Monday, May 14
by Sue on Mon 14 May 2007 08:58 AM EDT
NOTE: The first edition of this post switched the district races around. I apologize for the ridiculous mistake and can only claim that the lack of coffee made me do it. It goes to show that people ARE paying attention.
None received the ACDC endorsement so I didn't get to sing their praises in previous posts. But I should have because these three people running on a local level can make a tremendous difference for our community. Kraus is gay, Arnet and Dowd are not. But all are committed to a progressive fairness that bodes well for minority groups in the region.
Kraus is running for City Council - Southside, Allentown, Knoxville, Beltzhoover, etc. He's taking on incumbent Jeff Koch. Koch is the guy who finagled the Redd Up crew into wearing his campaign tee shirts while on the job. Working for the city. Nice. He is feeling the heat. Email everyone you know in this district and tell 'em to vote for Kraus.
Heather Arnet is running for School Board in District 2 (Lawrenceville, Highland Park). The lesbians love Heather. She is progressive, fair and a visionary. Her commitment to girls has been amply demonstrated by her wonderful work with the Women and Girls Foundation of Southwestern Pennsylvania. Heather has been endorsed by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and the Gertude Stein Club as well as highly recommended by the Steel-City Stonewall Democrats. Vote for Heather on Tuesday. Tell your friends in her district to vote for her. Email them right now. Don't wait.
This is definitely our guy. A proven progressive while on the School Board, Dowd has run an excellent campaign. His opponent is incumbent Len Bodack - Highland Park, Polish Hill, Stanton Heights, Lawrenceville, Bloomfield. Bodack came to a LGBT forum and said he is opposed to gay marriage because of his religious beliefs. Classic old school politics -- why would we vote for someone like that?
The opponents of all three of these individuals have NOTHING to offer the gay community in terms of policy or innovations to serve our families. We need to be part of the change that is going to move Pittsburgh forward. The status quo is not sufficient.
Email your friends in these areas. Call your mother, your sister, your best friend and ask them to vote for candidates that respect and value the LGBT community.
And, most of all, pay attention.
by Sue on Mon 14 May 2007 08:26 AM EDT
Saturday night, Ledcat and I sat down to talk with Lance Friedman, co-chair of the Steel City Stonewall Democrats which is the local chapter of the national gay democratic network. Friedman has been co-leading the group since January 2007 after the unexpected departure of Steel-City's controversial co-chair Scott Safier.
Since then Friedman and co-chair Tara Reynolds have been working with a small but dedicated board to rejuvenate the organization. Of late, Friedman's energies have been wholeheartedly focused on the May 15 primary, dedicating countless hours to turning out the gay vote and working for candidates such as openly gay Bruce Kraus' campaign for city council.
"Elections are about turnout," says Friedman, a three year Pittsburgh resident originally from Michigan. "A small group of gay voters can make a difference in this election." The May 15 election is not expected to generate a large turnout.
Friedman and his partner, a University of Pittsburgh researcher, relocated to Pittsburgh from New Jersey. They have been together for nearly 10 years and Friedman, a history major, has been politically active the entire time.
When he arrived in Pittsburgh, he became involved with the Gertrude Stein Club and Steel City, eventually joining the Steel-City board. With the departure of Safier, Friedman has been actively reaching out to former board members asking them to reconnect with the organization. He says that several have indicated a willingness to get involved and perhaps rejoin the board.
In the interest of full disclosure, I must say that I was a board member of Steel-City and resigned over the antics of Safier in my pre-blog days. Any hint of criticism that seeps through this post is solely my own. Friedman spoke not a single ill-word about the man.
The current board includes 4 people, all of whom are juggling a lot of competing interests and are self-proclaimed political junkies (h/t to David and Maria). Friedman and Reynolds are looking for fresh blood to keep the organization moving forward.
Friedman says frankly that he doesn't perceive himself as a leader. "I took the co-chair job because no one else wanted it," he explains. He envisions recruiting new leadership and being able to step down from the executive committee to a typical board role.
Friedman's modesty about his leadership talent is unwarranted. The organization recently hosted an endorsement party, drawing a good sized crowd of both candidates and community members. Friedman had his concerns that the turnout would be gay-lite and candidate-heavy, so he got on the phone and contacted every gay person he could think of and encouraged them to attend the event. It worked. Ledcat and I rolled in around 3:30 and rolled out an hour later laden with stickers, flyers and postcards and a fresh look at the candidates.
Others noticed as well, including the Allegheny County Democratic Committee (ACDC) which was planning their own LGBT forum with their endorsed candidates. They wanted to partner with Steel City to turn out the gays, but Friedman acknowledges that the timing was a bit dicey as the event was scheduled for the day after the Steel City endorsement. The ACDC and Steel City groups did not achieve endorsement parity, but did cooperate in the event planning.
Moreover, the Steel City candidate questionaires were the primary source of information for the ACDC forum. Friedman was rather pleased with this event and views it as a step forward for the LGBT community. Here's my take on the event.
The dynamic co-chair seems to understand the challenges of turning out the gay vote while remaining delightfully optimistic about the opportunity. "I'd like to think gay people are voting even if they aren't politically active," he offers. He chalks up the lack of political activity to the subtle, but widespread oppression LGBT individuals face in Western Pennsylvan's political climate (heavy on the Catholic conservatism).
Friedman believes the election of Bruce Kraus could change that. Seating an openly gay individual on City Council would demostrate how open-minded Pittsburgh can be. He believes it would play a major step in breaking down homophobia by creating opportunities for other elected officials and the public to interact with a real gay person rather than just an image from the media or as painted by anti-gay activists. According to Friedman, Kraus is ready to wear the "gay mantle" should he win Tuesdays election.
Kraus deserves the support of the entire LGBT community. Just this weekend, local businesses endorsing Kraus had their property vandalized. Two separate businesses. Kraus' campaign also reports more than 18 signs have been stolen which seems to be a lot for a city council race.
Meanwhile, Friedman and his small but dedicated group will continue to grow their organization in a new direction. He sees endless possibilities for collaboration with the ACDC, the Gertrude Stein Club, LGBT business owners including the tavern guild, and the elected officials themselves. While frank in his assessment of the gay friendliness of any particular candidate, Friedman remains positive on the possibility for the gay community to change their attitudes and welcoming to anyone who wants to join his group.
And that truly marks the dawn of a new gay in Pittsburgh.
You can help make a change in Pittsburgh. Check out the Steel City webpage for more information.
Thursday, May 10
by Sue on Thu 10 May 2007 09:45 PM EDT
Be sure to check this aht ...
Bloggings favorite mystery woman, Agent Ska, will be managing the stage. I have to work late Friday and have a previously scheduled PghLesbian interview set for Saturday so I will miss the good times AND meeting Agent Ska. Drat.
by Sue on Thu 10 May 2007 09:40 PM EDT
Be sure to read the comments. It would be great to see this kind of dialogue happening in Pittsburgh, but instead we have a candidate for Sheriff and former Pittsburgh Police Officer who sees no real law enforcement issues with the LGBTQ community. Ahem. I guess that stuff just happens in Philly?
by Sue on Thu 10 May 2007 09:24 PM EDT
I had a hard day and only just now realized that it has been 48 hours without fresh content. So here's what I've come up with ... from John McIntire's column in the City Paper:
I'd like to know the results of that phone poll.
Bad taste? Of course. Funny? So-so. Homophobic? Not so much. Maybe I'm biased because I know John isn't a homophobe, but is willing to exploit society's latent homophobia for his own amusement (and career). Maybe I'm biased because he invented the Lesbian Correspondent shtick.
Here's where we disagree.
Tis true that the way is a bigger problem than edgy radio. But for those of us on the short end of the hate stick, Imus and ilk are a real problem. Even some of John's stuff can be problematic precisely because there are yinzers out there who wouldn't know irony if it kicked them in the ass and bought them an IC Light. Does that mean we should censor John or give Gab a bigger dump button? Not necessarily. But shock jocks have to take some responsibility for their words and their medium. Being provocative carries some responsibility.
Let's be fair -- edgy radio is commodity and when people stop buyin', things change. Imus and John and Gab have the right to express themselves as much as they please. There is no right to get paid for it.
I hope John and Gab keep throwing caution to the wind b/c, frankly, radio can be really boring in Pittsburgh. And people who think Johnny Mac rocks need to realize that he loves him some homos (not that there's anything wrong with that), black people, women and even homeless people. Forcing people to take a look at their own prejudice is a good thing. Ridiculing and demeaning any group of people because they are gay, female, black, disabled, etc is not okay.
Thin line, huh? I'm glad I just wrestle with social problems in a more clean cut human servicy kind of way.
Tuesday, May 8
by Sue on Tue 08 May 2007 09:07 PM EDT
According to the comments section of the The Burgh Report, Post-Gazette advice columnist is the daughter of Acting City Solicitor George Specter. The commenter wonders if there is a connection between that relationship and the PG's coverage of the Solicitor.
I wonder the opposite. Did it have something to do with Cat Specter landing a column with no experience and no real qualifications? Is that how she met her champion, Tony Norman?
Can we blame George Specter for the unleashing of Cattitude all over Pittsburgh?
So, are they related? And what does that mean for patronage purposes? Are there any patronage purposes? Most importantly, can he spay and/or neuter the Cattitude?
by Sue on Tue 08 May 2007 08:44 PM EDT
The Beaver County Times has taken a stand on the expansion of the federal hate crime laws to include sexual orientation and gender identity as motivations for attacks. In their estimation, hate crimes laws punish thoughts not deeds.
That's great. And what do you do when that vitriol and its underlying bigotry is connected to crime? When someone is attached because they are gay or appear gay? How can you neatly separate the word from the act in that case?
I just don't get why people are so opposed to this legislation. Sigh.
by Sue on Tue 08 May 2007 08:27 PM EDT
Beyond feminism, she may need to brush up on grammar. Today's faux pas features an inquiry about sexually objectifying mothers by "Proud Feminist."
Here's where I want to know why a Proud Feminist would address this question to Cat's Call. Specter makes Ruth Ann Dailey look like a raging feminist what with her obsessive focus on the most superficial elements of women's lives -- dating, clothes and what she terms "Cattitude." It was all good. Cat played at being a journalist. Jealous other would be journalists bitched and moaned about her good fortune. And feminists did their thing.
Until "Proud Feminist" had to crash through the fourth wall. She asks for advice over taking umbrage at the sexual objectification of mothers. Cat doesn't disappoint. She does, however, answer the wrong question.
There is an inherent problem with confusing sexual objectification and sexuality. Viewing a mother as a sexual being is fine. Objectifying her as a sexual thing is not fine. There's a big difference. The difference between a being and an object.
Cat, you should check out Feministing which might help you better understand the distinction. If you are going to continue writing advice for women, we need you to really put some effort into understanding feminist issues. You may not consider yourself a feminist, but you have a responsibility to the women in the region to at least decry sexually objectification of any woman.
Cattitude doesn't justify ignoring the plight of your sisters.
Sunday, May 6
by Sue on Sun 06 May 2007 07:10 PM EDT
This made me laugh. And cry. Our favorite Pennsylvania-flavored fundie, Diane Gramley of the American Family Association of Pennsylvania, has issued a call for all good Christian families to boycott the City of Brotherly Love for being too gay friendly.
It seems that Philly has ratcheted up the drive to attract gay tourist dollars by unveiling several dozen rainbow street signs in the gayborhoods that cater to the LGBTQ community.
Gramley is outraged!
Let's face it. Gramley is another hate-spewing pseudo-Christian bigot with the temerity to think she can successfully boycott an entire city. At least she had the smarts to do it before football season gets underway. Good Christian men may object to Justin Timberlake exposing Janet Jackson's breast during a football game, but what's a few prancing queens compared to the Eagles?
You know what really pisses me off about Gramley's sanctimonious "family values" boycott? She's right -- Philadelphia is not a family friend place, but it has nothing to do with homosexuality. This year, the city has seen more than one homicide per day. The poverty rate in Philadelphia is the highest of any major US city. The city is overwhelmed by guns. The police force has been reduced. The number of people who are homeless has risen.
These things impact real people's lives -- 1.5 million people. Real families with two parents, single parents, grandparents, etc. These are REAL issues about which a family association should be concerned. Taking action to address any of the above would be a wonderful way to honor the Gospel and the call to social justice. But this isn't about Jesus or social justice or honoring anything. It is about hate, intolerance and a rejection of the essence of Christian love.
Diane Gramley and the AFA of FA: putting the FU in family values.
h/t Pam's House Blend make the jump if you want to read some really atrocious comments from the wingnuts ...