Monday, May 21
by Sue on Mon 21 May 2007 09:35 PM EDT
Queers 1, Kennywood 0.
As we reported last week, Kennywood, the bastion of local family fun, was producing a pirate themed show that featured homophobic content ... lispy voice, gay kissing panic, you know the drill. In response to a complaint, Kennywood General Manager Jerome Gibis said he didn't find the content offensive and wasn't going to change the content without more complaints.
Intrepid Pittsburgh AIDS Task Force employee, Mary Hawk, brought the issue to the attention of Pittsburgh's gay community via email. Word spread like wildfire. And the complaints commenced. No numbers are available, but apparently the threshhold for "a lot" was surpassed by Saturday afternoon.
Mary received a call from Mr. Gibis, informing her that the offensive lines were removed. She shared the good news by email:
Local queer advocate Ehrrin Keenan, owner the queer-events email list, got involved and sent me a transcript of her telephone conversation with Mr. Gibis:
I wonder if Jerome listened to Don Imus? Because he comes across like an ignorant oaf. I mean seriously, dude, how can you not recognize that a prancing, lisping gay pirate offering to perform mouth mouth resucitation is homophobic? The whole point of the "joke" is to mock homosexuals. I fail to see how a man bright enough to run an amusement park could miss that point. Obviously, Kennywood needs to work on their cultural sensitivity training. Or their management training.
Ehrrin makes an excellent point about the motivation for the change -- nothing to do with righting a wrong or addressing homophobia. Rather, it was simply a matter of appearsing a vocal minority. Kennywood doesn't give a damn about inciting gay bashing; they just want the homos to stop calling.
Nonetheless, the queer community should be very proud of this small success. Stamping out offensive language that could potentially harm our children (and the children of straight folks) is an important thing and kudos to everyone who took the time to make those phone calls.
Good job, gay people!
Sunday, May 20
by Sue on Sun 20 May 2007 10:01 AM EDT
The Post-Gazette reports that local gay business owner and community advocate, Jay Bernard, has passed away. Jay and his business partner Bill Stanhope owned Jay Design in Lawrenceville. Jay was the founder of the Boys of Lawrenceville "a benevolent organization of gay men" and the author of a monthly column about pet adoption. I've heard of Jay, but did not have the opportunity to meet him. Jay's company donated some items to an event I am hosting tonight for my day-job. I will be thinking of him when we raffle off those items. God speed.
The Presbyterian debate over gay marriage continues. From the PG:
Several Middle Eastern governments have filters in place to prevent their citizens from accessing gay and lesbian sites.
That's interesting. I usually have at least one IP address a day based in those very countries that visits my site, usually with a keyword search for "hot lesbians" or "lesbian photos" or "naked lesbians." Once it was "nudie lesbians." I chalk that up to a translation issue. Someone is getting through that filter.
The Post-Gazette on Jerry Falwell's legacy:
Meanwhile, today's Trib runs this nice little affirmation of Falwell from the self-described "mean girl" Ann Coulter:
Coulter sets the record "straight" on Tinky Winky's sexual orientation and explains why he didn't go far enough identifying who was responsible for 9/11 (hint: he's a Kennedy).
Meanwhile, South African churches get the go ahead to perform same-sex marriages.
Reports say that 5,000 people turned out for the Warsaw gay rights parade in spite of government sponsored crackdowns. Anti-gay crusaders want to ban gay propaganda in the schools. Does that sound familiar?
And, closer to home, Kent State has installed a "gender neutral" bathroom to accomodate transgender male and female students. Nearby Oberlin has a residence hall specifically for transgender students. The times they are a changin'.
Saturday, May 19
by Sue on Sat 19 May 2007 11:02 AM EDT
OK, this just strikes me as weird. The Tribune-Review sent a reporter to OUTrageous Bingo to do a story on the lack of a lesbian scene in Pittsburgh. "Lesbian scene" should always be read as "no lesbians bars," but we'll get to that in a moment.
OUTrageous Bingo is a mixed event - gay men, lesbians, bisexuals, transgendered men and women, old people, young people, etc. Why not send a reporter to an actual lesbian event (or a queer women's event) where it more likely you'll find a diverse group of people who are a little plugged in and can say with some authority what's missing?
Anyway, I personally get really tired of people moaning that there is no lesbian bar in Pittsburgh. Good grief. Of all the types of lesbian-friendly places I can conceive, one covered in smoke soot and encouraging women to consume alcohol is not high on my list of lesbian friendly ideals. I could take us on a little trip down the wonderful world of lesbian health to see the disproportionate impacts of alchol abuse and nicotine addiction in the lesbian community, but I'll restrain myself. It always strikes me as ironic that women who so enthusiastically support the ESTHER project, a lesbian health project, are the ones complaining about the bar situation.
Now that I got that off my chest, I have to say that the women profiled in the story made some excellent points about many projects and events being dominated by gay men, the small group of the same people who show up for everything, etc. And it is interesting how the younger women are picking up the mantle to get new kinds of things with an old twist organized. Sarah Claire, for example, organizes dance parties at the smoke free Ava Lounge in East Liberty. Cool. Ehrrin Keenan organizes lesbian book club and game nights. Very cool. Kat and Rowan got the potluck up and running smoothly. Awesome. We need to keep that kind of initiative flowing.
Now see Ledcat and I would do all of those things. Except we haven't. Because life gets in the way. Maybe part of the issue is that women have pretty full plates so a once a month or once every other month outing to a lesbian-centric event is enough. Maybe we've integrated as lesbians into society enough that our social needs can be filled outside of a lesbian bar.
Maybe its no longer about retreating to a lesbian-centric space as claiming our own spaces as lesbian-centric. Isn't that what we've been struggling for all these years? I'm not saying we don't need lesbian oriented places. But maybe they aren't bars. Maybe it's the fact that I can walk into Cafe Beleza on teh Northside, holding Ledcat's hand and call her honey without thinking twice about it. Or maybe that we can go out to dinner at the Square Cafe, staffed mainly by lesbians, and do the same thing. Or fly a rainbow windsock on my porch on a street with one other gay couple. Or that I have her picture on my desk at work.
Maybe this is an opportunity to generate a new sense of space and community.
To be fair, the article missed some pretty big things, namely the Dyke March and Celebrate the Night. It missed the queer performance events and the queer arts scene almost completely. It completely missed the Burghosphere.
It also missed the ongoing tension between gay men and lesbians over power and control of LGBTQ resources. This dynamic is at play whether its bar owners complaining about lesbians who drink water all night or the debate about the misanthropic content of drag queen shows.
The sidebar article sums up why this piece was not a hallmark step forward for the lesbians in Pittsburgh. The editor helpfully included a list of contact information for the events described in the main story, which is especially good for those lesbians in the hinterlands that aren't sure how to go about finding these resources. Kudos to the Trib. However, the title of that sidebar? Where the girls are.
by Sue on Sat 19 May 2007 10:02 AM EDT
An email message has been circulating the Internet for the past 24 hours, claiming that the newest entertainment at Kennywood has homophobic content and asking the community complain about it. I've been unsuccessful in contacting the individual, an employee of the Pittsburgh AIDS Task Force, but have received several copies of the message from credible leaders in the LGBT community who obviously know this woman enough to put their name behind her story. Thus, I've opted to go ahead and post about the rumor.
According to her email, she recently visited Kennywood and caught the newest dive show performance:
Typical stupied homophobic humor. You would think after Johnny Depp's performance as a fey pirate, they would have enough sense to use a little wink, wink swish to make their gay references. Fortunately, they are stupid enough to be blatant which means they got caught. A ha!
The author took action and contacted Kennywood management.
Thus, content is not offensive unless they get a critical mass of complaints. Then it is still not offensive, but might cost money so they'll consider pulling it. Overall, things ain't gonna change at Kennywood if people don't complain.
The rumors that Kennywood is not gay-friendly have been circulating for years. I've had very credible LGBTQ community members share stories about management resistance to a "Gay Day" at Kennywood. Apparently, we are welcome to come spend our money as long as we aren't too flamboyantly gay. That's reserved for the pirates. However, when Ledcat and I are in line, we notice dozens of homos, coupled and not. None, to my knowledge, have attempted to convert the innocent children running amok without parental supervision -- if anyone should be banned from Kennywood, it is children dumped by their parents for 8 hours and a few $20 bills.
And make no mistake about it -- the kids know we are gay. They aren't stupid. They see gay people at school, on television, in the movies and on the Internet. They probably know the coded gay behaviors better than most gays. Kennywood isn't protecting them from anything other than lessons in tolerance.
So now throw a gay pirate into the mix. How original! Why not take a group of sugar hyped unsupervised teenagers and infuse a little gay-panic into the mix? Cause the kid they all pick on for being a sissy -- he's probably somewhere in the park, maybe with his kid sister. And when they track him down, will the pirates come to his rescue? Will the sweeper chicks use their pans to defend him? Will anyone even care as long as he doesn't bleed in front of Kiddieland?
Our on the scene correspondent has a few more thoughts:
Amen, sister. He's being a stupid homophobic ass.
The general manager of Kennywood is Jerome Gibas. I left a message asking for a comment. No response thus far.
Please pick up the phone and let Kennywood know this is unacceptable. It is stupid pandering to the latent homophobia in their audience and just absurd content for kids to view. Family friendly my ass. Why not hoist a giant Rosie O'Donnell balloon and let kids go to town with paint ball guns?
The park phone number is 412-461-0500. You will need to select Guest Relations
Friday, May 18
Thursday, May 17
by Sue on Thu 17 May 2007 10:52 AM EDT
Today is International Day Against Homophobia.
I work for a mental health provider that just extended health insurance coverage to employees in domestic partnerships. So an important day to commemorate say the lesbians.
In conjunction, Human Rights Watch has identified the worst offenders in the homophobic Hall of Shame:
Top on the list? Pope Benedict XVI for undermining families. Then comes President George Bush for jeopardizing public health with his abstinence only programs. Next is Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad for violating the right to privacy on a widespread scale. Poland and the Philippines are represented as well.
Interesting day to be a gay Catholic American (from Poland?).
Wednesday, May 16
by Sue on Wed 16 May 2007 10:58 PM EDT
You mean other stuff happened yesterday? Here's a smattering ...
Scott Weber of Shaler wrote to the Post-Gazette urging people to recognize the value of gay parenting.
The Rev. Jane Adams Spahr a North Side Presbyterian native will speak Sunday at East Liberty Presbyterian Church.
PG sports columnist Shelly Anderson takes a peek at discrimination in the sports world.
by Sue on Wed 16 May 2007 10:14 PM EDT
Here's what Bill had to say about it all (I refer to him as Bill on account of us being friends n'at.):
I don't have anything to add. Good night to all.
by Sue on Wed 16 May 2007 07:29 AM EDT
With Bruce Kraus' victory in the Democratic primary, today is an historic moment for Pittsburgh and all of Western Pennsylvania. Kraus is the first openly gay person to be headed for the hallowed halls of the City Council of Pittsburgh. In fact, he is the first openly gay elected official in Western Pennsylvania. Well, he will be after the General Election in November. But you know us Pittsburghers -- it is all primary, all the time for local races.
What does this mean for your everyday average queer? Puh-lenty.
First, it means that Pittsburghers are more progressive and openminded than the Allegheny County Democratic Committee and others would have you believe. A progressive gay man defeated the incumbent, party-endorsed candidate. Change can happen.
Second, it means that the rest of the elected officials are going to have to interact with a real live homosexual on a regular basis. I relish this because, in my experience, this kind of personal interaction is the best vehicle to break down prejudice and build understanding. We cannot underestimate the power of these relationships to bring about change for all Pittsburgh residents, gay and straight.
Third, it means we finally get to see someone who "looks" like us AND acknowledges he is "us" in a leadership position. Not another closeted wink, wink politico. Not someone we speculate about every so often. Rather, someone who is proud and confident enough in his identity to share this part of life with the entire electorate. Kraus told Pittsburgh's OUT newspaper that his campaign is about more than his sexuality (no weblink available). That's certainly true, thank goodness, but I think it is good for the regional LGBTQ community to savor this moment.
Finally, it means we get a progressive, energetic and dedicated member of city council to join our allies Bill Peduto and Doug Shields. Kraus campaigned on the loss of Community Development Block Grant monies for organization such as the Gay & Lesbian Community Center, Shepherd Wellness Center and Persad, the region's LGBTQ mental health provider. He wants to do something about the liquor license situation on the South Side. He has a proven record of community involvement and civic leadership. He won the endorsements of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, the Steel-City Stonewall Democrats and the Gertrude Stein Political Club of Pittsburgh. He garnered the support of the Victory Fund.
Bruce Kraus is our candidate. Soon he will be everyone's member of Council. Hallelujah!
Tuesday, May 15
by Sue on Tue 15 May 2007 08:35 PM EDT
One of the most bitter foes of the American gay community has died and I only feel sadness for him and his family. I'm sad because his legacy is permanently scarred by his unrelenting hatred and intolerance for people who are gay, feminist, foreign born, of color and otherwise different from his vision of a godly society. Falwell sowed dischord and hatred in the name of religion, a weapon he used to divide our nation.
Should I cry for this man? Nope, but neither do I rejoice at his death. Instead, I mourn a life wasted, power abused and faith misplaced by millions of Americans. I guarantee the wingnuts are just looking for the slightest bit of glee from our side, just waiting for something to pounce upon to carry on his legacy of hate. From what I've seen, most people won't give them the satisfaction. Media outlets all over the nation are contacting prominent LGBT organizations and leaders for comment. I was thinking what I would say if a media outlet asked me (ha).
I think the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force did a good job. So I would say this.