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View Article  I'm proud of Gab

Gab is having a comedy show at Club Cafe on Saturday night at 10 PM.  It is not an official Pride event, but Gab is part of the emcee lineup at PrideFest and a long-time supporter of many, many queer organizations. She's also a local comedian. If you need a good laugh and can appreciate edgy humor, catch the show.  Check out Gab's website for information on her other shows.

Dyke March - Joan Rivers - Gab Bonesso

I might need some CoCo Crispies on Sunday to recuperate from all of this dykygoodish.

View Article  Registry Plans Update

According to the office of Councilman Bruce Kraus, the Domestic Partner Registry legislation will be signed by Luke with a swishy flair at Pride events over the weekend.  (I added the part about the swishy flair.  Kraus' staff were more professional). 

I love this.  Luke opposes civil unions, but somehow gets to be the Mayor of Gaysville over a very modest piece of legislation.  Meanwhile, his promise to appoint a LGBT liaison and an LGBT advisory committee remain unfulfilled.  He is the smartest Mayor ever for pulling this off and he doesn't have to move a single iota on any of these issues. Seriously. We should wait til he's posing with his homo buddies and then cover his car in HRC stickers.  Seriously. 

According to the City Personnel Dept, it could take up to 90 days for the Registry to be set up.  Once the procedures are in place, they will contact the 60 families already registered with the City and tell us where to show up to sign the official new registry application; everything transfers.  It will cost $25.00 to register.  I was assured they would get our transitions ironed out before opening up the door to other couples.  Which is only fair since we've been paying into the system itself for years.  Trailblazers.  :-) 

Still no word on how families who can't easily meet the established criteria can get help with the whole thing. I'm hoping a personal chat with Councilman Kraus will help our politicians remember that not every gay family in Pittsburgh is a middle class, two income, Starbucks patronizing, white family.  And not every gay family is going to come to PrideFest.  So once the hoopla is over, who helps those who need these benefits but cannot access them? 

I know a lot of PrideFest is about the hoopla and the smoochy-faces with the politicos and the donors and the mighty whites.  I get that.  It would be nice to be all grassrootsy and frolic in the sun and enjoy ourselves, but this is event is as much for the straight community to applaud themselves for being so gay-friendly as it is for gay folks to, well, continue to be gay like the other 364 days of the year.  Only with HRC stickers and petitions. 

I still plan to have fun.  I love festivals and there's music and booths and old friends.  There's Pride Cafe with Joey Murphy and Colelea.  There's the Dyke March on Saturday.  There's Joan Rivers.  There's Gab Bonesso's show at Club Cafe late, late Saturday night.  There's the people watching.  It is probably going to be a blast and I honestly do appreciate all of the efforts to produce the event. 

But you will never catch me writing a paragraph like this, courtesy of the man called Potter:

Ravenstahl's willingness to support it is at least as admirable. Ravenstahl has met with local GLBT groups in the past, but he's also a Catholic whose supporters tend to be more conservative than, say, the voters in Shields' East End district. Ravenstahl could easily have made a less principled move -- and one more politically convenient -- by allowing the bill to become law without his signature. Instead, he's bravely coming out in support of those who have, well, come out.

I prefer cynical Potter to dig up the truth.  Ravenstahl meets with gay supporters who give him campaign contributions.  Being brave would mean honoring his existing promises to our community.  Being brave would mean local LGBT advocates, including his supporters, holding him accountable for those promises.  Being brave would be assuring us that we won't lose our rights or our benefits if he pursues a merger with Allegheny County.  Being brave would mean taking an internal look to determine why only five (5) same sex couples are accessing domestic partner benefits. 

Just give us back Potter.  You can keep the bar owners and the Starbucks' lesbians.  We need our broody malcontented alternative editor. 

View Article  I changed my mind

Anonymous comments are welcome again.  Thanks, Peg, for reminding me what's important. 

Bring it on, Anonymous. 

View Article  PG story on regional gay rural life

Great story from the Post-Gazette

People labeled Patrick Arena "a fairy" early on.

As the only boy in tap classes at the Vella School of Dance in Washington, Pa., in the 1960s, he was taunted and whispered about.

"Truth was, I knew I was gay, but I certainly wouldn't admit it," says Mr. Arena, 57, of Washington. "There was nobody to discuss it with and I was afraid to discuss it anyway. I certainly couldn't talk about it with my parents or guidance counselor."

Is life better now for rural queers?  Ledcat grew up in the country and she has some very strong opinions on this.  I want to retire to her family's farmland when we get old.  She wants to live Downtown.  Hmmm. 

Go read the story.  I'm at the end of a tiring day so no energy to analyze the article.  The part about the Sugar Plum Fairy breaks my heart, though. 

View Article  Change to comments

I have turned off the feature that permits people to post comments anonymously. 

Sue

View Article  Resistry Approved; Other Stuff

City Council approved plans to create a domestic partner registry 7-1.  Now we await the Mayor's signature.  Here's the full PG story.

On a personal note, Ledcat and I are one of five same-sex couples receiving domestic partner benefits through the City.  Five.  That underwhelms me.  Five.  Seriously?  That would seem to warrant a second look.  Surely there are more than five gay employees in the City.  The City has really good benefits so it is hard for me to imagine that there are only five couples that could benefit from the benefits.  I would love to hear from a City employee who is eligible but not taking advantage of these benefits. 

I've also been assured by City Council President Doug Shields that our current status as domestic partners will transfer into the new registry and not require another round of paperwork.  No response yet on how or if the City will educate potential registrants on how to navigate the multiple systems necessary to fulfill the requirements or work with families who are unable to meet those requirements because, well, they aren't middle class families with financial stability.  Rather, that they are people who desperately could use domestic partner benefits.  Who helps them?

Maybe the City will contract with me to write the handbook.  Sort of two for one, lesbian/social worker combo.  I could totally do it.  Someone pass that idea along.

Is it possible that the five same sex family figure has something to do with the process?  Possibly. 

On the other hand, it does blow a huge hole in Danny O's claim that domestic partner benefits on the County level would destroy his budget.  It probably costs more to kill some geese than it does to take a homo to the doctor.  Seriously.

I was sort of taken aback when I read that the legislation has been amended to make domestic partner registries public information.  Marriages are public.  Then I had a "wow" moment as I realized that us five couples are like the San Francisco couples who were married several years ago.  The system has finally caught up with the times.  It would be really cool if the City would allow those five of us currently registered LGBT families to be the first LGBT families in the new registry.  Especially in order of registration.  I think there are about 20 heterosexual couples registered.  I'm just saying ...it would be cool.  Transfer the trailblazers first.  We could have a little ceremony.  Bram would cover it.  Right, Bram?

I know some gay folks worked to pass the legislation and they surely deserve their moment in the sun.  But I had no clue that as 1 of 5 families, our relationship was etched so starkly in contrast to the typical City employee.  It really does make me wonder about the other gay City employees. What's going on for them? 

Is it a problem that I can't just allow myself to enjoy this moment without worrying about LGBT families (and straight ones, too) that might be missing out because they don't have the same privileges of socioeconomic status, education, race and so forth that we enjoy?  My therapist -- who is part of a political family -- would tell me that I should speak up for those folk because who else is paying attention. 

So let's find a way to put together a handbook to enroll in the registry and figure out why only five gay families are currently enrolled for City benefits.   Bram might cover that, too.

Actually, has anyone taken a look at domestic partner registries across the City?  Is that a project for the Women & Girls Foundation -- a study on how people do or do not access these benefits? 

On a final note, the comic strip "Its About Lila" or whatever its called is no longer running in the Post-Gazette.  So all that furor for naught!  I won't know what happened with Drew's two-timing man-skank.  Drat.

View Article  Pride Highlights ... Pittsburgh 2008

Happy PrideWeek. 

'Tis a momentous week indeed to celebrate Pride as today at 5:01 PM local time will mark the first legal same sex marriages in California

Here in Pittsburgh our civil rights successes are more modest, namely beating back an anti-gay marriage amendment and actually having legislation introduced on the state level to expand discrimination protections to the LGBTQ community.  Still, I'm going to refrain from (once again) beating the drum about the entrenched social conservatism of local Dems (oopps!) and focus on Pride! 

You can find a listing of events here.  The PrideGuide is out and about. It is very shiny.  You'll get the scoop on Pride events and some rather interesting advertisements.  I expected to hate it, but its just a bigger version of previous Guides.  I read it cover to cover. 

I received an email about an interesting event AFTER PrideFest and sponsored by the Pittsburgh Black Pride Association.  It is called Pride in Jazz - Blues Women of the 20th Century.   That looks really cool. 

With a wink, a nod, or a shake of their hips, the women of Blues weaves tales of life, love, tenderness, heartache, and hardship with their song. These five women, who are widely recognized for their eclectic and soulful approach to creating music, move their sound comfortably from mainstream jazz to R & B ballads, avant-garde to Brazilian funk. Their live performances are a joyful celebration.

Presented by the Pittsburgh Black Pride Association, this all-women group showcases all the great women of Blues with historical information and humor.

And don't forget the Dyke March on Saturday afternoon

The Pittsburgh Dyke March is June 21st!!!<------- DON'T SELL YOUR PRIDE!!!! *Pittsburgh's 3rd Annual Dyke march*                                       WHEN: June 21st WHERE:March starts at Mellon Square Park (Downtown) TIME: Meet and greet 2:00 pm                                                               Keynote address: Betty Hill-2:40pm                                                          March kick off: Colelea-2:55pm

We will march down 5th ave, make a right on Liberty, right on William Penn Place, then head back around to Mellon Square park *Trans family welcome* *This march will be accessible, we will have a truck for those who would like to ride the march* After party At Donny's and Weezie's Brought to you by THE PINK PARTY PRODUCTIONS! With special performances by: Colelea Bekezela Joey Murphy Smells Like Gina Ya Lioness Homemade/Dyke made teeshirts and bags available Come on out! Let's make some noise and take up space! Visibility! Spread the word! Any questions, please message us at our myspace page The Pittsburgh Dyke March is personal, it's political. We are claiming celebratory feminist space for LBTQ (lesbian, bisexual, trans, queer) wimmin. Our realities and issues have been set to the side of the larger "inclusive" GLBT umbrella, and we've been told we must compromise. We've been told to assimilate to appropriation by corporate advertisers and sacrifice our interests to further the "greater good" of the gay community. As womyn loving womyn we are claiming this loving and political space, not only to celebrate the fierce radical spirit of the Stonewall Riots, but to remind ourselves that dykes are, and will continue to be, a revolutionary force to be reckoned with. How we organize and celebrate with one another matters, our love matters, our art matters, and dyke lives matter

Saturday night is the Joan Rivers concert to honor the 25th anniversary of Lambda.  Sunday is the actual Pride festival and the PrideMarch.  The Pittsburgh parade marshalls are an interesting choice -- Father Lynn Edwards and City Council President Doug Shields.  Both are deserving, but I'm curious as to why the committee would select two allies in lieu of at least one LGBT individual.  Maybe I'll find out on Sunday.  There are some national marshalls, too, but that's not the same thing. 

On a personal note, I'll be staffing a booth at PrideFest. I picked up my tent today.  It seems very complicated so if you see a lesbian struggling to get something erected, please send help. 

Happy PrideWeek!

 

View Article  Lambda Foundation -- 25 Proud Years!

I recently interviewed Lambda Foundation Executive Director Anne Bowman about the 25th anniversary of the Foundation.  25 years is quite a milestone in gay history and the well-being of our community foundation is something to be mindful of as we celebrate our way through June.  To purchase tickets for the Joan Rivers event, click here.

Thank you so much for asking about the Lambda Foundation. I am truly honored to be the Executive Director of the second oldest LGBT funding organization in the nation. Part of my job description is to get the word out about Lambda and I will gladly answer your questions.

 

1. How did the Lambda Foundation get its start? 

 The Lambda Foundation began with a conversation between Randy Forrester and Lucky Johns. The two men pooled all of their resources together from the community and The Lambda Foundation was incorporated on June 17, 1983 with $16,000. The first grants were issued in April, 1984 to Dignity Pittsburgh and the Gay and Lesbian Community Center

 

  

2. Lambda has given away more than $1 million over 25 years, mostly in increments of $3000 or so. Please describe the impact of reinvesting $1 million in Pittsburgh's LGBT community.

 

Granted $3,000.00 doesn?t sound like a lot, but I think the smaller organizations that we have funded would disagree. I have attached a list of just some of the organizations The Lambda Foundation has funded and it is quite impressive. We have helped LGBT organizations in every area from the arts to healthcare. Our scholarship program has helped along LGBT students. We also have an emergency funding program that has helped some organizations when they were in dire straits and the possibility of closing their doors as a very real option. I am truly grateful to be the Executive Director of an organization that has helped so many.

 

 3.  Describe some of the projects which Lambda helped (or is helping to) seed.  Just to name a few:

 Pittsburgh AIDS Task Force- I really don?t think I need to describe what they do. Everyone in the community knows of the wonderful work that Kathi Boyle is doing.

 

Transpitt- a wonderful support group for the often overlooked transgender community.

 

The Esther Project which through the leadership of Deb Aaron became the first federally funded health project which measured the risk factors for cardiovascular disease among lesbian women.

 

 4.  Can you list any highlights or exceptional moments from the past 25 years?

 

I have only been on the Board for 3 years so I took this question to August (Buzz) Pusateri and past Board President Chuck Honse.

 

The Lambda Foundation funded the legal battle for Travelers Bar. Which was locally known as the Saturday Night Massacre. It was normal in the early days that the police would raid gay bars. Travelers was raided one night and some pretty serious injuries of the patrons occurred. Lucky Johns, owner and one of Lambda?s founding fathers took the practice to court. The case proceeded to go to federal court and we lost. But the practice of raiding gay bars in Pittsburgh was ended.

 

Another legal battle that Lambda funded was The Fairness Campaign in the late 80?s. There was a movement to rescind an anti discrimination bill that gave lesbians and gays human rights in Pittsburgh.

The Foundation rallied forces and squashed the movement.

 

Last but not least Our Annual Ball- the first LGBT black-tie event in the area. This year it is being held at The Priory, Nov 22, 2008. Lisa Ferraro will be performing. Please come and join us in celebrating 25 wonderful years.

 

 5.  How does Lambda stay in touch with a queer community that looks very different than the gay and lesbian community of 25 years ago? 

 

I personally stay in touch with what is going on in the community by reading your blog. It is quite informative. You are correct that the community has changed from 25 years ago. 25 years ago HIV/AIDS was devastating our community and it seemed like no one cared. There were only a few LGBT organizations in existence. When you look around and see all of the organizations and events that are taking place, yes I think it has changed? but for the better.

 Pat Liddy our wonderful President is out and about at community events.

 Reading through the grant applications and seeing the innovative and committed programs that are being created is also quite informative. 

 

 

6.  What challenges does the foundation face in the coming years?

 

The challenges are immediate. Many organizations are facing funding cutbacks on many levels, federal state and local. The Lambda Foundation has always been there to help them. Over the last ten years most of our funds have come from dividends, interest and capital gains on our portfolio. That is not happening now. We truly need to get the word out. When you give your funds or time to Lambda you are participating in nearly every LGBT organization in the area.

 

 7.  Where do you see the Lambda Foundation in its 50th year?

 

 I would love to see that $3,000 grant to become a $10,000- $25,000 grant. In order to achieve that lofty goal we are definitely going to need to expand. We need to get the word out about our organization and get more people involved. I know the economy is not so great. If everyone on our list just sent in $10.00 it would have an impact. HRC started out with $5.00 checks coming in, look at them now.

   I really think in 25 years we will have achieved equality. (Wouldn?t that be nice?) It has amazed me how much progress has been made in the last couple of years even with such headwinds coming from the right. Corporations are developing diversity departments. Our corporate partners UPMC and Merrill Lynch have been so supportive it amazes me. When I received the Merrill Lynch ad for our Joan Rivers Program (attend the event and you will see it) I looked at it and knew we are definitely making progress.  

 

 

8.  Please list your current board members (by affiliation if possible).

 

Patricia Liddy       President

 

Rev, J Howard Cherry, OSL, OE    Vice President

United Methodist Clergy, retired

 

R. Craig Bennett, CPA       Treasurer

Terry Collier & Associates, P.C.

 

August ?Buzz? Pusateri    Secretary

 

 Dr.Nina Markovic       Director

Associate Professor University of Pittsburgh

 

Anne Bowman     Executive Director

 

 

 Any parting thoughts?

 

  As you know we are presenting An Evening with Joan Rivers at The Byham Theater to celebrate our 25th Anniversary. Joan Rivers graciously accepted our invitation and is taking time from her busy schedule to come to Pittsburgh. Go to her website, www.joanrivers.com, she truly has a busy schedule. She courageously was one of the first celebrities to support the gay community. Come on Pittsburgh, let?s show her how much we support and love her by selling out the house. There are plenty of $40 tickets available. Call The Byham Theater 412-456-6666. After the show you can check out all the other events going on for Pride. Scott Noxon, Pegasus, is presenting 8 Inch Betsy. Downtown Pittsburgh is going to be vibrant and alive on Saturday June 21st.

 

 

I really need to say something about Scott Noxon, owner of The Eagle, Pegasus and There Video Lounge, who has been instrumental in the production our Joan Rivers event. Working with him during the preparation of this event has been a true delight. I really did get to know him these last few months and all of the wonderful things he has done for every LGBT organization in the area. I can honestly say he is one of the nicest men I have ever met. He truly cares about the community.

 

 

Could you give me a brief bio of yourself and your role with Lambda.  I didn't even know you had an ED!  I admit that I'm not very informed.  I don't want to be someone who takes you for granted (no pun intended).

 

You asked for a brief bio. So I will make it brief. My career was in the financial services industry from age 21 to 49. I had positions in every area from sales to CEO. I lived in New York City from 1974 to 1983. I returned to Pittsburgh in 1983 right before the birth of my son, Geoffrey. My son?s father and my best friend, Stephen, died of AIDS when Geoffrey was just a baby. Shepherd Wellness Center helped Stephen and his family in so many ways; they will always have a special place in my heart. I joined the Lambda Board 3 years ago. Right before my 50th birthday the Board was considering employing an Executive Director. Funny, how you reflect on your life when you hit that age. I wasn?t enjoying my career any longer and I realized it was time for me to give back to the community. I did love all the things we were doing at Lambda.  So I presented a job description and budget to the Board. And the second half of my life story begins??.

 

A partial list of funding recipients:

ACLU Pittsburgh. AIDS Task Force Upper Ohio Valley. AIDS Task Force of Shadyside Presbyterian Church. AIDS Town Meeting. Allegheny College. Allegheny College in Support of Gays, Lesbians and Bisexuals. Allegheny College Gay/Lesbian History Conference. Anawim. Archivist. Asian-Pacific Lesbians of Pittsburgh. Asians & Friends. Beaver County AIDS Service Organization. Beaver County AIDS Task Force. Bet Tikvah. Bi/ Gala, Indiana University of Pennsylvania. Bi/Gala University of Pittsburgh. Black & White Men Together, Youngstown. Bridges/Erie Gay Community Newsletter. Gloria Brusoski. Butler County AIDS Task Force. Center for Lesbian & Gay Civil Rights. Chattam College LABiAT Alliance. Christian Lesbians in Action/ Metropolitan Community Church. Johanna Classen, Lambda Scolarship Winner. Caritas House. Carnegie Mellon University GALA. Carnegie Mellon University/OUT. Contact Pittsburgh, Inc. Rebecca Corran, Lambda Scholarship Winner. Corpus Christi House. Crime Stoppers. Cry Out/ Act Up. Dignity Encounter Weekend. Dignity/Pittsburgh. Dignity Region III. Dreams of Hope.Kathleen Douglas, Lambda Scholarship Winner. Epidemiologic Study of Health Risks in Lesbians (ESTHER Project). Family and Children?s Services, Blair County. Joshua Ferris, Lambda Scholarship Winner. Flying Pig Theater Forum on Lesbian & Gay Youth. Dustin Frazier, Lambda Scholarship Winner. G&L Alternative Dimensions, GLAD. GALA, West Virginia University. GAY 90?S. Gay & Lesbian Alliance Carnegie Mellon University. Gay & Lesbian Cable Network. Gay & Lesbian Community Center (GLCC). GLCC Newsletter. GLCC Phone line. Gay & Lesbian Film Festival. Gay & Lesbian Health Line, West Virginia University. Gay & Lesbian Youth Conference. Gift of Women Church/ Dignity. GLENDA. Gay Lesbian Straight Education Network (GLSEN). Whitney Houston, Lambda Scholarship Winner. Heritage Project. Jewish Community Center of Pittsburgh. Jewish Lesbian Feminist Support Group. Matthew Jinkeom, Lambda Scholarship Winner. Judaism & Lesbian Conference. Lesbians & Gays in the Holocaust Presentation. Lesbian Health Organization. Lesbian are Parents. Look to the Eastern Sky. Lost Visions/ Richard Parsakian. Menergy Conference. Metropolitan Community Church (MCC). Metro Family Practice, Inc. Mon Valley Media. Mountain State AIDS Network. National Lawyers Guild, Pittsburgh Chapter. 1987 March on Washington. Parents, Families & Friends of Lesbians & Gays, Pittsburgh (PFLAG). PFLAG, Dubois. PFLAG, Indiana. Pennsylvania Humanities Council. Persad Center, Inc. Pets Are Wonderful Support (PAWS). Pitt Men?s Study. Pittsburgh AIDS Center for Treatment (PACT). Pittsburgh AIDS Task Force (PATF). Pittsburgh Action Against Rape. Renaissance City Choirs. Seven Project. Shepherd Wellness Community Center. Stonewall Institute. The Diversity Project. Thomas Merton Center. Three Rivers Arts Festival. United Jewish Federation. Human Rights Task Force. Craig Waldo, Lambda Scholarship Winner. Upstairs Theater. Woman to Woman. Women for Racial and Economic Equality. Women United in Recovery. Woman?s Law Project. Youth Empowerment Project (PERSAD).

 

View Article  Domestic Registry Passes First Hurdle

As reported by the PG web-edition, City Council gave a thumbs up on the first vote for the domestic partner registry.  The lone naysayer was the Reverend Ricky Burgess.  Final vote will be next week.  No word on how the Mayor feels about all this registry stuff, but it appears veto proof at this stage of the game.

Sigh.  I am only speculating here, but my guess is that Reverend Burgess is sticking with the right wing rhetoric that even second class relationship civil rights are too much for Pittsburgh's homosexuals.  This new system is just a scooch along the path toward anything resembling civil unions in Pennsylvania.  Barely a scooch.  Way more important to this lesbian is the probability that this registry will help our family keep our domestic partner benefits if Ledcat's job is merged into the County.  Which is unlikely given her job, but it is good to be prepared.  Like Boy Scouts.  Only with labia.

I emailed Councilmen Shields and Kraus (no "e") asking for their thoughts on how the registry requirements might impact low income families, suggesting that the City compile a guide on how to meet the registry requirements.  The most vulnerable families are those least likely to afford things like attorney fees for wills and those most likely to have financial and credit blemishes impacting their economic stability.  Thus, they are most in need of the registry benefits (if any are available to them). 

And, to be honest, some of the requirements are a bit arduous.  I went through the process of adding my name to the household utility bills and it was a pain.  Lots of red tape and questions and three way phone calls.  It would be great if the City could put together a simple how to list to make things easier.  I would hate to see this great new resource benefit only those of us who have the luxury of joint credit cards and power of attorney documents.  That would be a great shame. 

You know ... that would be a great project for the Mayor's new LGBT Advisory Board with input from his LGBT Liaison.  Oh, except for the little detail that he hasn't appointed any of those people.  Darn. 

View Article  Its a great day to be asthmatic in Pennsylvania ...

From the Post-Gazette:

The state Senate this afternoon voted, 41-9, in favor of a bill that bans smoking in many public places.

The House already had passed the bill, so now it goes to Gov. Ed Rendell for his signature.

What a great day.  Now if we can only convince people who are addicted to smoking how unpleasant it can be to sit next to them for an hour in a somewhat warm conference room, clapping politely while other people win awards.  Now that would be something. 

Promises have been made that Allegheny County will be included in legislation to allow for tighter local controls.  One can only hope.

I wonder if there's been any study on whether this sort of ban actually drove business to smaller venues, business which increased their overall food sales leading to a bump into the bracket of those who must comply with the law?  Wouldn't that be ironic? 

Anyway, the lesbians are doing the happy dance.  Good job, state legislature.  Good job. 

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