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

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View Article  Letter to the Editor
It certainly has been a long time since we've had a letter to publish.  Bruce Wilder of Oakland writes to deplore the tactics of the Manhattan Principles. It is a lovely letter and a nice way to start Monday.

If such a group wants to challenge our laws with civil disobedience, so be it. I am pleased that they have that right in this country. Traditionally, though, civil disobedience has been an effective tool against oppression and intolerance
He continues by pointing out that an increasing number of children are growing up with gay parents and those children deserve the equality in our nation that the fulfillment of the gay civil rights movement would afford.  Kudos to Bruce Wilder for taking time to write.
View Article  Pegasus
The Post-Gazette has published a lovely tribute to Pegasus, the landmark gay bar which closes this week.

Besides its illustrious entertainment history, employees at Pegasus also served as an informal support group to young gays, offering them a place to stay temporarily if they had nowhere else to go, Mr. DeCecchis said.

Such kindness was key, said Mr. DeCecchis, who will never forget a 17-year-old gay friend from his native Johnsonburg in Elk County. The teenager struggled to accept his homosexuality but wound up committing suicide by shooting himself.

"If he could have walked down the steps of Pegasus, he'd still be alive," Mr. DeCecchis said.

Pegasus is truly a treasured piece of Pittsburgh's LGBTQ history.  I have countless heterosexual friends and acquaintances who have patronized the establishment.  It really is a testament to both our societal progress and the legacy of Pegasus that friends also report hanging out at other gay bars, most notably 5801 in Shadyside and Cattivo. 

I first went to Pegasus with my departed friend John. I remember one night I had on my first miniskirt (I wasn't out then) which friends have gifted to me after learning it was something I had never worn before. I was somewhat self conscious because it just wasn't me although I was miniskirt friendly.  We walked in and I lost all sense of being self-conscious as we had a wonderful time.  John has been gone for two years and I will always remember those visits when I think of Pegasus.  He was free to be himself, to dance for the joy of it and to feel accepted. It was a very different experience from being out in a predominantly heterosexual group.

One thing disappointing in the article was the response of the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust.  Reports vary in terms of their investment in keeping Pegasus downtown.  Forcing the company to remove the trademark sign was very telling.  We'll never know the full story about the rent negotiations.  Still, this comment is not exactly a ringing endorsement for the cultural impact (and contribution?) of a gay bar.

J. Kevin McMahon, who heads the trust, said he urged Mr. Noxon to keep Pegasus open.

"We hoped he would stay," Mr. McMahon said, adding that because the club is in a basement, "it's not probably the most rentable space. We have attempted ... to be acccommodating to his financial needs. He has never asked us to reduce the rent. This was 100 percent his decision to close down."



View Article  Holiday Shopping and foursquare.com
Wow, first weekend in December and we've wrapped up most of our shopping.  I did about 30% online and the rest in local stores.  Of that, its a 50/50 split between small business shopping and chain store shopping. 

I don't know what came over us.  We actually picked something up for the niece and nephew in August!  I got a great sister-in-law gift courtesy of a silent auction.  Ledcat found her mother's gift in a unique gift store -- K.S. Kennedy Floral.  A stop at A Pleasant Present was a must and we need to go back. 

My online shopping was Barnes and Noble, followed by Ebay.  B&N actually handled an error on their party by giving me a free renewal on my membership card. I was pleased.  The new marketing tool of offering everyone the member discount during the holidays was offputting. I see the vision of attracting new business, but it needs to build some kind of win for members who fork over an annual fee.  I shouldn't complain because I do make my money back, but still ... not a great idea overall unless they dump the program and just lower prices in general. 

Kids are increasingly challenging to shop for.  You want to be reasonable, but everything is so gender specific.  It is hard to find something as simple as a plain grey sweatshirt or a simple pair of affordable jeans for a toddler.  Everything has a theme or a design.  We've given up on toys and head straight for books. I like to dig through the multicultural books.  This year, I discovered that the Little House on the Prairie books have been broken down into age appropriate chunks.  So I scooped a bunch up for my niece who will be 4.  Nevvy would still be happy with boxes and wrapping paper to crumble so he's easy.  My second nephew lives out of state so I am stumped beyond a gift card. 

Still, the duty of the aunt calls.  My goal for this year is to put together a box of stickers so she has the pleasure of abundance.  I'm the aunt who shows up with a giant bag of army figures for birthdays much to the delight of a child and the chagrin of a parent thinking of her vacuum cleaner.

Letcat is tough.  I tried to be creative and honor her heart's desire.  Ebay is fruitful for the woman who has everything (or everything I can afford, ha).

So retail sales seem to be in a weird place.  We stopped by the Waterfront yesterday and it was quite empty.  Got out just before the snow set in and came home to a quick dinner followed by a screening of "Go Fish" which was an odd movie.  I am not one to embrace the lesbian movie for the sake of the movie.  This isn't something I'd watch again, but always good to give things a try.  I was feeling wrung out after some personal drama so it was good to kick back and relax. 

One last note.  I'm still a fan of foursquare.com.  I realize it is intended to connect people to hip fun places. "Hey, Julie is at XYZ bar; let's stop in and say hello."  That sort of thing.  I find myself drawn to promote the places I support regardless of the nature.  I entered my mechanic because you never know if someone might want a good mechanic.  I think foursquare, like Twitter, will morphe into something larger.  At some point, the venues are going to jump on board and ensure their information is accurate as well as monitor the comments.

Last night, we stopped in P.F. Changs because we had a coupon for a free appetizer. To my delight, the manager remembered us from our previous visit.  I had tweeted I was going and the PF Changs twitter person (great job, btw) caught it and planned for a little treat to reward us for the marketing tweet.  Little did I know that Lisa the manager had been notified by a staff person of our impending visit (we had a reservation) and already planned a little treat.  It was a great experience.  She then told me she read my blog post and posted it in her office.  Nice.

To our surprise, we got another round of complimentary appetizers and dessert.  We also had a nice chat with Lisa about dining in Pittsburgh.  It was a great meal and I, of course, tweeted as we went along ... using foursquare.com.  This sort of embrace of social media is very satisfying from a customer point of view.  My impression of PF Changs is higher than ever. I don't expect the freebies all of the time, but I do appreciate a chance to get to know the manager and continue to enjoy what has always been good service.  It was a lovely way to fuel up for some drudging shopping chores.

ps: I also hit up Dunkin Donuts on Browns Hill Road over my vacation for a bagel sandwich and a mocha.  Sandwich was good, mocha was actually a plain latte which I had to get replaced.  It was just okay.  I wouldn't waste the calories and stick with a plain of coffe that I know is good.  Twitter definitely drove me there.  Yeah, I also "checked in" via foursquare.  It is my personal version of Farmville.


View Article  Weekend Wrap Up
At the Bill Peduto fundraiser, we ran into Kevin Acklin who told us how much fun it was to watch the "Do They Know Its Christmas" video -- what a blast from the past. 

What's happening in the blogosphere this weekend?

Pam's House Blend weighs in on Tiger Woods (love the "zipper down brigade" comment), the election of a second openly gay bishop in the Episcopal Church and more information on Pam's nomination for an Air America cruise.  She definitely deserves it after years of amazing work on behalf of the LGBT community!

Along with Pegasus, another landmark in LGBT history is closing.  Lambda Rising bookstore in DC is closing after the holidays.  Catch up their impact vis a vis The Bilerico Project.  As the LGBT community moves into a fifth decade of our struggle for civil rights and equality, it is somewhat inevitable that the old must make way for the new.  Still, its appropriate to shed a few tears as we say good-bye to legends in the community. I visited Lambda Rising one time and it was a really cool experience.  Coming out in the late 1990's did not afford me the experiences of our rich early history. 

Turning our eyes locally, Bram has a whole host of stuff on the tuition tax. My thought is just how impressive the students have been in speaking up and taking ownership of this issue.  I hope their universities back them up.  Otherwise, it is complicated mess. 

Something I missed because I've been woefully lax in promoting my sister and brother LGBT bloggers --- Jason Cable's take on Joe Hoeffel, a well -written piece on how we truly need to make comprehensive informed decisions on the officials we support. Thomas Waters explores the intrusion of the Catholic Church into the D.C. decision to bring marriage equality to the District. Lindsay has a good point when it comes to the Adam Lambert brouhaha ... the kiss that destroyed family values?

Ran into John Carmen @carmanavenue at the Peduto event.  We had a great chat about some interesting topics for podcasting.  Hopefully, we can find constructive ways to collaborate. 

Let me leave on an upbeat note ...

So here's another holiday treasure:


View Article  SisterShout: Endings
Laura and I have decided to part ways with SisterShout.  It has been a positive learning experience to partner with OUT and Gay Life TV on this lesbian videocast project. Their commitment to reach out to the lesbian community and invest their resources in a show like SisterShout is commendable. Participating in the launch of this piece of Pittsburgh herstory has been a pleasure. 

We wish them the best with the future of SisterShout and their other multimedia projects. 

Thanks to everyone who watched the show, came on as a guest and gave us encouragement.  Social media is an exciting frontier for the LGBT community and we are so pleased to continue our exploration through everything from this blog to whatever lies ahead. 

We are closing in on our four year anniversary at Pittsburgh Lesbian Correspondents.  We owe a lot to the people who have helped us along the way.  From John McIntire who invited us onto his radio show to the myriad of folks who have sat down to interviews over the years, it has been a great experience. 

We are looking forward to continuing with this blog and new opportunities.  Stay tuned ...
View Article  Gender Stereotyping lawsuit?
Well, just found a little interesting nugget in the Trib site.  It seems a state prison guard in Fayette County is pursuing a federal discimination case based on gender stereotyping. 

Yanik's attorney, Herbert A. Terrell of McMurray, on Monday said Yanik is alleging his coworkers sexually harassed him based on their perception of his sexual preference.

"He's alleging injury because he was harassed, and disrespected, because of a perception that he's of a different persuasion," Terrell said.

In the lawsuit, Yanik alleges coworkers openly referred to him as a homosexual. They allegedly slammed security doors on him and locked him out of his computer.

A male corrections officer, who is not identified in the suit, reportedly started a rumor indicating he had obtained a protection-from-abuse order against Yanik. That rumor fueled speculation that Yanik was in a same-sex relationship, according to the lawsuit.

Yanik alleges coworkers and superiors felt he lacked "masculinity or masculine traits," according to the lawsuit. At one point, coworkers allegedly "began to insinuate (Yanik) had too feminine a voice while using the staff radio."

How can you do anything but shake your head at that stupidity -- too effeminate to use the radio?  How would you measure that, exactly? 

Anyway, this is an interesting case because of a similar argument set forth in a case that has been cleared to go ahead in the Federal Courts, involving a local man and the Women's Law Project.  The premis is that if someone, male or female, can be fired because they don't meet the workplace expectations of gender behavior -- well, this poses a grave threat for women and men in non-traditional work environments as well as all of us who don't conform to societal gender expectations.

I mock the radio voice thing, but seriously -- imagine if your employer failed to take action if your coworkers took up a similar mantra at your place of employment?  It wasn't too long ago that Ledcat was chastised for appearing in court (when she was practicing law) wearing a pant suit rather than a skirt or dress.

Let's watch to see what happens in both cases.
View Article  New Pgh lesbian blog and changes to Cue Pittsburgh
Welcome to the newest lesbian blog in town.  It isn't new, new but it is new to me ... I'm always happy to see more LGBT folks jumping into the Burghosphere.  Woo hoo!

Linz the Lez

Check it out.

Linz is also the new lesbian columnist for Cue Pittsburgh where she is joined by Jason Lucarelli who will be penning a gay column.  I believe those will debut in January, but I haven't read the December issue, yet.  :-)   I do know that I make my "society page" debut in this issue thanks to a photo with Gubernatorial candidate Joe Hoeffel and a few friends, including the delightful Hugh McGough and one of my dates for evening, Ms. Monongahela. 
View Article  Wuerl
The Post-Gazette offers up what I find a disappointing (but better than most) piece on Archbishop Donald Wuerl's handling of the D.C. move to legalize marriage equality. A glaring omission is the lack of voice of a single gay person from Pittsburgh.  Quoting Casey and Doyle was interesting from a national perspective, but what about quoting the Michael Crawford's who went toe to toe with Wuerl during the Pgh discussions?  Not to mention telling the readers who Michael Crawford is (D.C. based blogger and activist who has impressive credentials) which was a puzzling editorial move. 

In my opinion, the Catholic Church is making an overt political power play by threatening to stop accepting public funding for their Catholic Charities work if the funding requires them to recognize same sex marriages.  Public funding accounts for nearly half the CC budget.  It is a calculated move that comes across as a threat.  I don't see the difference.  If the District believes they can fill those contracts with providers willing to play by the rules, why wouldn't they try? 

I read this piece and thought to myself "This was written/edited to be picked up nationally."
"The first presentation of this in the media was that the mean, homophobic Catholic archbishop threatens to starve little children because the city council wants equality for gays, rather than pointing out that it's the city council that is changing the rules and threatening these programs."

View Article  Mini Merge! or Why Virginia can provide domestic partner benefits while Allegheny County can't.
Ah, another small step toward Pittsburgh's consolidation with the County.

Virginia is a very hostile place to be gay. Still, they appear to be on the verge of offering domestic partner benefits to state employees.  Meanwhile back in Allegheny County, Chief Executive Dan Onorato ... isn't the least bit concerned about it. I guess he's too busy scooping up endorsements. 

How does State Senator Daylin Leech reconcile pushing for marriage equality with endorsing a Chief Executive who won't offer his own employees health benefits for their gay families?  Inconsistent is the mildest thing that pops to my mind.  

Allegheny County.  We aren't keeping up with Virginia.  They just elected a Pat Robertson disciple as Governor.

Gulp. 


View Article  New York, Catholic Church and North Versailles ...
I just haven't had a blogging frame of mind this week.  Things have been happening, though. 

NY government voted "no" on marriage equality. 

The Catholic Church says gays and transvestites will never enter the Kingdom of God. (h/t Pam's House Blend)

In North Versailles, some jerk punched a Wal-Mart greeter in what is termed a "random" incident.  Not very random to the 72-year old man who ended up at the Presby ER and with a broken set of dentures.  I wonder if the company will help him replace the dentures?  Who does this sort of thing?

Ledcat coined the phrase "rude ass" to describe ignorant people who join you at your coffee house sofa and put their feet up on the table where your drink/food are located.  Sounds good to me.

Alex Keaton's mom, Meredith Baxter, is a lesbian. I had a huge crush on her when she was on Family.  OK, that was two years ago when I got the DVDs.  Shut up. 

Georgia elects the first openly lesbian African-American state legislator

My favorite weeknight holiday activity?  Well, watching classic holiday shows.  Then, I like to watch this video and see how many people I recognize and if I can remember all of the words.



sdf

ABC has now cancelled Adam Lambert three times.  Meanwhile, Chris Brown gets to be on 20/20.  Cause beating up your girlfriend is way less awful than being homosexual.  Way.  I am so glad that I don't get ABC and can't be another set of eyes fueling their ratings. Such homophobic bullshit.  Even Ellen called them out on the hypocritical double standards.

Are you following me on Twitter?  @pghlesbian24  I'll be at Bill Peduto's shindig tomorrow evening from which I will be sure to tweet. 

Oh, and this week's episode of SisterShout features Handmade Arcade, a DIY festival of funness and holiday crafty goodness.  They are giving away a tee shirt and an Early Bird pass (can you say swag bag?) through the SS weekly raffle.  Follow the show on Twitter @sistershoutshow or on Facebook to get yourself eligible!
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The Correspondents