a line of soap to carry in his business and he's already in discussion with their wholesale folks. Nice.
Today started out on a cool note. Twitter alerted me to Jim Lokay (KDKA traffic guru) broadcasting from his living room, providing live time traffic coverage using Ustream. It was the perfect utiliarian social media forum. I was able to get reliable information fed to me in live time by a credible source and learn some of the behind the scenes "how to's" of the info gathering process. Plus, I didn't have to hear David Johnson comment on wearing his underwear ... can't wait to read Frannie's take on that in an upcoming issue of the City Paper. Lokay was professional and accessible. Ustream provided a chat feature and he did an impressive job of filtering through the silly comments to pick out the actual questions related to traffic. Plus, he recognized my user name which guaranteed a shout on this here blog.
This was an excellent fusion of social media with MSM. Hopefully, KDKA picks up on the greatness and stops sending David Highfield to stand in the bitter cold to tell us viewers to stay home. He can now do that from his front porch and then take us into the living room for a cosy chat on frostbite prevention.
Kudos, Jim. If I ever have a breaking story about my oh-so-exciting life, you will be my go to guy. Well, if Tony Norman turns me down.
Had a lunchtime brainstorming session with social media gurus on how to bolster the Steel City Stonewall presence and impact using these tools. It was scintillating and I'm looking forward to helping filter this project. One thing we discussed is the lack of an organization push to identify and recognize the individuals (like us) who are using these tools to push the "gay agenda" or perhaps more accurately, the LGBTQ agendas. Not recognize as in awards dinners, but recognize in terms of links and aggregated information.
For the record, Steel City is on Twitter @StonewallPGH and there's a new hashtag #LGBTpa and #LGBTpgh. Use it and be part of the good stuff.
Be warned, mommy bloggers, we are coming for you and plan to tap into that amazing parenting energy to join the battle to expand the civil rights of our families. You have been warned.
I suppose a few links are in order.
Houston, Texas has elected a lesbian mayor. A mayor who is a lesbian? Largest city to do so and it is in Texas. My only source in Texas, a self-identified conservative, thinks she's well qualified. Go Annise Parker.
Check out the Gay Wiki History which has a focus on men's lives in Philadelphia.
The Trib search feature got broken so no news from that side of the spectrum.
Steel City Stonewall is hosting a holiday open house. Members can bring folks so I'm inviting YOU to come out and learn how it matters. Hit me up for an invite. Seriously, there will be nog and really nice people (like the host) who work so very hard to battle for our civil rights. Word on the web from the advocates in the no that some major battles are coming up in 2010 ... including a possible challenge to second parent adoption. Come to the party and learn stuff.
Fundraiser for Pride known as Spark is coming up on Friday. For $50 you get a nice evening and support the event that draws out quite the crowd.
The GLCC Library is burning up the Facebook. You rock, library people. Makes me so happy when I get those updates ... who said books aren't compatible with social media? Posh. I understand plans are underway for the library to archive LGBT social media in general. We approve and hope you'll include the GSpod and our humble blog among others. I'm just saying.
In three weeks, PghLesbian.com hits 4 years of age. I have something special planned to commemorate this occasion. If I can pull it off, should be fun. Stay tuned.
Thomas Waters has a great post on which to wrap up.
Nevada: the only state with legalized prostitution (Proverbs 23:27-28), the gambling capital of the United States (Proverbs 13:11), home to the highest divorce rate in the country (Malachi 2:16) draws the moral line at gay marriage (no biblical verse available).
Please, big shout out to lesbian favorite Hoi Polloi for 1) being busy as all get out and 2) sharing coffee goodness with my humble self. They placed in the top 3 of City Paper "Best of Pittsburgh" for vegetarian restaurant.
Speaking of the poll, we need to get some LGBT love going, folks. I'm not sure if they have a best podcast category, but they should. Plus, we are a pretty universal alternative reference in Mr. Potter's paper so maybe a "LGBT resource" or "LGBT presence" or some such category would be good. How about "LGBT event"?
Final, final note. Cutting Edge, take note of Lokay's videocast.
Friday, December 11
by Sue on Fri 11 Dec 2009 07:06 PM EST
Feministing take on the Uganda Hate Bill.
But it's important to remember that this bill is still AN ANTI-GAY BILL. No matter the severity of the suggested "punishment" for homosexuality, the premise is uber-problematic. I also think it's important to remember that the anti-gay sentiment that created the bill has not been eradicated.
Rachel Maddow urges Rick Warren to denunciate this legislation on her show. I also learned through this link that the Archbishop of Canterbury, leader of the Anglican Church, has remained mum. Anglicans and Episcopalians might want to have a little chat with your church leadership. Murdering and/or criminalizing gay people is an issue far beyond the pale of gay marriage or gay bishops.
Tonya Payne is running for the State House seat currently occupied by Jake Wheatley. Her facebook page is here. Facebook played a part in stripping her of her committee roles so let's see how this plays out.
PA Congress Rep Joe Sestak stops by Pam's House Blend Monday evening for a live chat.
Domestic partner benefits for public employees seem possible in Charlotte, North Carolina. Meanwhile, back in good old Democratic Allegheny County -- nada. Well, it is an election year so it is possible we'll be thrown a bone to shore up that quasi-progressive image. Back in 2007, the Allegheny County Democratic Committee hosted what I deemed a "Big Gay Chat" to connect endorsed candidates with the LGBT community.
At this meeting, I asked Dan Onorato's surrogate about domestic partner benefits.
Dan Onorato: Said Dan favors extending nondiscrimination protections. In his Steel-City questionnaire, Onorato said he's in favor of domestic partnership benefits if the budget allows. When he was called on that, the surrogate got a bit snotty and defensive. Did he really expect a crowd filled with domestic partners and tax payers were going to just let that fly? I asked a follow up question and he looked none too pleased.
Now I am on the record as pointing out that the County's unmarried employees could be replaced at any point by married employees with children who would get benefits, so the budgetary argument was ridiculous (see follow up question). The surrogate sputtered which only confirmed the "have my communion wafer and eat it, too" mentality of these regressive Democrats.
I won't bore you with my repeated attempts to address this with the Onorato adminstration over the past several years. Suffice to say, Onorato is being spun as the best gay thing since ... Luke Ravenstahl. I guess. The benefits will be granted in the near future and Dan will get all the credit. Bah.
Do you read PageOneQ?
Public radio on marriage equality.
The plague of bars in Pittsburgh continues unchecked. Really, have you tried to visit the Southside? We visit one restaurant and one restaurant only because the food is good, but we have to mentally prep ourselves for an unpleasant environment. Hard to understand why the Cultural Trust would let a culturally interesting bar like Pegasus slip away from their part of town, even if it needed some sprucing up while the expanse of sports bars is considered a good thing.
The City Paper unveils Pittsburgh's best as voted by you! Does it mean anything that they have a category for LGBT friendly bar, but no LGBT specific anything? Well, the staff acknowledged that the Allegheny County anti-discrimination ordinance means Pittsburgh has left 1957 behind forever. Look out 1980's, here we come?
Some of favorite restaurants made the cut. Woo hoo!
Thursday, December 10
by Sue on Thu 10 Dec 2009 09:05 AM EST
Yesterday, I posted a statement from Bruce Springsteen in support of marriage equality.
"Like many of you who live in New Jersey, I've been following the progress of the marriage-equality legislation currently being considered in Trenton. I've long believed in and have always spoken out for the rights of same sex couples and fully agree with Governor Corzine when he writes that, 'The marriage-equality issue should be recognized for what it truly is -- a civil rights issue that must be approved to assure that every citizen is treated equally under the law.' I couldn't agree more with that statement and urge those who support equal treatment for our gay and lesbian brothers and sisters to let their voices be heard now."
PG's pop music guru Scott Mervis added a little spin ... sort of pops culture instead of pop culture?
A gig with the Indigo Girls can't be far off.
Funny? Lame? Mervis is a tough bird to understand. He comes across as a sort of dated hipster who begrudgingly trudges out to pop concerts with skull cap pulled ironically around his head. Some of his interviews are dripping with either intentional sarcasm or careless disdain. My problem is that his homophobia is sort of that gentle media insensitivity type, not blatant and not easy to pin down. The kind that misses opportunity after opportunity to educate readers and goes for the heterosexist default. Like this interview with somewhat vulgar comedian Lisa Lampanelli.
(Lampanelli) You're not a big homo, are ya? You sound [like one], I gotta tell you the truth.
(Mervis) No, actually, I have four kids. What helped you break through to this size audience?
Monday, December 7
by Sue on Mon 07 Dec 2009 09:29 AM EST
It certainly has been a long time since we've had a letter to publish. Bruce Wilder of Oakland writes to deplore the tactics of the Manhattan Principles. It is a lovely letter and a nice way to start Monday.
If such a group wants to challenge our laws with civil disobedience, so be it. I am pleased that they have that right in this country. Traditionally, though, civil disobedience has been an effective tool against oppression and intoleranceHe continues by pointing out that an increasing number of children are growing up with gay parents and those children deserve the equality in our nation that the fulfillment of the gay civil rights movement would afford. Kudos to Bruce Wilder for taking time to write.
by Sue on Mon 07 Dec 2009 09:20 AM EST
The Post-Gazette has published a lovely tribute to Pegasus, the landmark gay bar which closes this week.
Besides its illustrious entertainment history, employees at Pegasus also served as an informal support group to young gays, offering them a place to stay temporarily if they had nowhere else to go, Mr. DeCecchis said.
Such kindness was key, said Mr. DeCecchis, who will never forget a 17-year-old gay friend from his native Johnsonburg in Elk County. The teenager struggled to accept his homosexuality but wound up committing suicide by shooting himself.
"If he could have walked down the steps of Pegasus, he'd still be alive," Mr. DeCecchis said.Pegasus is truly a treasured piece of Pittsburgh's LGBTQ history. I have countless heterosexual friends and acquaintances who have patronized the establishment. It really is a testament to both our societal progress and the legacy of Pegasus that friends also report hanging out at other gay bars, most notably 5801 in Shadyside and Cattivo.
I first went to Pegasus with my departed friend John. I remember one night I had on my first miniskirt (I wasn't out then) which friends have gifted to me after learning it was something I had never worn before. I was somewhat self conscious because it just wasn't me although I was miniskirt friendly. We walked in and I lost all sense of being self-conscious as we had a wonderful time. John has been gone for two years and I will always remember those visits when I think of Pegasus. He was free to be himself, to dance for the joy of it and to feel accepted. It was a very different experience from being out in a predominantly heterosexual group.
One thing disappointing in the article was the response of the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust. Reports vary in terms of their investment in keeping Pegasus downtown. Forcing the company to remove the trademark sign was very telling. We'll never know the full story about the rent negotiations. Still, this comment is not exactly a ringing endorsement for the cultural impact (and contribution?) of a gay bar.
J. Kevin McMahon, who heads the trust, said he urged Mr. Noxon to keep Pegasus open.
"We hoped he would stay," Mr. McMahon said, adding that because the club is in a basement, "it's not probably the most rentable space. We have attempted ... to be acccommodating to his financial needs. He has never asked us to reduce the rent. This was 100 percent his decision to close down."
Sunday, December 6
by Sue on Sun 06 Dec 2009 07:58 PM EST
Wow, first weekend in December and we've wrapped up most of our shopping. I did about 30% online and the rest in local stores. Of that, its a 50/50 split between small business shopping and chain store shopping.
I don't know what came over us. We actually picked something up for the niece and nephew in August! I got a great sister-in-law gift courtesy of a silent auction. Ledcat found her mother's gift in a unique gift store -- K.S. Kennedy Floral. A stop at A Pleasant Present was a must and we need to go back.
My online shopping was Barnes and Noble, followed by Ebay. B&N actually handled an error on their party by giving me a free renewal on my membership card. I was pleased. The new marketing tool of offering everyone the member discount during the holidays was offputting. I see the vision of attracting new business, but it needs to build some kind of win for members who fork over an annual fee. I shouldn't complain because I do make my money back, but still ... not a great idea overall unless they dump the program and just lower prices in general.
Kids are increasingly challenging to shop for. You want to be reasonable, but everything is so gender specific. It is hard to find something as simple as a plain grey sweatshirt or a simple pair of affordable jeans for a toddler. Everything has a theme or a design. We've given up on toys and head straight for books. I like to dig through the multicultural books. This year, I discovered that the Little House on the Prairie books have been broken down into age appropriate chunks. So I scooped a bunch up for my niece who will be 4. Nevvy would still be happy with boxes and wrapping paper to crumble so he's easy. My second nephew lives out of state so I am stumped beyond a gift card.
Still, the duty of the aunt calls. My goal for this year is to put together a box of stickers so she has the pleasure of abundance. I'm the aunt who shows up with a giant bag of army figures for birthdays much to the delight of a child and the chagrin of a parent thinking of her vacuum cleaner.
Letcat is tough. I tried to be creative and honor her heart's desire. Ebay is fruitful for the woman who has everything (or everything I can afford, ha).
So retail sales seem to be in a weird place. We stopped by the Waterfront yesterday and it was quite empty. Got out just before the snow set in and came home to a quick dinner followed by a screening of "Go Fish" which was an odd movie. I am not one to embrace the lesbian movie for the sake of the movie. This isn't something I'd watch again, but always good to give things a try. I was feeling wrung out after some personal drama so it was good to kick back and relax.
One last note. I'm still a fan of foursquare.com. I realize it is intended to connect people to hip fun places. "Hey, Julie is at XYZ bar; let's stop in and say hello." That sort of thing. I find myself drawn to promote the places I support regardless of the nature. I entered my mechanic because you never know if someone might want a good mechanic. I think foursquare, like Twitter, will morphe into something larger. At some point, the venues are going to jump on board and ensure their information is accurate as well as monitor the comments.
Last night, we stopped in P.F. Changs because we had a coupon for a free appetizer. To my delight, the manager remembered us from our previous visit. I had tweeted I was going and the PF Changs twitter person (great job, btw) caught it and planned for a little treat to reward us for the marketing tweet. Little did I know that Lisa the manager had been notified by a staff person of our impending visit (we had a reservation) and already planned a little treat. It was a great experience. She then told me she read my blog post and posted it in her office. Nice.
To our surprise, we got another round of complimentary appetizers and dessert. We also had a nice chat with Lisa about dining in Pittsburgh. It was a great meal and I, of course, tweeted as we went along ... using foursquare.com. This sort of embrace of social media is very satisfying from a customer point of view. My impression of PF Changs is higher than ever. I don't expect the freebies all of the time, but I do appreciate a chance to get to know the manager and continue to enjoy what has always been good service. It was a lovely way to fuel up for some drudging shopping chores.
ps: I also hit up Dunkin Donuts on Browns Hill Road over my vacation for a bagel sandwich and a mocha. Sandwich was good, mocha was actually a plain latte which I had to get replaced. It was just okay. I wouldn't waste the calories and stick with a plain of coffe that I know is good. Twitter definitely drove me there. Yeah, I also "checked in" via foursquare. It is my personal version of Farmville.
by Sue on Sun 06 Dec 2009 07:02 PM EST
At the Bill Peduto fundraiser, we ran into Kevin Acklin who told us how much fun it was to watch the "Do They Know Its Christmas" video -- what a blast from the past.
What's happening in the blogosphere this weekend?
Pam's House Blend weighs in on Tiger Woods (love the "zipper down brigade" comment), the election of a second openly gay bishop in the Episcopal Church and more information on Pam's nomination for an Air America cruise. She definitely deserves it after years of amazing work on behalf of the LGBT community!
Along with Pegasus, another landmark in LGBT history is closing. Lambda Rising bookstore in DC is closing after the holidays. Catch up their impact vis a vis The Bilerico Project. As the LGBT community moves into a fifth decade of our struggle for civil rights and equality, it is somewhat inevitable that the old must make way for the new. Still, its appropriate to shed a few tears as we say good-bye to legends in the community. I visited Lambda Rising one time and it was a really cool experience. Coming out in the late 1990's did not afford me the experiences of our rich early history.
Turning our eyes locally, Bram has a whole host of stuff on the tuition tax. My thought is just how impressive the students have been in speaking up and taking ownership of this issue. I hope their universities back them up. Otherwise, it is complicated mess.
Something I missed because I've been woefully lax in promoting my sister and brother LGBT bloggers --- Jason Cable's take on Joe Hoeffel, a well -written piece on how we truly need to make comprehensive informed decisions on the officials we support. Thomas Waters explores the intrusion of the Catholic Church into the D.C. decision to bring marriage equality to the District. Lindsay has a good point when it comes to the Adam Lambert brouhaha ... the kiss that destroyed family values?
Ran into John Carmen @carmanavenue at the Peduto event. We had a great chat about some interesting topics for podcasting. Hopefully, we can find constructive ways to collaborate.
Let me leave on an upbeat note ...
So here's another holiday treasure:
by Sue on Sun 06 Dec 2009 05:36 PM EST
Laura and I have decided to part ways with SisterShout. It has been a positive learning experience to partner with OUT and Gay Life TV on this lesbian videocast project. Their commitment to reach out to the lesbian community and invest their resources in a show like SisterShout is commendable. Participating in the launch of this piece of Pittsburgh herstory has been a pleasure.
We wish them the best with the future of SisterShout and their other multimedia projects.
Thanks to everyone who watched the show, came on as a guest and gave us encouragement. Social media is an exciting frontier for the LGBT community and we are so pleased to continue our exploration through everything from this blog to whatever lies ahead.
We are closing in on our four year anniversary at Pittsburgh Lesbian Correspondents. We owe a lot to the people who have helped us along the way. From John McIntire who invited us onto his radio show to the myriad of folks who have sat down to interviews over the years, it has been a great experience.
We are looking forward to continuing with this blog and new opportunities. Stay tuned ...
by Sue on Sun 06 Dec 2009 11:39 AM EST
Well, just found a little interesting nugget in the Trib site. It seems a state prison guard in Fayette County is pursuing a federal discimination case based on gender stereotyping.
Yanik's attorney, Herbert A. Terrell of McMurray, on Monday said Yanik is alleging his coworkers sexually harassed him based on their perception of his sexual preference.
"He's alleging injury because he was harassed, and disrespected, because of a perception that he's of a different persuasion," Terrell said.
In the lawsuit, Yanik alleges coworkers openly referred to him as a homosexual. They allegedly slammed security doors on him and locked him out of his computer.
A male corrections officer, who is not identified in the suit, reportedly started a rumor indicating he had obtained a protection-from-abuse order against Yanik. That rumor fueled speculation that Yanik was in a same-sex relationship, according to the lawsuit.
Yanik alleges coworkers and superiors felt he lacked "masculinity or masculine traits," according to the lawsuit. At one point, coworkers allegedly "began to insinuate (Yanik) had too feminine a voice while using the staff radio."How can you do anything but shake your head at that stupidity -- too effeminate to use the radio? How would you measure that, exactly?
Anyway, this is an interesting case because of a similar argument set forth in a case that has been cleared to go ahead in the Federal Courts, involving a local man and the Women's Law Project. The premis is that if someone, male or female, can be fired because they don't meet the workplace expectations of gender behavior -- well, this poses a grave threat for women and men in non-traditional work environments as well as all of us who don't conform to societal gender expectations.
I mock the radio voice thing, but seriously -- imagine if your employer failed to take action if your coworkers took up a similar mantra at your place of employment? It wasn't too long ago that Ledcat was chastised for appearing in court (when she was practicing law) wearing a pant suit rather than a skirt or dress.
Let's watch to see what happens in both cases.