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View Article  Doing It Right Via New Social Media -- P.F. Changs
PF Changs is on Twitter.

I followed them among a few other companies as an experiment to see if I would be overwhelmed with spammy tweets.  Instead, I got free appetizers and a great dining experience.

After a few tweets sunk into my subconscious, I decided to take Ledcat out to P.F. Changs to test drive our new Warrior discount card.  I refuse to wait 1.5 hours for any restaurant so I called ahead on Thursday to get a reservation and snagged a prime 6:30 hookup which is perfect for us. Feeling smug about my reservsation coup, I did a little tweet about the plan. That prompted me to check P.F. Chang tweets to see if any additional discounts were in the mix.  I found a link to a marketing blog about a P.F. Changs dining experience. She parked, she updated Twitter and she was rewarded within ten minutes.

And you better believe that if someone asked me where they should have dinner on Cleveland?s east side, P.F. Chang?s would have been my first response. 

Twitter can be a powerful marketing tool, and while it?s a great way to push out information, it?s equally, if not more important to monitor what?s being said about your brand, and engage with customers who are acting as brand advocates. Their voice can not only be influential to other consumers, but quality customer service through social media channels can create a customer for life.

Being mischievous and always willing to go there, I retweeted this link and "wondered aloud" if I would be similarly recognized at the Pittsburgh restaurant.  A few hours later, P.F. Changs direct messaged me on Twitter asking to confirm my registration time and location, then said mysteriously "we'll see you tonight."  I was intrigued.

We typically have good experiences at this chain.  The service is good, the food is tasty and with no anticipated wait, things boded well.  We weren't disappointed.  The surprise came at the end of the meal when the manager "comped" our appetizer (dumplings) and gave us a card for another free appetizer on a return visit.  That was a pleasant outcome.  We made sure to tip on the pre-comp total and everyone came out a winner.  Plus, we learned from our server that we could make reservations online.

So, P.F. Changs invested about $10 in our visit.  In return, I tweeted (which updated my Facebook status) about their brand name at least 10 times in 72 hours.  I told people we were going there and a FB comment discussion ensued about favorite menu items.  I tweeted when we arrived and what we were planning to order.  I updated when we spotted a table full of lesbians with a baby; lesbian parent friends on FB responded.  And I tweeted about the comp appetizers.  Now I'm blogging.  So hundreds of mentions even if you assume a fraction of my FB friends, twitter followers and blog readers read any of these various things. 

Plus, we have new information that increases the probability we will return more frequently - the option to make online reservations.  We like Changs and it would be on our weekend restaurant rotation more often, especially during the holidays, if it weren't for the long wait.  The appetizer coupon will get us back soon during a shopping trip, but the online reservations might be especially luring (and help me plan) for year round visits. 

My impression of the chain's food and service was pretty positive, but I'm now equally impressed with their social media savvy. I follow a few companies on Twitter with an eye on potential discounts/savings/sales and other special opportunities.  Hoi Polloi is promoting pumpkin smoothies which caught my taste bud attention and ensured I'll be there sometime over the weekend.  Franktuary regularly tweets and has me planning a jaunt downtown just for a dog.  21st Coffee and Aldo are pretty well updated and on my radar if I frequent their neighborhoods. 

This stuff works, folks.  I became FB friends with my all-time favorite server (from Legends of the North Shore) so everytime I see his name, I think about eating there.  Even the horrid little donut shop churns out great status updates that leave me very hungry for donuts.  Note that homophobic blogging more than cancels out any good you accomplish with tasty FB status updates, but the point is ... it works.  The donut thing has me thrilled that Dunkin Donuts just opened a new store on Brown's Hill Road in Squirrel Hill/Greenfield.  (Yes, I just now googled "Dunkin Donuts on Twitter" and voila!  There they are!).

It works!

View Article  What's Going On ...
Very sad news from Ft. Hood.  The backlash against mental health professionals makes me sad.  When people say things like "I deeply send condolences" while being interviewed on the set of Today, I don't believe them.  I think they deeply want the attention of the moment and care more about the limelight than helping America process a tragedy.  When people say "I deeply send condolences" on the scene or working in the aftermath, I believe them. 

I am grateful that none of my family members are in the military.  I hope it stays that way because this was a brutal, horrific example of the damage the war machine wreaks on the innocent.  If reports that this man recognized his own damage and asked for help were ignored because we gotta send him over, then I'm sure they will be buried.  We'll focus on mental illness and gun control through the distorted lens of the media, but nothing will change. 

Back here in Pittsburgh, the GLCC is ready to unveil their new digs on November, Thursday 19, 2009 at the official grand opening ceremony from 5-9 PM. Food, fun, prizes and free parking Downtown.  What could be a better way to get a little queer vibe on for your Turkey Day festivities? 

The Renaissance City Choir holiday concert is set for December 19.  I must admit that I've never been to a RCC concert.  That usually gets me a lot of looks of disbelief.  I'm just not a choral/choir person and I'm not a fan of concerts in general. Fell asleep at a Bruce Springsteen concert. I admire the institution and I certainly appreciate people pursuing a passion. I think it is just backlash from being exposed to the underbelly of Catholic Church choirs ... I prefer to just listen to music at home or in very short bursts.  Am I alone in that?  STILL ... this is a wonderful community resource and an annual event to which many people look forward. 

The City Paper covered the Little Donuts debacle.  My coworkers were abuzz about the issue of UrbanSpoon censoring comments, especially targeting the gay community. Generated a discussion on the value of content driven sites.  I was sort of sleepy and annoyed that no one wanted me to autograph their copy of the City Paper, but also happy that so many of them read the print version (hey hey Mr. Potter). 

Speaking of Mr. Potter, a bizarre burghosphere twist is that he of the alt weekly print blog edition has been designated the heir apparent of The Pittsburgh Comet.  He's damn good at it and Steel City Media should recognize a giant vacuum to fill.  (and my horrible use of the snip tool).

We love Slag Heap and not just because we grew up in the looming shadow of the Century III Mall slag heap.  Not we, me.  Well, my brother grew up there, too but doesn't read the blog.  He did get arrested for trying to climb the slah heap, along with Jeff Esper.  Yeah, it was a stupid thing to do. 

But reading Slap Heap is a joy.  Potter's inner Comet comes spiraling out and does give me hope that someone aside from MSM Rich Lord will keep an eye on the status quo of the ZoberStahl administration.  I might even stop referring to the CP as MSM. 

It is just good to feel optimism about SOMETHING. 

View Article  The Good, The Bad and The Thing That Really Hurts
It is not a good post-election day to be a progressive queer person.  A few bright spots, but being at my laptop at 4:15 in the AM is not a good sign for my overall state of mind. 

Tom Michalow was not successful in his bid for County Council.  He fought a good fight and mobilized the local LGBT base like never before, but it wasn't enough.  I think Tom is a smart, energetic and experienced candidate and I'm comforted that we haven't seen the last of him.  Still, we've returned a man who thinks LGBT civil rights will discourage business and drive the Scouts out of business, not to mention an ardent defender of cutting taxes with no fiscal plan.  Sigh.  Thankfully, the balance in Council has not changed (the composition did not change at all), but it is back to the trenches to push for improved delivery to the LGBT community from within the current party structure, like it or not.

We are sending Joan Orie Melvin to the State Supreme Court.

On the national front, marriage equality no longer exists in Maine as the voters affirmed a proposition to repeal marriage rights for LGBT couples.  When I checked updates on my Blackberry at 3:30 AM, I knew there would be no more sleep for me tonight. 

Anti-gay leadership surged ahead in New Jersey and Virginia (already a tough place). 

The outcome of Washington State remains up in the air.  This proposition would expand domestic partnership benefits across the state. 

There is good news.  Kalamazoo, Michigan residents affirmed civil protections for LGBT persons by more than 62%.  St. Petersburg, Florida elected its first openly gay councilperson.

Locally, Natalia Rudiak joins City Council bringing an infusion of pavement pounding, progressive values and sheer hard work.

Luke's number dipped. He won and I am resigned that the next four years will suck. For gay people who don't party with ... well, I guess I better keep my mouth shut, eh? Ah well.

I am glad we had the opportunity to support three candidates who value and affirm the humanity of the LGBT community.  I am sad we lost the support of would be progressive folks who will be back when they launch their own campaigns. And I mourn for families in Maine whose loss demonstrates that we have not learned our lesson about civil rights. 

Just wow.
View Article  Steel City Stonewall Endorsements for November 3, 2009
Attached below, there is a copy you can print out and take with you to the polls on Tuesday.

VOTE NOVEMBER 3rd 2009!!!

It is critical that progressive people get out and vote this year!!!

Statewide Judicial races dominate this year's elections.

We all have seen in California, Massachusetts, & Vermont state courts play a critical role in upholding the constitutional rights of LGBT to receive equal treatment under the law.

The candidates who ultimately win on November 3rd 2009 will shape Pennsylvania for the next decade!

Steel-City Stonewall Democrats Endorsements for the November 3rd 2009 General Election.

Pennsylvania Supreme Court:
Pennsylvania Superior Court:
Robert Colville www.judgecolville.com

Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court:
Barbara Behrend Ernsberger www.ernsbergerforjudge.com
(ALL of the above judicial candidates will face HARD-RIGHT social conservatives in this year?s General Election.)

Allegheny Court of Common Pleas:
Susan DiLucente
Arnie Klein
Don Walko
Joe Williams

Allegheny County Sherriff:
Bill Mullen

Allegheny County Council District 1:
Thomas R. Michalow
(Thomas Michalow is challenging incumbent Matt Drozd.  Matt Drozd is one of the Allegheny County Council Members who voted against the Allegheny County Non-Discrimination Ordinance.  Thomas Michalow supports the Ordinance & has taken outstanding positions on LGBT issues.   You can find more info athttp://tommichalow.com)

Allegheny County Council District 3:
Jim Burn

Allegheny County Council District 13:
Amanda Green

Pittsburgh City Council District 4:
Natalia Rudiak

Pittsburgh City Council District 8:
Bill Peduto
ALL of the above candidates have filled out & signed questionnaires detailing their beliefs & support for LGBT equality.   You can read their completed questionnaires in the news archive of our web page: www.steel-city.org. 

Steel-City Stonewall Democrats recommends Retention for Kate Ford Elliot on the Pennsylvania Superior Court & we also recommend Retention for Dante Robert Pellegrini on the Pennsylvnia Commonwealth Court 


SPECIAL NOTE on the 2009 Pittsburgh Mayoral Race:  Because the Steel-City endorsement process is member driven and new Independent candidates came forward for the Pittsburgh Mayoral race after we had completed our member endorsement vote, the board is not endorsing a specific candidate for the race.  We are, however, endorsing an informed electorate and encourage all to review the responses to key questions which the board received from candidates Kevin Acklin, Doc Harris and Luke Ravenstahl.   The questionnaires are posted on our website and can be easily located by clicking here: http://stonewalldemocrats.org/steel-city/node/922   We hope you find the information the responses provide both interesting and helpful to your decision about the Mayor's race.


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View Article  Breaking: Pegasus to Close
Wow, this is incredible news.  The remaining fixture of Pittsburgh's gay nightclub scene is closing on December 6, 2009.

"Back when the Pegasus Lounge first opened, it was a safe haven for gay people to be themselves and meet others with like-minded interests without the worry of being hassled," said Noxon, 49, who has owned the Downtown nightclub for five years.

"But now there is much greater acceptance of the (gay and lesbian) lifestyle. People can pretty much go where they want and be who they want to be without worry. So, in a sense, we're victims of the progress that has occurred," said Noxon of McKees Rocks, who owns two other clubs in the city.

On Friday, Noxon announced that the Liberty Avenue club will close on Dec. 6 after 29 years in business.

The article in the Trib goes on to describe the nearly 30 years Pegasus has been serving the community with regard to everything from safe haven to HIV testing.  In recent years, the club has become a popular scene for young men and women, but they don't purchase the alcohol necessary to keep the bills paid.

Noxon makes good points.  Conversations with my friends about their nighttime activities centers more around LGBT-friendly activities.  Inclusivity is reducing demand for exclusive spaces.  Mayoral candidate, Dok Harris, hangs out at 5801 and did so far before he launched his campaign.  The "queer events" list and calendar have a multitude of events that are identified as "not specifically queer" or driven by queer groups/organizers, but open to the larger community as well. 

Pittsburgh has been known, even lauded, for preserving cultural heritages.  As a child, I remember Slovak and German and Italian clubs, parades and Kennywood days.  That certainly continues, but my Dad was able to join many of those clubs and he's not a bit Slovakian.  LOL.  We've also never successfully sustained a lesbian nightlight scene.  Rather than a lesbian bar, we have one floor of a gay owned club and one floor of a straight owned club that has a thriving neighborhood pizza scene. 

What I am noticing are groups of reconfigured community members gathering around common interests.  Dykes on Bikes.  The Dyke March.  The Queer Women's Dinner and Book Club.  Even the terminology of "dyke" and "queer" changes the traditional L/G/B/T divide and creates new opportunities to interact and engage within and beyond our community.

Still, it is sad to see Pegasus close.  There are other gay bars and I'm sure they will evolve and continue to survive.  But not flourish.  And, as Noxon points out, that's how progress works.
View Article  ROTC and Don't Ask, Don't Tell
"The way to resolve these inconsistencies," she said, "is to permit gays and lesbians to serve in the military."
Today's Post-Gazette reprints a New York Times article on the banning of ROTC from campuses such as Harvard in response to the Don't Ask, Don't Tell policy which in effect bans openly gay men and women from serving in the military. 

President Faust of Harvard, a historian, says that as much as she admires the military ?-- and during her June commissioning speech, she went out of her way to mention an interest she and General Petraeus shared in Ulysses S. Grant -- she cannot have a student group on campus that is closed to one part of the student body. The student handbook says that the federal law is "inconsistent with Harvard's values as stated in its policy on discrimination."

"Harvard commits itself to training leaders of all kinds, and we should be training leaders for the military," Dr. Faust said in an interview. "We want to have students in R.O.T.C. I am the president of Harvard and I am their president and Harvard is their university. But we also have gay and lesbian students and I am their president and Harvard is their university."

The article goes on to explore contradictions in the University policy such as fundraising from military graduates, special education programs set up for military leaders and so forth.  President Faust admits it is contradictory, but as the opening sentence of the post states ... the solution likes with POTUS and the Congress to repeal the ban.

My college roommate, Amy Besterfeldt,  was in ROTC.  I remember early risings, early bedtimes and lots of boot polish.  She went on to a military career, met her husband and became a recruiter.  We lost touch after that.  Still, I remember that it was very important to her development into the career she wanted. I'd like to talk with her to determine where she stands on DADT.

My impression is that active duty members are in favor of repealing the ban because they are quite aware they are serving alongside gay men and women who are competent, as well as aware that they boogeyman arguments about the predatory nature of LGBT men and women are ridiculous.  My experience with veterans is the opposite --- they still talk about sharing sleeping quarters and showers.  I guess the rhetoric from the early 90's was successfully pounded in.

Nonetheless, the dilly dallying on repealing DADT is tiresome.  It discriminates against American citizens and it denies our entire country the service of talented men and women who meet every other enlistment criteria.  It hurts America and not just because a few Harvard students are inconvenienced.  It hurts America because we are a little bit less safe without the very best and brightest at the helm of our national defense.  It continues to hurt America to legally impose "separate, but equal" rules on our society.
View Article  Christo-Bigotry
Pat Downey of Squirrel Hill calls a bigot power move like she sees it. 

It has even created a new church structure to receive disaffected Anglicans -- read, those who cannot tolerate their church's ordination of women and the election of openly gay bishops.

That the Vatican is bending "sacred rules" to welcome these bigots is more evidence of the stubborn ignorance of church leaders.

The good news is that change is happening regardless of a hierarchy that is too rigid, too divisive and too contentious.

Eighty percent of the laity, who largely ignore papal dictates, have come to understand that they are the church.

I'm kind of bored with the hair splitting analysis of mainstream Christian denominations.  I know we are supposed to reclaim our churches, but it just seems like a bunch of wasted energy tonight as I reread the original story in the PG. 

On the one hand, it is important to see the impact the bigotry "light" has on the community.  They do a lot of damage.  But doesn't the PG get tired of the Luthern-Episcopal-Catholic round robin?  I do. 

Thanks for writing, Pat.
View Article  Blog Block

I downloaed IE 8.0 and highly suggest you do NOT do the same.  Arrrgggg.  I cannot cut and paste.  How is a blogger supposed to maintain without cut and pasteability? 

The intensity of this week is off the charts.  Ledcat is imposing a mandatory stay home and watch television rule tonight to slow things down a bit, but I suspect Halloween episodes of Ghost Whisperer and Medium aren't going to be soothing.  LOL. 

My former supervisor is leaving his job.  I contemplate the question of whether I would return for about 30 seconds and laugh.  I may be exhausted and overwhelmed that I'll let someone down, but there are so many bright spots to lighten the intense moments ... someone gave me a Christmas card today and there's something really timely about the message of "Peace to You" that seems appropriate for this Halloween. I need some peace. 

I read online that The Advocate is being gutted and may cease as an independent publication.  Great.  I'm sending my subscription $$ as a donation to Bitch. 

Sunday's SisterShout promises to be interesting.  Are you a fan of the amusing graphic on 2 Political Junkies?  Their very own graphic designer Maria will be giving away a poster size version of your favorite graphic, with autograph, to one of our lucky Facebook/Twitter fans and followers.  Next week, two tickets to the Lambda Bash dance portion will be up for grabs.  The good stuff keeps coming from Lesbian Central. 

Ah well ... I gotta try to figure out this cut-n-paste thing. 

View Article  Update from Lesbian Central

What a busy, busy week.  Ledcat and I taped a segment for the Post-Gazette's "Omnivore" podcast with Mackenzie Carpenter on Tuesday.  It is up on the PG+ site now.  Being in the PG newsroom was quite heady for a geek like me.  Dennis Roddy recognized my name.  That's like Mr. Spock knowing a Trekkie's actual name.  In Vulcan.  Maybe in Klingon, too.  I felt faint, but I held it together for the sake of the lesbian nation's rep.  I did say something stupid and fawning like "I'm a big fan" which he probably hears all the time.  He was so gracious.  We also saw Brian O'Neill across the way but I refrained from blurting out "HI BRIAN" and embarrassing myself any further. 

MSM or not, that newsroom is pretty damn cool.  There's just a vibe.  I have no desire to be a reporter or columnist, but I would really like to just hang out there and type stuff. 

Yes, I scanned for Tony Norman but he wasn't in my line of site.  I think seeing Tony Norman's cubicle would have ruined me for any other reporter. 

I've also been very busy getting ready for our 90 minute election episode of SisterShOUT this Sunday. We'll be doing phone interviews with Kevin Acklin, Dok Harris and Tom Michalow.  Our studio guest will be Maria Lupinacci from 2 Political Junkies.  We've got some good stuff lined up, including a look at some of Maria's more awesome 2PJs graphics.  Only in the Interwebs can we put the word "douchebag" on the show.  In reference to Darryl Metcalfe.  Awesome.  And so true!

I just wrapped an interview with the City Paper about the whole branding/marketing hypocrisy of the Urban Spoon and Peace, Love & Little Donuts.  I'm trying to sort out why Joan Orie Melvin's Princeton University connections are defending her so ardently on my little blog. And more.

This will merit a separate post when I have some time, but please take a moment to acknowledge the first piece of federal legislation that affirms the civil rights of the LGBTQ community -- the Matthew Shephard and James Byrd Hate Crimes Act.  Yep, it is signed sealed and delivered -- we have our first set of national protections.  How does it feel? 

The Kelly-Strayhorn Theater is launching a series in November, featuring films about LGBT persons of color.  It is called My People.  Yours truly is a sponsor of the film series.  Our interest grew directly out of a SisterShout conversation with La'Tasha Mayes of New Voices Pittsburgh about the contrast in awarenesss of hate crimes against white young men like Matthew Shephard and other pretty much nameless victims.  The film schedule is attached.  Check it out. 

More later. 

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View Article  "Homosexual": Sometimes you just have to have a conversation

During Monday's evening newscast on KDKA, sports reporter Jory Rand covered the story about Larry Johnson's use of homophobic slurs. Johnson plays foortball for the Kansas City Chiefs.

The episode began Sunday night, when Johnson questioned Coach Todd Haley's football credentials on his Twitter account.

He used the slur during an exchange with one of his Twitter followers. A day later, he used it again as he brushed off reporters and told them he would not comment, according to the Kansas City Star, which recorded the comment.

Rand presented the story and referred to the "homosexual slur" which made my head spin around a few times.  I was stunned that KDKA doesn't have a better grasp on the media basics of covering LGBTQ issues.  I can't recall ever hearing a reporter describe something as "heterosexual" unless they were contrasting it with homosexuality. 

My objection is primarily is that this slur was about homophobia.  Johnson dropped the bombs because it is socially acceptable to use that language in a derogatory way.  Derogatory is also what has happened to the term homosexual which has been coopted by the wingnuts to marginalize and reduce our community to our sexuality, rather than integrate us based on our humanity.  We talk about anti-Semitic slurs, racist slurs, sexist slurs, etc.  In doing so, we recognize that that slur itself is rooted in intolerance, oppression and fear, not the identity of the target.  Its the beliefs of the one who slurs.  It is Mr. Johnson's lack of respect for homosexuals (and the rest of us in the LGBTQ community) that motivated/permitted the f-bomb, not the fact that we exist. 

Yes, I use it all the time - in a manner meant to convey mockery and as part of the subjected class.  Mr. Rand was reporting the facts in a story and he made a poor choice of language.  First, I tweeted (and had a little exchange about being PC .... ah, yes).  Then I looked up the GLAAD media kit and decided to email Mr. Rand.

He responded and explained that he simply didn't know that homosexual wasn't an appropriate term.  He said he would share my email with the KDKA news team.  I hope a few of them click through to read the GLAAD information. 

Homosexual lesson?  :-)    Twitter maybe the best way to immediately vent/confirm something, but 'tis far more productive to channel the energy into a constructive teachable moment.  It is sad that KDKA's management hasn't incorporated these issues into their leadership of the station, but it was good that Jory responded to my email.  I'm willing to believe he didn't know, but I also wonder whose responsibility it is at KDKA to educate their news team on diversity issues? 

As I said to Jory, this is going to continue as an issue.  Homophobia is deeply embedded in American sports culture, but the light is shining as former athletes come out (some current ones) and the size of the LGBTQ fan base continues to make its presence known.  The sports reporting community is going to have to get up to speed on the appropriate language or risk 1) being unprofessional (and thus, not doing their job) and 2) alienating viewers and fans.  GLAAD is a great resource and I hope folks like Jory Rand browse their site. 

So, I'm putting the ball squarely in KDKA management's court.  They need to ensure their news team understands the issues around homophobia and the appropriate way to cover stories related to our community.  Kudos to Jory for responding to me so quickly.

(I have to chuckle when I think of how Scott Mervis is going to cover the Pgh spin on the "no homo" phenom in hip-hop music....)

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