Sunday, June 18
by Sue on Sun 18 Jun 2006 09:34 PM EDT
Join members of the local trans community and their allies to celebrate, commemorate and advocate for trans-inclusion within progressive, queer and feminist communities.
Here's a bit o'background for those of you asking what the heck camp trans is about. Click to go the Camp Trans website.
This is a divisive issue here in my little local gay women's circle. The Michigan Womyn's Music Festival is hallowed ground among some women. Even the Correspondents don't see eye to eye on this issue. But I'm writing this post so I'm gonna tell you what I think.
I won't set foot at the Womyn's Festival as long as they exclude transwomen, genderqueer women and so forth. Don't get me wrong -- I bet Michigan is a wonderful experience and even though I prefer to camp with AC, television and showers, I'd probably enjoy the opportunity participate. But I can't do it. It seems wrong in 2006 to be having these kinds of divisive battles and inconsistent with the emergence of an entire generation of queer homosexuals. Its like shopping at Wal-Mart which the Correspondents never ever do. I'm not willing to trade the welfare of hundreds of thousands of employees and their families to save $$ on my dog food.
And I don't want to trade on my white/lesbian/middle class privilege to go to a music festival -- it would feel very artificial b/c there's at least 200 women who cannot attend sitting up the road. I'd rather use that privilege to do something good for my community instead of just doing something good for my personal enjoyment. Maybe I really am too much of a social worker after all. Whatever.
So mark your calendars for Friday, July 21 and head over to The Quiet Storm to show your support for all women in our community.
by Sue on Sun 18 Jun 2006 07:24 PM EDT
Today my Dad and I enjoyed our usual Father's Day ritual of movie attendance. We caught a matinee showing of A Prairie Home Companion. We both laughed a lot which is a fine way to spend a Father' Day.
The movie is hysterical, especially if you are a Garrison Keiller fan.
From the movie -- What did the elephant say to the naked man? That's cute, but can you really breathe through that thing.
I love my Dad. He's always willing to fix things (or at least try), likes when we take him out to new restaurants and does his very best every day to love and care for the people around him.
You rock Dad!
by Sue on Sun 18 Jun 2006 09:44 AM EDT
There's much to blog about today, but I'll start with PrideFest which was really nice this year. Organizers estimate that 6,500 people attended. I can tell you it was very crowded and there were more vendors than ever before.
This is the first year I've seen the parade from the beginning where we drove to catch the opening remarks of Governor Ed Rendell. His comments about legislative attacks on homosexuality and wingnuts using our identitites to polarize and divide the Commonwealth were very well received. And, as promised, he did say "Ladies, Start Your Engines" to the dykes on bikes. Which I must admit was pretty cool.
He also openly endorsed gay marriage. Openly. Not second-class citizenship. Not separate, but equal. Not telling us to go make the environment safer for him to speak out on our behalf.
The parade was larger than ever and filled with happy homo-lovin' people. I heard from others that Councilwoman Tonya Payne marched in the parde which makes her the coolest City Councilperson going. The others showed up at the festival, but we think that there's something about being in the parade -- about actively marching for community pride ---- that distinguishes our supporters from those who just talk to us.
We then drove down to the festival on the North Shore (my previously broken foot cannot handle two marches in two days). The festival was great. We arrived in time for the opening comments and to hear the political guests: our community's greatest champion -- State Representative Dan Frankel; City Councilman Bill Peduto, Doug Shields and Jim Motznik; Allegheny County's Valerie McDonald and Councilman Rich Fitzgerald. Frankel was eloquent and ferocious as always. Valerie spoke movingly about her family's African-American pride and made wonderful connections between the civil rights struggles of all minorities. Motznik told George Bush to kiss his ass which drew a mighty response. Shields and Peduto lived up to expectations with their enthusiastic support. And it was great to see a County Councilman there. I don't know much about Rich Fitzgerald, but my Councilwoman wasn't there so I'm gonna look him up.
All these fine and lovely people showed up to support our celebration, the second largest gathering of the LGBT community in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. What's striking is who was NOT there, namely three specific people: Bob Casey, Dan Onorato and Bob O'Connor.
I heard it everywhere yesterday. How come Bob Casey didn't show up?
Bob Casey blew it. He is under fire for being too moderate and there are many people in the LGBT community who view his support with skepticism and dismay. There are many people who don't plan to vote at all. He didn't attend the recent national gay democrats convention and he didn't show up for this. So in our opinion this was a perfect opportunity for him to reach out to the everyday homosexuals, not just those who can afford $100 plate HRC dinners. This was his chance to show up that he values and respects our families, our contributions, our lives. But he didn't show up. Sending interns with stickers doesn't cut it.
Even the local Democrat top dogs didn't bother to show up. Both Allegheny County Chief Executive Dan Onorato and City of Pittsburgh Mayor Bob O'Connor had committed to attend and speak with the crowd. Both blew us off. At the very least it would have made the absence of the Democratic nominee for Senator in the race against our greatest foe a bit more palatable if the local boys had come in his stead.
What the hell is that about? Does our community lack the political muscle to turn out these guys? I fully expect to get a Rovian spin from the Steel-City folks who on KDKA radio openly approved of Howard Dean's 700 Club outreach, but there's very little you can do to convince me that NONE of these guys could show up.
Who else wasn't there?
State Senator Wayne Fontana in whose district this was held and whose staff hasn't acknowledged my correspondence asking if he would attend.
US Congressman Mike Doyle.
Any Allegheny County Democrats running for office. The only candidate who made this a priority was running for office in Butler County (I missed his name but I'll get it and post it b/c he deserves the props). The list goes on of course.
Everyone will have a good reason to offer, but I suspect if it were an event put on by a union, senior citizens, African-Americans or other groups they would have found a way to be there. Laura summed it up very well "They don't respect us enough to show up."
I wonder if they respect our votes and our financial support?
As for media coverage, I was disappointed with KDKA's typical exploitive coverage. On the 11 o'clock news, they covered the Epilepsy Run right before us and the camera showed a wide range of people in the race: adults, families, people with strollers, dogs, wheelchairs, scooters, couples, singles, friends, etc. When it came to PrideFest, they showed two shots of anyone who wasn't a drag queen and one shot of Governor Rendell. The text was fine, but it was obvious that the KDKA news team puts about as much effort as FOX into fair and balanced coverage of the LGBT community.
On the other hand, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette got it REALLY right this year. Front page of the region section with a very well-done article contextualizing PrideFest with the marriage debate. They even worked in "Ladies start your engines."
The Tribune-Review had nothing. Perhaps our quasi-buddy and Trib columnist Mike Seate will weigh in this week. I didn't see the news on WTAE or WPXI, but there's nothing on their websites under local news.
We'll weigh in on specific aspects of Pride over the coming week. I need an entire post for the Dyke March itself. And I want to revisit the queer v gay issue.
Let us know what you think.
Saturday, June 17
by Sue on Sat 17 Jun 2006 10:03 AM EDT
FYI, here's the Southwestern Pennsylvania Democrats who want to protect marriage from homosexuals:
Vincent Biancucci of Aliquippa (Beaver county)
James Carorio of Irwin (Westmoreland county)
Peter Daley of California (Fayette and Washinton counties)
Anthony DeLuca of Penn Hills (Allegheny county)
Ted Harhai of Monessen (Westmoreland and Washington counties)
Nick Kotik of Robinson (Allegheny)
Victor Lescovitz of Midway (Allegheny, Beaver and Washington counties)
Dave Levdansky of Forward (Allegheny and Washington counties)
Joseph Markosek of Monroeville (Allegheny and Westmoreland counties)
John Pallone of New Kensington (Allegheny and Westmoreland counties)
Joseph Petrarca of Vandergrift (Armstrong and Westmoreland counties)
Thomas Petrone of Crafton (Allegheny county)
Sean Ramaley of Conway (Allegheny and Beaver county)
Harry Readshaw of Carrick (Allegheny county)
Larry Roberts of Hopwood (Fayette county)
Ken Ruffing of West Mifflin (Allegheny county)
James Shaner of Lemont Furnace (Fayette and Westmoreland counties)
Thomas Tangretti of Greensburg (Westmoreland county)
and, finally, the mac-daddy of sell outs to the gay community, the Democratic Leader
Bill DeWeese of Waynesburg (Fayette, Greene and Washington counties)
When Dan Frankel was discussing the passage of the so-called Marriage Protection Act in the PA House of Representatives on KDKA last week, he tersely addressed the issue that 20 Democrats voted in favor of the amendment. Frankel told me (I posed the question) that the burden is on the gay community and our allies to disprove the perception that a pro-homo vote is career suicide in their districts.
I agree that the community needs to reexamine our ability to mobilize constituents and generate the kind of political grassroots efforts that the AFA of PA and other wingnuts seems to do so well. We are doing goodwork but obviously we need to do better in order to avoid losing further ground and to unelect Rick Santorum.
But we still need to hold these legislators accountable for their votes. My comrades tell me firsthand accounts of Thomas Tangretti of Greensburgh repeatedly REFUSING to meet with a gay constituent (how busy could he be over a three month period?). Or being stonewalled by Joseph Markosek of Monroeville. I wish I had the opportunity to bring this up to Representative Frankel --- how are we supposed to get their attention when they won't even meet with us face to face? Is it shame? Fear? What?
The Republic of T put the entire issue of Democrats hemming over gay marriage (and other gay issues) perfectly:
Here's House Blend's Pam weighing in on this issue:
That's exactly what Dan Frankel told us on KDKA. Its our job. But we need our allies pure and simple. And they ain't stepping up. When Mike Divin votes the correct way and Bill DeWeese panders to homophobia, how do you combat that? When Tangretti and Markosek duck their constituents, how the hell are we supposed to make an impact?
These 20 Southwestern Pennsylvania Democrats are NOT doing THEIR job. They are violating the mission and spirit of the Democratic platform. They are hurting Pennsylvania families. They are counting on hate and fear to keep them in office.
While Howard Dean is busy "reaching out" to the 700 Club wingnuts, LGBT families are being told that we should do a better job of making the entire socio-political culture in the United States safe for Democrats to defend us.
We are on our own.
by Sue on Sat 17 Jun 2006 09:11 AM EDT
h/t Good As You
During an early June interview with Al-Jazeera, Sheik Yousuf Al-Qaradhawi, a leading Muslim scholar, emphasized that homosexuals are perverts who deserve punishment. In his mind, that's not open to debate.
He does concede, however, that there is debate over the best method to murder homosexuals:
Ah. Democracy is action? This is interesting:
So tossing and burning are the moderate, Western influenced suggestions?
SheikAl-Qaradhawi attributes the electoral (or perhaps political) victories of George Bush to American perversion.
Well, I suppose its a step forward to be linked with nudists instead of pedophiles and animal abusers. Still, I don't get where Bush and his religious whackos are "flattering" us -- how is amending the Constitution of the United States to make us permanent second class citizens flattery? I think its pretty consistent with telling us we are sinning against ourselves, society and humanity. Especially since they are telling us that in order to win votes ...
When I spoke with Mary Cheney on KDKA last week, I asked her what she is doing to help the homosexuals in Iraq. She acted stunned that she could do anything (ahem) and pointed out that homosexuals have bigger issues to worry about than gay rights.
Like worrying about tossed off a building or set on fire?
by Sue on Sat 17 Jun 2006 08:48 AM EDT
Michael Toepp of Dormont puts it this way:
Stanley M. Stein of Elizabeth Township takes a different approach:
Stanley doesn't note that his very own state rep, David Levdansky is one of those who puts his own political career ahead of standing up to bigotry and intolerance. Mr. Levdansky may or may not harbor homophobic feelings in his heart, but his homophobic actions --- his willingness to let fear and hatred fuel his career --- speak volumes about the values he does hold dear.
Friday, June 16
by Sue on Fri 16 Jun 2006 07:19 AM EDT
From Thursday's Post-Gazette:
A decent piece, situated in the entertainment section where it should be well read. The article goes on to mention the Theater Festival, the movie from the Film Society, and an event at the Holiday Bar. What it fails to mention (or just alludes to) is Pride Night at PNC Park. I want a specific reference to the Bucs being homo-welcoming.
The City Paper took a different approach, focusing on the two parades/marches associated with Pride: the Pride Awareness March and the Dyke March. I like the thoughtful contrast between the two events.
That's a valid arguement. I suspect, however, that for many people attending PrideFest itself is a political act. Leaving their closets, even just for a day, to mingle with gay people and experience first-hand a gay affirming atmosphere is the political statement.
Then there is the rest of us. Sure there are those its easy to peg -- the party crowd who come to Pride to see some skin, ogle the hotties and have a good time; the family crowd who want to check out the booths, stroll in the parade and enjoy a beautiful day surrounded by other same-sex parents; the ... oh wait, I guess that proves my point -- PrideFest is what you make of it.
Now, I know what Khalia is referencing. The GLCC is solidly white, middle class, middle aged gay male dominated. The committee has been chaired by white, middle class, gay men for at least the past five years and counting. The white, middle class, gay men tend to be the most visible and outspoken components of the community. And the ones with the money to donate to the organizations. Followed closely by the white, middle class, middle aged lesbians. The power dynamic is clear. The invitation to be part of the organization has been extended, but that's not the same thing as creating a queer friendly environment. See earlier post about Queer v Gay and the posted comments for a glimpse into the larger dynamic at play.
To be fair, these people have stepped up and saved the GLCC and PrideFest. They put in hundreds of hours to keep the center running and provide essential services. Their time, talent and donations ensure we can run a phone line, service dozens of kids each week and provide a gay-affirming space in the heart of Pittsburgh. They deserve kudos for that. Others stepped up to turn Pride from financial ruin and keep it free for the public. PrideFest has gone from a small little street fair to a huge public celebration of the gay community thanks to these very same white gay men.
I credit both Khalia and Jeff Freedman, PrideFest organizer, for publicly acknowledging that the two events are complementary, not competitive. The beauty of the current model of PrideFest has been its generative nature -- creating space for new "acts of visibility" including everything from a gay film to a dyke march to a religious service.
If these disparate queers and gays can generate this type of relationship around Pride, it bodes well for the larger dialogue. And that dialogue is coming. There are some significant issues of inclusiveness/exclusiveness in the gay community that I've referenced in previous posts. The most obvious divides are along race and age, but certainly include socio-economic status as well. But it goes further than that --- the GLCC is not handicapped accessible, but many of the queer events are held in bars or other venues where smoking is de rigeur --- both are acts of exclusion. PrideFest is free, many queer events are by donation -- both are acts of inclusion.
How mighty it will be when some of these energies move from working side by side to working together.
Thursday, June 15
by Sue on Thu 15 Jun 2006 08:47 PM EDT
From the Associated Press
The Episcopals are in the throes of much turmoil these days in the wake of ordaining New Hampshire Bishop Gene Robinson, the first openly gay bishop. The Archbishop of Canterbury had appointed a commission to examine the rift between teh American churches and the worldwide Anglican communion with the appointment of Bishop Robinson. That commission called for a "moratorium" on future gay appointments.
In response, the American churches have proposed that they act with caution in future appointments. They also choose not to express regret over the appointment, only over failing to consult with other Anglican entities.
No one is happy. Conservatives are waiting to jump ship over the issue. Progressives call for careful wording and avoiding demonization of homosexuals.
Amen Bishop Robinson. Amen.
by Sue on Thu 15 Jun 2006 08:11 AM EDT
For that unique McIntire take on all things PrideFest, tune into KDKA AM 1020 tonight during the 8 PM hour for a discussion on the upcoming Pride activities. We'll be discussing marching dykes, gay movies, pancakes, parades, pirates and the ongoing debate over gay stereotypes ...call in with your thoughts!
Wednesday, June 14
by Sue on Wed 14 Jun 2006 08:55 AM EDT
We usually have this conversation after PrideFest.
After reading the local media coverage on the parade and the festival, coverage which usually includes at least one visual image of a drag queen and a throwaway reference to a scantily clad man in leather. People start grumbling about the way we are portrayed in the media wondering about the absence of "normal" looking homosexual images. But rather than stop at a diaologue about the media, we fall headlong into our own internalized homophobia to complain about the presence of individuals who are not normal. Or more not normal than the rest of us. Or don't pass for normal. Or something like that.
Its a predictable as the rain.
A different twist on that same discussion involves the queer/gay dynamic. As young members of the community come into their own, they are bringing their queer identities with them. And their queer sensibilities as well. They are looking for something more from PrideFest than perhaps the gay community has been able to provide.
Frankly, I like PrideFest the way it is but I can definitely see areas for growth. I enjoy wandering around booths and talking to vendors. I appreciate their support in attending the event, especially the service providers. I like some of the homespun entertainment. I'm perfectly content to grab some food, flop down on the hill and be entertained for a few hours with all the hokiness that comes from a community festival. It recharges my batteries to just be gay in a sea of homosexuals.
I'd like to see more political speakers, not just politicians. I'd like to see edgier talent, especially tapping into the emerging queer performance collectives. And I'd like to see the vendors grow and grow because economic might translates into social power.
As always, sides will coalesce on these dialogues. The people who work very hard to put together PrideFest will rightly point out that the committee is open to any interested person and that PrideFest is defined by those who organize it. The people who voice discontent will rightly point out that PrideFest doesn't belong to any one organization, it is bigger than the institutions which manage it and its fair to expect it to represent the true scope of Pittsburgh's LGBT community.
The age-old debates about sponsorships, holding the event on Father's Day weekend, supporting local LGBT stores versus bringing in new vendors and so forth will continue forever.
My hope is that the dialogues continue as well. That as the young gay generation grows from organizing Girlcotts to PrideFests, we find an infusion of queer energy that rejuvenates all of us.