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View Article  My Facebook "Friends" Continue to Dump Me Over My Logo

Wow.  I was just browsing through some of the people I've added as "friends" on Facebook and noticed a few names missing.  Turns out, they don't like the fact that I use my logo for this blog as my image on Facebook.  So they quietly dump me.  At least my sister-in-law (the one in Chicago, not the one here) told me she was going to un-friend me.  I suppose that's better.

It amazes me that people can freak out over the word "lesbian" because there's nothing controversial about the image itself, right?  The women's profiles aren't kissing or engaged in illicit activities.  It is the word itself that carries all the power.

Amazing.  Well, it probably isn't that amazing.  Most of these folks are alumni from my catholic-affiliated college, Marymount University.  That's where the college professor who mentored me for dozens of years stopped talking to me when he discovered I am a lesbian.   Also with no warning or explanation.  Some Christian values, huh? 

What really gets me is that most of these folks post pictures of their children on their Facebook and other webpages.  Everyone thinks that is cute.  Especially this guy.

Henry Kendall didn't victimize the girl physically.

Though he had photographs of the 14-year-old in bondage, with male genitalia featured, Mr. Kendall never touched her.

Instead, he took pictures of her from a computer and used software to morph regular photos into child pornography.

Yesterday, he was sentenced to two years in prison for violating federal obscenity law, which prohibits possessing visual images of the sexual abuse of children.

I'm guessing that sort of sick puppy stuff goes on all of the time.  Ledcat and I have a solemn pact to not post pics of our assorted nephews and nieces anywhere b/c I shudder to think that someone could morph an innocent photo into porn.  And I've attended enough Internet safety trainings to realize that it takes a few clicks for a predator to track down that child (especially with the genius' that post their home address on Facebook). 

I suppose I could chance my profile pic, but me and my 150+ remaining friends are doing just fine with the way it is.  I've connected with friends stretching back to elementary school, college roomies, kids from the neighborhood, extended kin, and all sorts of people from my grownup life. I enjoy Facebook.  And I feel sorry for people who are would so tightly that they cannot handle the word "lesbian."

Sad.

View Article  Update on Squirrel Hill Development - CBA?

About 100 folks turned out in Squirrel Hill to give input on the planned redevelopment of the stretch that includes the current home of the Gay & Lesbian Community Center. 

The Post-Gazette features a quote from GLCC Chair Rick Allison:

In addition to the Squirrel Hill Theater, several other businesses and the Gay and Lesbian Community Center will be torn down. Representatives from the community center said they still don't know where their group and other nonprofits that use the facility will locate.

"We're just hoping the developer has some funding to help us with relocation," said the center's chair, Rick Allison. "We're hopeful that they'll help us."

Someone needs to help.  It would be beyond awful if the GLCC had to close, even for a short period of time, while the LGBT community is making so much progress. 

I'll have to ask Rachel Canning, but this sounds like a CBA situation ... the developer needs to make some concrete, binding commitments to the community (communities) impacted by the development. That would geographically be Squirrel Hill, but universally the LGBT community in the entire region. 

View Article  Alexander Solzhenitsyn and the lesbians

Solzhenitsyn died at age 89.  Here's the AP obituary.

I first read his novel "A Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich" when I was a 17 year old high school senior and it rocked my world.  I had no clue about the larger connection to the Gulag and the Soviet Union or any other political themes.  I just vanished into this intimate description of one not-so-bad day in what seemed a pretty horrible life.  That resonated with me -- finding a reason to see what wasn't so bad about any particular day.  Days that were, in fact, pretty bad.  For me, too.

In the early 1990's, I read most of the Solzhenitsyn canon in preparation for my master's thesis in political theory.  Reconciling my increasing feminist perspective with my love for Russian literature proved too overwhelming and I found myself a thousand miles away from graduate school working with poor rural families.  Which led me here.

Solzenhenitsyn never stopped resonating with me, however.  Not when I left the Church.  Not when I identified as a liberal.  Not even when I came out.  It doesn't matter that his female characters are one dimensional and timid, never the hero.  I still get him. 

Russian literature pushed me into social work.  Reading Dostoevsky's The Brothers Karamazov put the nail in the coffin after reading a passage where one of the brother rails against a God that would allow an innocent child to die at the hands of her own parents.  I remember thinking he would be better served to use his wealth and privilege to help said child than to go about ranting and wailing -- it was easier for him to blame God than to take some responsibility for being the change. I know it was a literary device, but I was just done with political theory at that point.  Not so much the political as the theory.  I wanted action.

Man, did that take me down some interesting paths. 

Anyway, Solzhenitsyn is dead.  And I doubt he would want to be lauded by a lesbian, but here we are.  May God rest his soul.

**************************************************************** Note: I made the colossal error of confusing my Russians.  Sooo embarrasassing.  Tolstoy and Dostoevsky are not interchangeable and I'm very sorry for the error.  My favorite work by Tolstoy is "Two Old Men."  Sheesh.  Some tribute. 

View Article  Bottles, boobs and bags

A water bottle.  At REI (shhh!).  Yes.  And two travel mugs.  For more money than I care to admit. 

I coveted this bottle.  Two of my coworkers have this bottle ... it is made of stainless steel and is pretty tough.  It has no nasty plastic additives and will greatly minimize my reliance on bottled water and disposable cups. 

 

I hope. 

When I arrived home, I realized that I have also recently bought a new purse that is not water bottle friendly.  I really need a messenger bag.  But that involves buying more stuff and I already have a lot of stuff.  Plus, I like my purse.  It makes me feel like Ann in That Girl.  Minus the kite.

Plus, if I show up at work with the water bottle and messenger bag sported by my coworkers, I'll seem like a dork.  Even though emulation is a definite form of flattery in this case. 

Ledcat wants me to use a messenger bag.  I suspect she thinks it is more authentically lesbian than a cute little purse from Macy's (the sale was awesome).  But the problem with the messenger bag comes for those of us who are not petite or slim.  If you have breasts and curves, the messenger bag is a bunchy, scrunchy device.  There's no way to fling it across your chest without heavily accentuating said boobs.  Believe me, I've been there with my healthy back bag.  I look like a grotesquely overgrown 6th grade crossing guard in a really ugly safety belt.  Minus the awesome badge.  My back was healthy, but my boobs were rather uncomfortable.

It isn't so bad in the winter, but this is August and there will be at least three more weeks before it goes below 32 degrees so I have to consider these things.

Boobs aside, I have to decide about this water bottle thing.  I thirst a lot so I spend a lot of money on bottled water (or begging free cups that I end up disposing of anyway).  My vehicle must have at least 39 half-empty bottles of various beverages rolling around and probably another dozen plastic cups I brought home to recycle.  It is embarrassing because I also happen to be very lazy about actually removing them from the car to put in the recycling bin.  I hate to waste the remaining water even though it has been heated to near boiling by weeks of occupancy in my CRV.  I convince myself that if I ever happen to be the girl who rolls off the road and has to live in my car for 72 hours, I can subsist on the water, eat the miscellaneous dog biscuits tucked in the car seat and still have empty bottles for other needs.  Needless to say, Ledcat does not think that kind of preparation warrants the daily shoving of bottles into the back seat so she can get in the car. 

If I get the right kind of messenger bag, I can dump my laptop case and still carry my purse!  But I'm getting a new work laptop so I have to wait to see if it will fit -- apparently, my former bag caused damage to the laptop because it wasn't a good fit.  I've had enough disapproving lectures from the IT department to last me a lifetime. 

Great. I've identified a reason to procrastinate and it has a solid enough relationship to my paycheck that I can rest easy with it.  Either that or winter will set in and the boob/bag issue won't be a problem for several months. 

So I'll give the bottle a shot on Monday and see what happens. 

The other amusing thing was that my parents went with me to REI.  My father mused how he used to trod that very ground when it was J&L Steel and he worked in the mill (now he works in a coke plant which is like a mill, but not really).  Upon realizing that I misled her about REI"s ice cream selection, my mother stalked off to the camping section to sit in the chairs - she tested several models. My father discovered a series of tin cups that are actually perfect for my 92 year old grandmother to use so he bought a set.  They were very Little House on the Prairie -- remember when Laura and Mary had to share a cup until Mr. Edwards brought one through the winter storm on Christmas Eve?  It is in the book.  The overpriced water bottle generated a whole round of stories from my father about his childhood camping equipment which was mostly WW II surplus equipment.  I explained that the lack of a World War in the past sixty years has left me with little choice but REI.  That got a snort from my mother, but didn't even phase my father's trip down memory lane.  Apparently, he expects me to soak wool in cold water and wrap it around my water bottle every morning.  That's exactly what every lesbian family needs ... batches of wet wool. 

After spending time with their granddogs and grandkitties, the parents headed back for the suburbs.  Ledcat is at a concert.  So I'm left to my own devices with Facebook, Trillian and the promise of a new phalate free existence. 

View Article  I'm walking to buy a laptop, but not for me.

Got my tennies laced up and my favorite tee shirt ready to go ...

I signed up to walk a 5K to help raise funds for the Educational Initiative which provides modest scholarships to kids "aging out" of various human service systems -- foster care, mental health, juvenile justice, etc.  The scholarships most often go to purchase a computer, but also can be used to buy tools for vo-tech training and things like that.

My 5K is part of the Great Race in late September.  We have a total of 7 teams running or walking.  Our goal is for each team to raise $800 to buy one laptop.  We'd like to be able to purchase the laptops and present them to the kids at the end of the race. 

The program has been wildly successful, helping over 26 youth in the first year.  The children don't have to be our clients, they can come from any agency in Allegheny or Westmoreland Counties.

Would you like to help?  A $5.00 or $10.00 donation will make a difference.  You can click here to make an online donation - just write my name and Laptops in the memo field.  Or you can send a check to:

                  Walking for Laptops  c/o Family Services of Western PA                       6401 Penn Avenue, 2nd Floor  Pittsburgh, PA 15206 attn:  Sue K.

I just thought I'd let you know what else I do with my time besides work, blog and hang out on Facebook.  :-)   My co-worker has this complete walking training schedule.  I sort of plan to show up and stroll the 3.whatever miles.  Seriously.  I might even bring my travel mug with delicious Hoi Polloi coffee. 

When I went to college, my parents bought me a state of the art word processor.  It was awesome and even had disks for storing documents.  I made a lot of money typing papers for other people during college.  I don't know how they knew about it or how they found the $$, but it was huge gift and I kept it for years, even after I purchased my first PC in 1994.  So I can appreciate how important a laptop can be for a college bound student.

And you have to remember that these are children coming from families that don't necessarily have the resources or resiliency to send them off with the proper equipment.  Here's a scary statistic 40% of youth aging out of foster care end up homeless.  That's horrifying.  And more than a few of those young men and women actually did get to college, but had nowhere to go during term breaks and over the summer.  Imagine! 

So, perhaps you can pledge the equivalent of a few frappucinos or mocha lattes and just drink plain coffee a few days?

Plus, I'm getting up at like 6 AM to walk.  For your community.  I've come to your shows and read your blogs and driven you home from shows and posted links to your editorials and all of that good stuff.  :-)

ps:  we are on facebook, too (you knew we would be).  Search for FSWP Foster Care.  There's a cause button that you can also use to donate. 

Walk on!

View Article  Melissa Hart is now my friend

On Facebook.  I love Facebook and have over 140 friends.  I found Melissa Hart's page through a former LDI classmate, Monica Douglas, who is currently the Executive Director of the Republican Party of Allegheny County. 

It will be interesting to see what this new friendship means.  I'm also friends with DeSantis and Mark (of course).  Peduto and Lamb do not have pages. Peduto has a group.  I joined.  Chelsa Wagner isn't up there yet.  It is only a matter of time until they all climb on board, I suppose. 

But Melissa will always be my first. 

View Article  LGBT news and info from the City Paper

Some things you might have missed.

Allegheny County Council might pass a countywide anti-discrimination bill that protects us based on sexual orientation and gender identity.  The legislation would establish a county Human Relations Commission.  I know some folks who have been working on this.  It is good news for the region. 

Without dragging out the drum of bitterness, I just wish this forward movement didn't come at the cost of unfinished business in the City.  Our LGBT votes have been handed over lock, stock and barrel to Luke Ravenstahl's next campaign without holding him accountable for promises he made to the head of th STATE Human Relations Commission.  Now Dan has his eye on the Governor's manse and suddenly advocacy attention swivels to the County.  I guess you gotta go where the opportunity is, but couldn't someone have stayed behind to clean up the mess?

Plus, my recent experience with the State Human Relations Commission was less than positive. More bureacracy doesn't mean better quality of life for queers.  Just like a Domestic Registry doesn't mean a better quality of life for poor unmarried couples. Necessarily.  Hopefully, the advocates follow through on this one and build a structure that affirms all families and is accessible to all families.

On a bright note, the City Paper City Guide did a nice feature on Pink Party Productions.

And Pink Party Productions doesn't just hold parties in the strict sense of the word. While some of the events are still house parties, the group has shown movies in Schenley Park, and built a float for this year's Dyke March. It's also put together shows like last spring's "Gay-Straight Defiance Party" at Lawrenceville hangout Belvedere's (where Avery works running the sound board). That event featured local and national bands and local DJs, and was billed as an event for the GLBTQ community and its straight allies. The event was a huge success; Avery says it drew about 200 people.

I haven't been to many PPP events yet.  Mostly, because I feel too old to attend.  And I avoid bars.  I did enjoy the float at the Dyke March. And we did go to the movies in the park -- that was awesome.  I had a really nice time there.  So keep your eyes peeled for upcoming events.  Check out their upcoming events!

So that's it.  Ft. Pitt. 

View Article  Leadership on the Northside

I belong to a community email list, identified as a Northside resource but focused mostly on the War Streets and surrounding communities.  It is riotous group filled with a small core of virulently anti-homeless agitators.  Not those who agitate to end homelessness, but to end the homeless. I am only slightly exaggerating. 

I was at a community meeting this evening when this very topic arose. City Council has decided to approve historic status for a Northside building.  I think its a facade (ha!) to prevent the current occupants, the Salvation Army, from renovating the space to meet the needs of the people they serve.  Instead, we'll now all pay obesience to the legend of the Maltas.  Which, by the way, was a men's social club.  Wouldn't expect City Council to not openly salute the wonders of the men-only space now would we?

I digress.  The building has a Salvation Army chapel, but Cat Specter's father George determined that it is not a church.  If it was a church, it would not be historical structure.  I don't know.  But it smacks of yet another attempt to drive poor people out of the "good neighborhoods" on the Northside. 

Another meeting attendee tried to shout me down on this one, telling me not to listen to the fringe element.  I think that's bullshit.  Leaders from the Northside are on that email list and routinely say NOTHING when this kind of classist, racist crap roils up.  They say nothing and that speaks volumes to everyone reading. 

Moral leadership demands accountability to the most vulnerable people in your constituency.  The men and women who call the park and the nearby shelters home are Northside residents.  More importantly, they are human beings and it makes me absolutely crazy that someone would stand quietly by and allow them to be vilified. 

 

View Article  Can we do gay jokes about Obama?

This is from a Joel Stein in Sunday's Post-Gazette. Does it work for you?

He's effete

He's well-dressed. He eats arugula -- which he buys at Whole Foods. He mocks those who use guns. He is, as we mentioned, quite thin. He may only be half-black, but he's three-quarters gay.

 

Eh. 

View Article  Mamma Mia!

What a fun, fun movie.  With a lovely gay twist.  I must admit I still find Colin Firth very fetching.  And criticism of Pierce Brosnan's singing is unwarranted.  It is campy as can be and he's a delight!  Sure, they could have found a hottie who could truly sing (think Ewan McGregor at age 50), but it was just a good time.  I did refrain from jumping up in my seat and singing. 

Consider this fair warning to Ledcat about my birthday present of choice.  Did I mention that we are going to see Air Supply in concert for my birthday?  I'm a lucky gal!

First, here's when ABBA burst onto the international music scene.  I was three, but several years later ...

Just for kicks, here's a rather fuzzy video of the Dancing Queen segment of the movie.  It was really fun ... complete with feather boas and all the girl power you could want ...

 

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