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View Article  Tony Norman: Isaiah Washington "irrelevant" to reality of homophobia within African-American community

From today's Post-Gazette:

Is it religion that fosters this willful ignorance and compulsion to deny basic civil rights to other oppressed minorities?

Why is the black church so complicit in taking up the cudgel of discrimination when so many organists, choir leaders and assistant pastors are obviously gay? What accounts for this shameful lack of honesty and tolerance?

Certainly, the non-religious corners of African-American life are proudly and defiantly homophobic. It's another pathology this community has to come to grips with sooner or later.

Artful as always, Tony Norman attempts to elevate the furor around Isaiah Washington to a level of discourse that's actually relevant to homosexuals, particularly African-American gay men and lesbians (and bisexuals and transgender individuals).  Rather than validate the absurd call for Washington's "Grey's Anatomy" character to turn gay, Norman dismisses Washington's acting impact, characterizing his role in the larger dynamic as simply another reinforcement of a stereotype that straight black men are homophobes.

Let's face it, though he's a competent enough actor, he's no Andre Braugher, Hugh Laurie or Forest Whitaker. You don't think "brilliant thespian" when Washington's name comes up. You think grumpy guy with a stethoscope.

Not only did Washington offend homosexuals by slurring T.R. Knight, he embarrassed straight, black folks like myself who aren't eager to deal with the stereotype that all black men are homophobes.

Turning Washington's character gay simply perpetuates the notion that being gay is a punishment, a curse to be born, an anathema to all straight men who aren't in touch with their femine side.  Its a stupid suggestion made by small minded people who don't understand that playing a gay man on television has nothing in common with being gay. All the artificial swish in the world won't penetrate his thick skull unless he genuinely opens his mind.  And, frankly, I don't care if he does.  I'm much  more concerned about the thick-skulled Peter Akinola, Archbishop of Nigeria's Anglican Church in terms of impact on the lives of gay people.

Tony's finger pointing at the faith communities within the African-American community is well-done and much-needed.  But, to be fair, here in Pittsburgh there is also much needed work to be done on the part of the mainstream (aka white) gay community reaching out to include gay minorities. 

View Article  Queer Shout Out to Sparkly Crippled Disco Babe on the Bus

Our great friend and all-around grooviest of the cool chics - Jennah -  has gotten herself quote in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette on a matter of great import to every one of us ... the proposed Port Authority transit cuts. 

Jennah is one of the amazingest people in the world -- she takes no shit but does it with an infectious grin and disarming soft voice.  She was my very first lesbian date, having the misfortune to meet me while I was in the midst of great longing for my very first lesbian love.  In spite of my pathetic yearning, we became good friends and have shared many a cup of tea and spicy Asian dish over the years.  Plus, she always notices when I get a little mention in the paper.  Always notices.  And always encourages me to keep speaking up, shouting out and screaming when necessary. 

Jennah leaps to my  mind when people moan and groan about getting involved as a volunteer or activist.  She does both on a regular basis as well as juggling a full grad school course load and internships, plus all the usual family and personal commitments.  She describes herself as "sparkly crippled disco babe" an evocative lyric that beautifully captures her essence.

So this is my shout out back to Jennah.  I'm glad you made the time to attend the transit hearings and spoke with the press.  The transit cuts may be necessary to keep the system afloat, but the necessity does not invalidate the deep pain and suffering they will cause and disproportionately so for the most vulnerable in our society. 

You rock, Jennah!

View Article  Cat's Call: PG Advice Columnist Jettisons Carrie Bradshaw Approach - Meow!

The Correspondents are happy to report that the advice business over at the Post-Gazette has slowly improved. Fear not, they haven't kicked off the "Just Ask Reg" column much to the dismay of middle age white guys throughout the city. We understand that Mayor Opie had floated the idea of a nifty "Do What Dennis Says" daily column with a yet-unnamed author who could being along his very own typist/roommate for proofreading purposes. 

No, we speak of our very own favorite advice maven -- Cat (Catherine) Specter author of Cat's Call (aka Just Ask Cat).  Since getting kicked to the Tuesday edition, Specter left behind her hipster Yinzerette wanna be pose and focused on dishing out some actual interesting advice.

In the past, we've wagged our fingers at Ms. Specter's attempts to channel Carrie Bradshaw which just doesn't work in Pittsburgh.  First of all, Carrie Bradshaw is a fictional character who wouldn't know what to make of his and her matching mullets. Second of all, she lived in New York, not New Castle.  Finally, she had a bevy of writers to make her sound witty and the best berets money could buy. 

The price Pittsburgh paid for Ms. Specter's kicky beret and you go girl attitude was, frankly, bad advice.  In some cases, damaging advice.  The all-time low was her recommendation to stay silent in the face of overt racism, a surprising suggestion given her association with decidedly anti-racist Tony Norman.  For the most part, she just seemed more focused on permanently fusing women's self-empowerment with pleasuring men (backwards in high heels).  If I want throwback, I can read Ruth Ann. Backwards in high heels.

But that was Sunday Cat.  Now she seems to have wiped off the gloss, removed LaMont Jones' number from speed dial and filed down those talons to emerge into Tuesday Cat.  She's interesting, warm and compassionate.  She tells women in no uncertain terms to drop deadwood men and affirm themselves without invoking lip gloss, alcohol or, gasp, mascara.

She even printed a letter from a friend of mine and gave him the same advice as me!  Minus the epithets.

Thus, I want to go on the record as endorsing Tuesday Cat over Sunday Cat.   Since the Sunday PG may soon be a two page insert amidst the coupons and advertisements, that's probably not a bad move on her part. 

Correspondent's Call:  When she sticks with advice and forgoes the cutesy witticisms, she's not bad.  She's no Reg Henry, but who among us is?

View Article  Pittsburgh music you won't want to miss

Its a brrrrryyyy cold week here in da 'burgh.  Being firmly ensconced on the couch with some illness of indeterminate origin, I don't have much in the way of excitement or cool tidings to share with you.  My supervisor actually sent me home from work.  It was just like elementary school without the call for my  mom to come pick me up. 

Some cool things did catch my eye ....

You can catch our friend and awesome performer Eve Goodman live in a couple of venues this week.  Tomorrow (1/24) at the Backstage Bar at Theatre Square downtown and Friday (1/26) at Aldo Coffee Company in Mt. Lebanon.  We've been to Aldo Coffee Company and its a fun trendy little spot right in the heart of Mt. Lebanon.  Literally, in the midst of a neighborhood!  You'll love it and you'll love Eve's music.  Its a great evening out for you and your friends (and affordable -- coffee plus tips).  Check out Eve's website for information on her music.  She's luminous (and very funny)!

Thursday 1/25 check out the Art From Chaos Music Series at Modern Formations Gallery in Garfield.  This regular series held monthly on the last Thursday will feature Nashville singer/songwriter Amelia White with Pittsburgh artists Bill Eberle and Autumn Ayres as her opening acts.  We love Bill and Autumn!  

Something for every night of the week to satisfy your music cravings.  What could be better than a cup of coffee, a snug window seat and great local music? 

Check it aht!

View Article  Gay wedding announcements - Post Gazette says yes?

Today's PG features news of an alliance promoting gay wedding announcements in newspapers throughout the land.

Mr. Robinson said the alliance is intensifying its campaign to encourage gays and lesbians to submit news of their engagements and commitment ceremonies.

"For a lot of daily newspapers, a lot of editorial decisions are driven by their community," he said.

"When we hear about same-sex relationships or same-sex households and families, it's often in a political context. We really want to revisit this from the aspect of people celebrating their lives every day -- couples celebrating their commitments, just like everyone else, in the pages of the newspaper."

The initiative began in 2002 when the alliance's leadership met with members of The New York Times' editorial board, which at the time would not publish such announcements. It changed that policy.

Now all of the nation's top 50 media markets and 99 out of the top 100 are home to a newspaper with an inclusive announcement policy.

"It's important for all of us to have the opportunity to share our commitments," he said. "When people are shut out of that process, it is not only a form of discrimination, but in many ways, it creates a separate but unequal structure where certain families are valued more in our society."

View Article  Blogging for Choice in Pittsburgh

Today I join hundreds of other bloggers around the nation to share why I am pro-choice.  Please forgive if this does not flow as well as I would like - I'm not feeling 100% today.

Blog for Choice Day is a chance to raise the profile of reproductive rights issues in the blogosphere and the media, and to let everyone know that a woman's right to choose is nonnegotiable.

Why do I support a woman's right to choose?

I believe that our society has been structured on principals of men exerting ownership over women, but that is not necessarily how the law has been structured.  Thus I believe that much of dialogue around choice/life is about women being free to make their own choices, not about unborn children.  Choice is about power and control, something our
society does not easily impart to women.  Thankfully, not all men fall into this trap and, sadly, too many women do.

I also believe that most people who are pro-life REALLY are anti-choice if you look at the sum total of their political stances and personal actions to "protect life."  Displaying a bumper sticker is not the same thing as becoming a foster parent or donating to child abuse prevention organizations.  Waving a dead fetus is not the same thing as cradeling a
baby born addicted to cocaine or holding the hand of a 14 year pregnant girl facing her rapist in court. Confronting clients at women's health clinics is not the same thing as
teaching young men to value and respect women (and themselves) or
speaking up when they don't.

Perhaps I focus to much on what the other side does or fails to do.  The hypocrisy around respecting life saddens me and sickens me, especially given that I work every day with children that are not being cared and tended for as they should.  Children who need society to step up and provide their families with adequate resources to parent effectively and children who sometimes need someone to step in and parent them directly.

Choice is about power and control.  I am in control of my body and my reproductive decisions.  I will not willingly relinquish that power. 

View Article  Philly Anti-Gay Protestors Arrest OK court rules

Not feeling so well today so I'm going to cheat.  From 365gay.com and the Philadelphia Daily News comes word that bigotry does not always win.

(Philadelphia, Pennsylvania) A federal judge has ruled that the city of Philadelphia did not violate the rights of an anti-gay group when it arrested them during a protest at the city's gay pride celebration in 2004.

The 11 demonstrators from Repent America had sued the city and Philly Pride Presents, the organizer of OutFest, alleging their civil rights had been violated.

U.S. District Judge Lawrence Stengel disagreed, granting summary judgment for the city and Philly Pride.

When members of Repent America showed up at the 2004 event police allowed them to demonstrate at the edge of a cordoned off area where OutFest was being held.But when the demonstrators began using a bullhorn yelling Biblical passages to drown out the events on stage pride organizers complained to police. 

The protestors then allegedly attempted to enter the cordoned off area, continuing to use the bullhorn to condemn homosexuality.

At that point they got into an argument with a group of Pink Angels, who screamed back.

It was at that point police intervened and arrested the demonstrators. They were held 21 hours but charges were later dropped and Repent America and its leader Michael Marcavage filed the civil rights lawsuit.

In his ruling Stengel said that the right to speak and assemble is not without limits. 

"There is no constitutional right to drown out the speech of another person," he said in his written ruling.

Stengel noted that the city did not bar Repent America from demonstrating, but that after the protestors left the designated area and entered the cordoned off place where OutFest was being held the city had the right to intervene.

He has been arrested, detained or cited by police around the country since founding Repent America in 2002, including at a demonstration against same-sex marriages in San Francisco. 

View Article  Ravenstahl "There's more than one reason to handcuff a man"

Now that Main Stream Media (MSM) has sunk its teeth into this little tale of a man and his handcuffs, the gay drama just escalates.  This is like Queer Eye meets Cops.

WPXI airs previous interview where Ravenstahl plays word games to essentially deny being handcuffed.  If he didn't actually lie about it, he omitted to tell the truth.  Or did he? 

The Post-Gazette runs a story from former Chief McNeilly calling for an investigation.  To be fair, McNeilly is completely disengenuous when he claims no political motivation to speak out (his wife is Catherine McNeilly), but he's probably the only police-related person involved (or not) who has the ability to speak out.  No cop who wants a future in this little metropolis that could is gonna speak out after the Mayor bitch slapped Catherine McNeilly into the warrant office, which I understand is the police equivalent to Siberia. 

The the PG editorial board minces into the scene and bitch slaps (sorry for being repetitive) the Mayor's critics, especially ooohhhh ... the bloggers for engaging in rumor mongering.  The High-Priestesses of Hissy have their feather boas in a furor because the facts don't support the accusations.  I'd suggest the facts equally fail to support the defense.  Not to mention the fact that we'll have a hard time getting the facts since the Mayor is the boss of everyone involved.

To sum up, we've got handcuffs, gagged cops, axes to grind, peeved members of the Main Stream Media, outraged husbands, silent sturdy types in uniforms, alcohol and a privileged frat boy with a pretty wife claiming that just because he wore the handcuffs doesn't mean he did the deed.

Again I say, I can't make this up.

View Article  Nigeria About to Outlaw "Being Gay" -- Thanks Episcopalians!

Shout out to all the Pittsburgh Episcopalians who have supported the Grand PooBah of Intolerance, Bishop Duncan and his desire to break away to form his own sect.  We've covered his longstanding attachment to Nigerian Archbishop Peter Akinola. 

Well you should be congratuled b/c your bigotry and anti-gay sentiment have built a direct bridge to the impending misery of gay individuals and families throughout Nigeria.  Not only will they be prohibited from attending church to taint your sanctimonious little Christian family values, they will be prohibited from ... well, pretty much existing (365gay.com).

Legislation that would strip gays and lesbians of all civil rights has passed its final hurdle and is set for a vote in Nigeria's Parliament.  

The bill started out as a ban on same-sex marriage and has been revised to make it a crime for more than two gay people to be in the same venue at the same time.

It prohibits LGBT social or civil rights groups from forming.  It would be illegal to sell or rent property to same-sex couples, watch a gay film or video, visit an LGBT web site, or express same-sex love in a letter to one's partner.

The legislation goes so far as to make it a criminal offense to impart information of HIV/AIDS to gays or for non-gays to meet with any group of gays for any purpose.

The penalty would be five years in prison with hard labor.

Gay sex already is illegal in Nigeria with sentences up to 14 years behind bars. In the mostly Islamic north homosexuality can be punishable by death.

This is the slippery slope we tread around here in America.  Those of you who believe second-class citizenship is good enough for homosexuals open the door to the kind of oppression listed above.  I know some of you harbor in your hearts the notion that "gay sex" probably deserves punishment, but can you really say two gay people being in the same place at the same time should result in imprisonment? 

This is a human rights travesty of immense proportions.  And here in Pittsburgh, just find your nearest Episcopalian Duncan-loyalist and say "Thanks!"

View Article  Ravenstahl, McIntire, Pgh City Police: The Gay Angle No One is Talking About

Not a single homo involved and this story has more twists and turns than a drag queen's virginal encounter with panty hose, a site much prettier than watching Luke Ravenstahl contort an explanation out of this story. 

If you read the subtext, its right out of a gay movie -- Slightly inebriated guy meets guy in uniform, intense exchange occurs, guy ends up in handcuffs, guy returns to wife and goes on to become mayor.  Old guy makes it like it never happened. Denials ensue. MacGuy asks questions. The story comes tumbling out. Wife stands by MayorGuy. UniformedGuy can't tell, so don't ask.  I can't make this stuff up. 

Except most gay people are smart enough to know not to confront a cop in the middle of police activity.  I'm with David at 2PJ's that there's something off about claiming one lone cop surged into a crowd.  Plus, there's the claim on KDKA's report that the cop was a rookie. Since the details are good extra money, I'd imagine working Steeler games is a pretty plum assignment.  Does it make sense that a rookie would land that assignment? Or someone with a least an iota of seniority? 

Its hardly credible that Ravenstahl would pull out his City Councilman credentials to interfere in the midst of a police matter (a big no no) but then put them back in his hip pocket when he himself is cuffed so as to be treated like any other citizen.  Any other citizen might have complained a little about being ill-treated and then filed a formal complaint with the Office of Municipal Investigations.  Luke, however, was able to independently correct the officer in question.  Did he continue to monitor the situation to ensure the officer behaved appropriately?  Did he follow up with the officers superiors to discuss his concerns?  Did he ask OMI to investigate?  Nope, he caught a game, tossed back some cold ones and went about his yinzer frat boy way.

It doesn't make sense either as a gay movie or as mature political conduct.

Much more interesting was WTAE's take on the blogospheric eruption in Pittsburgh.  I especially liked when "Pittsburgh Lesbian Correspondents" rolled across the screen TWO times.  We didn't actually get a mention like 2 Political Junkies but lesbian beggars can't be choosers ...

That, my friends, is the gay angle to the story.  Sure I could churn out a few more bits of analysis -- Luke's lisping to Marty Griffin, McIntire's obvious homoerotic fixation on putting Peduto on the throne at any cost, David's homoerotic fixation on McIntire's homoerotic fixation, Tony Norman's soon to be written homoerotic interpretation of McIntire's fixation ... it can only go downhill from here.


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The Correspondents