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View Article  Is Pittsburgh a Gay Tourist Mecca? Post-Gazette Readers Chime In

Earlier in the week, our beloved Post-Gazette took a half-hearted look at Pittsburgh's potential as a gay tourist destination (or not).  Someone beyond your faithful correspondents noticed and took the time to share their perspective with the PG readership.

First, we have the "tolerant" homophobe who believes in live and let live as long as he doesn't have to see "leather-clad men groping each other."  Mr. Scott Smith of Boulder, Colorado (yes, he moved away but, thankfully, continues to share his wisdom with us) thinks Pittsburgh has enough problems without adding homo-lure to its list.  What is Mr. Smith's objection?  It gives gays ... wait for it ..."special consideration."  Which is bigot talk for chipping away at white-heterosexual-middle class-male privilege.  GASP!

Mr. Smith sums up his own camouflaged homophobia in two sentences:

After all, being gay is just about how to have sex. It shouldn't be so all-encompassing as to define a person ... or involve a campaign to attract them.

I wonder if Mr. Smith thinks his hetero-masculinity defines his person?  If he took the time to pick up the pen because some queens and a few dykes might roll into town to see the Andy Warhol museum and bring their tourist dollars with them, he's got some problems. 

Mr. Smith wants us to stay in the closet and pass as breeders when we sally forth into the streets of Pittsburgh.  I'm tempted to write "Fuck you, Mr. Smith" here but instead I'll just enjoy the fact that his delusion of a gay-sanitized Pittsburgh ain't never gonna happen.

Christopher Miller of Shadyside offers a gay man's perspective on several other key points we mentioned last week.  The article was all about what the professionals think and very heavy on what professionals outside of Pittsburgh at that.  No one asked Pittsburgh, straight or gay:

Your article does not address what Pittsburghers would think of our city becoming more gay-friendly. Has anyone asked them? Would they be comfortable with seeing two men holding hands walking down the street? Would our citizens be at ease with gays and lesbians being seen and heard? Would they welcome not only the GLBT dollars to help build the city's infrastructure, but also the love and pride that many members of the GLBT community have to share?

Mr. Miller points out that a lot of gay and lesbian families he knows move to the suburbs for peace and privacy.  Thus, Pittsburgh has a lot of work to do in attracting homosexuals to live here much less vacation here. 

While I agree that there is tremendous room for improvement with regard to local tolerance,  I believe Mr. Miller is incorrect about moving to the suburbs. First, those who do so are deluding themselves.  We have more civil right protections in the city than anywhere else in Western Pennsylvania.  Any sense of heightened peace and privacy is entirely at the whim of your particular neighbors.  I think there is a strand of the community that just wants to convince themselves that passing for a "normal" white middle class family is the goal of gay civil rights.  Its a sad trap b/c it only ends up isolating them from the rest of their communities, gay and straight. 

I also perceive that a lot of gays continue to live in the city.  I live on the Northside and see family everywhere -- at the store, at the gas pumps, in the park, at the bank, everywhere.  The issue is that we aren't connecting with each other.

And that ties back to Mr. Miller's issue -- is we aren't working on visibility and connections from within Pittsburgh's gay community, we are doomed.  Most people are not comfortable with openly gay people unless them know one or two or a dozen.  Why?  Because our culture trains us to define heterosexuality as the norm.  My opinion is that exposure is the only way to realistically chip away at that.  Exposure through the arts, in the workplace, politics, Little League, faith communities, etc.

We need more people living proudly and out (albeit safely) rather than hiding away in some cul-de-sac in Mr. Smith's neighborhood being careful not to hold hands.  Or grope leather clad men. 

View Article  Pittsburgh Gay Round Up : McIntire, McCain, and Madison, Wisconsin

Not much happening locally in the LGBTQ world.  No rancid letters to the editor, no debates over GSAs in the local schools, no closets being opened.

Peduto's announcement is good news for those of us who want an actual Democrat, not the Yinzer Republican Prince in sheep's, oops, lamb's clothing.

For the chicas, coming up on Monday is the monthly Queers: They're Whats for Dinner at the Gypsy Cafe on Pittsburgh's Southside.  Much big fun to be had and a great way to get to know some really cool sisters. 

Also, coming up on January 20 is Operation Sappho a queer/lesbian dance at Ava Bar and Lounge. Dress in red, enjoy 3 dj's and the smoke free environment.

For those of you who love McIntire, there's the Sex, Religion, Politics, Cats, Lesbians, Cheesy Hawaiian Shirts and Geezers Tour at the Club Cafe on Weds Jan 31. Brought to you by Starbucks and Geritol.  Ironically, we cannot go b/c the 11 PM kick-off is past our bedtime.  Plus, they smoke there (thanks for that Danny O!). 

John McCain was dissed by Christian Grand Poobah Jimmy Dobson for being un-conservative.  McCain is now spinning himself into a frenzy to fix things with the wingnuts. Guess what the sticking point is?  Bing!  Traditional Marriage! Pathetic.

Rudy Giuliani, on the other hand, has actually hired a homo-hater for his will I/won't I exploratory team.  Jim Nussle from Iowa is anti-choice and anti-gay. 

Madison, Wisconsin city council Tuesday night approved a measure allowing city officials to include a statement supporting same-sex marriage in their oaths of office. Wisconsin has a anti-homo amendment in their constitution, but Madisonians want to work to overturn it.

View Article  Peduto Announces for Mayor on Monday?

Received this today vis a vis the Run Baby Run email list ...

Everyone is invited to join Bill Peduto for a Special Announcement:

Monday, January 22, from 7 -9 p.m.

At the Union Project, 801 N. Negley Ave., in Highland Park Refreshments will be served.

This event is free & open to the public.

 

Speaking of pro-choice Democrats, January 22 is the date for another important event also in East Liberty ...

Allegheny Reproductive Health Center Invites you to attend a celebration of
The 34th Anniversary of Roe V. Wade and ARHC's 30 years of service to women
Monday, January 22            5:30 ? 8:00pm
at ARHC's recently-remodeled office!
200 N. Highland Avenue in Pittsburgh's East Liberty neighborhood
Directions
The Lesbians are going to try and make both events.  Tell us hello if you see us!
View Article  We predict city Solicitor will take fall for Ravenstahl

Our prediction on the McNeilly/Regan situation - Acting city Solicitor George Specter will resign or retire, Ravenstahl will continue to blame the O'Connor administration and the city will settle with McNeilly prompting her to retire immediately afterwards.

The Ravenstahl puppetmasterers will easily sacrifice one lawyer to keep their golden Pinnochio bright, shiny and electable.

Our hope is that since KDKA and the Post-Gazette tenaciously continues to follow this story, the public won't let Opie get away with it.  He's knee deep in the funk of politics as usual.

View Article  Anti-Rene Portland sentiment flares in Michigan

According to an online edition of Michigan's LGBTQ newsletter, a group of 300+ straight and gay women wore lavender shirts to the recent University of Michigan/Penn State women's basketball game.

Sunday's protest served as a triumphant moment for gay folks, especially considering the massive turnout. It showed that there are people in the state of Michigan (and nationwide) who will not stand for discrimination. The best part: Some of these people aren't even gay. They're just on our side. Now that, that's a victory.

Personally, I think the writer is hyperinflating the magnitude of the protest.  Penn State won't step up to the plate to handle Portland until 1) Jennifer Harris' case settles very unfavorably, 2) Portland overtly discriminates again or 3) Portland begins to lose.  Given that she just netted her 600th win, those prospects don't look too good.

Nonetheless, its good that the issue hasn't been lost amidst a million other concerns.  Portland is an arrogant nasty bigot.  But the greater shame rests on Penn State for allowing her to get away with it.

View Article  Post-Gazette Looks at "Gay-Friendliness" of Pittsburgh without talking to the gays!

Usually, I enjoy MacKenzie Carpenter's articles ... sort of like curling up in your bathrobe with a warm cup of coffee and the tattered copy of "Pride and Prejudice" or "The Brothers Karamazov."  Sure the predictability is there, but you never tire of the artistry, the divine spark that generated such a wonderful read.

So I'm perplexed how she could write a very long piece about Pittsburgh as a gay-friendly destination without talking to any local gays.  You might think -- local gays are already here doing their homo-thing so what could they possibly have to add to the need to lure other unsuspecting queers to the 'burgh? 

Well, I'm glad you asked.

According to a study commission by the Travel Industry, gay tourists are seeking: whether a place is safe and free from intimidation and threats; whether it is culturally welcoming and known to support diversity and GLBT civil rights; and word of mouth.

San Francisco, Dallas and Philadelphia have done outstanding jobs creating the right environment and marketing those features. 

The question becomes -- is Pittsburgh gay-friendly?  And that's where the local homos should come in to the story.  But instead we go to Visit Pittsburgh  

While Altus Group also published Pittsburgh's City "Navigaytor," which was unveiled here in 2005, a brochure alone isn't going to have the same kind of impact, Mr. McHugh says. "You can have the greatest ad agency in the world but if the budget and political will isn't there, it won't happen."

"It's about leadership," added Mr. Witeck. "A city can't whisper 'welcome.' You have to say it out loud. The cities who say it out loud and get it are the ones that win."

Beverly Morrow Jones, a spokeswoman for Visit Pittsburgh, the city's tourism information bureau, says the city is prepared to do that.

"VisitPittsburgh is very interested in pursuing the GLBT marketplace," she said. "We've found tremendous acceptance from that community, who are amazed, once they visit, about how wonderful Pittsburgh is and how welcoming we are."

I wouldn't exactly count Visit Pittsburgh as indicative of the will of the leadership.  Remember, this is Pittsburgh where the most intrepid gay elected officials are among the city's best kept secrets. 

Here's what the creative force behind Philadelphia's "Get your history straight and your nightlife gay" marketing campaign has to say about Pittsburgh's potential to rock the gay tourist business.

There are the cities that have the attractions and the gay product, but they're not known. Pittsburgh is one of those cities. It may not be high on the radar, but it has what it takes to attract the gay tourist."

With its great neighborhoods in Shadyside, Lawrenceville and the North Side, with its gay-owned and gay-friendly shops, restaurants, inns and bed-and-breakfasts, "Pittsburgh is definitely ready to take the next step" to attract gay tourists, he said.

That being said, my problem with this whole approach is that the article (or the interviewees perhaps) sum up the "gay product" in terms of bars, shops and hotels.  What about Pittsburgh rather vibrant GLBTQ faith communities -- yes, Pittsburgh is the hub of some knock down, drag out battles over the gay place within mainstream denominations but not only does that put us on the map, it demonstrates that there is a strong voice among those who do welcome and affirm us with dignity and respect. 

Let's not forget what is supposed to be the hub of Pittsburgh's gay community -- the Gay & Lesbian Community Center in Squirrel Hill.  Or our PrideFest in June each year.  Our thriving gay and gay-friendly arts scene -- hit the performance venus in Lawrenceville and Garfield almost any night of the week for slam poetry, live music or some other creative experience with a throbbing queer beat.  How about LGBTQ owned restaurants?  We have a gay-focused mental health center for crying out loud. 

There are some other questions MacKenzie missed that aren't so favorable, but are worth a look.  Pittsburgh has few if any gay-women dedicated spaces -- mainly, no bars.  What does that say to your cosmopolitan lesbian couple looking to vacate for a few days?  We have very few (if any) openly gay muckety mucks.  A high-profile Pittsburgh athlete uttered the f-bomb heard round the nation and no one complained (except the homos).  We're more famous for the television series that was set here, but didn't film here than we are for just about anything else. 

Does Visit Pittsburgh employee any gays?  Is anyone dedicated to the gay market?    Do they have any gay advisors? Do they talk with anyone who isn't a gay white upper middle class man? 

Perhaps Visit Pittsburgh should be working with the local LGBTQ community to build the promotion tools rather than partnering with a Philadelphia group to write a brochure.

That would be leadership.

View Article  AFA of PA Horrified that School District could partner with GLSEN

The woman who loves to hate us dykes and faggots is at it again.  Diane Gramley, the high priestess of Pennsylvania family values, has snagged herself a story in the Beaver County Times outlining her "concerns" about recent outreach from the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN) to the Ambridge Area School District.

The Ambridge School District caught our attention late last year when School Board member William Scherfel referred to the high school's GSA as a "sex club" and its members as "fags."  Scherfel later "apologized" by claiming he didn't remember making the comments while acknowleding that he may have used the word fag since he grew up in that era.

In the meantime, GLSEN has stepped up and offered to work with the school district to raise awareness of LGBTQ issues, a move that could actually improve the learning environment for gay students and possibly assist the school district in avoiding lawsuits.

"We just want to help schools understand, so they can deal appropriately and develop some sensitivity to that particular minority," [Network co-chair Tom]Wyse said.

Ambridge Area High School Principal Alan Fritz has said he'd be receptive to having a professional development workshop for teachers, but it was something he would have to discuss with the superintendent."

Aghast at the thought of tolerance in Darryl Metcalfe country, the AFA of PA is riding to the rescue.

But Gramley said such sensitivity workshops overstep the boundaries of proper public education because she said it pushes acceptance of homosexuality and threatens the First Amendment rights of those who believe homosexuality is a sin.

"Unfortunately, a school board member made a disparaging remark. That was not called for at all, but if the principal accepts an invitation from GLSEN, that's going in the wrong direction," Gramley said.

What direction would that be?  Why straight to hell, of course, with a pit stop in San Francisco to pick up some kicky thigh highs and a pink feather boa. 

Note Gramley's subtle reference to Christian persecution with the First Amendment argument. That insidious tact seems to work very well if the minds of my colleagues are reflective of general sentiments.  They do feel like they are under attack for being Christian, rather than for trying to shove their brand of Christianity down our throats <insert obvious gay joke here>.

It is heartening that Principal Fritz is willing to consider training for the faculty and staff.  And Ambridge still has a Gay-Straight Alliance club with the goal of fostering understanding and creating bridges between gay and straight students.  However, as recently as mid-December, the GSA founder described an environment of increasing intolerance among the student body especially since Scherbel's comments.

Well, duh.  When an elected official sets the bar low, can you be surprised that weak minded adults as well as their spawn scurry underneath it?  The ignorance of the common heterosexual is sometimes truly astounding.  These desperate little people truly seem to believe that their way of life, their identity will be destoyed if their children even associate with a known homosexual much less have a conversation or <gasp> actual dialogue. 

Ambridge - breeding homophobes, one salvation at a time.

View Article  Pittsburgh's Lesbian Barbie

This came from a friend amidst all sorts of stereotypical Pittsburgh Barbie types.  I thought it was pretty funny ...

"Point Breeze Barbie"

This doll is made of actual tofu. She has long straight brown hair,

arch-less feet, hairy armpits, no makeup and Birkenstocks with white socks. She prefers that you call her

Willow. She does not want or need a Ken doll, but if you purchase two Point Breeze Barbies

and the optional Subaru wagon,  you get a rainbow flag bumper sticker for free. 

View Article  Lesbians on the Prowl for John McIntire

Per today's post at his Macyapper blog, it appears John is back in town and rarin' to go.  Word on the street -- okay, in yesterday's Post-Gazette which is practically the same thing minus the labor tension and stale donuts -- is that John may soon pop up on a local FM talk station.  Namely, KDKA's FM sister station 93.7 WRKZ. 

Scott Paulsen will host a new talk show on WRKZ, starting in April. And John McIntire, whose nightly talk show on KDKA has been dropped, is in talks to move to the FM sister station.

Whoever is on the new FM talk lineup, McIntire says, "The handcuffs will be off. The restrictions one might feel on KDKA will be lifted. And that's a really exciting prospect."

Considering those handcuffs permitted him to repeatedly use the term "carpet muncher" in his bits satirizing the Bush/Cheney stance on homosexuality, it will be mighty interesting to see how far he can go on FM talk.  Note:  we don't object to satirical usage of seemingly offensive language to describe lesbians, especially when said satire is directed at our beloved leader. 

The talking version of 93.7 is supposed to appeal to men it would seem between 25 and 50.  Hmmm ....

I'm sorry.  I can't stop thinking of it as B94 and remembering Quinn and Banana.  Given Jim Quinn's litany of conservative hate spewing from the other end of the dial, its ironic that McIntire might fill his old slot.  Not that there's anything wrong with that.

Regardless, the lesbians say "Hurrah!" for the return of McIntire and his merry band. 

ps:  Ledcat swears she heard that John is supposed to guest DJ tomorrow on WYEP at 9 AM ....

View Article  That's Commander Catherine McNeilly to you, Mayor Ravenstahl

Ohhhh ... in a nice courtroom twist, a federal judge granted a preliminary injunction to Commander McNeilly reinstating her to the rank of Commander.  You'll recall all the glorious details when Commander McNeilly blew the whistle on the nefarious goings on of Dennis Regan the political hack driver who would be Public Safety Director.  Thanks to McNeilly's release of documents indicating that Regan had used his political power to help out the policeman brother of his girlfriend, Mayor Ravenstahl was forced to launch an investigation and Regan resigned.

I think Cathy McNeilly is a mighty grand woman who did what had to be done for the best interest of the city.  I think Mayor Ravenstahl threw his lot in with the devil when he kept Regan around and can't wipe that stank off fast enough.  No amount of mucking about with the Redd Up crew is going to help with that, Luke.  Especially under oath in a federal trial.  With the ACLU on the same side as a Pittsburgh police officer.  Woo hoo ... we can't make this shit up.

And I live in McNeilly's neck of the woods, Zone 1 so I am especially happy to have her back on deck.  We need some kick-ass, take no shit from anyone women around here. 

Seriously, this is a good thing for city employees who shouldn't have to feel that the law protecting whistleblowers doesn't apply to them just to feed Luke Ravenstahl's boy-who-would-be-king mania.   Given all the smoke, proverbial and Marlboro alike, that's being blown around City Hall, its amazing anyone has the lung power to pucker up and whistle.  More power to 'em.

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