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View Article  Philly pulls anti-AIDS ads due to complaints about violent content

The Philadelphia Department of Public Health got caught in the crosshairs this week when a local gay leadership group lodged complaints about the violent scenario in a recent ad campaign targeting African-American men.  The campaign encouraged HIV testing, targeted gay, bisexual and "down low" men and featured images of African-American men in the crosshairs of a gun with the tagline "Have You Been Hit?" (Philadelphia Inquirer)

The Black Gay Men's Leadership Council objects to the direct association of black men with gun violence in a city plagued with increasing rates of gun violence, especially among the African-American population.

"Putting the face of a black man in the crosshairs of a gun paints a damaging message about violence and black men. ... Given the violence perpetrated against gay men, it is not far-fetched to see how this campaign fosters violence," Lee Carson, chair of the 1-year-old leadership council, wrote last month to interim Health Commissioner Carmen Paris.

Amidst concerns over the legitimacy of the campaign's use of focus groups and embarrassment about the associatio, the city is being rather weasley about the reason for pulling the ads, indicating that the pull date just happened to be last Friday.  The PR departments of various media outlets indicated otherwise, stating that there was no cancellation date. 

Philadelphia's seemingly intractable crisis of gun violence has gotten so bad -- particularly in poor, predominantly minority neighborhoods -- that Mayor John Street and regional leaders, including Cardinal Justin Rigali, held an unprecedented summit meeting at City Hall late last month. As of midnight Sunday, 238 people had been fatally shot, compared with 215 at the same time last year.

But HIV/AIDS hits the same neighborhoods. Originally the plague of young, middle-class, gay men, HIV/AIDS now predominantly afflicts the marginalized poor, especially African Americans. Blacks account for more HIV and AIDS diagnoses and deaths than any other racial or ethnic group in Philadelphia and nationally.

File this under WTF?  In a city where too many people die from gun violence AND AIDS, why would you associate the two ---- why surely African-American men might have a postive assocation with being the target of gun violence and immediately run down to the nearest HIV testing center!  And it certainly does wonders for the images of HIV positive people to be linked to gun violence. 

Mark McLaurin, founder of the New York State Black Gay Network, said that, to be effective, AIDS prevention campaigns must address underlying problems such as homophobia and substance abuse - and stop fear-mongering.

"I can't imagine the vetting process was well-grounded in this targeted community," he said of Philadelphia's ads. "Above and beyond the obvious issues of scapegoating and demonizing HIV-positive people, for a campaign to simulate gun violence in a city that has been ravaged by gun violence, I'm almost speechless."

View Article  Americorp to Deputy Mayor: While Male Privilege is Alive and Well in Pittsburgh


I read Zober's profile in the Post-Gazette a few times.  He sounds like an accomplished, dynamic man who may turn out to be a good politician.   But the article describes in some detail the exact moment of white male privilege that propelled him from Americorp worker to deputy mayor:

One day in 1997, his AmeriCorps role took him to the City-County Building, where he participated in a ceremony for Lead Free Pittsburgh Day and handed out pamphlets. An avid Pirates fan, he was wearing a button in support of a plan to boost the sales tax to fund new stadiums.

The button caught the eye of then-city Councilman Jim Ferlo, who opposed the plan and, unprovoked, lit into the young volunteer.

Mr. Zober parried Mr. Ferlo's arguments. "I was impressed with Yarone for his willingness to stand on his own two feet and put up with someone like me," said Mr. Ferlo, now a state senator.

The next day, Mr. Ferlo offered Mr. Zober a job in his office.

I truly doubt most white guys "get" how this works because it is such a routine part of their day -- these inter-white-guy connections that generate professional and personal opportunities that are closed off to the rest of us.  The other night I was part of a group of six for a few moments, four white men and two white women.  The men introduced themselves to us women, but then spent the remainder of our time chatting amongst themselves about their common ground -- sports woven in with career plans, wedding plans and future plans.  I wasn't particularly upset about it, but it is low-key example of the dynamic.  The other woman injected herself into the conversation a bit, while I chose to take in the moment.  The distinction, of course, is that we weren't automatically included in the conversation - we had to be proactive to break into that almost unconscious white male dynamic.

I'm not suggesting the mighty whites avoid contact at all costs.  But the only way to expand this dialogue is to introduce some diversity into the mixture --- if the "group" includes multiple women, people of color, people in motorized chairs, homosexuals, etc. the conversation tends to be more inclusive.  And since the group dynamic tends toward exclusiveness, its going to take intentional maneuvers to make sure these voices are at the table. 

Jim Ferlo introducing Yarone Zober to Bob O'Connor is a supreme example of while male privilege. And when the women got in the way of the plan, they were cut out. So let's not insult the rest of us by trying to wrap this Administration in a mantle of diversity.  You can't have it both ways.  If Zober is a competent deputy mayor, that's a good thing for all of Pittsburgh.  But the rest of us are entitle to question how many competent people who aren't white heterosexual middle class men have been repeatedly passed over for lack of those credentials. 

Disclosure:  I was in that group of six in the capacity of Lesbian Correspondent so the larger situation was, in fact, a significant inclusive gesture.  By a white male with access and power (John McIntire of KDKA). So it does happen.  We just need it to happen throughout the centers of power more frequently.  We need more allies.

View Article  City Paper's Potter Succumbs to Delusions of Diversity

Chris Potter has gone round the bend, perhaps due to reading too many rants about Pittsburgh driving habits.  I know he's got this whole young, hipsteresque, artsy street cred from editing the city's only alternative paper, but I think his white middle class male roots have reared their ugly head ....and he may be heading for membership in the Allegheny County Young Republicans Democrats.  They might even make him Deputy Chief White Guy.

In this week's column, Potter delves into the Thursday Morning Massacre to question the potential political motivations (and machinations) of former Chief of Staff BJ Leber and City Solicitor Susan Malie.  He concludes that both "sides" engaged in backroom politics, a fair conclusion.  But Potter goes one step further defending the Irish Mafia machinators against the label of "old boys network":

Except that Zober, whose appointment triggered this mess, is not a particularly old boy. He?s a 31-year-old professional, with a law degree and everything. Even some of my ?progressive? friends ? people who backed City Councilor Bill Peduto for mayor last year ? say Zober is a smart, decent guy. After years of whining about how Pittsburgh?s ?young people? are ignored, should we be outraged if one is poised to become deputy mayor?

Give me a freakin' break, Chris.  Only another young white heterosexual middle class male would possibly try to defend this as a young people issue.  There are hundreds of uber-qualified women, people of color, people with disabilities, people with same sex partners and so forth living in this region.  And we will NEVER have entree into the old boys network.  Zober may be the nicest guy in the world with all the qualifications one would desire in an appointed mayor, but its ludicrous to somehow distance him from the old boys network. If Zober were a chick, black or spoke with a funny accent, he would be safely tucked away somewhere on a semi-defunct advisory committee. 

Potters' column is a classic example of how far we have to go in the struggle for equal representation here in our fair city.  He claims we shouldn't have to choose between  having smart women and smart young people.  Yet all of his political columnists are white middle class heterosexual men. 

Frankly, I am tired of being reassured by white middle class heterosexual men that you have my best interests at heart.  Yet every time we turn around, more of your kind land the big jobs, the columns, the media slots, the appointments, etc.  God love all the progressive white men out there but you need to share some of your actual privilege with us. 

Next up, which white middle class guy will fill Alan Cox' slot on WQED's "Off Q"?  Wait and see ...

View Article  Santorum signs sexual orientation non-discrimination policy

Ricky does not discriminate against homosexuals in his hiring decisions.  And now he's the 170th member of Congress who have signed a statement affirming that.

I guess official Santorum spokesfag Robert Traynham can breathe a sigh of relief ....his job as self-loathing traitor is secure!

Page One Q has the scoop.

In a statement issued by GenderPAC, the Gender Public Advocacy Coalition, executive director Riki Wiliams said, "We welcome Sen. Santorum's signature affirming the need for basic equality in his own hiring practices. It puts him in good company with 169 other Members of Congress who have signed this statement."

Hmmmm.   Remember this?

"If the Supreme Court says that you have the right to consensual sex within your home, then you have the right to bigamy, you have the right to polygamy, you have the right to incest, you have the right to adultery. You have the right to anything."

-- First-class public homophobe Rick Santorum (R-PA) on the Lawrence v. Texas case

 Ricky supporting the Green Party.  Ricky saying homos deserve equal treatment in the workplace.  What's next?  Ricky enrolling the mini-Santorums in the Penn Hills public schools and cutting his own grass?

View Article  Gay Philly Youth Turned Away by Military Recruiters

Three young gay adults were turned away from a military recruitment office because they are openly gay.  The young people were part of a nationwide challenge of the military's 13 year old "don't ask, don't tell" policy. (Philadelphia Inquirer)

The response they got, they said, was a courteous - but definite - no.

"They said we were morally and administratively ineligible for the U.S. military," said Jarrett Lucas, 20, of South Philadelphia, a recent Drexel University engineering student.

"They were very courteous, but they said that if we were truly interested in enlisting we'd have to conceal our sexual identities," Lucas added.

Lucas, joined by Shane Bagwell, 18, a high school graduate from Wyndmoor in Montgomery County, and Marissa Cotroneo, 19, an aspiring psychology major from Scranton, spent about an hour talking with Army recruiters and taking a practice qualifying test before leaving part of an Army of none.

If they were truly interested in serving our country, they would have to lie.  After all, its a frequent practice of the Commander in Chief and his loyal ass-kissers. 

Of course, the recruiters were just following policy.  How is advising a potential recruit to conceal their sexual orientation noble or ethical ---  its just about meeting your individual recruitment goals. 

From 365gay.com

For the past two years the military has been unable to meet its recruiting goals. Since 1993, the Department of Defense has discharged more than 11,000 service members under ?Don?t Ask, Don?t Tell?.  

According to the Government Accountability Office (GAO), more than 800 of those service members were trained in skills deemed ?mission-critical? by the Pentagon. 

In June the military was forced to apologize when it was revealed that a a Pentagon document listing various "disorders" included the reference to homosexuality decades after mental health experts abandoned that position.  

A bi-partisan coalition in Congress now supports legislation to repeal the ?Don?t Ask, Don?t Tell? law.  

The Military Readiness Enhancement Act (H.R. 1059), introduced in March 2005 by Congressman Marty Meehan (D-MA) now has about 120 supporters, including five Republican lawmakers.  Meehan?s legislation would repeal the military?s ban and allow lesbian, gay and bisexual personnel to serve openly in the armed forces.

View Article  Bob Casey Returns Campaign Contribution from Dan Savage

Last month, we reported that Bob Casey's campaign had cashed the $2000 donation from Dan Savage, funded by the sale of Savage's ITMFA paraphenalia.  We also reported that Savage had tacitly endorsed Casey as the real choice to Rick Santorum, telling us to swallow hard and accept him.

Well,  Dan is having to follow his own advice.  Because the Casey campaign returned his donation. 

Jake Perry, finance director for Bob Casey, just called to tell me that Bob Casey is returning my check.

Here?s Jake: ?We appreciate your willingness to support Bob, but my higher ups? people above me? they think that we may wind up spending more, you know, money then the contribution is worth. But we appreciate your willingness to support us.?

Uh? you?re welcome, I guess.

The Casey folks seem to think that if Santorumites spots the Savage name, it will distract from real issues and force Casey to defend himself.  Huh.  There's a nice dose of the pragmatism Dan mentioned.

The Savage response?

So I?m going to have to swallow hard and support Bob Casey whether he wants me to or not. So Bob Casey doesn?t want to take my dirty money?or doesn?t want to be seen taking my dirty money. So what? I still want Casey to see him beat the lube-and-fecal-matter-splattered pants off Rick Santorum this November. So I?m sending the $2100 Casey spurned to Philadelphians Against Santorum.

So Savage's rightful place is working against Santorum, not on behalf of Bob Casey.  The Casey people are happy to have his money in a behind the scenes PAC way and probably ecstatic that he's encouraging his overwhelmingly pro-choice readers to support Casey. 

There's no way to justify this as anything other than cowardice.  Pragmatic cowardice, but nonetheless part of the ongoing decline of the political process as anything other than an exercise in non-leadership and pandering.  Things we women and homosexuals are sadly used to experiencing.  Casey comes off lucky because we all know that Santorum probably would use this contribution to further distract voters from real issues. 

I suppose we should be grateful Casey hasn't appeared on the 700 Club  ....

View Article  Cool Stuff For Queer Women To Do in Pittsburgh ...

Courtesy of our friend and groovaliacious queer organizer Ehrrin ...

Queer Singer/Songwriter Series at Modern Formations - Thursday August 3             ...   more »

View Article  Lunch with John Edwards, Diss Wal-Mart -- Sound Good?

Political Junkie Maria has the scoop on this exciting Pgh opportunity ...


View Article  Round Up - More Interesting LGBTQ Tidbits

I think my brain is still on Chicago time.  Here are some interesting tidbits for your LGBTQ news ....

First, intrepid Post-Gazette columnist and all around ace-homosupportive dude Tony Norman contemplates Mel Gibson's homophobia in a little online chat vis a vis the PG.  Homophobe, anti-semite -- surprised?  Guess which one he's going to "repent" to save his career?  Let's just agree that his hairdresser shouldn't expect a mea culpa anytime soon ...

Yes, Mel is terribly sexist. He's definitely homophobic. Remember an interview he gave to Playboy roughly 10 years ago or so in which he went on and on about being mistaken for "gay" simply because he's an actor? What hogwash! He went out of his way to say "Hey, I don't walk like them. I don't have a limp wrist like those guys and I'm macho." When told he was hurting the feelings of his gay fans, he responded with a profanity or two or three. It was pure Mel. I don't know if he was overcompensating, but he was definitely expressing some less than charitable feelings for a whole segment of movie ticket buyers.

Moving west to the Ohio/Kentucky border, the Creation Museum just received a $1 million donation.  Creation museum, you ask?  Yes, lezzies and queers, you and your beloved will soon take a guided tour through biblical history. (h/t Pam's House Blend

The Creation Museum is a 55,000-square-foot center that will take future visitors on a walk through the history of the Bible. They will be treated to animatronic dinosaurs, a planetarium (nearly finished), a special effects theater, 55 videos and high-tech, family-friendly exhibits that will show that the Bible, including its creation account, is the true history of the world. It will also present the gospel in many parts of the museum.

Be sure to visit the Mel Gibson snack bar.  Rumor has it that they will have a live-action reeducation camp panorama so visitors can witness firsthand the salvation of the homosexuals who renounce their filthy ways.  There will also be plenty of nearby hotels for those who feel compelled to exorcise/exercise those filthy ways. 

Moving on .... the spokesman for the National Republica Senatorial Committee is <gasp> - a flaming queer!  Mike Rogers has the whole scoop on Brian Walters and his self-loathing attacks on Pittsburgh's very own Steel-City Stonewall Democrats.

And, finally, San Diego police have arrested three men in connection with a gay bashing incident involving a group of gay men leaving the local Pride celebration this past weekend.  The attackers wielded a baseball bat and knives, injuring one man so seriously that he made need facial reconstruction surgery.  Average age of the assailants?  15.

View Article  Is the media ignoring LGBTQ hate crimes?

Shakespeare's Sister has a great post up on recent violence against the LGBTQ community and the ensuing lack of coverage in the mainstream media (h/t Pam's House Blend)

It seems that the MSM is more intent on manufacturing "epidemics" that affect the average yinzer than covering actual violence being intentionally perpetuated on a specific class of persons.

How little it takes to whip up the media into an exploitative frenzy, all in the name of ?protecting? us. How little it takes to move our Congress to pay attention to an issue and pass legislation to ?protect? us. (Which is, of course, ever an excuse to limit our rights, but they nonetheless claim it?s about ?protection.?) One or two incidents, or, sometimes, just an imaginary scenario of what might happen. That?s all it takes.

But in the course of two months, there have been at least six vicious attacks on the LGBT community, and the media is silent. And Congress, well, they were pushing for an amendment to deny equal rights to same-sex couples. Their focus was ?protecting the sanctity of marriage.? They?re more concerned with protecting an institution, an abstract concept, than protecting people.

When churches throughout the South were being burned, it was national news. When a
hate crime at Seattle?s Jewish Federation claimed the life of someone the other day, it was national news. And it should have been, in both cases. But an epidemic of hatred against the LGBT community in this country is not garnering the same attention?even as Congress pursues discriminatory legislation and courts are ruling against challengers to marriage inequality.

Think there?s a correlation?

The anti-gay hysteria that?s leading to an epidemic of hate crimes against the LGBT community is constantly being inflamed by the GOP?s use of gay rights as a wedge issue, their use of anti-gay rhetoric, their exploitation of anti-gay sentiment. And even with people being attacked and their homes being burned, the Dems can?t be arsed to take a bloody principled stand. And the media doesn?t care. They?ve finally got a real epidemic on their hands and it?s utter silence.

Does our local media care?  The PG gives us a reasonable amount of gay positive stories on a range of social, political, religious, cultural issues etc.  Talk show hosts John McIntire on KDKA and Lynn Cullen on WPTT give ample coverage to LGBTQ community issues.  

But the PG rarely covers national issues or pulls these items from the AP (if they make it there).  It does seem like we get caught up in the gay marriage or gay ordination issues and lose track of the very real violence we face on a day to day level.  And no one locally has taken a critical look at the impact of the GOP fueled anti-gay hysteria.  I wonder if the media sat down and talked with Betty Hill at Persad or Jim Fischerkeller with the GLBT phone line or the Pittsburgh Transgender Support Group or the Thomas Merton Center or GLSEN, if there is a hint of consequences from the ongoing anti-LGBTQ assault vis a vis the rethuglicans?

I just returned from a weekend in Chicago which required a long drive through Ohio and Indiana.  How sad that I have to censor myself in an Ohio rest stop because the homophobia emanating from that state makes me wary of a confrontation if someone discerns that Ledcat and I are a couple.  Do you know what that feels like, to have to make sure I don't accidentally say "honey" or don't touch her in a way that betrays our relationship?  While I doubt we'll get jumped in the restrooms, who wants to be called a fucking dyke or worse on their vacation?  It makes Pittsburgh look positively progressive in comparison (before the Irish mafia takeover).   

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