Pittsburgh's LGBTQ Blog ... out'n proud in the Burghosphere.

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View Article  Another local queer blog

h/t to local writer Jane Muder for pointing out another local queer blog .... http://www.tonystimeout.outonline.com/ written by OUT publisher Tony Molnar-Strejcek. It is more of a personal blog than a newsy blog, but it is good to have another perspective on life in queer Pittsburgh out there. 

I had suggested to Jane that it would be great to see OUT utilizing Web 2.0 resources to provide more up to date content on local LGBT news.  They do a pretty good job using podcasts to cover the entertainment/events aspect of local queer life, but tackling that news component would be great.  Still, someone has to pay for it.  It being content written by local professional writers. 

Let me add that I'm not talking about myself.  I like my opinions too much to tame them to the demands of any local newspaper.  But Jane and other local gays should be writing online. 

Plans are underfoot on a national level to organize and train LGBTQ bloggers as advocates, with funding someone connected to the Progressive Insurance company (my insurer - yeah!).  They are only accepting 35 applicants this year.  That's not even one per state so the odds of Pittsburgh being included are pretty slim.  Yet, the dearth of online queer voices makes it even more imperative that we find ways to better utilize web technology to promote our agenda. 

It would be nice.

View Article  Young Lesbian Aspires to Help Community

This little item in the Valley Independent caught my eye.

Abigail Begandy doesn't mind marching to the beat of her own drum.

Begandy, 16, a junior at Ringgold High School, recently was sworn in as a junior firefighter for the Monongahela Fire Department.

She was sworn in Oct. 7 and became the department's third female firefighter.

"All my life, my community and family and friends have helped me and I just wanted to do something to give back," said Begandy.

"Originally, I had planned on going into the army. But my mom didn't want me to do that because she said there is just too much crazy stuff going on in the world," she said.

"So, I decided to become a firefighter."

Abigail also happens to be a lesbian.  Who just outed herself to the readers of the local paper in a rural Mon Valley town.  She's working with her principal at Ringgold to start a GSA type organization.

That's a pretty impressive reveal of information.  Volunteer firefighting itself is an interesting choice.  I wish the article had delved a bit deeper into the reality of sending a 16 year old into a blazing building scenario.  Still, even if she's contributing behind the scenes, it is more than I did at 16. 

I wonder how many other teens read the Valley Independent and feel a bit less isolated?  I wonder how many other adults read it, nod their heads in approval about the firefighting and then stop to consider the lesbian reveal? I wonder how many phone calls the Ringgold principal received? 

Kudos to Abigail for being a real leader.  And good for the VI for writing an interesting story about a girl who happens to be a lesbian, not a lesbian firefighter. 

View Article  Am I naive about the Wagner/Peduto pairing?

This came across my desk about 14 times last week:

Invitation

Please join Councilman Bill Peduto &
State Representative Chelsa Wagner for

"The Life of the Party"
Halloween Party

feat. live music by

The Old E Allstars
DJ Omar Abdul

Friday, October 31 from 8 to 11 PM

The Grand Hall at The Priory
614 Pressley Street, Northside

Cost is $10 with costume, $20 without
All proceeds benefit Northside charity

Paid for by People for Peduto and Friends of Chelsa Wagner

My first question?  Which Northside charity.  Representative Wagner represents part of the Northside, specifically my part of the Northside - Manchester. Along with Castle Shannon and Beechview and Brookline, etc. Hmmm. Our little step-child status isn't her fault -- she didn't draw the district maps.  I've talked with her staff on a regular basis and I believed they genuinely wanted to connect with our community.

This seemed perfect.  A chance for Chelsa to do something for the children in Manchester (and their families) by designating the proceeds to benefit a local charity in her district.  This could pave the way for more contact and stronger connections which would be a win-win for everyone.  Right?  Bill doesn't have any voters in the Northside so there isn't a conflict with him, right? 

I asked some questions. I contacted Wagner's folks and Peduto's folks.  I asked some friends of friends.  I got various answers, but it boils down to no one being willing to name the charity or tell me how that charity has been/will be selected.  That seems weird to me.  Why would there be a problem with designating the proceeds to benefit a neighborhood that could use it?  On the other hand, if they chose something outside of our district, why not just say so? 

I think I am too naive and missing some sort of insider perspective here.  I asked some people about that possibility and no one is talking. 

It is a party.  With masks and costumes.  It costs $10.00.  It seems reasonable to ask that our State Representative invest her time, talent and energies to benefit families living in her district.  We don't have an office.  Her staff cannot always attend (or aren't invited to) local events.  They haven't organized any events here.  So why not this one small first step? 

I certainly have nothing against the other local charitable organizations.  I just think it should be okay to ask for a little transparency when your elected official gets involved a few blocks outside of your district while you are struggling for some state attention.  If you've been reading this blog, you've seen the Herculean efforts it takes to get PennDOT to simply cut their grass.  We could use some help out here. 

Let me say this in closing.  Chelsa's staff have typically been very forthcoming with me and responsive to my calls.  They seem like good people.  I wasn't even going to blog about this until it became apparent that I could not get a straightforward answer.  Having recently sat through a depressing free-for-all that passes for a public meeting, a meeting not attended by her staff, I just think someone has to start speaking up --speaking up  more -- and saying that Manchester deserves attention.  My God, my neighbor caught a state employee DUMPING in our fields, only half a block from the house he (the employee) rents.  It is pretty bad when you drive a car down the street that is subsidized by  my tax dollars (gov tags) to your rental property.  But to dump in our neighborhood -- a place you should consider home?  That's crazy. 

There's a disconnect here.  Or maybe I'm crazy for asking questions.  Maybe I'm just supposed to put on my costume, shut up, pay up and have a good time.  Then drive back down the street to Manchester passing the kids "hanging out" because their pool is closed, their community center is leaderless and focused on $250,000 housing units and because no one can agree how to ensure these kids get a shot at decent jobs being created by development around the block (i'm talking to you casino and Steeler-hotel people). 

Maybe I'm the crazy one.

View Article  Win Free Tickets to Catie Curtis!
The Pittsburgh Women's Blogging Society is giving away a pair of free tickets for her November show and a CD to one lucky reader.  Check it out!  The contest is not open to members of The Society, sorry!
View Article  Layout Changes

Check out our right hand column for some updates and changes.

 - The LGBT for Obama Button

- Buttons to oppose the anti-gay marriage amendments in Arizona and California

- Mini flyer to the upcoming Political Pundits show hosted by Gab Bonesso and featuring what is like my dream table for a dinner party --- Tony Norman, Chris Potter, John McIntire and Lynn Cullen.  It is like the coolest smartest place to be.  A bloggers dream team. 

View Article  Quiet on the Lesbian Front

Been a little quiet of late, huh?  Well, I just received a job offer that has me very busily trying to wrap up old business and prepare for the new.  I have a four week buffer where I'll have one foot in each job.  It is an opportunity of which I could not dream a mere four weeks ago ... the chance to work with a team of people I admire and in a field that holds a special place in my heart.  I'm not leaving Pgh, so don't worry.  But I'll probably be a little less on-line even as I do break in my new laptop. 

Timing is everything, eh?

Leaving a job is hard.  I cry a little each day as I put away files and try to cope with wrapping up five years of my life.  Just the paperwork through which I must sort is overwhelming.  I don't know how people do this after 20 years or more in one place.  How do you wrap up all that stuff and move on?

Today is my 38th birthday.  37 was a tough one -- we lost Ledcat's Grandpa, Mona and my friend John.  The anniversary of his death is approaching and I'm a little anxious about that.  On the bright side, our nephew Jack was born, adopted Ana and, apparently, my career inched forward a bit. 

I could use a less eventful year. 

I also learned that Facebook is a cool place for your birthday.  Tons of people I used to know took a moment to give me a shout out.  That's pretty nice and uplifting when you've spent your day swimming through stuff, good and bad. 

My friend James renewed my subscription to Bitch for a birthday present.  Very cool.  A magazine is the gift that keeps giving.  Very nice. 

Hang in with me.  I promise the other side of this transition will prove fruitful for lesbian corresponding.

View Article  A little election fatigue

I feel a bit fatigued, to be honest with you.  Obviously, I'm tired of the ads and the 27 minutes of media coverage during a 30 minute program.  But I'm also getting tired of my political friends.  I get at least a dozen Facebook invitations to rally after get out the vote campaign after fundraiser.  And dozens of similar email messages. 

All with this fervent undertone of urgency that implies I am somehow lacking if I am not 100% on board.  That the fate of the world as we know it rests in my hands.

Well, back in 2004, I did volunteer for the Kerry campaign. I was sent to HQ downtown and forced to make phone calls to other volunteers asking them to come in to make phone calls to other volunteers. It was the most ridiculous waste of time.  I never went back.  I did volunteer on election day, but was treated like a moron by Kerry's guy on the ground so never went back to that, either.  I mean I'll do the drudgery work, but I've got a dozen other very worthy causes that need my time and energy, too so please don't waste my time making me feel important.  Just give me a real job.  It can be boring.  Just real.

This year, a popular tactic seems to be making fun of Western PA's fondness for yard signs.  That's not elitist at all.  People even have it as their Facebook icon.  Get over yourself.  We like signs.  So what?

Today someone explained the situation with the local elections.  It sound serious, but very convoluted.  Why isn't anyone taking the time to break down this important information instead of just wasting our time?  Stop shoving clipboards in my hands to ask for my email address.  Give me good information and ask me how I can help. 

If the Pennsylvania House and Senate seats are in jeopardy, why did only one State legislator turn out for a recent Gay Dems event?  Or why didn't he bring it up?  The only State Legislator that asked for my help is a Republican woman who reached out to me.  My own rep's staff is taking days to answer a simple question about a fundraiser.  There's a disconnect there.

Frankly, I'm tired.  It is never enough.  I'm working OT to convince some borderline voters on the presidential campaign.  I'm deleting email messages to events I can't afford.  I'm trying to process new information that just makes me feel panicky, not informed.  And I'm hoping to avoid charges that I don't appreciate the volunteer hours other politicos are putting in.  All of which is just bullshit.  All of it.

I appreciate your hard work.  But you are alienating me when you hit me with all of these intense demands for my time, money and attention.  What I'd like to have is information.  I'd be happy to talk with my neighbors about our state elections. But I need something to say.  Stop mocking me and start educating me. 

 

View Article  Live Blogging from Sleep-In for the Homeless

Tonight, I'll be live blogging from the Sleep-In for the Homeless down at the City-County Building over at the Pittsburgh Women's Blogging Society.  Surf over and see what's going on.

View Article  I Love the Gays!
View Article  Recently in the Burghosphere ...

It seems that three popular blogs have decided to close up shop.  You probably read something about in the PG a few weeks ago.  I've peeked at the commentary and heard some of the reasoning.  I can appreciate that folks want to invest their time and energies into something more personally fulfilling.  I can also appreciate wanting to get away from the negativity that opinions generate. 

But those blogs are part of the past and, true to form, folks are bemoaning the loss of the past.   Even when those blogs were bemoaning the folks who bemoaned ... never mind.

People move on and new voices move in.  It happens in the MSM (except for those weather people who keep coming back) and it happens in the blogosphere.  We miss brillliance, but at some point we have to turn around and wonder whose voice wasn't part of that original dialogue.  Maybe by closing up shop, these trailblazers have created an opportunity for folks from alternative perspectives to get a little more attention. 

I continue to be amazed that after nearly three years (in December), there are no other regular LGBTQ bloggers.  There are a few folks who occasionally post.  There are some LGBTQ folks who blog for their friends and family.  But even the politicos are too busy to blog.  The bandwagon is completely missing our community.  It would be great to see OUT in Pittsburgh launch a blog vis a vis Slag Heap on the City Paper site.  Jane Muder would do a great job.  Plus, they could really do it for minimal cost. 

I am often graciously included among lists of political bloggers, even though most of my content is not about politics except for the infusion of the homo element into the everyday.  I have been told to shut up and stick with politics instead of commenting on local gay culture and business, especially when my comments aren't flattering.  But, I don't delude myself into thinking I'm rocking any worlds here.  I'm just drawing attention to a lesbian perspective.  Not much attention.  And just one perspective.  Still, it does put things in perspective when Tony Norman tells me he reads my blog when David from 2pj's sends him links (thanks, David).  If the most progressive columnist in town, aside from Potter,  reads my blog only with prompts, then I'm not really breaking much ground.  There'll be no PG pages dedicated to my departure from the Burghosphere.

And that's okay.  I have about 75 readers a day.  I get the occasional email or comment from someone who appreciates a lesbian voice in the wilderness.  The people who get the angriest with me tend to be lesbians and other queer people because I think I'm breaking some codes about keeping it in the family.  I grew up in a really dysfunctional family so I'm not really very good with those dynamics. 

So I'll just keep plugging away and trying to find ways to bring some other non-traditional voices into the Burghosphere.  They may not be CMU trained or attentive to the nuances of sentence structure, but they certainly have something to say.  It is kind of exciting.

Here's a little glimpse into my past.  More than anything in the world,  I wanted to have a sweatshirt like Belinda Carlisle's in this video. I should have wanted to play the bass. It would have served me better.

 

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