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

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View Article  Stepping Up

I have a new goal. 

I am in a building several times a week that requires me to go up 9 levels.  Today, I began my quest to conquer the stairs in the building.  I started with 2 flights up and then all 8 flights down.  I did that twice, plus the stairs in the garage.  I'm going to add a flight every 2 days inside the building until I can make it up all 8 flights without ...dying?  I was pleased at how today went so I guess I'm in better shape than I thought.  Going down is actually harder than it seems, especially when you have a handbag and a bulky winter coat. 

I typically take a mile walk at lunch and today was no exception (cooooollllldddd walk) which I can only do in 15 minutes b/c of the weather and the fact that I am dressed in street clothes and don't want to be sweaty.  However, I talk on the cell phone the entire 15 minutes and don't huff and puff at all. 

It feels good to not huff and puff, particularly when you have asthma working against your lungs.  I continue to be amazed at how good it feels to get healthier and stronger each day. I'm shrinking out of my winter clothes a bit so the timing to buy spring clothing might just work out. 

Anyway, that's my goal and I'm blogging about it so I can't wiggle out in my own head.  Me + stairs = Stronger Me.

View Article  Lesbian Correspondents Receive Nomination for Lesbian of the Year

I am honored to be nominated for the second year running for "Lesbian of the Year" award by the Keystone Alliance/Gaylife Newsletter readers. I count myself fortunate to be among esteemed company.

6. Lesbian of the Year 2011

Crystal/Harry Feltersnatch:                C.J aka Blu:          Kimmi Rech:              

Shannon Matty:                    Duckie:                          Susan Levine:               

Elena Deluca:        Lyndsey Sickler :          Weezie of Weezie's Pub & Club:

Toni Emmons         Elizabeth Folta       Sherry Sabatino:       Mara  Rago         

Cathy Cox              Jess Porter           Brandi L.                Joy Souder

Sue Kerr                    Michelle S/Mikee Stylz                   Katina Stewart

It was a pleasure to receive the award last year and I appreciate the support for this blog.  Best of luck to all nominees in the various categories. 

View Article  Trib Letter to the Editor Prognosticates Intro of Pro-Gay PA Legislation

John DeBartola from the Keystone Alliance/Gaylife Newsletter wrote to the Trib earlier this month.  He forecasts introduction of 4 pieces of pro-LGBTQ legislation:  marriage, civil unions, hate crimed and non-discrimination legislation.

Both [Senator] Leach and [Rep.] Cohen have agreed to submit their respective bills for marriage equality and civil unions on Feb 7. Rep. Dan Frankel, D-Squirrel Hill, and Rep. Josh Shapiro, D-Montgomery County, might also have their respective bills (nondiscrimination and hate crimes) in place.

I think this aggressive stance is commendable. We all anticipate a Metcalfe sponsored anti-marriage equality bill to be introduced and suck up a lot of resources.  Keeping our allies and our agenda high profile reminds us all that we do not have to capitulate to the forces of homophobia and simply beat back these foes. 

I was unable to attend the Progressive Summit and learn more, but I anticipate updates emerging from other sources soon. 

View Article  Things I liked about church today

Today, Ledcat and I went to our second ever service at the Allegheny Unitarian-Universalist Church on the Northside. We've been pondering it for over a year.  Recent stuff going on pushed me to finally sit down and chat with Reverend Dave about things.

So this morning we bundled up and drove down to the Church.  It feels silly driving a mile but the treacherous snow covered sidewalks made walking a bit much. 

Random things I liked about it

- The greeters were a couple we know.  He was wearing a Steeler's jersey. To church. We had the chance to talk and get to know them a little better and enjoy the delightful company of their daughter. 

- Another man was drinking coffee.  In church.  During the service.  Using a reusable travel mug.

- One of the songs used the word "gay"

- The congregation was small, but diverse

- The children went to their religious education under a giant fleece peace blanket.

- I ran into multiple Facebook friends in real life for the first time.

- People were genuninely nice and friendly.

- The message was delivered by a neighborhood man who teaches martial arts to children on the Northside.

- People got up to offer their own intercessions (my word), both joyful and sorrowful.

- There was lunch. With delicous oatmeal raisin cookies. Mmmm.

- Someone spoke a quote I liked. I had no pen in my purse so I tweeted it to myself (phone was on silent, I'm not that bad).  Someone "liked" my comment.  He was also in the service.  Awesome.

- They had half and half cream for the coffee.  Sweet. 

- I felt good about attending even though no one mentioned God.  I still felt God spoke to me quietly and told me this is a place to explore. 

- Being on medical leave is lonely, even with all of the medical treatment contacts.  I've been averaging two coffee socializations a week, but sometimes it seems like the only human contact I have are people I have to engage.  This is a nice contact by choice supplement.  There's only so much decaf you can drink.

So it was pretty nice.  My concern about joining a UU congregation is that I am somewhat traditional. I've written that I have a secret desire to be an evangelical and I'm not kidding.  I've been to two other UU congregations, one in Pittsburgh and one not, but both left me cold and I never went back.  However, I've been hearing about Allegheny for years - very social justice oriented, very inclusive, very involved in the Northside and seemingly attractive to a lot of people I admire and respect.  I had met Reverend Dave several times at K.S. Kennedy Floral on Western Avenue (Kerry thinks he looks like Anderson Cooper) and found him to be pleasant and unthreatening.  And smart.  And kind. 

So we met and I realized that my personal experience of a transcendent God was not foreign to the UU community and my desire to have that personal relationship was not a barrier to being part of this community.

There are seven principles which Unitarian Universalist congregations affirm and promote:

  • The inherent worth and dignity of every person;
  • Justice, equity and compassion in human relations;
  • Acceptance of one another and encouragement to spiritual growth in our congregations;
  • A free and responsible search for truth and meaning;
  • The right of conscience and the use of the democratic process within our congregations and in society at large;
  • The goal of world community with peace, liberty, and justice for all;
  • Respect for the interdependent web of all existence of which we are a part.

Unitarian Universalism (UU) draws from many sources:

  • Direct experience of that transcending mystery and wonder, affirmed in all cultures, which moves us to a renewal of the spirit and an openness to the forces which create and uphold life;
  • Words and deeds of prophetic women and men which challenge us to confront powers and structures of evil with justice, compassion, and the transforming power of love;
  • Wisdom from the world's religions which inspires us in our ethical and spiritual life;
  • Jewish and Christian teachings which call us to respond to God's love by loving our neighbors as ourselves;
  • Humanist teachings which counsel us to heed the guidance of reason and the results of science, and warn us against idolatries of the mind and spirit.
  • Spiritual teachings of earth-centered traditions which celebrate the sacred circle of life and instruct us to live in harmony with the rhythms of nature.

Structure of evil really whacked me upside the head.  So did reason.  I can be an agnostic-would-be-evangelical-social-justicey-tilt-at-windmills person and feel right at home in this community.  Cool.  We'll see what next week brings.

And now we are safely home away from the Steeler Nation invasion and preparing our own little barbecue wings and fries feast for kick-off.  Not a bad Sunday. 

View Article  A note on trans protections (not) in Ohio

From Autumn Sandeen at Pam's House Blend comes discouraging news about transwomen and transwomen employed by the State losing employment protections under a new executive order which DOES extend protection based on sexual orientation.

Another stark reminder of why we need to keep our queer umbrella over everyone and not succumb to the temptation to toss our transgender sisters and brothers overboard in the name of a "baby step." 

Please read Autumn's diary.  Ohio today could be a rollback in Pennsylvania on some other issue tomorrow under Governor Corbett's Administration.  We must be vigilant. 

View Article  Bruce Kraus: why the reelection of a gay City Councilman is good for all of us

A few days ago, someone posted a comment in another post questioning my claim that Bruce Kraus, City Councilman for District 3, is a "champion" for the LGBTQ community, simply asking "What has he done for us?"

Rather than respond in a buried comment, I thought this question was worth an entire post.

With regard to what he's done for the LGBTQ community, I would put forth the following:

       Bruce spearheaded the passage of the Domestic Partner Registry which has created a mechanism for LGBTQ families to achieve some level of recognition on a City level.  While it has its restrictions, Bruce has shown a willingness to discuss these, at least with me, and brainstorm solutions to make it more useful to all families. 

 

?       His presence on council seems to make a difference in how his colleagues act, vote, and perceive LGBT issues. It has historically been considered a step toward equality to elect an openly LGBT individual.

 

?        It is important for LGBT people to see someone like us in a leadership role, especially youth (think bullying)

 

?        It sends a signal around the nation for a gay man to have the courage to be out as a public servant (think Sally Kern)

 

?        He holds his fellow Council members to walk the walk when it comes to equality and insists the gay community be included (think Ricky Burgess)

 

?        He brokered a meeting between PA State Senator Daylin Leech and community leaders to discuss Senator Leech's legislation to legalize same sex marriage in Pennsylvania.  We (I attended) would not have that access without Bruce's credibility as an elected official and status in the LGBT community.  Bruce made sure Southwestern PA was part of the dialogue around this issue. 

 

?        The fact that he?s more well known for quality of life issues on the Southside shows that an openly gay elected official doesn?t come with a gay agenda, but can be effective in addressing a range of issues just like any other elected official from a minority group (see below)

 

?       He is paving the way for electing an out lesbian or an out transgender man or women to achieve political office throughout the region (think we have to start somewhere)

 

?        Bruce serves the community as a board member of the Gay & Lesbian Community Center and the Shepherd Wellness Center (think community institutions)

 

?        Openly gay elected officials are considered indicators of how LGBT friendly a community can be (Advocate recent City rankings)

The crux of the matter is that Bruce is not the gay City Councilman, he's a Councilman who is gay.  I have enumerated some of his "gay" credentials, but it is important to note that Bruce is a qualified, engaged Councilman who sincerely works to improve the quality of life for his District, particularly the Southside.  Agree with him or not, you cannot deny he is active and that he strives to connect with the residents and the business owners.  His volunteer staffed satellite office in Arlington is further proof of a creative solution to engage his District. He also is embracing social media to share information.  (Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare and more)

As a City resident who does not live in District 3 (I'm in District 6), I appreciate the contributions Bruce has made to the City and to the LGBT community.  I might go as far as to say that it is imperative we all stand behind Bruce and do our part to support his bid for a second term. 

I hope this answers the question of "what has he done for us?"  Pittsburgh and Pittsburgh's LGBTQ community are better off with Bruce serving us on our City Council. 

View Article  My new friend JuJuBi

This is my new friend, JuJuBi.  A blog post about our afternoon together to follow. JuJuBi needs a single dog home.

View Article  Random Tuesday Stuff

This came through a LinkedIn connection.

Four out of five Internet users participate in some kind of group in the ?real? world, compared with just 56 percent of those who don?t use the Internet regularly, according to a new study from the Pew Research Center?s Internet and American Life Project. Those figures rise to 82 percent for users of social networks, and to 85 percent for users of Twitter ? in other words, being social online makes it more likely you will be social offline as well.

I had coffee a few weeks ago with someone I had met in real life, but mostly interact with over Facebook.  We actually talked about it ... the sense of familiarity from seeing family photos, sharing jokes and sharing outrage over various political stories. 

It didn't mean we were friend friends, but it did lay the foundation to have coffee which is the sort of real life networking that leads to actual friend friendships.

Does that make any sense?  Basically, I think meeting your tweeps and other online friends enhances your life in real ways.  And that real life connection translates back into the online social interactions.  It worked with the bloggers in my life so I trust the Pew research will prove true. 

Of course, I have 1700 facebook friends so I might need to have coffee 17 times a week to meet them all ... LOL.

On another note, The Pittsburgh Women's Blogging Society has several new blogs.  Be sure to check them out. 

A homeless shelter threw out two women they perceived (wrongly) to be lesbians.

The Bilerico Project has a piece up on segregation in the LGBT community.

The problem is that so very many LGBT media outlets and organizations may as well have a "Whites Only" sign outside their boardrooms and all of the other places they make the big decisions that affect us all.

As a lesbian, I'm tempted so say White Gay Men Only sign, but I recognize that I have a lot of privilege because I'm white even as I struggle with the glass ceiling looming over women.  It is an interesting reflection and I suggest you follow the link.

The White House blog focuses on the new hospital visitation regulations. 

I'm not sure if I should be flattered that some homophobic comments about the Steeler Nation on a Ravens' forum links to a post on this blog.  That is a horrible sentence, but the night trudges on and my ability to parse wears thin. 

 

View Article  Ledcat is blogging!

Check her out at Six Kitties  She blends her love for music with insightful political and cultural commentary.  And details about our kitties. 

 

View Article  Golden Globes

Chris Colfer won for Best Supporting Actor in a TV or whatever the category is.  He also denounced bullying in his speech.

During his tender acceptance speech, Colfer gave thanks to 'the kids that our show celebrates that are constantly told no by bullies in their school and they can't be who they are...Well, screw that, kids.'

It was lovely and you can follow Chris @ChrisColfer

Jane Lynch won in the same category (I'm terrible at remembering these long category names) and thanked "my wife Laura and our children" which was very touching.  I looked at Laura and told her I get my Golden Blogging award I would thank her for being my wife.  She pointed ou that we aren't married.  Hmmm.

Annette Benning also won.  In her Best Actress speech, she thanked her "partner" Julianne Moore from the movie "The Kids Are Allright" which focused on typical family themes in a household headed by a lesbian couple.

So a pretty good Golden Globe Awards for the LGBTQ community.

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The Correspondents