Pittsburgh's LGBTQ Blog ... out'n proud in the Burghosphere.

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View Article  Its a Celebration!
View Article  FOP throws down on "women's groups"
Oh, snap. 

FOP President Dan O'Hara did not just go there.  Oh. Yes. He. Did.

Officer O'Hara called the police bureau's decision to even hold a hearing a "miscarriage of justice."

"This should be tried in the courts," said Officer O'Hara. He said the city's decision to act quickly was based on pressure from women's groups. "This was in his private life and has nothing to do with his professional life."


The FOP is actually whining about someone else putting "pressure" on politicians.  Excuse me while I ROTFLMAO.

Except. It isn't funny.

Officer O'Hara is supposed to be an advocate for women in their most vulnerable moments. Half of the people he pledges to protect and serve are female.  That's a little sobering when you consider he hasn't uttered a single word denouncing domestic abuse. 

I understand that he has Hlavac's back to protect, but who is protecting all the rest of us? 

I shudder to think of Sgt Hlavac or Officer O'Hara responding to a call involving same sex partner abuse. 
View Article  Canary in the Coal Mine by Maria Lupinacci

 I can't remember exactly when I started reading Pittsburgh Lesbian Correspondents but it couldn't have been too long after its inception because I had already added it to 2 Political Junkies' blogroll just a little over three months from its birth.

So why did we choose to add a blog that centered on LGBT issues to our very political blogroll on our very political blog?

Well, aside from PLG being an excellent blog overall, aside from it often covering political issues, and aside from being happy to include a blog with a perspective that was other than straight white male, there was the Canary in the Coal Mine consideration. From Wikipedia:

The classic example of animals serving as sentinels is the canary in the coal mine. Well into the 20th century, coal miners in the United Kingdom and the United States brought canaries into coal mines as an early-warning signal for toxic gases including methane and carbon monoxide. The birds, being more sensitive, would become sick before the miners, who would then have a chance to escape or put on protective respirators.

We sometimes hear complaints on Democratic blogs about single issue voters -- why can't the feminists just shut up about abortion when health care reform is at stake? Or, why get all worked up over then candidate Obama including gospel singer and preacher Donnie "Homosexuality is a choice that can be cured" McClurkin for a statewide tour when Obama would so obviously be so much better for gays (and everyone else) than John McCain?

But, I say if you really want to know how progressive a candidate will be -- if you want to know if you can truly trust them (on any issue) -- there's no better way than to find out just how gay friendly they are.

Of course, the pols who are real homophobes are also the ones who seem most likely to be vying for the title of Wingnut of the Year. Here in good ol' PA that would be folks like state Senator John "We allow gays to exist" Eichelberger or state Rep. Daryl "Domestic Violence Awareness Month has a homosexual agenda" Metcalfe.

But the canary test (their stand on LGBT issues) is really most useful when its used on Democrats/Liberals. Take John Edwards. During the presidential primaries he looked pretty good. Great on economic issues with his "Two Americas" meme, but I could never really warm up to the guy and could never really put my finger on why. One thing I knew that made me feel creepy about him was his statement that he was uncomfortable around gays. Not only don't I get that in this day and age, I really didn't get his need to say it. It seems especially grotesque to me now that he had concerns about others' sex lives while he was having his own underground affair. My mistrust in him was validated when it came out that he had the exceedingly bad judgement to think that he could hide an affair while running for the highest office in the land -- a secret that would have imploded any Dem chance of winning in 2008 if he had been the nominee.

President Obama as a ?fierce advocate for gay and lesbian Americans"? If the McClurkin incident didn't tip you off, his picking Prop. 8 proponent Rick Warren to deliver the invocation at his inauguration was telegraphing his lack of urgency in, say, addressing Don't Ask Don't Tell...or in my mind his less than fierce advocacy for, say, getting the the best we could have in Health Care Reform.

Couple a Democratic politician's stand on gay rights with their take on choice for women's reproductive rights and if they're negative on both you may as well stick a big, fat R beside their name because you know that they can't be trusted not to throw someone or something else you care about under the bus. It's just a matter of time...or money.

Or to put it another way, if you can trust someone to look out for the one group left who it's perfectly legal to discriminate against; if you can trust someone to risk condemnation from their own religious leaders on behalf of basic fairness for a group that they aren't a member of, well then, baby, you can trust them to get most things right -- to fight for us all -- immigrant, feminist, environmentalist, atheist, etc., and you get my support.
 
And, there's no better local blog to find out the real ins and outs of where a politician stands on LGBT issues than Pittsburgh Lesbian Correspondents. They're a daily read for me and many others.
 
Congratulations on four years of blogging and thanks for keeping us all in the loop!

*****************************************************************

With no irony, I believe that Maria is my hero.  I loved her from the moment I stumbled across the junkies.  We began an IM chat and soon became friends in real life. She's one of the smartest bloggers in this region and certainly among the most creative.  I feel an undeniable twinge of pleasure when she links to a post of mine AND always confident that she has our backs on LGBTQ issues. 

View Article  Untitled by Thomas C. Waters
It is always exciting to celebrate a bogiversary, and I want to say congratulations to Pittsburgh Lesbian Correspondents for all the fine work done! I am humbled by the offer to write a guest blog, and I want to write about a topic, I know is of importance to Sue Kerr and add my spin on it: The need to increase gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, and queer voices in the blogosphere.
It shouldn?t be news to anyone that voices of out GLBTQ people are not common in many traditional media, outside of the gay papers and magazines. That has been changing over time, with the inclusion of folks like Rachel Maddow, Ellen Degeneres, and Michaelangelo Signorele, but even as out voices grow, they are still too few and can not represent the vast diversity of the gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and queer communities. In fact, it could be argued (although that isn?t my purpose today) that one reason that so many of us have been so invisible to the mainstream for so long is because there have been enough voices, nor the diversity of voices needed. The blogoshpere offers a solution to that problem, since anyone can begin a blog and share their ideas and opinions quickly and easily.

A blog is, first and foremost, a dialogue between the person writing and those reading and commenting, and dialogue is something we have far too little of, especially given the huge tasks before us when it comes to the struggle for equality. By adding dialogues, or voices to the growing number of dialogues, two things happen. We do a better job of representing the wide diversity of the GLBTQ community more than ever before, and we provide an opportunity for readers to broaden their understandings of the ideas and issues being discussed. 

Blogging has a few other real advantages too. For the blogger, it offers a method to refine your ideas and thinking. The more I blog, the more I realize how I feel about issues, and why I feel the way that I do. It prompts me to ask questions and consider alternative ideas and weigh the various sides of an issue, and I leave the process smarter or better informed,, than when I started. It also allows a person to feel heard by others. Too many of us have often felt ignored or silenced, and we are angry about that. Once we have an outlet for our voice, we stop being so angry about being silenced, and we filter those emotions towards creating change. Blogging is also a great way to increase the visibility of the GLBTQ communities. It becomes harder for our opponents and decision makers to ignore us when our voices are louder and more plentiful.

On the other hand, simply adding voices doesn?t in and of itself create change. More and move voices can also simply produce more noise, so it is critical that there is listening, reply, and then thoughtful action. Adding voices is simply the beginning and not the end goal itself.

I?ve heard people claim that they have nothing worth writing about, but in reality, it is precisely these voices and experiences that we need to see out in the blogosphere. Real people, with real ideas, about how they live their daily lives and the issues and ideas that are important to them.

**************************************************************
Thomas blogs at http://thomascwaters.com/ covering a range of LGBT issues.  We met sometime last spring through mutual advocacy efforts; Thomas is a tireless advocate for the community and has been involved in multiple LGBT projects. His nuanced suggestions for using social media to engage are worth rereading.
View Article  Untitled by Kevin Acklin

Congratulations to the Pittsburgh Lesbian Correspondents blog for a trail blazing fourth year anniversary on the Pittsburgh blogosphere! I am humbled and truly honored to provide my perspective on Sue Kerr and her blog's dramatic impact on our community and our continued battle for greater equality.

Many of you may know me as the Independent candidate for Mayor of the City of Pittsburgh who had the recent honor of standing up to lead this great City. One of the issues I championed during the election was the need to provide stronger leadership on issues of importance to the LGBT community, to make our City more just, open and inclusive.

As a fellow lifelong Pittsburgher and advocate for LGBT rights, I wonder where we would be in Pittsburgh without Sue Kerr and her lead on efforts to call attention to LGBT issues, which are often ignored by mainstream media outlets.

I first met Sue during our collective efforts to pass the historic anti-discrimination legislation on Allegheny County Council, sponsored by Councilwoman Amanda Green to extend equal protection to LGBT persons across the county. When asked to speak in favor of the ordinance, I was honored to do so. For those watching that debate, note that this was a similar ordinance to what Harvey Milk was advocating for on San Francisco City Council in 1978 and what ultimately cost him his life. Over 30 years later, we are still fighting these early battles for equality in Southwestern Pennsylvania. Sue's blog coverage of the events leading up to the vote were simply crucial to rallying support in favor of historic passage of the ordinance.

Let's be clear: the legal status quo regarding the treatment of LGBT people represents the last form of legalized discrimination in America. The laws currently on the books in many jurisdictions are simply unjust and represent blatant discrimination. Sue Kerr and other LGBT bloggers give a voice to the movement and provide a forum for open discussion on these matters that simply does not exist elsewhere. In that sense, they truly facilitate the spread of justice in our region and beyond.

And the pursuit of justice has dominated so many decisions in my life: from my decision to go to law school in the first place, to represent victims of domestic violence pro bono, to run for Mayor of the City of Pittsburgh, to stand with Sue and other friends in support of LGBT rights.

On top of that, there are so many LGBT people I know and love have suffered as a result of the unjust treatment under current law.

One of the happiest days of my life was when I stood with one of my best friends from college on his wedding day, when he married his best friend and husband. I was there for him while he was going through the coming out process, his fear of rejection by family and friends, his self-denial. I remember when he came out to his father on a long car trip, and his dad held his hand from the front seat the rest of the ride. I saw the happiness that enveloped his life when he embraced who he was and married the love of his life. The only shame was, at the time in the late 1990s before marriage equality began to arrive in the United States, we had to travel hundreds of miles to Toronto for the wedding ceremony.

One of the saddest days was when I was working in a law firm in Boston almost 10 years ago with a colleague at the law firm who had spent over 25 years with his life partner. He had just been diagnosed with cancer (he had a long family history, and his father recently died of the disease) and he just got off the phone with his partner and estate lawyer to plan for their affairs. Fighting back tears, he struggled to tell me how difficult it was going to be to arrange the transfer of assets to even let his partner keep living in their house, and how married heterosexual people have all this as a basic right. I thought at the time, how unjust is it that a man who built a whole life with his partner is struggling to get the legal protection that two teenagers can get in one night in Las Vegas.

What we're fighting for is justice and basic human rights, not any special treatment. On the marriage equality front, this is not about destroying heterosexual marriage, but simply about expanding the blessings of those institutions to others who deserve the same protection. I am a practicing Roman Catholic, and I believe my faith informs me to seek out and eradicate injustice in the world and fight for those who are being discriminated against.

In my view, when it comes to the battles for LGBT equality, we stand at the same crossroads we faced during the civil rights movement in the 1960s. Just as then, change will never come unless we continue to fight for change.

The efforts of Sue Kerr and the Pittsburgh Lesbian Correspondents blog will be as critical to the success of our current LGBT movement as the marches on Selma were then. While times have changed and our methods are now cyber, we have the same purpose now as we did then: to continue our fight for equality and keep this nation dedicated to its creed of liberty and justice for all.

Sue, keep up the great work!  I'm honored to stand with you.

*****************************************************

I promised I wouldn't edit, but I do have to share an amusing tale.  My first encounter with Kevin was at the January 10, 2009 LGBT Advocacy Rally .  He was in the back of the crowd wearing a long dark coat and looking suspiciously clean cut.  We discussed who this guy might be and decided he was probably an operative for the right wing.  Then he introduced himself, reminded me he had run for County Council and said he supported gay marriage!  I remained skeptical even whilst Kevin showed up again and again.  We met for coffee one summer afternoon and had a conversation that really touched my heart in a way that few interactions with politicians have done.  We also had a good laugh when I reminded him that I thought he was a spy infiltrating the gay community.  Ah ... now I can resume being completely embarrassed at being compared to a civil rights march.  I said I wouldn't edit, I said I wouldn't edit.

View Article  Visibility by George Hazimanolis

Congratulations to Pittsburgh Lesbian Correspondents on four great years of reporting on the LGBT community in and around Pittsburgh.  I try to check in every day to see what the topic is, sometimes leave a comment or two, and often wish that more people would comment to keep the discussion going.

I enjoy the blog topics that have to do with our visibility and assimilation into straight culture.  They are topics that generate a lot of opinion both for and against.

Visibility is key if we want to achieve the civil rights that we seek.  It means being out to your family and co-workers.  It means saying ?my partner? or ?my girlfriend/boyfriend? in public.  It means not going into hushed tones in a restaurant when talking about certain issues.

That?s hard to do for many people, and I understand.  But nobody said this was going to be easy.  When you look back on the last two decades and the strides we?ve made (and we have come a long way despite the obstacles we still face), you can point to one over-arching theme that has helped: visibility.

Once we become visible to others, prejudice and bigotry become less of a tool for the opposition.  It?s very rare for someone to un-friend someone once they know they?re gay rather than the other way around ? knowing they?re gay before you get to know them.  Once friends become allies, half the battle is won.

When people see that we?re in every profession, that we have families just like everyone else, that we pay taxes and mortgages and rent and worry about making ends meet and getting through life like everyone else, there is a sense of normalcy to us.

And that?s the key:  we?re normal. 

Acceptance leads to partner benefits, marriage, and the rights and responsibilities afforded to everyone else. This has been happening, and it?s led to some unforeseen circumstances.  As we become more accepted and integrated, do we lose some of our history?  Does the fact that we can now go to ?straight? bars and clubs mean that the exclusively gay places we used to go have to close?  Some very historic gay bars have closed recently, both in Pittsburgh and elsewhere.  Some say it?s the natural progression of things.   There are at most a handful of gay bookstores left in the country.  Gay literature is available at chains and on the Internet.  Gay ghettos seem so 70s as we spread our wings and live where we want to, whether it?s in the suburbs with children or a condo in the city.  Straight people move into gay neighborhoods because we paved the way with gentrification.

I have no answers to these questions, and I guess that time will tell how it all turns out.  There is a historical analogy.  Looking back at immigrant groups that have come to this country and African Americans who were forced into a segregated society, a pattern eventually emerges.  First generations self-segregate into their own neighborhoods because they feel comfortable and safe among their own group.  (African Americans never had a choice, and some white European immigrant groups also were forced into segregated neighborhoods in the steel towns around here, but that?s another story). 

Subsequent generations become assimilated into the larger culture and leave the old neighborhoods.  Where the first generation had their own churches, social clubs and stores, and life revolved around that small circle, the next generation, more educated and mobile, left it all behind.  The ethnic churches fell into decline, the social clubs are not what they once were, and the mom and pop stores are gone.

I can?t help but wonder if that?s the progression of gay culture as well.  We gain acceptance, but we lose a piece of what made us unique in the first place.  Younger people never experienced what it was like to be gay in the 1960s and 70s, just as we don?t personally know what it was like in the 1940s or 50s.  Every generation makes its own way and builds on the success of the last generation, and that means that things change.  I think we are starting to witness how the next generation is going to build on the progress we?ve made, and I think they?re going to do a great job.  Maybe even to the point that in twenty years, being gay will not be an issue at all.  And isn?t that the goal?

********************************************

I have no idea where or when I met George.  He's been reading the blog regularly and we bump into one another on a regular basis.  He invited us to "live blog" the Celebrate Life, Celebrate Art event in 2009 which was a fun foray into fusing social media with a different kind of advocacy - the arts!  We're looking forward to tackling that again in 2010 and always look forward to comments from George.  Thank you, George, for being the first to respond. 

View Article  Blogiversary 2009 - The Plan
December 29 marks the end of my fourth year contributing to the Burghosphere. 

Wow. And to commemorate the event, someone posted the obligatory women are fat/mentally ill/unbelievable slant in the comments section.  I must be doing something right (write?) if I still generate that sort of sniveling response from people who want me to just shut up.

Ha. 

Fortunately, there are a few folks who seem to appreciate the other things we tackle here on this blog and the general coolness of the lesbian vantage point.  To our delight, a few of those folks have stepped forward with their own guest posts.  It is an honor that they took time to celebrate with me. 

Without further ado ... the Correspondents ...
View Article  Accolades and Anniversaries

Well, well, well.  It has been quite a week for us here at Lesbian Central as we get ready to celebrate our 4th anniversary on Tuesday.

First, the always surprising Mr. Potter singled out our blog and Maria of 2 Political Junkies for "shout outs" of sorts in his Christmas Eve summary of gifts he's received from Pittsburgh's bloggers.  So much for my ongoing labeling him as a typical middle aged heterosexual male MSM type, huh?

Personal thanks go out to Sue Kerr, of the ever-instructive Pittsburgh Lesbian Correspondents blog, for introducing me to Daylin Leach's Twitter account. Leach is a state Rep from out east, and while I've written about him before, I'd never have bothered to check out his tweets otherwise. Which would have been a big loss, because these are great.

"Ever-instrucive" from Chris Potter is like Clarice telling me I'm cute.  Plus, he's paying attention to my attempts to get folks to follow my Twitter list of PA and Pgh politicians http://twitter.com/#/list/PghLesbian24/politicians-pgh-and-pa

(PS. Leach is a Senator, not a Rep but I think Potter throws us a few blogging bones once in awhile so he can keep his alternative street cred)

Granted, I'm not the biggest fan of Senator Leach, but I willingly admit that his usage of Twitter is both impressive and fearsome. I predict he'll win me over with his winsome tweets and wry manipulation of 140 characters.  Social media is the way to my heart.

If that wasn't the most awesome anniversary present of all, today I made the Cutting Edge section of the Post-Gazette.  Of course, it is about domestic violence because the female bloggers are burning up the blogosphere on the topic of girlfriend-battering Eugene Hlavac. Calling him a thug was the most printable thing I had to say about him.  Until the FOP resinstates him.  Then ... I might end up with one of those $10,000 free speech settlements.  LOL.

Anyway, happy early anniversary to us!  We have some guest posts coming up this week so stay tuned for good stuff.

 

View Article  Post Holiday Round Up
Prepare for a week of year end "round up" columns and stories, "Best Ofs" and all sorts of summaries by the opinion leaders. 

E.J. Dionne identifies a 2009 shift:

It is 2009's quiet story -- quiet because it's about what didn't happen, which can be as important as what did.

In this highly partisan year, we did not see a sharpening of the battles over religion and culture.

Yes, we continued to fight over gay marriage and arguments about abortion were a feature of the health-care debate. But what's more striking is that other issues -- notably economics and the role of government -- trumped culture and religion in the public square. The culture wars went into recession along with the economy.

The most striking transformation occurred on the right end of politics. For now, the loudest and most activist sections of the conservative cause are not its religious voices but the mostly secular, anti-government Tea Party activists.


View Article  Following up on Hlavac
Man, am I in trouble.  In between the festivities, I spent time on the phone and email trying to verify the KDKA report on Hlavac on which I reported yesterday.  No other media outlet picked up the story which has led a few folks to ask me if I accurately reported on the KDKA story.

I spent some time chatting with the KDKA and PG newsdesks.  KDKA told me that they stand behind the story and I was careful to reiterate the information presented: Hlavac received letter terminating his employment with the City and his lawyer did say on camera that they would fight for reinstatement.  I did learn that it was Marty G who interviewed the attorney, not Andy Sheehan. To be fair, if I got that fact wrong I could certainly have made mistakes otherwise, but I don't believe I did. 

Howver, the Post-Gazette told me that this information is wrong and that KDKA's producer had a different take on the interview, stating that Hlavac received notification that he will face an internal hearing on Monday with the decision on his future with the City determined pending the results of that hearing.

FWIW, I did ask KDKA about the story not being posted on the web and they informed it was too short at 20 seconds.  They offered to connect me to the web department to argue otherwise, but I declined when it dawned on me that I was sitting in the car allegedly picking up the pies while a piping hot holiday meal waited for me at my sister-in-law's house.

So there you have it. LOL.  OK, so all you still have are my reports on a story aired on KDKA and conversations afterwards.  There's no official confirmation from the City that Hlavac has been fired.  Realistically, the City was closed after the KDKA segment so when it reopens on Monday and the hearing takes place, the entire issue could be moot. 

I reviewed yesterday's post and most of it is based on the story which did run in the Post-Gazette.  The primary concerns about the FOP attitude toward domestic violence presents the bigger threat to women in the community than what I perceived to be the media's inattention to what seemed breaking news (with the exception of KDKA). That was more of a swipe at the MSM. 

Here are the pieces relevant to the coverage:

Now, last night on KDKA, Ken Rice reported that Hlavac has been fired.  One of the investigative reporters interviewed Hlavac's attorney who claimed he would fight for reinstatement along with custody of his son.  Yet, this morning that story is not the KDKA website.  Nor is reported in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette or the Tribune Review.  In fact, the PG has a story by Jerome Sherman that is now out of date because of this breaking development.  Thus, I have no source for my claim that he was fired, except for the fact that Ledcat watched the news with me and I'm betting a few of you did as well. 

This is especially worrisome given the heightened fear Pittsburgh women rightfully feel about police response to DV calls and the fact the holiday tensions can give rise to spikes in DV situations. Would you feel it worth a call to report battery by your husband when the media has been filled with stories on the Hlavac situation and the fact that DV shelters are overwhelmed?  Last night, KDKA also reported that Womens Center & Shelter turned away 600 women in 2008.  Good job media.  Focus on the merry of the holiday season and leave the rest of Pittsburgh to wallow in your obsession with bad news.

At this point, I am a loss as to what is really going on.  I do think KDKA should post the story precisely because the claim it is breaking news in a significant story, however I just wasn't up to missing more time with the family to make the case.  If they reported erroneously, they certainly should retract the story which I would then address.  Either way, my ability to prove to anyone that I saw the story and interpreted it correctly is just not possible.  :-( 

I honestly think that blogging about KDKA's story was an appropriate thing to do.  People tweet all the time about things airing live on the air; we also retweet stories from various news sources. We invest trust in MSM all the time. I live tweeted about on the air coverage and then followed up with a post that was clear that the story wasn't available for any of you to verify.  I wasn't basing my post on a rumor, but on a story aired for thousands of viewers along with the article published in the PG. 

So I may owe an apology to Pittsburgh's mainstream media for not covering a story that KDKA reported inaccurately. But if KDKA could get it wrong, it is within the realm of possibility that the Post-Gazette got it wrong, too.  I can't know at this point.

I'm sure there will be plenty of coverage of Monday's hearing when things will shake themselves out. 

Here's my conclusing paragraph:

I think it is good news that a violent thug has been fired from a job where he carried a weapon and authority.  I have no qualms believing his ex-girlfriend given the man's past as well as his reputation on the job.  If the police brass and the FOP want us to believe in the integrity and authenticity of their response to the crime of violence in domestic situations, they need to weed out the wife beaters and promote the hard-working, intelligent men and women who uphold the values of their occupation.


So let me restate for the record:

If the story is accurate, I think it would be good news that a violent thug has been fired from a job where he carries a weapon and authority.  I have no qualms believing his ex-girlfriend given the man's past as well as his reputation on the job.  If the police brass and the FOP want us to believe in the integrity and authenticity of their response to the crime of violence in domestic situations, they need to weed out the wife beaters and promote the hard-working, intelligent men and women who uphold the values of their occupation.

Eugene Hlavac should be stripped of his badge and gun until the court determines if he committed assault.  The FOP and the police administration should have acted swiftly, but they still have an opportunity to hold him accountable and act in the best interests of the public.  Whether they live up to their charge to protect the public and hold this man accountable to the values he is supposed to embody is anybody's guess at this point. 

Meanwhile, we had a lovely holiday with our families who shared a joint celebration.  Everyone went overboard, but I am now the proud owner of pair of Doc Marten boots and a GPS system.  I am excited to accurately find my way to kick something.  I'm contemplating a Blackberry upgrade, but dare I brave the Verizon store today?

Tonight we are going to see Meryl Streep!
 
UPDATE:  It appears from today's media reports, that Sgt Hlavac was suspended today (12/29) for five days pending termination.  I've watched the KDKA and WTAE reports and I'm still confused.

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The Correspondents