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View Article  British Cops Most Gay Friendly Employer

Here's something interesting from 365gay.com - Britain's most gay-friendly workplace is a POLICE department.

(London)  Less than a decade ago Staffordshire police were rated the most homophobic force in the country after going on a clandestine operation to arrest gays suspected of having public sex.

Today, the force is being honored as the most gay-friendly force in the country and the best place in Britain for gays and lesbians to work.

The honor was bestowed on the force by Stonewall, Britain's largest LGBT rights organization.

I hope Chief Costa is reading this announcement. 

Pittsburgh's force may have made some gains in LGBT sensitivity but it is a FAR cry from being gay-friendly.  And given that Mayor O'Conner did not conduct a search to find the best candidate, instead appointing a politically connected crony, I doubt change is on the way.  Click here to read what the 2003 LGBT Needs Assessment has to say about Pittsburgh Police Force and the local LGBT community.

The 365gay.com reports goes on

It adopted a policy of hiring gay officers and fast tracking the best to senior positions on the force. Today one in 10 of the force?s 2,309 police officers is gay.

Officers are entitled to have paid parenting leave if they or their partners adopted a child, and they are allowed to attend up to three gay pride festivals a year on paid time. 

I'm fairly confident that there are no "out" cops in the local police force, probably in any local police force.  I'm equally sure that there are, in fact, gay cops working in those police forces. 

There's a long way to go.  This report, at the very least, demonstrates that it is possible to get there.




View Article  Monday at 11 is the Lesbian Hour on KDKA with John McIntire

Tonight your faithful correspondent will talk with ardent lesbian admirer John McIntire during the 11 PM hour on KDKA.  Our topics of conversation will be Brokeback Mountain and other random LGBT issues. 

Call in!


View Article  Small changes in this hard world

Sometimes, the best part of a mystery novel is a few pages after the crime is solved.

Last weekend, I picked up Sara Paretsky's latest at the library.  I was looking forward to visiting with my old friend V I Warshawski over the weekend while I recuperated from the vetiges of the flu.  That it was a scathing indictment of Wal-Mart only added to the deliciousness. 

In the final scene, Victoria is discussing her discouragement with her friend and mentor, Lotty.  Vic had solved the crime and saved some lives on top of putting a few back together.  Nonetheless, she was on the cusp of surrendering to the "drop in a bucket" feeling of despair.  Lotty comforts her.

"If a Messiah ever does come, it will only be because of people like you, doing these small, hard jobs, making small changes in this hard world." 

What you may not know is that in between bantering with John McIntire and scouring the Internet for the latest homonews, I'm a social worker.  I work for a medium sized nonprofit human services agency.  Some of my work is directly with consumers; some is behind the scenes.  But, lately, its been discouraging. 

The agency is a pretty good place to work.  My supervisors are good people who have a lot to teach me.  But even in the best of circumstances, human services is a taxing field.  It is exhausting to be continuously exposed to daunting odds. 

I spent the past six weeks feverishly consumed by holiday projects.  Living, breathing and sleeping Christmas.  Three days before the holidays, I realized that I was actually defining success by how MANY gifts I solicited.  It wasn't until we began to divide them up among our children and I saw how much they each received, that it hit me and I was appalled at myself.  

I told myself that it was for the kids, but that's patently untrue.  It was for the win, the victory, the success. I wasn't going to let my idea fail.  And thank god, I saw that in time to turn at least a little bit of that success into a better Christmas for some children who weren't part of my master plan. 

I'm probably being too hard on myself.  Many children had a great holiday because of this program.  Many people had a chance to experience the pleasure of generosity and giving because of this program. 

But it felt like a little drop of nothing to me. 

I lost perspective. Working that hard for a holiday for 100 children in a world filled with millions of suffering children seemed wasteful and pointless. I should be out doing something bigger, something more meaningful. 

I lost sight of the real meaning of my work.  It wasn't about winning the holiday toy drive  and it wasn't about helping only 100 children.  It was about being present in the holidays and using my tools to keep those children and all children in the hearts and minds of the hard world. 

Happy 2006.


View Article  Are lesbians allowed in the North Hills?

Who the heck waits 45 minutes on a Wednesday night to eat at Olive Garden?  in Pittsburgh!  

Needing a meal while doing errands on McNightmare Road last Weds night, we grudgingly decided that cookie-cutter Italian food was the best option among the chain restaurants.  I should have known something was amiss when I encountered a crowd of mighty whites milling about the front of the restaurant. 

I hate McKnight Road and all that it represents.  Having lived in the Mon Valley for many a year, it was jolting to me to go into the McIntyre Square Giant Eagle and not see a single person of color.  And over the past 6 months, I can probably count on one hand the times I've seen anyone who was NOT a white middle class person in any of the stores up there.  Not counting the guy who stands in front of K-Mart holding the sale sign.

People get uncomfortable when I bring this up.  They aren't sure whether to laugh or not.  Is she being satirical?  Are we laughing at racism?  Do I see people of color at my grocery store?

I'm not supposed to talk about these uncomfortable topics for fear of violating the "don't ask, don't tell" policy of the region's middle class liberal elites.  The ones who drive SUV's, join Curves and live in Cranberry, but rail against Bush and other Republican nonsense. 

(Disclaimer:  I drive a Honda CRV so I fully acknowledge that I'm part of the problem.)

I don't like going to the North Hills because it feels artificial and stultifying and that's not just because of the yellow ribbon car magnet crowd.  Is there a causal relationship between the proclivity to abandon the city/inner suburbs and the erosion of liberal values? 

My current great fear is that I am succumbing to the temptations of a more prosperous middle class white lifestyle at the cost of my personal identity and beliefs.  I look around at my life and realize how insular its become, espcially the more active I've become in the LGBT community.  Most of my friends right now are other white middle class people and we tend to do white middle class things.  The fact that some of those couples are gay and some straight does not comfort me. 


View Article  Lesbian Take on Brokeback Mountain

I hope you do go see this soon.  I am a total loss for words to describe how
wonderful this movie is.  The cinematography is stellar, but so is the
storyline and the acting.  Heath Ledger blew me away, definitely an Oscar
worthy performance.  Michelle Williams (played his wife) was also stunningly
good for a former Dawson's Creek star.

What was interesting is that I was distinctly uncomfortable during the first
sex scene because it was very sexual and urgent. What was that reaction about?  I'm not sure if it was just me and my usual discomfort with sex scenes or b/c the scene was rather powerful.

 But a few minutes later it wasn't at all about gay sex; it was about forbidden love and that transcended everything.  It was brilliant in its universality.  I should note that there was not a single gasp in the theatre when two men had sex or kissed. I shouldn't have to note it, but I did.

Here's something interesting.  We saw the movie with a gay male couple, friends of ours.  One liked the movie, one didn't.  They characterized it as a "chick flick" albeit a very well acted one.  Both recognized the social importance of the movie and thought it was well done,
but it wasn't their cup of tea.  Meanwhile, we sobbed through the
last part like we haven't sobbed in a long time.

Chick flick could be derisive, dismissing the movie as a gay Tom Hanks/Meg
Ryan vehicle.  But it probably is more reflective that the movie was a truly
great romance.

Another interesting bit.  We had dinner in the Loews Restaurant (won't do
that again) and our waiter told us Brokeback has been sold out every show
and the crowds are long and very diverse.  He said that Loew's was the
busiest theatre in the nation Friday night and that Brokeback was the only
sold out show.  I arrived 3 hours early to buy tickets and barely got them.
We got in line 45 minutes early and it was still really long.

A final interesting note -- while I saw a lot of gay couples and individuals
there, it appeared that a significant portion of the audience was
heterosexual.  And I saw more children than I expected (adolescents with
parents, not young children).

It was brilliant.

View Article  Nashville's NBC Affiliate Succumbs to HomoHaters over Book of Daniel

From 365gay.com, I discover that yet another Bible Belt NBC affiliate has capitulated to the right-wing hate regarding homosexuality and cancelled the Book of Daniel. 

According to WSMV mangement, they received over 137 complaints via telephone, email and postal mail.  And apparently the independent nature of the 137 responses caught their attention

"Over the years, other shows have generated as much or more reaction, but this wasn't a cut-and-paste reaction where a national group says, 'Please send an e-mail to your station' and every e-mail is the same," Hale said. "These were individually crafted, considered, well-thought, well-reasoned e-mails and phone calls."

137 hate-mongering bigots made an impact of this significance in a city the size of Nashville.  According to General Manager Elden Hale "viewers objected to the language, the sexual content and the portrayal of Jesus, who appears to Quinn's character for regular chats." 

Hmmm.  When I caught the show last week, Jesus pretty much came across like every photo I've ever seen in American Christian Churches - 30ish, long haired white robe wearing white guy.  He didn't appear the slightest Aramaic, spoke very fluent English and was overall pretty reputable in appearance.  Perhaps because he wasn't spewing condemnation about all their sins, instead offering a message of compassion and hope.  How anti-Christian!

It almost seems like the right-wing whackos are picking television stations off one by one.  Book of Daniel did very well in the ratings, leaving me to wonder if someone can scrounge up 138 Nashvillians who actually watched the show? 

If you are in the Pittsburgh viewing audience, contact WPXI and thank them for letting viewers make our own choices about which programs we watch and for airing a quality entertaining television program. 

11 Television Hill
Pittsburgh, PA 15214
Phone: (412) 237-1100
By email, visit http://www.wpxi.com/station/1906729/detail.html



View Article  Hens-Greco named Campaign Field Director for Berner

Sam Hens-Greco named Campaign Field Director for Democratic Congressional Candidate Georgia Berner.

I'm not aware of Ms. Berner's position on LGBT issues but I'm going to find out.  Her opponent in the primary, Jason Altmire, is prolife which of course opens the door to the concept of a right to privacy inherent in many LGBT protections.

Not to mention that a women's right to reproductive choices will already be under siege with the appointment of Justice Scalito. 

We are already putting our hope in one anti-choice candidate (Casey) so I'm not comfortable putting my weight behind another. 

I like Sam's style and I'm a big fan of Kathryn Hens-Greco.  She's a former social worker which gives me faith she will serve our community well. 


----- Original Message -----

Sent: Saturday, January 14, 2006 9:14 AM
Subject: One Final Thank You & News About A New CampaignPS:   SO WHAT'S NEXT?

Many of you have expressed your genuine concern about how I was going to adjust to Kathryn leaving our law practice. 

And many of you have expressed your encouragement that I should continue to be involved in political organizing. 

While many have just said "that was fun, but what's next ?"

Well, if you are ready, I'm ready. 

Here we go.

I am very glad to announce that I will be working as the Campaign Field Director for Democratic Congressional Candidate Georgia Berner.     

Georgia Berner is a Lawrence County business women running for Congress in the 4th Congressional District, the seat currently held by Melissa Hart.  (The district includes all of Beaver and Lawrence County, the northern and some of the eastern tier of Allegheny County and a little bit of Butler, Mercer and Westmoreland County.)

I met Georgia and her husband Jim on the campaign trail this fall and I like them.   I like Georgia's politics and I like her as a person.  Georgia has the wisdom of a woman that has experienced deeply challenging times and understands the human emotions and frailties. Georgia is deeply concerned about the plight of our nation, this region and its people and wants to change the direction and the tone of the discussion.  (www.georgiaberner.com)

     Georgia's life story is also quite impressive. 

About twenty years ago, Georgia's life changed overnight and she was forced to face life with a new reality.  In April 1984, Georgia's husband died in a plane crash. At that time, Georgia's four children ranged in ages from 9 and 16. 

Along with the tremendous responsibility of raising her family, Georgia also had the obligation to determine the future of their manufacturing business in New Castle.  Despite no formal business background, Georgia decided to go to work at Berner International.

Since that time, Georgia has lead Berner International through a period of tremendous growth. The workforce expanded from 17 to 62, the revenues increased and they built a new building.  But what has been truly remarkable was that this growth was done while also maintaining and expanding the benefits to the Berner employees.  Georgia has been widely recognized for her innovative leadership in balancing both the management and labor interests at Berner. 
My role will be to help manage the campaign as the Campaign Field Director and Senior Advisor.  Georgia is committed to devoting a significant portion of her time and energy to ensuring that her campaign is a grassroots campaign and I am ready to help.
       So, guess what? 

I would like to know if you would like to help (That's a big a surprise !! ) 
       There are many a chore and duty that are calling.

You might want to attend a coffee to meet Georgia or you might want to just jump right in and host one yourself.

We have lots of letters to be stuffed and calls to be made. 

Or maybe you want to take a breather for now but you just can't wait to be a
Poll Worker on May 16th?

Feeling real frisky and want to contribute? The campaign's website has an online feature. www.georgiaberner.com

Seriously, I would be overwhelmed with appreciation if you would consider supporting and helping with Georgia's campaign. My goal is to bring the same (well almost the same) energy, focus and dedication to this campaign as I did to Kathryn's campaign. 

Please let me know if you are interested.

Thanks again

View Article  The Boondocks on Gay Marriage


I am a regular read of The Boondocks strip in the PG, but I must confess that I am often confounded.  I get the feeling that I'm definitely not "in" on the real humorous element and/or the real spin on the issue.  But I suppose that is how any white middle class lesbian would feel -- the whole point is that I don't really get it, good intentions or not.

My take on the recent gay-marriage Boondocks strips is that he's at the older generation's discomfort with gay issues while acknowleding that its just not as big a deal with younger African-Americans.  Overly simplistic? 

The relationship between the gay community and the African-American community is fraught with complications.  In my mind, gay rights are civil rights.  I'm clearly a second class citizen in our society even as a white middle class woman.  I don't have access to the basic civil institute of marriage. 

Homophobia cannot be justified because it emanates from another disenfranchised group.  But the same must be said for racism.  I hear a lot of my sisters and brothers in the LGBT community bitching this, but then turn around and wonder why "they" don't come to local LGBT events.  And have no friggin clue what they are saying. 

We need to stop and think about the impact marriage discimination is going to have on more than just middle class yuppie queers.  I see a lot of women, black and white, every single day who aren't in traditional marraiges and have to wonder what will happen to their families if we continue our path back to the glory days of breeder marriages.  Maybe these are some of the questions the LGBT community should be tackling and building bridges over rather than focusing on our own middle class issues. 

HouseBlend has some terrific stuff on this and has been following the upcoming black church summit on gay and lesbian rights.



View Article  Check out Pgh's Queer Cabaret - K'Vetch

> K'Vetch is home from the holidays.... and more lovely local and
> talented than ever.
> Two features below followed by an open-mic....

Thursday January 26, 2006  at 8:00 p.m.

$5/Free for writers
 Modernformations 4919 Penn Ave
> Sensual lyrics of life and love connect the audience to Gina Marie Mignogna's poetry. An honest response to a female perspective of  society, mother nature and human connectedness. Mindfulness and compassion translated as poetry.
> Gina Marie Mignogna- Graduate Univ. of Pgh Poetry Writing/Women's  Studies Pgh City Paper Easy Street Promotions
> Recently moved to the steel city from North Carolina. Meghan takes traditional folk and blues and gives them untraditional meaning.
> Meghan Simoneaux- Punk folk lesbian musician who is disarmingly charming.
> For more info e-mail

I haven't been yet but all reports have been good.  There's definitely things to do in Pittsburgh's LGBT community if you just look for them.


View Article  PG Review of Brokeback Mountain

From today's paper.  My favorite lines

Having seen "Brokeback Mountain," I can promise you two things: It's not a social contagion planted on the screen to infect America's youth, and the water-cooler comics who've been making all those gay-cowboy jokes without seeing the film are going to look really stupid on Monday morning.

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