Tuesday, April 29
by Sue on Tue 29 Apr 2008 07:10 AM EDT
Three letters in today's Post-Gazette, two for gay rights and one for gay oppression. Still no letters in the Tribune-Review.
Proud papa Edward Walkowski of Brookline simply wants his lesbian daughter and her partner to have equal rights. Edward recognizes the true political agenda of the Amendment supporters:
Lorette Barone of Point Breeze makes another simple point, namely that gay marriage won't impact her marriage. Nor will it protect anyone else's marriage.
On the other hand, Nancy Staible of Zelienople believes marriage is the answer. Nancy is an old friend of the letters page.
That's probably not true. There's a range of possibilities. I speak hypothetically because I don't know who was there or the circumstances of their conception. Someone may have gay parents. Someone may be the result of artificial insemination. Another could have been conceived as a result of sexual assualt or incest. I'm guessing a few were born to teenagers who didn't understand the consequence of their actions. Nancy and her ilk rarely mention those circumstances. Getting married because you "have to" is not the same thing as entering a loving union with full intent and commitment.
Also, not true. Research has shown that two parent families have strengths for children, but that gay parenting is little different than heterosexual parenting. If anything, it is the constant barrage against the gay community that is hurting our children.
Just this week, we see a newlywed couple who beat the hell out of each other and bystanders on the day of their wedding. What economic contribution does that make? It drains resources because of the need for police and judicial intervention.
Staible deludes herself that marriage is some sort of magic bullet to cure social woes. So why doesn't she turn her attention to the aspects of existing marriages that aren't working so well? Why not help women who are being battered by their spouses have better supports have healthy, long lives? Why not strengthen safety net resources so financial hardships don't destroy marriages? Why not address healthcare so families aren't forced to remain unmarried so women and children can access publicly funded healthcare because their male partners' business doesn't offer a family plan? There are tons of things Nancy could do.
If she really cared about marriage.
Sunday, April 27
by Sue on Sun 27 Apr 2008 10:18 AM EDT
The Post-Gazette published City Councilman Bruce Kraus' recent testimony on SB 1250 which would embed a definition of marriage into the PA Constitution. All I can tell you is that this is a really great read. Here is my favorite excerpt:
Bishop Zubik writes the opposing view. He's the Bride of Christ. Or something like that.
Saturday, April 26
by Sue on Sat 26 Apr 2008 10:31 AM EDT
Does the "Richard Simmons isn't a real man/is a girly she man" slur ever go out of style? Peter McKay is syndicated so I guess not. Here he is describing the fancy office he built in his backyard (is this really supposed to resonate with the average Pittsburgh resident) which his wife decorated and he used for work purposes:
Oh, ha ha ha. Poor Peter is the hapless victim of his frilly wife and his butch male friends. Well, I'm sure Richard Simmons is jump-jacking his way all the way to the bank, knowing he's made a ton of people healthier and a ton of money, too.
Maybe enough to pick out his own couch.
by Sue on Sat 26 Apr 2008 10:14 AM EDT
I found this article at American Public Media ... actually, the teaser ended up in my inbox. The premise seems to be an exploration of a recent claim by Forbes Magazine that gay bars are among the top ten businesses facing extinction, along with crop dusting and record stores. Ouch.
APM took a look and noted some interesting trends.
First, some gay bars are becoming more mixed or "evolving" into gay-friendly bars with a healthy mix of heterosexual patrons. Owners spin this as a sign of progress, of the cultural enmesh we've been seeking all these years.
Although, some gay exclusive bars haven't pulled off that transition and are closing their doors. Ironically, this happens at a peak of gay spending power ...$750 billion according to this article.
Others attribute the drain on gay bars to generational issues. Back in the day, the gay bar was the community center and provided the loci for everything from socialization to organizing and advocacy. Today's generations are using the Internet and increasingly accepted gay-identified alternative spaces and organizations to accomplish those goals.
Finally, there are the nay-sayers who say in certain parts of the country, there is a need for gay-exclusive bars given the dynamics of that region.
So, gay spending is up and so is the number (and types) of places to spend. The gay bar generation is aging. Young gays are being raised in mixed-environments where they can identity as openly queer and still find their space. Not all of American has evolved this far.
I personally don't have an intimate knowledge of this history of Pittsburgh's gay bar scene. Wouldn't that make for a wonderful documentary? Or thesis? Anyone in queer studies done that? I've been to Donny's, the Eagle, CJ's, Lucky's, Pegasus, New York, New York and that place that used to the Liberty Avenue Saloon, I think. Oh, and True. I think that's it. I loved True because it was smoke free, but the crowd wasn't very friendly. The Eagle was my favorite -- they seem to do a lot of benefits and I thought the different floors were a hoot. Plus, the staff were friendly. Granted, this is a very limited sampling -- probably 20-25 visits over the past 15 years.
So, my inexpert opinion, is that Pittsburgh is probably one of those places that still needs a core gay bar scene even while queer-straight mixed places are emerging. The Firehouse Lounge had a successful run of L-Word parties. When the season ended, the women stopped coming. They'll be back next season. They don't do reruns.
The coffeehouses are a great example of an entirely new mixed venue that's providing queer supportive (and queer owned) spaces. I love the coffeehouses in Pittsburgh, although I have to admit that I tried to go to the new one in Lawrenceville -- Your Inner Vagabond -- and it took me exactly 2 minutes to feel uncomfortable and head right back out the door. Actually, come to think of it, it is a very similar experience to a gay bar when you walk in and people stare at you like you are an intruder. For someone like me, that's all she wrote. I go where there is less staring b/c I equate staring = get the fuck out of here. If I want that experience of hostile begrudging sharing of space, I'll go visit my aunt at the holidays. Or my Catholic university reunion.
Anyway, I was saying ... I think The Firehouse Lounge project was a good one. But I suspect that some of those lesbians went back to their familiar haunts and, assuming they drink responsibly blah blah blah, that's a good thing, too.
Pittsburgh's gay bars are driving PrideFest this year so they certainly don't seem to be on the demise. I wouldn't mind going for a drink if they would just go smoke-free. Until then, I'll do my socializing at events and order my coffee without the splash of a withering glance.
Check out the article.
Friday, April 25
by Sue on Fri 25 Apr 2008 11:01 PM EDT
I was very depressed after picking up this week's City Paper. The feature article on recycling was the slap in the face you really need even though it hurts like a bitch. Bill Driscoll confirms my deep seeded fear that the majority of my do-gooder efforts are essentially pointless because I take the easy way out. I can sort and pack and visit Construction Junction as often as I want. It only matters if it gets me to make the paradigm jump (shift if you like) from being content to recycle to actually reducing my consumption of ... well, everything.
This is the part where my head starts to spin from all of the overwhelming changes I must make to be a better person and I just want to lay down for awhile in a dark room. Sense to Save blogger Kacie explores a similar issue around frugality and environmental consciousness. Is frugality just about saving money or reducing consumption? Hmmm.
What Bill didn't do is answer a whole list of questions I have about recycling. Why can't lids be recycled if they are made of plastic, too? Why don't Whole Foods and the Co-op carry large blue bags for recycling in the City? Is it true the bags are not recycled? Cause that sucks. Can you recycle an orange juice carton with the little plastic spouty thing? Finally, where do you go to get these questions answered? I've visited all the city, county and state websites. If see the words "paperboard, like cereal boxes" one more time in print, I will wail and gnash my teeth.
Moving on ...
The City Paper also covers recent goings on with the 3rd Annual Dyke March. I had a nice chat with Eli today, who reaffirmed that Persad has offered a lot of support (Go Betty Hill!) and other community institutions have made overtures. She also told me she accidentally discovered Hoi Polloi while planning the march and is very excited to have an awesome lesbian-owned business to support as they plan, plan and organize. Ledcat and I *a*d*o*r*e* Hoi Polloi. Tonight, I discovered I like kidney beans! Who knew!
Anyway ... stay tuned for more dyke march news and more hoi polloi news. And more Betty Hill news, too, if I can find some.
Letters to the Editor ....
Pat Gannon Voye of Robinson actually used the expression "Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve" in his letter to the Post-Gazette. Even if s/he is stuck in the 1980's, a good point is raised as to why the separate, but equal solution will never suffice:
Yep, no dignity for us homos.
Kristen Danzi of Oakland, however, has pulled back the wizard's curtain on the whole marriage amendment sham of an issue:
The older white guy columnist for the PG (oh, can't you tell which one I mean?) has a little shout out for the homosexuals on the claim that conservatives are happier than liberals:
You go, Reg.
I haven't blogged about Tony Norman in awhile. He amused me today with memoirs of his cold, while he contemplated the role of race in Obama's loss in Pennsylvania. I get what he is saying, but /.. you know what, I'm going to email him and ask him first. Then I'll blog about it.
Anyway, that's the news from Lesbian Central. I'm now going to go lay in the dark and avoid consuming anything.
by Sue on Fri 25 Apr 2008 10:19 PM EDT
Pittsburgh's Delta Foundation recently announced the addition of two new board members. Cindy Daro was elected by the Foundation membership. Keri Harmicar was appointed by the existing board members.
Both were gracious enough to respond to a few questions about their new roles in our community.
1. What role do you see the Delta Foundation filling for
2. Why did you apply to serve on the board?
3. Please describe how the current board represents the diversity of
4. What is your personal goal or objective for the duration of your tenure on the board?
5. What role should the Delta Foundation play in relationship to other LGBTQ organizations, specifically the GLCC?
6. The Delta Foundation is very connected to
7. People have recently been quoted as saying
8. Beyond members of the Delta Foundation, please list at least one local LGBTQ leader who should always be at the table?
9. How long do you plan to serve on the board?
I appreciate both women taking the time to answer my questions, poorly crafted as they (my questions) were. Increasing the number of women on the board is a step toward diversifying leadership and I hope the organization continues to move forward in that direction.
What do you think?
by Sue on Fri 25 Apr 2008 08:31 AM EDT
With hopes of forgiveness from the Post-Gazette, this should be read by all.
Thursday, April 24
by Sue on Thu 24 Apr 2008 10:14 PM EDT
The GLCC is exploring a new program to provide safer sex educational tools and resources. This arose from a recent presentation to a class of medical students where it became apparent that the students were not familiar with certain sex toys, suggesting that they would not be in a position to educate their patients. Moreover, would they be unable to take an accurate sexual history if they aren't asking the right questions?
Organizers have lined up a health nurse educator to offer a monthly session on safer sex practices, sex toys, etc. They've found donors to provide condoms and printed materials.
They are having a wee bit of trouble identifying a funder to purchase sex toys.
That's where you come in. You know you have some that are just "gathering dust" so to speak. Or maybe something you never opened because it looked much easier to use in the catalogue. Now is your chance to be part of the solution and help keep Pittsburgh's queer community healthy and safe.
You can also donate a brand new toy directly or make a financial donation designated for the sex toy project here.
Imagine discussing that tax deduction with H&R Block? :-)
Personally, I think this is a wonderful idea. Ledcat and I sponsored a sex-toy party at the GLCC about 4 years ago with the fabulous Girls Night In (sigh) folks. The turnout was huge and the evening was filled with lots of laughter and perplexed looks as Karen passed around her merchandise. People were curious and they showed up to get some answers.
I hope this isn't too scandalous, but what a fabulous tribute to two advocates of a healthy Pittsburgh LGBTQ community to get the word out about this project within moments of learning of their passing. Not only will this help educate local queers, but also promote better understanding in the health community as well. That's a really good idea to get behind. No pun intended (well, maybe just a little bit).
by Sue on Thu 24 Apr 2008 09:55 PM EDT
Today brought sad news to, well, me and many other individuals in the LGBTQ community. First, came word that one of the godfathers of Pittsburgh's modern queer community had passed away at the age of 60. Randy Forrester (I'll insert the obit when it is published tomorrow) has been hailed for man things: founding Persad Center, running as the county's first openly gay candidate, putting an end to bar raids, and just generally stepping up and stepping out as a leader throughout the past 30+ years.
Randy received numerous accolades and honors for his contributions to our entire community. All I have to offer is that when someone says "Jim and Randy," most people smile and know exactly who you mean. That's a life well-lived, if far too short.
Another sad note followed a few hours later. Longtime lesbian health advocate and faculty member in the University of Pittsburgh School of Education, Dr. Deb Aaron passed away yesterday at the age of 51. Deb was instrumental in completing a comprehensive needs assessment for the LGBTQ community, as well as a researcher with the ESTHER project -- she paid attention to health disparities for lesbians. Her contributions to academia and the wellness of lesbians are too numerous for me to enumerate.
I had the privilege of serving on the board of the Gay & Lesbian Community Center with Deb for a few years. We also spent one long evening selling soda and chips back in the early days of Celebrate the Night. She was a lovely person, very classy and just amazingly smart. She was also part of the "Dykes on Bikes" in the Pride Parade and a lot of fun.
Deb will be laid to rest in her mother's hometown. A local memorial service is scheduled for June 13, 2008 at 1 PM. Her family has two requests in lieu of flowers:
God speed our dear friends. Pittsburgh is a better place to be gay because of both of them. As new generations of queer women and men step up and step out, their legacies will continue. And I am sure their many beloved friends and family members will carry their memories for the rest of their days.
Monday, April 21
by Sue on Mon 21 Apr 2008 01:36 PM EDT
Well, he finally has something to say about attempts to amend the PA Constitution.
So he would oppose it. Check. But what do the rest of the words mean? He doesn't want to see a court suggesting ... isn't that the rhetoric of those in favor of the amendment who fear the courts overturning current legislations outlawing gay marriage? Huh?
This doesn't make any sense. It sounds like more of the same chest-beating "I am Christian, hear me tolerate" crap. It makes me almost long for a refreshing dose of Darryl Metcalfe's "I don't like gay people" mantra.
Please, gay Obama supporters, tell me what this means for your family. And mine.