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View Article  Good Burgh News

It is 7:15 AM on the day of a work event and I'm blogging.  I should be rushing around panicking about my clothes and trying to get the dry cleaner plastic off my winter coat ...

The Pennsylvania Resources Council, Alcoa and Manchester would like the Steeler Nation to recycle. They provide the bags, the volunteers and the fun "toss em" games to encourage participation.  Great idea, hope it works and hope the Steelers get behind it.  I also hope is spreads into the neighborhood informal lots where the trash is hideous.  What a great opportunity to show community investment and probably not that much money for the PR. 

(Plus, I saw in the article that they give away the big blue bags which are hard to find these days.  We have to go to Camp Horne Giant Eagle to get them.  Why is that?)

Call it intuition or paying attention, but folks in the Mon Valley know what they know and they know that "clusters" of folks are getting cancer and other illnesses in disproportionate numbers. I grew up in West Mifflin, less than a mile from a steel mill.  I know almost everyone *I* grew up with has a breathing disorder.  Mine is officially called asthma secondary to rhinitis, but it means a daily pill and some of those panic moments when I can't catch my breath.  Losing almost 50 lbs didn't make a bit of difference. 

Interestingly, my father who works (still) in the mills (a coke plant!) is very healthy at the age of 70.  My mother has a range of illnesses, but no cancer so far. 

On with the day ...

View Article  Why Young Christians Deserting Churches Might be Gay Related

Reverend Howard Bess, Baptist pastor from Alaska, has this to say in the Post-Gazette:

Churches are no longer leaders in broad moral and ethical discussions. Young people have grown weary of churches that cannot get past issues such as homosexuality and abortion.

Our new crop of church drop-outs is still very interested in alternatives to a selfish, hedonistic society. Justice is high on their agenda, and they are looking for opportunities for public service. Our young people want to be involved in solving environmental problems and in peacemaking.

By contrast, pizza parties and rock concerts -- techniques that have been used to make churches appear more relevant to the young -- are not high on the agenda of young people concerned about society's deep-seated problems.

In other words, too many churches are concerned about same-sex marriage when the preacher should be talking about the unacceptability of war.

How refreshing to see the context properly adjusted.  War is destroying marriages, families and humanity.  Same sex marriage is not.  I love that this retired Pastor gets it. 

I'm no longer young (40 this year), but I'm searching for similar things in a church.  I want the justice side of Jesus and a pastor who can talk with me without quoting long Scriptures or telling me what Paul experienced.  Just talk with me about my life in the larger context.  Don't force me into a box. Invite me into the fold. 

View Article  Anti-Discrimination in PA

Hatboro, PA, passed an anti-discrimination ordinance which included sexual orientation and gender identity.

Then the Mayor vetoed it. 

Hatboro Mayor Norm Hawkes vetoed a measure Monday night that would have established a borough commission to review prejudice claims - a step advocates argued was necessary to extend protection to gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgendered people not currently shielded under state law.

Lower Merion commissioners are expected to approve a similar measure at a special meeting Wednesday night.

"I don't feel anyone should be discriminated against anyplace or anywhere," Hawkes said Tuesday. "But I think this is much better handled on a state vs. local level."

Across Pennsylvania, 17 municipalities - including Philadelphia, West Chester, State College, and Doylestown - have enacted ordinances prohibiting discrimination in housing, employment, and public accommodations based on sexual orientation or gender identity. At least 11 more, such as Radnor and Haverford, have measures pending before their governing bodies.

While the proposals protect all minority groups, pressure to pass them has come largely from the LGBT community, which says its members are left unprotected by state and federal statutes.

The Mayor of Hatboro thinks it is best left to the state rather than local volunteers (??).  Hatboro Council is mustering forces to overturn the veto.  To lend your supportive voice, contact them.Share your story.

But look at those numbers (and this is mainstream media).  17 municipalities + 11 more.  That's a lot of Pennsylvania and, clearly, a lot of activism on the part of gays on the ground. 

My sources tell me that national organizations have been on the ground in Eastern PA working on these initiatives.  I'm not sure if the same is true in Western PA.  I'm not saying it isn't, but we don't have the sort of news outlets necessary to get this information.  Note that my original story comes from the mainstream Philly Inquirer.  Yet here in Pittsburgh, we struggle to access mainstream resources because the Post-Gazette cannot get its technology sorted out.

It is amazing to see what gays are accomplishing and even better that mainstream media in Eastern Pennsylvania are producing informed, thoughtful pieces on these accompishments.  They don't even need the rabble rousing bloggers :-)

sdf

View Article  DADT

Well ... where to begin.  At last count, I have 600 email messages about DADT in my box and reading through them is dizzying. 

The Pentagon study endorsed the repeal of DADT, finding that 70 of enlisted mend women essentially see no negative impact.  70 percent.  The Pentagon recognizes that repeal decisions from the courts are inevitable and a legislative repeal is the best way to maintain control over the situation. 

OK.  Seems pretty straightforward. 

Nope.  Repeal got all caught up in the ensuing debate over tax repeal and did not pass. DADT was part of the defense reauthorization bill which as a spending bill was part of the larger debate on finances.  Some analyze the political bungling. Stand alone repeal bills have now been introduced.

So now we wait. 

BTW, West Virginia's Senator Manchin was the only D to abandon ship b/c he still thinks there needs to be more time to explore implementation.  Oh, and he needs to talk to West Virginians.  Manchin is just like the Western PA Republicans in Democrats clothing.  Only he has pretty hair.  Beware.

 

View Article  Those personal moments of discrimination

Just when I think I'm pretty accepted in mainstream society, I get a humbling reminder of my second class citizenship.

I can't be very specific, but I was asked to hide my identity as a lesbian in a certain situation. 

That never feels good.  I told you when my sister-in-law asked me to take down my blog logo from Facebook b/c she was afraid her teen cousins would start asking questions.  That hurt because I just don't think lesbian is a dirty word. I also don't think teens are unfamiliar with lesbians. 

These little moments happen all of the time and some of them are self-imposed.  Each one chips away at our comfort and should remind us that we are second-class citizens in this nation.  It doesn't have to erode our confidence or self-respect, especially when we comply willingly, but it hopefully galvanizes us to take action. 

I told my sister in law "no" and she unfriended me for awhile.  I went on weeks/months later to begin changing my avatar anyway so it wasn't a big deal when she came back (she asked me, though!).  In other scenarios, I acquiesce to keep the peace, avoid the argument or simply out of respect. 

But I feel it and if possible, I try to explain that to the other person.  They may not hear me or agree with me, but I give it a try.  The trouble is that to most people it doesn't seem like a big deal.  It seems "easy" because I simply don't need to bring it up. Until they ask me if I'm married, etc. Then I have to lie. The sticking point for me, however, is Ledcat.  To deny her role in my life is hard to swallow.  She's the most amazing woman of all time and I want to sing to the heavens about the fact that she loves me.  So that's really tough. 

The other tough thing is acquiescing to the words "lesbian" or "gay" being negative.

I'm a public person. I'm coming up on five years of blogging, three years of tweeting and so forth.  Being a lesbian is a very prominent part of my identity.  I can play straight if necessary and there are times I'll sacrifice for what I define as a greater good. 

The request was reasonable and I understood the rational.  I just wish it weren't necessary.  I wish things were further along.  I think that's something Democrats need to understand ... these quiet moments of discrimination are directly tied to the public messages surrounding the gay community.  If we don't have heroes outside of Hollywood and Broadway ... we just continue to sit in the corner and wait for our turn. 

At least, we used to until brave men and women repeatedly chained themselves to the White House fence.  If nothing else, they gave us real heroes -- active heroes -- to remind us that we can offset these little moments if we are brave, too.

View Article  Ohio Lesbian Wants to Return to West Point as Openly Gay Woman

The PG has the story.

We are all waiting for the Defense Department report on Tuesday regarding the repeal of DADT.  Recent court decisions and increasing pressure from the LGBT community that President Obama keep his promise to repeal have spurred our legislators to repeal under their own terms, instead of judicial terms. 

Good?  Bad?  We'll see, but one can only admire how this issue has galvanized the community.  We are no longer merely Gay, Inc sitting on the sidelines shoveling out the cash in exchange for empty promises.  Activism is en vogue, at least on a national level. 

Stay tuned ... this week could be very telling. 

View Article  World AIDS Day in Pittsburgh

Complacency about HIV and AIDS will prove deadly.

Wednesday December 1 is World AIDS Day and Pittsburgh groups are banding together to ensure the region does not take a sigh of relief on this issue.  People are still dying.  People are living with medical advancements, but face barriers to the lives we take for granted. People are engaging in risky behavior because of stigmas, stereotypes, and social pressure. 

One interesting event is the film screening of TAPOLOGO by New Voices Pittsburgh.

Here's a message from PERSAD Executive Director, Betty Hill.  She speaks to the issue with eloquence ...

Taking Up the Cause - A Message from Betty Hill

 

As World AIDS Day, December 1, approaches again this year, I have had the occasion to be talking even more than usual to folks about HIV/AIDS. In the wake of this virus are so many stories of loss. I am struck by how common the loss is and how wide spread the impact. Nearly everyone I talk to has a story of someone they know who has been affected by this disease. Yet, it is clear that this disease is not the darling of our imaginations and that it gets so little attention compared to other causes. We have a not so funny joke at our house that if we see one more thing draped in pink we are going to scream!! Perhaps we have disease envy? With so many diseases, so many ribbons, how do we prevent new infections, find those that are infected but don?t know, and provide care to those that need it?  

 

When my mother died of cancer years ago, I remember that one neighbor sent a donation in my mother?s honor to an agency that treated a disease which I had never heard of. I remember thinking, ?What does that have anything to do with my mother???and it didn?t, but it was my neighbor?s cause. Not to quibble in an Ann Landers kind of way about whether it was really ok to donate to a cause that wasn?t one suggested by the family in the obituary, this cause was what mattered to my neighbor and around which he focused his energy and resources. He cared enough about his cause to think everyone else should.

 

While I?m convinced that HIV/AIDS affects us all, I know that it won?t be the ribbon that everyone wears. Maybe it?s your ribbon. If you have a loss that you need to honor, or an infection that you need to prevent, or someone who needs information, or someone who needs care, maybe HIV/AIDS is your cause.

 

The World AIDS Day commemorations (information on World AIDS Day events are listed below or can be found at www.pittsburghred.org) provide a number of great ways to get involved and take up the cause ? because it?s your cause.

 

Betty Hill

bhill@persadcenter.org

412-441-9786 x212

Here's a list of other local activities.

Press Conference with Mayor Luke Ravenstahl
Wednesday ? December 1, 2010 ? 10:30am

City-County Building

 

Pittsburgh AIDS Task Force 25th Anniversary Luncheon

Wednesday ? December 1, 2010 ? 11am-1pm

Rivers Club, One-Oxford Centre
Contact: 412-973-7456 or sorr@patf.org

Candlelight Vigil
Wednesday ? December 1, 2010 ? 5:30pm

Starts at CMU, down Forbes Avenue to the lawn outside Heinz memorial Chapel

 

23rd Annual World AIDS Day Memorial Service

Wednesday ? December 1, 2010 ? 7pm

Heinz Memorial Chapel
Contact: 412-624-2008

See you might expect me to make a comment about Luke's participation.  I think he should be doing things like this more frequently.  I can't attend because I have 8 million work meetings this week, but I'm glad so many groups are coalescing around this moment in the holiday calendar, this moment to remember.  For those of us who don't remember, we need to stop and realize what is happening around us today. 

sf

View Article  A Lesbian Thanksgiving

Our Thanksgiving is pretty nice. We all have small families so we all gather together (my parents, Ledcat's mother, her brother and his family, our sister-in-law's mother) wherever dinner might be.  This year, we headed north to Mercer County.

There's no real huge lesbian element to the holiday.  We've been together for 7 years so no drama about us related to being gay. 

Except ... we are interchangeable aunts and I bet most heterosexual couples can't say that. When our niece was younger (she's almost 5 now), she would confuse our names but we just rolled with it.  If she's looking at you, she's talking to you sort of thing.  Yesterday, Jack (two and a half) called us both Aunt Sue for awhile until he switched to Aunt Sue and Aunt Yaya (his way of saying Ledcat) which cracked us up.  It doesn't matter in the least because we love them to pieces.  I got another chuckle when Ava said "Miss Aunt Sue" because she's so used to calling adult women Miss Something.  I guess from the perspective of a child "Aunt" is part of your name, not a title. 

A close friend told me her six year old recently asked what being partners meant, referencing us whom she's known since birth.  Amy told her what it meant and she had no trouble grasping the concept, but wanted to know if we were going to get married (you know 6 year old and brides -- here was a chance to have 2 of us).  Amy explained that we couldn't get married because of the law.  Her daughter thought about that and pronounced it "stupid."  She's not allowed to use that word, but this one time Amy said "yes, it is stupid."  How about that?  That's a future voter, Joe Markosek.  Watch out. 

So we came home and watched tv for a few hours, then we went to bed feeling very thankful for so many things. Especially for being aunties.  Now I've got to go on ebay and order stickers. 

 

View Article  Comments

I'm going back to anonymous comments because it is a bit cumbersome to register and post a comment. 

Let's try to act with some maturity.  You can still use your real name.  There are two or three people who post repeatedly and it is obvious who they are.  Don't ruin it for everyone.  Say what you will, but if you are going to go to the hatefest, have the decency to put your name on the comment. 

Plus, when those offers of free trials + prizes for readers come in ... if you are anonymous, it won't work! 

Come on, Dozen Bakeshop, ... now is the time to get a glorious pre-xmas review.  :-)

View Article  Being "Other"

It really sucks when someone bluntly tells you that you aren't part of the group.  I had this happen yesterday when someone didn't like a piece I wrote and told me that I was not part of their group because I didn't participate enough, nothing personal.  Ha.

That person clearly doesn't read my blog, because I write about "their" issues quite a bit.  I promote their specific group as well as the larger issues.  I ferret out pertinent legislation and advocacy information which I then pass along.  I try to stay on top of these issues, even when they aren't sexy enough to hit the radar of the advocacy groups.  I participate in blog swarms on their issues because I believe in them and I believe they are undervalued in our community. 

I do my part and I resent being isolated because I'm a non-traditional member. 

Guess what?  If we want the mainstream heteronormative society to accept "us" then we need to do a better job accepting each other. 

I'm waiting for the apology. 

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