Sunday, September 27
by Sue on Sun 27 Sep 2009 10:34 AM EDT
What happens when you mix a hard-drinking cougar with a crowd filled with lesbians? Bedazzle.
Last night, an artist looked into my soul and shared my life with the world. It was like she took all my blog posts and read each one aloud. Strumming my life on her ukelele.
Ledcat and I stopped in Your Inner Vagabond for a cup of java and some baklava. We came away with our entire reality reinterpreted and a new blueprint for our future. Together. United against all the odds. In a cold world that fails to provide health insurance for a sequin stitcher temporarily blinded by her work.
Just her and I.
Toss in a little sunshine next to that cougar and you get Dicey Stewart and Paprika LaRue who kept us glued to our cushions at YIV last night with a spellbinding performance fusing the Love Boat showcase lounge with $1 martini night at the local karaoke bar. Bedazzle.
This is an act worth driving through a dark and stormy night to watch. I am not exaggerating that the line snaked around the corner. Well, it would have IF they had made all the folks wait outside. Instead, we paced the spacious exterior room as the new owners of YIV worked feverishly to accomodate the crowd with coffees, Middle Eastern delicacies and baklava (on the house, baby!). The new owners of YIV own the Istanbul Grill downtown so they know their way around some baklava. I was very impressed with their composure under such pressure their second night in business.
When "Babycakes" the doorwoman let us through, an explosion of middle aged fans raced for seating with backs, ironically leaving the slow and infirm to cast themselves onto the pillows. Thanks to my lesbian connections, I maneuvered Ledcat back to a decent seat. Hey, I don't feel guilty. I gave up my hard-won pillows to ease the lesbians on the floor. Cause I'm a giver.
The Post-Gazette take heed - the majority of the attendee conversations upon which I was able to eavesdrop said they came because of your article. You may not be on the cutting edge of new social media, but you can still motivate the entertainment choices of the middle-aged suburbanites. The room was PACKED with grandpa jackets AND lesbians. Because Dicey and Paprika unite people.
The show opened with Tracy Drach who mistakenly covered a Karen Carpenter song and essentially voided her contract with D&P who also planned to cover the Carpenters, but she bravely forged onward in tune, on key and with proper pitch. This didn't set the tone for the rest of the evening, but Tracy can work hard and one day incorporate the mating cry of a white wing dove into her own act. I have faith in her. Being a singer-songwriter doesn't mean you have to limit yourself to singing, Tracy. Find your inner trumpet.
I can't describe Paprika and Dicey. Paprika is the cougar that lived down the street in the house where your mother wouldn't let you play, even while she sent you to her studio for dance lessons. Those lessons could explain why you are single and reading this blog in search of lesbian hangouts where you might meet that special person. Dicey and Paprika won't be performing at that place because all eyes are on them, leaving little chance for sparks to fly among the audience.
Dicey is the bedazzle of the duo. You also weren't allowed to play at her house because your parents believed children shouldn't be used to mass produce flowing crowns of tissue paper that they couldn't keep. Those flowing crowns of tissue paper might explain why you think it is okay to take off your shoes in a coffeehouse and tuck your feet up on a sofa cushion upon which I might sit one day. So not okay, by the way. What if I drop my baklava on that cushion and follow the 3-second rule? Ewww.
This duo is like the elusive well-covered Karen Carpenter song. Their busy cruise ship schedule keeps them on the high seas so be sure to keep your ears to the ground for the next Pittsburgh performance. Bring your best bedazzled grandpa jacket and you'll fit right in.
ps: Ledcat has informed me that if I don't stop reproducing the white winged dove mating cries, I am being sent to Hoi Polloi for the rest of the day while she basks in the Dicey and Paprika afterglow. Check out her fan pic with Paprika on my Facebook page.
Saturday, September 26
by Sue on Sat 26 Sep 2009 02:05 PM EDT
In an earlier post, I mention the possibility of a Northside church hosting an ex-gay ministry. It caught my attention for two reasons.
First, these ministries are horrificly damaging, condemned by the American Psychological Association and prey upon very vulnerable people who need support sorting out their identy, not coercion. Pam's House Blend has a timely story about a 16 year old child who was "exorcised" of his homosexuality and recently appeared on The Tyra Banks Show to discuss it. Watch the video and question the ongoing damage every minute of the show wreaks on this kid. Question also parents who allow their child to be exorcised and appear on national television to lie about it. Sheesh.
Even Tyra believes this poor young man is deluded. So sad.
This is the logo for the national ex-gay movement, Exodus International. Click on the photo to visit their website.
Freedom from being gay. Nice.
Second, ACAC is much renowned on the Northside for being a catalyst for so much social justice outreach. Friends who belong love it. I'm pretty suspicious of anything faith based, but I try to keep an open-mind. Emphasis on try. It is really hard to do so when you are welcomed with half-opened arms and very rigid hearts.
Anyway, ACAC has been closely tied with for-profit ventures, creating an sense that supporting these businesses will support the church ministries. That's fine if they are feeding the hungry and providing afterschool activities, but if they are healing gay kids --- we gotta draw a line. So I started urging local LGBTQ persons and allies to reconsider their spending.
ACAC has not confirmed or denied such a ministry. Members/former-members have told me various stories, but I notice that people are very careful to say "I'm not aware of any such ministry, but i focus on XYZ unrelated issue" which is not the same thing as "no." Clearly, it will take some real digging to get to the truth. I've also been informed their are other "discreet" ex-gay ministries affiliated with some pretty large congregations in Pittsburgh
Some of that digging brought up another interesting thread --- a local business which has been very closely tied to ACAC in media interviews and the ACAC website, Bistro to Go, says there is no formal affiliation or partnership and that she is very gay-friendly. Bistro to Go Owner, Nikki, has repeatedly tried to get ACAC to remove the links from the website because of the inaccuate suggestion that they are community partners. ACAC has thus far refused her requests. Do you think my post might move that along? I've saved the screen shots just in case.
This is a little troubling as ACAC is becoming an economic force to be reckoned with here on the Northside ... they have a check cashing business, helped launch a for-profit Christian daycare, and are in the process of buying a local bar on East Ohio Street to turn a nuisance into a more appropriate business. Existing businesses in the Northside are named and those potential connections are troubling if the church is appealing to local gay money to support ex-gay ministries, as well as if they are not being truthful about their real relationships with the businesses a la Bistro to Go.
I've wandered into a minefield. Clearly, most gay folks won't want to spend their money to support reprogramming efforts. But this blurring of for-profit with the coffers of the churches is very tough to tease out into a simple "Don't shop at X, Y or Z business."
There's also the underground element of the ex-gay ministries themselves. Do they exist in Pittsburgh? Yes, I believe they do if for no other reason than the "deer in the headlights" looks I'm getting when I ask people who attend some of the megachurches. Can I prove it? Probably not without going undercover which is what the national folks working on these issues do. I don't think I can pull it off. Rest assured, I have no ethical qualms -- people use undercover agents all the time to ferret out discrimination a la fair housing testing. If it would help save someone from the damage of being "healed" and "freed," I'd do it in a heartbeat. Do some googling and you'll see what I mean -- lots of inferred connections, but very little "We want to heal the gays" listings.
How we pick the businesses we support is fraught with contradiction, hypocrisy and simple lack of information. As the G-20 teaches us, we are all hypocrites trying to varying degrees to do better.
I think businesses affiliating with ex-gay ministries can do better. I also think well-intentioned church members who put money in the coffers of said ministries and then go out to dinner with their gay friends ... well, like I said, a minefield.
I'd like to see more information come to light so maybe we have to rattle the trees a bit?
Wednesday, September 23
by Sue on Wed 23 Sep 2009 05:15 PM EDT
I think today is Bisexuality Awareness Day. Check out the GLAAD posts about this topic. I have multiple friends who are bisexual. Sadly, I have multiple acquaintances who 1) don't believe in bisexuality or 2) have no compunction mocking bisexual people as "not really gay." There's also the whole contingent that believe all bisexual people are either indecisive or in denial. So much education to do. I will admit that more than one of my bisexual friends are hooked up with incredibly homophobic men. That doesn't help matters.
After lunch, I stopped by the Seeds of Peace location on the Northside and had a nice chat with some of the group members, as well as the neighbors who had also stopped by. You would barely notice they are there; just assume it was a parked church bus and keep on driving. They told me that donations, while not necessary, are appreciated so stop by and chat with these great folks performing a ministry, really. It would be so great if the neighbors along Buena Vista would stop wasting City resources by calling 911. One neighbor pointed out that they are in fact doing a community service by keeping the usual car thieves and vandals away for a few days. Nicely put.
I wrote to the Pittsburgh Marathon folks about people urinating in Manchester. They said they would help out this year. Stay tuned.
My peeps tell me that a well-known local faith community, Allegheny Center Alliance Church, which is renowned for social justice ministry may in fact have an ex-gay ministry. The church will not respond to my inquiries which looks shady. If you don't have one, of course you would deny it. If you do, shouldn't you be proud of it?
This is their statement on homosexuality. Note the last sentence.
This came to our attention when people noted that the Church is providing sanctuary for the police, not the protestors. That's an interesting place to be.
The sad thing is that this Church is involved in a lot of good work around the Northside. Ledcat and I are disappointed that we can't in good conscience now patronize Bistro to Go which is a fundraising project for the Church. I almost used them to cater my grandmother's funeral, who would not approve of someone thinking I needed to be cured.
Caught The Good Wife on CBS last night. It wasn't as strong as I hoped, but I haven't watched a character driven legal drama in a long time. Still, Jay Leno at 10 PM is just too much for me. So unfunny.
Well, I'm off to dinner and the rest. Poor Ledcat is working another really long day. More later ...
Tuesday, September 22
by Sue on Tue 22 Sep 2009 07:49 PM EDT
Oh, the drama. Everywhere. Helicopters buzzing in the skies. Mysterious white cargo vans with big blue letters cruising the streets. Police takeovers of coffee houses. Soup kitchens being chased all over town. Pit bulls! Gay men. Churches. Table ladies.
My, oh my. I can't begin to keep up.
Check with Bram for coverage of the actual G-20.
Check my FB page for the fastest postings on G-20 protest ridiculousness.
Our plans for the week? Ledcat has to clock another 12 hour day tomorrow thanks to Luke's folly. I'm working from home which is also ridiculous and a pain in the ass. I am planning to enjoy some midweek pancakes at Hoi Polloi, stop by to lend my support Seeds of Peace, and maybe take a walk up to the rally at East Park on Friday. Maybe.
I did stock up on pumpkin cookies.
Can't wait for the weekend. I'm hoping to do some door knocking for Tom Michalow. Ledcat might attend an Equality Summit in Harrisburg. Definitely a movie (our new favorite weekend date). Sunday could be a trip to the in-laws to pick up stuff.
Can't wait for vacation.
Saturday, September 19
by Sue on Sat 19 Sep 2009 04:01 PM EDT
In no particular order, these are topics I'm hoping the Mayor's LGBT Advisory Committtee will review.
1. Treat the Dykes fair and square. In 2009, the Mayor's office was a $10,000 sponsor of PrideFest, ensuring the best in public safety and public works for an event worth tens of thousands of dollars. 2009 also marked the 4th year the City of Pittsburgh Department of Public Safety screwed the Dyke March, a grassroots group with a wee budget. The saga of obtaining a permit alone each of those four years is an ACLU love story in the making. This past June, the City's disdain hit rock bottom when the police refused to provide a presence because the officers were recovering from the Penguins Stanley Cup victory. So 100+ women marched from CMU to UPMC and back without a single public safety person in sight. Someone could be seriously hurt and the City is the problem. Talk with the event organizers and advise the Mayor to make sure the Dykes get the same consideration as PrideFest when it comes to constitutionally guaranteed protections.
2. Training First Responders. Prepare for a shock. Not all police officers/firefighters/EMTs are gay-friendly. That is their business, but they need to leave it at home when they hit the street and the best way to ensure good service to our community is to insist that all members of the forces (plus, 911) receive an appropriate LGBT sensitivity training. First stop, police academy.
3. City/County Merger. When the 911 departments were collapsed into a County run unit, City employees lost access to domestic partner benefits. That's not right. For some reason, Chief Executive Dan Onorato and the Allegheny County Council cannot provide benefits to the partners of their unmarried employees, gay or straight (many more straight). While they quibble about it, the City should draw a firm line that no further jobs will be merged until this is hashed out. Dan Onorato simply cannot go to Eastern Pennsylvania and claim to be a friend to the gay community while this remains unresolved. He will try and we can't stop him, but we can hold the Mayor's feet to the fire to protect the hard-fought benefits.
4. City Work Culture. Prepare for another shock. Not all City supervisors, managers and union leaders are gay-friendly. Taking over a year to set up a 9 person committee does not exactly send a strong message of tolerance and/or acceptance, but let's seize the bull by the horns and change all of that. What is happening in comparable cities? What kinds of hiring practices are recruiting openly LGBT persons to City leadership positions? I have friends in City offices who tell me that the "fag" bomb is everyday vernacular even among their supervisors. If even 10% of the stories are true, the Committee has work to do. However, the Mayor also needs to set the bar high. Stop bringing body guard to gay events. Bill Peduto has been coming to gay events for over a decade and I think he can attest to few attacks on his personage while resting very comfortably in his heterosexuality.
5. Domestic Partner Registry This was created in June 2008 and 65 couples have enrolled. Great. City Council did their job. Now the Mayor needs to execute this puppy. First, use it to convince employers to begin offering domestic partner benefits. Do the research (which Equality Advocates can provide to you, Luke) and work the economic development/revitalization angle. Second, the threshhold to register is pretty high -- higher than the state's standard for their employees. That's all fine and good if you are part of the mythological affluent gay community, but the working class queers have credit issues, financial constraints, complicated mortgages/leases and so forth. I'd say revisit those standards, but if not -- at least provide guidance for people trying to meet the criteria. Ledcat and I experienced quite a few hassles with some homophobic utility companies when trying to get both our names on utility bills. Fortunately, I'm obnoxious and didn't let them get away with it so we soldiered through, but not everyone is going to know that they have options when the customer service rep says "it can't be done." The Registry has potential, but it needs an infusion of resources to be anything more than a token.
6. Partnership with the GLCC Luke has unprecedented access to the LGBTQ community now that the GLCC is practically next door to the City-County Building. This could mean good things for LGBTQ kids who rely on the Center for essential services. A GLCC Board member is on the Advisory Board and that should always be the case, but the Mayor should be rolling out the welcome mat to draw LGBTQ people downtown as well as reach out to the kids. My understanding is that downtown is neutral for most youth so perhaps we can work with the Mayor to draw kids into the Center from underserved neighborhoods. Brainstorm!
You can't blame me for being somewhat skeptical given the drawn out, incredible high-drama surrounding the launch of this Committee, as well as the Mayor's track record with other boards and commissions. I can't comment on how effective the Committee members will be as I don't know most of them personally. I hope they will be strong advocates, but my idea and yours of 'strong advocate' could be vastly different.
I hope the Mayor's office does not think their work is done. Luke's gay cred is pretty low and he needs to step it up a few beats. Eastern Pennsylvania may be under the sway of the Onorato spin, but that won't last forever. You have to do something and you have to do it without bodyguards and/or weathy white gay men buffering you from real live homosexuals.
Let's see what happens.
by Sue on Sat 19 Sep 2009 12:21 PM EDT
A major disadvantage to our new podcast experiment has been less time for blogging.
In time for the G-20, a roundup of some international LGBTQ information and news ....
Belgrade, Serbia has cancelled Gay Pride. In spite of plans of horrific violent attacks from anti-gay foes, the government backed the event as a constitutional right, but then asked the venue be changed as the security risks mounted. Organizers refused and it has been cancelled. Pride organizers throughout Europe are baffled.
Sound familiar? Life is complicated when you are balancing public safety, constitutional rights and common sense. It certainly isn't a good comparison to the G-20 because no one is threatening the constitutional rights of the rich and mighty to meet at the Convention Center.
Belgrade Pride organizers are saying that the public statements of support are a sham because the government could not put its money where its mouth is by providing the necessary security measures.
The latest in Elton John's attempts to adopt a Ukrainian orphan. While I am generally not a fan of transnational adoptions, this is pretty sad. Part of what's sad is how much it resembles picking a puppy from a shelter rather than making a conscious decision to become a parent. But, if heterosexual megastars can do it ....
by Sue on Sat 19 Sep 2009 11:20 AM EDT
Sunday from 2-4 PM at Monte Cello's on Babcock Boulevard, come out to support Allegheny County Council candidate Tom Michalow. This event, sponsored by the Steel City Stonewall Democrats, gives you a chance to meet Tom and learn about his qualifications as well as the reasons LGBT persons from around the region are coalescing around his candidacy.
Here's the Facebook invitation.
I personally think you should try to stop by because this is our community's chance to actually unseat an anti-gay elected official. This is a race where your $20 donation might make all the difference. The northern suburbs may seem miles away, but replacing a Republican opponent with a Democratic ally should be right up your alley.
Tuesday night, another ally, Franco Dok Harris is holding an LGBT fundraiser at 5801 in Shadyside fro 7 - 9 PM. Here's the Facebook invitation.
Dok is a strong supporter of LGBT rights and, as you may know, an Independent Mayoral candidate. Swing by 5801 to say hello and support pro-LGBT candidates. Plus, enjoy what should be a lovely evening on the back deck with friends and acquaintances.
Dok is a great guy. I know it is a work night, but we gottta get ourselves out there to make these relationships early so it doesn't take the next Mayor over a year to get an Advisory Committee up and running.
Friday, September 18
by Sue on Fri 18 Sep 2009 03:29 PM EDT
File this under WTF?
Our home brewed hatefest that is Western Pennsylvania's House Rep Darryl Metcalfe strikes a blow again, literally, for the kind of perverted family values that revictimize victims of domestic violence. From the Keystone Progress Blog:
Hmm. So domestic violence is a family value? None of us can be surprised that he think same sex partners warrant no assistance from human service agencies, but it is a bit of a stretch for a good Christian to say that women deserve to be beaten by men unless there is no clear homosexual link. Or something to that effect.
So the marriage license fee bit passed which is clearly a bit more important than a resolution. That's a nice source of dedicated funding which makes sense ... we should all want healthy marriages. But to halt a resolution over a perceived gay agenda is the agenda of a sick mind and sends a horrrific message to women experiencing domestic violence. How very very sad.
For more insight into connection between domestic violence and our community, check out Episode 15 of Pridecast which explores the topic and features the real life stories of survivors.
Then think about asking Metcalfe to apologize (ha!) and click here to make the point. He's a ridiculous jackass who will ride the white wedding theme as far as it will take him, regardless of the Pennsylvania lives he destroys in his wake.
Thursday, September 17
by Sue on Thu 17 Sep 2009 11:21 PM EDT
Tonight, my heart is heavy as I prepare to say good-bye to Guiding Light and wonder if there will be closure for Jeffrey and Reva? And if I'll find a television for my 10 AM lunch break. Sigh.
We caught the quarterly LGBT Film Festival film tonight at the Southside Works. It was a lesbian pregnancy comedy. Cute, nice, but predictable. But its so nice to have LGBT themed movies and if we want more creative, high brow stuff ... we gotta turn out to support the best of what IS available. I was disappointed at the attendance. Ironically, I think it is the very increasing number of queers with kids that lower the turnout ... school night after all.
The down side of the evening was dinner at the Cheesecake Factory. I had only been once before and stood in line for 2 hours for a so-so meal. This was much worse. No line, but a blah meal. Service was good, but I won't go back on a bet. I thought I was being snobbish to think CH is for pretentious yuppies, but I was right. Ick. The Cheesecake Factory sucks.
Busy week coming up .... Sunday afternoon is a LGBT Tom Michalow for County Council event at Monte Cello's. Tuesday evening is a LGBT fundraiser for Dok Harris at 5801.
And Sunday night is a Kevin Acklin for Mayor exclusive interview on SisterShOUT where we'll put him to a Lesbian IQ test. In honor the G-20, Ledcat will review a few modern protest songs. Tune in @ 7 PM.
There is a ton of creative, engaging, thought-provoking forms of dissent and protest taking place this week. It is very easy to get caught up in the hysteria sewn by headline frenzied media outlets, but try to read between the lines.
And hope for the best for Reva and Jeffrey.
Wednesday, September 16
by Sue on Wed 16 Sep 2009 02:15 AM EDT
Some things that might peak your interest ...
The Mayor's LGBT Advisory Committee had their first meeting on Tuesday around 8:30 AM. I had previously contacted the individuals I had been advised (ha ha) would be serving and they basically sent me the exact sentences back in their various confirmation email messages. We can expect a press release "soon" with all the juicy details.
Confirmed advisors thus far are Scott Stegman, GLCC; Kathleen Schneider, local attorney; Susan Haugh, Dreams of Hope; and Amanda Rubio, local attorney and member of the Pittsburgh Human Relations Commission.
Unconfirmed but mentioned by several of the persons above is that long-time LGBT activisit and local attorney Elise Delong will be serving as the committee chair.
The remaining members of the committee have not responded to my inquiries either way, so I guess we'll just have to wait and see.
This group is far more diverse than I expected. I am very surprised about that. It isn't perfect. Three attorneys seems a bit much. There may be three individuals from the arts community. I don't see any potential representation from the human services community which is a bit odd. And I'm not sure everyone actually lives in the City -- we'll check that out once the announcement in finalized. Nonetheless, I am confident that each of these persons will seek out or create opportunities for us, the LGBT residents of Pittsburgh, to connect with them.
Now we need to see if the Mayor will use this resource wisely. It would be nice to move on to fresh topics, eh?
Moving on ...
Ohio is making Pennsylvania look bad. I mean it was bad enough that Iowa is like the gay mecca of the US now, but Ohio moved a non-discrimination bill out of the House before Pennsylvania could pull it off. Now if you get worked up with the Browns have a better record than the Steelers, this should really piss you off. Piss you off to get you to pick up your phone and call your legislator?
How about this ... if you think Pennsylvania should be a little ahead of the curve on gay rights, here's what you do ... join Steel City Stonewall Democrats. Membership can be as low as $15 for families with limited disposable incomes. This group is in the throes of so much good work that the meeting agendas are ubelievable. You can pick your poison -- unseat an anti-gay County Councilperson who voted against the non-discrimination ordinance, tackle judiciary races and learn how redistricting determines if Mike Doyle or Tim Murphy represent you in Congress, help plan a picnic, go to lots of picnics, meet Independent candidates, just tons of stuff.
Join. Don't let Ohio win. Seriously.
I'm a little disenchanted with frenemies. I'm just saying. Pittsburgh politics is like West Mifflin High School circa 1987. Sometimes being the nerdy girl who reads novels in study hall is not such a bad thing.
So we've got the next two months of show topics and guests lined up for Sister ShOUT. They include: Dykes on Bikes, the Dyke March, three interesting political candidates, Gay Yoga, Vegetarianism, Get out the Vote, and much much more. You can always fling us a suggestion. Or call us. It is all good.