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View Article  Update on the Dyke March

Here's the word from one of the organizers Eli. 

[B]asically we want to make this year the best! We are branching out we want all women at the DYKE MARCH! No corporate sponsership! I am working on the route it will be held Downtown Betty Hill will speak cuz shes awesome and a few local performers(including Colelea) will perform,afterwards PINK PARTY PRODUCTIONS is throwing a party/dance we also will have benefits to be announced,and DYKE MARCH teeshirts/buttons.

Anyone interested can contact us on on myspace account (volunteers).

MySpace page is:   http://profile.myspace.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=user.viewprofile&friendid=336168242

Betty herself told me she is involved and will be speaking at the event.  That is just exactly the level of cool this event needs.  Betty is one of our favorite people.   So, yeah for the Dyke March. 

View Article  I'm voting for Hillary and it was the rich, white gay men who won me over

Today, I made up my mind that I am supporting and voting for Hillary Clinton.  I'm sure no one is surprised.  I've made a good faith effort to get excited about Barack Obama.  I wanted to be a believer.  But it just didn't happen.  The preacher in him turns me off.

Here's what it comes down to for me.  On "the issues," they are pretty close.  By that I mean, their stances on ENDA, DADT, civil unions, marriage, etc.  On paper, they "appear" very similar.

In action, they are nothing alike.  Barack Obama has refused to interview with local gay media anywhere.  Period.  He gave one interview to the national gay magazine, The Advocate.  How can one national interview, late in the primary season, build a relationship with the gay community?  He made a speech imploring the African-American religious community to embrace gay civil rights.  This after he brought notorious "ex-gay" Donnie McClurkin on board his swing through the south gospel tour or whatever it was called.  He clearly has no problem affiliating with a movement that denounces homosexuality as something to be cured, a stance that taps right into the self-loathing so rampant among closeted minorities and youth.  He talks like a preacher and walks like a well, like many preachers who disparage gay people. 

 

Hillary Clinton marches in Pride parades.  Her daughter visits gay bars.  She worked to stop the national "marriage protection" amendment.  She lifts up the gay people in her life, particularly those who touched her family personally.  Hillary grants interviews to local gay media.  She reaches out with intent to build relationships with our community.  She has a LGBT steering committee in Pennsylvania and elsewhere. 

This is not about one issue.  My life is not a single issue.  When our next President is working on health care, economic issues, environmental issues and so forth, I want her to be cognizant of all citizens and the impact her decisions will have on our families, including my little lesbian family. 

If Obama ignores us as a constituency when he's fighting for the nomination, why should we believe he would care about us if he's nominated and elected? 

This primary race has come down to the fact that one of them has to go.  His name is John McCain and I believe that Hillary Clinton is the one to do it.  ***************************************************

The rich white gay men is a little shout out to the hosts of today's LGBT Hillary cocktail party with the Queer as Folk celebrities.  It was a modest crowd and one in which I recognized about 4 people.  It turns out that the LGBT leadership, in general, is very divided.  Passions flared during the Saturday night pub crawl.  Steel City Stonewall and the Gertrude Stein Club leaders should really have some chat about actually showing up for events they sponsor -- that was embarrassing to me, as a member of Steel City.  If your members spoke through the endorsement process, you should honor that and ensure that a few of your board members show up.  No one from the GLCC board.  No one from the human services sector.  No one from GLENDA.  Almost no lesbians or queer women at all.  It was a room filled with somewhat older and a whole lotta young gay white men and it was the most camaraderie I've felt in months.  Kudos to you, for making that happen. 

Finally, I'll say this.  How can gay people vote against their own self-interest?  How can you trust a man who doesn't walk the walk?  We may have no other choice come the Convention, but for now ... I'm voting for Hillary. 

View Article  Pittsburgh is a great place to be gay

In honor of the Primary Pittsburgh Project,  I'd like to take a few inches of this blog to review why I think this is a great place for the LGBTQ/gay/queer community.

First, the City of Pittsburgh has codified our civil rights and civil protections.  It is illegal to discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity or gender presentation in the areas of employment, housing or public accommodation.  That was a very hard fought battle that took place well over a dozen years ago.  That's a long time in gay history.

Second, Pittsburgh has many wonderful community based organizations and service organizations.  We are home to Persad Center, the nation's first LGBT mental health provider.  The Gay & Lesbian Community Center is in Squirrel Hill.  The Pittsburgh AIDS Task Force and Shepherd Wellness Center grew from our communities to provide much needed services.  GLENDA is still the best way to meet new gay people in a comfortable environment AND contribute to the community.  PFLAG is there for our families. GLSEN and Voices of Hope (along with the GLCC and Persad's YEP programs) offer support and uplift our young people.  The list goes on and on, but Pittsburgh is fortunate to have such a strong safety net.

Third, we must recognize our recreational and social outlets.  From gay square dancing to OUTrageous Bingo, from softball to bowling, from potlucks to Cajun dancing, we have a lot of stuff going on in this town.  There's Pink Party Productions, Operation Sappho and at least two different singles dinners.  There's potlucks at the GLCC and Queer Dinners at the Gypsy Cafe.  The L-Word party is immensely popular.  The Film Society shows movies year round in addition to two excellent weeks of the film festival. 

Fourth, let's shout out to our business community.  Beyond the gay bar foundation, there are many, many local gay owned companies that serve the entire community.  Coffee houses, clothing stores, caterers, and much more.  One bakery has a monthly lesbian night. Another straight owned bar has declared themselves a gay bar (and has good pizza).  Bank of New York Mellon has a thriving queer affiliation group for employees.  And the so-called "pink dollar" is being sought after. 

I want to stop and point out that the myth about gays having more disposable income is misleading.  There are many local queer families that live in poverty or just a paycheck away -- just like heterosexual families.  The good thing is that Pittsburgh is still an affordable place to live and raise your family so even if you aren't the fortunate few to live in a restored Shadyside Victorian mansion, you can still have access to all of these wonderful resources. 

Next, I have to acknowledge electoral politics.  Pittsburgh just elected our first openly gay member of City Council, so we can finally stop the wink, wink, nod, nod crap about those of whom we do not speak.  Let's celebrate our champions - Dan Frankel and Bill Peduto (two straight white guys who are welcome at any gay event in town).  Let's applaud our allies - Doug Shields, Chelsa Wagner, Rich Fitzgerald, Mike Lamb, Heather Arnet and others - for doing what they can to have an impact at their various levels.  Let's hold out hope for our friends -- Wayne Fontana, Jake Wheatley, Jay Costa, Mike Doyle, Jason Altmire, Sean Logan -- that they remain steadfast against discrimination and hatred in the face of mounting pressure.  Let's keep working on those who need work -- Dan Onorato, Luke Ravenstahl -- and work hard to keep those whom we need -- Brenda  Frazier. 

Most importantly, let's commend our two leading political groups -- the Steel City Stonewall Democrats and the Gertrude Stein Political Club of Greater Pittsburgh -- who work tirelessly on our behalf.  We are quite fortunate to have so many talented individuals working to strengthen the political arena -- Sue Frietsche at the Women's Law Project and Dana Elmendorf of the PA Marriage Equality. 

Moving on, our philanthropic resources.  The Lambda Foundation has given away $1 million dollars locally.  The Delta Foundation is pouring tens of thousands into Pride events.  The Pittsburgh Foundation has a dedicated fund for LGBT health initiatives.  Art for Life, formerly Art for AIDS, is a huge wonderful event.  People turn out to public theater and to car washes to show their support for LGBT resources. 

Almost there.  Media and communication resources are vastly under appreciated here in Pgh.  We have a monthly newspaper that serves a niche audience and serves it well.  A local straight owned coffeehouse agreed to distribute it because a few people asked.  That's cool.  We have a super-huge Queer Events email list started by one woman who wanted to get the word out.  Now she runs a calendar chock full of information and gives us a forum to discuss tough issues likes trans inclusion within the lesbian community as well as where to get the best cupcakes in town.  Local gay groups are trying to catch up, they want to catch up.  There are two blogs that have the word "lesbian" in their title.  And 17 blogs that participated in the first Blog for Equality Day.  Lynn Cullen and John McIntire talk about gay people, events and issues on a regular basis.  The City Paper considers the gay angle in a lot of mainstream stories. 

Finally, there's you.  You might be the lesbian who reads this blog or you might be a straight man who surfed in from another site.  You have kids or you don't.  You are single or domestically partnered or married.  Perhaps you've retired.  You might go to Mass with your mother every weekend.  You like the two nice women who make those awesome grilled cheese sandwiches and refuse to sell bottled water on principal.  You know what HRC stands for and maybe a little bit about the whole ENDA debate.  Your best friend is gay.  You are the only gay person you know and you don't know what to do.  You post anonymous comments telling me how wrong I am, but you keep coming back to read what I have to say about it.  You are thinking about starting your own gay blog (go for it!). 

You are Pittsburgh's queer community and you are what makes Pittsburgh a wonderful place to be gay. 

View Article  The Gay Bar Crawls: I didn't go but here is what I think

Philadelphia's gay bars were visited by Chelsea Clinton and Ed Rendell last night.  Pittsburgh's gay bars got actors from Queer as Folk. 

Philadelphia's bar crawl was covered by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.  I haven't seen anything about Pittsburgh's bar crawl.  Did it even register?

Is there any PA politician that could make a believable bar crawl for Hillary here in Pittsburgh?  Dan Frankel?  Sophie?  Luke?  <pause ... ok, ha ha ha>  Jason Altmire?  Is he for Hillary? 

No one crawled into a gay bar for Obama. 

What's up with that? 

ps:  I don't cover bar crawls because I hate smoke and would be beyond cranky in about 5 minutes.  When the bars go smoke free, I'll be there. 

View Article  Open Letter to Barack Obama on gay issues

This is a good letter. When Obama starts his explanation on opposing gay marriage, he uses the phrase "I"m a Christian."  Is he fueling the myth that being gay and being Christian are mutually exclusive?  This taps into my deep concern that the modern politician is forced into Christians versus LGBTQ community position.  Guess who loses?  The Christo-flavored rhetoric of Obama gives me pause.

Although both you and Senator Clinton decline to support gay marriage per se, it is your statements on this issue that seem alienating, divisive, and uninformed and that subtly contribute to the persistence of one of this country?s worst forms of religious persecution and social bigotry. Even the possibility that you and your platform -- wittingly or unwittingly -- may contribute to the perpetuation of bigotry and prejudice in any way against anyone is, to our sensibilities, unthinkable.

<snip>

While you are careful to appear to uphold and defend the GLBT community?s basic safety and legal rights, in a March 25, 2007, Chicago Tribune story that referenced comments you made during your 2004 run for the U.S. Senate, you led off your objections to gay marriage with the statement ?I'm a Christian? [see below for full context of quote]. On its own as a part of your personal profile or in answer to a query about your personal beliefs, this statement is both appropriate and informative. But linked to your objections about gay marriage and by extension the gay lifestyle, it serves to entrench modern attitudes of religion-based bigotry and persecution and effectively implies that ?gay? and ?Christian? are mutually exclusive. This is not only wrong and uninformed but also flies in the face of the most basic Christian values and beliefs of unconditional love and acceptance.

<snip>

Mr. Obama, you have clearly stated your reluctance to allow your private religious beliefs to shape your public policy. This is wise in theory but difficult in practice, because while you are free to interpret your personal religious beliefs in any way you choose, as a talented orator you realize that words are powerful and can also crucially shape both public policy and public opinion. This letter is not an attempt to change your personal opinions or religious beliefs on this or any other issue, but it is an invitation for you to reexamine your spoken expressions and public statements toward a segment of Americans about whom you clearly evidence a lack of knowledge and experience. Can we be gay? Can we be Christian? Perhaps now, Mr. Obama, you may be a bit more aware of the possibilities and the answer that must include us all in your visionary new world: Yes, We Can.

View Article  Saturday Random Stuff

Melissa Etheridge is going to Philly, Reading and Columbus, Ohio, but not Pittsburgh.  I hear she just doesn't sell well here.  Very sad.

  

 

Now that Melissa caught your eye, read on please.

Equality Advocates PA wants to build on the great turnout of gays and gay allies to the Pittsburgh hearing on SB 1250, the so-called marriage protection amendment.  They want you to turn out for the next hearing Harrisburg and a big rally on May 5.  Buses will be scheduled to transport folks from Pittsburgh.  Anyone want to go and carpool?  You guys should be really proud of yourselves for setting the bar so high vis a vis the turnout here in Pittsburgh.  Way to go, homos!  You rock. 

Scary international news from Rome (365gay.com)

Rome police are searching for members of a mob of youths who burst into the city's LGBT center, ransacking the building.

The attack on Mario Mieli Homosexual Cultural Circle occurred Thursday night while members were in the building.

As they attempted to confront the gang the youths yelled anti-gay and anti-Semitic slogans. As they ran off the gang yelled praises for Benito Mussolini, Italy's wartime dictator.

"We fear that this situation is linked to the electoral climate," the association said in a statement.

Rome is in the midst of a mayoral runoff between rightist and leftist candidates.

And in Kyrgyzstan (Pink News):

Human Rights Watch drew attention to the fact that the police action in the capital Bishkek was the second time Labrys had been targeted in this way.

The centre was hosting a dinner for local and international LGBT groups on April 8th when three officers entered and threatened to arrest anyone who did not produce identification.

They also searched private files at the centre, which also serves as a shelter for transgender people and women who are victims of violence.

Kyrgyzstan is a former Soviet republic in central Asia, home to more than five million people.

Although the majority are Muslim, the country is relatively secular and homosexuality is legal.

But in Columbia, some good news ...

Colombia's Colombia?s Constitutional Court has ruled that the government must extend pension benefits to same-sex partners.

The court ruled that same-sex partners must be given the same pension and health benefits as opposite-sex married partners receive.

The ruling said that to exclude same-sex partners would violate the principle of non-discrimination and human dignity as the expression of personal autonomy, protected by international law.

If you interested in a different perspective on gay issues, follow the link on the right the the Pink News site.  Lots of good stuff and an international perspective on US issues.  Did you know that other countries have elections with candidates from more than two parties (or one party, really, right?).  That candidates in Europe take pro-gay stances that are controversial.  That you don't have to surgically implant the Bible to your body to be taken seriously? 

Wow.

 
View Article  Queer as Folk Events

800+ people have forwarded this information to me. 

Steel City Stonewall, the Gertrude Stein Club and Hillary Clinton for President are bringing back Queer as Folk to Liberty Avenue.  There's a pub crawl Saturday night and a cocktail hour Sunday afternoon.  Sharon Gless, Robert Gant and Michelle Clunie are the guests of honor. 

I have never seen a single episode of Queer as Folk.  Should I rent it? 

Anyway, it is kind of cool pub crawl as pub crawls go.  I won't be doing that part because of the bar smoke, but I'm hoping to cover the cocktail mingling and get some inside scoop on which local homos are pro-Hillary and why. 

The most important thing is knowing which of you homos is pro-voting. 

 

View Article  RIP

Today would be my friend John's 42nd birthday.  I met John when I was 14 years old and he was 18.  His mother moved next door to my parents where she lives to this day.  He helped me get a job, took me to my prom and was one of the best friends I ever had. 

John was a veterinarian and one of the best. Animals just connected with him in a way I've seen nowhere else.  It was sad that illness took him away from the career he was born to pursue.  It was even sadder when that illness took his life this past November, leaving behind a heartbroken family of both two-footed and four-footed folks. 

I'm still missing my Mona.  Last night - two weeks after her death --, my friends lost their wonderful dog unexpectedly and we cried together.  I imagined Mona waiting for him in some sunny field.  I also imagine John choosing to be in dog heaven instead of people heaven.  And I don't really believe in heaven. :-) 

Happy birthday, dear friend.  I miss you and I know you are taking great care of my girl and her friend. 

View Article  Be part of the conversation - WQED invites us to a chat with Jim Lehrer

WQED asked me to let you know that we are invited us over for a chat with Jim Lehrer.  They are the weekly host of one of our favorite het-men, John McIntire so it should be good times.  I'm not always a personal fan of Chris Moore's moderating style (he talks over people), but I do like to listen to him talk on his own.  I have to work Saturday so I'm not sure I can make it, but it would make for a great live blog ...

WQED Vote 2008: A Town Hall Meeting and Broadcast with Jim Lehrer to Air Live on Sunday, April 20 at 6pm

Public is invited to be part of studio audience

PITTSBURGH - While Pennsylvania presidential campaigns usually begin in Philadelphia, they don't end there. What do these candidates know about the Pittsburgh region? What does the public want them to know?

The NewsHour's Jim Lehrer will host WQED Vote 2008: A Town Hall Meeting and Broadcast along with a guest panel of politicians, education leaders, philanthropists, foundation heads, high-profile members of the media, and community leaders on SUNDAY, APRIL 20 from 6 to 7pm in The Fred Rogers Studio at WQED, 4802 Fifth Avenue in Oakland. The Town Hall Meeting will air live on WQED-TV and WQED-HD and will be simul-streamed on WQED Interactive at www.wqed.org. The Town Hall Meeting will re-broadcast on WQED-TV at 11pm on April 20.

The public is invited to be part of the studio audience for this historic discussion in advance of the April 22 Pennsylvania primary. To reserve a seat, please call 1-888-622-1370 or log on to www.wqed.org.

Doors open at 5pm.

Lehrer will moderate a panel discussion on the primary and the presidential election. WQED?s Chris Moore and Tonia and Michael Bartley will facilitate the panel and audience discussion conducting interviews and lending their expertise on covering local issues.

Republican Jim Roddey and Democrat Joe Mistick, OnQ political analysts will also provide commentary.

The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer will broadcast from the WQED studios on April 21 and 22 to a nationwide audience.

View Article  Don't Buy Cupcakes at the Priory Bakery: Bar owners target LGBT ally Brenda Frazier

The CP bloggers have done a nice job summarizing an attempt by a newly formed bar-owned PAC, HosPAC, to punish Brenda Frazier in her current campaign by launching a "Don't Vote for Brenda Frazier" campaign of their own.  Her crime?  The drink tax.

"I just don't buy it that there's no alternative to balance the county budget except to impose a new tax," said John Graf, owner of the Priory Hospitality Group and chairman of the new committee, called HosPAC.

"The people spoke loud and clear that they didn't want this tax," Graf said. "[The members of Allegheny County Council] weren't listening and they weren't willing to be creative."

The group's first visible efforts will be radio ads and rented billboard space to push the message: "Don't Vote for Brenda Frazier."

"It just happens that Brenda Frazier is the first person running," Graf explained. "It's our intention to challenge each and every person that voted for this tax."

What's interesting about this situation from a gay perspective is the juxtaposition of Frazier, a long time LGBT advocate, and the local gay bar owners emerging as leaders under the Delta Foundation mantle. 

According to DF Chair Gary Van Horn, part owner of Images, no local gay bar owners are members of the PAC.  Van Horn points out that he is not a one issue voter and remains mum on his support for or opposition to Frazier.

I would hope that the gay bar owners would stay out of this.  While the drink tax does have an impact on them, so would losing a House seat to someone who is not an ally of the gay community.  Len Bodack and Dom Costa don't have pro-gay track records and we need every ally we can muster in the battle over the marriage protection amendment and the advancement of civil protections legislation. 

We cannot afford to be divided on this.  Frazier's election is imperative for the well-being of the entire LGBT community. 

Let me amend my earlier statement. I would hope the gay bar owners support Frazier.  A gay friendly state environment is good for business.  Period.

I'm just bummed that the Priory is involved in this.  I love their bakery and, clearly, I cannot patronize a business that wants to elect some homo-bigot or quasi-homo-bigot into a space I need filled by an ally. 

So, don't buy cupcakes at the Priory Bakery. 

 

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