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View Article  Outing: a new movie and a talk show host threatening a guest

You may have heard about the new movie OUTrage which explores the controversial practice of outing LGBT elected officials and staffers who want to have their cake and eat it, too.  In other words, they work diligently to oppose full equality in their legislative guise, but still live the gay life -- be it enjoying the quiet cloak of privilege with their partner or trolling for sex with other persons of the same sexual orientation. 

Pittsburgh has at least three reveals connected to this project, courtesy of BlogActive.com. All three are/were legislative staffers investing their time, talent and energy into promoting the anti-equality agendas of their bosses. 

Agree with outing or not, clearly this is a conversation worth having here in Pittsburgh, particularly as we have many a social conservative Democrat representing our region and more than one elected official who falls into this category themselves. 

I'm not suggesting that we begin a witch hunt, simply that we bring a topical and timely film to Pittsburgh to generate constructive conversation on the subject matter.  We've elected one openly gay person and may be on the brink of electing an openly gay judge.  This is the time to examine the need for elected officials (and their staffers) to remain in the closet, as well as to ponder the implications of members of our community working for people who want to keep us in second class status. 

 

One of the film's participants, Michael Rogers of PageOneQ media, was recently interviewed by a DC talk show.  During that interview, the male host told Rogers that he wanted to take him outside and punch him in the head.  Nice.  He then refused to offer an apology because he thinks outing hurts innocent people.  Personally, that's a bullshit argument -- the individual's choices to lie to their spouses and children are the source of hurt, not the reveal.  Their choice to promote an anti-equality agenda hurts a lot of people.  There are plenty of quietly LGBT persons who work for a fair agenda.  This is about hypocrisy, not a witch hunt.  Watch the video and ask yourself if a representative from any other minority group would  be subjected to a threat like this.

 

Admittedly, I am naive as to how to bring a film to town.  I took a shot in the dark and contacted some folks who may be able to advise me on that process. I also contacted a few local theater that show this sort of film and simply asked for their assistance.

Again, you may disagree with outing but that should prompt you to want to see the movie and understand the phenomenon better. 

View Article  Lambda Foundation to host meet and greet with Indigo Girls during Pride Month

 

Sunday, June 21, 2009 the Indigo Girls are back in Pittsburgh and the Lambda Foundation has just announced an exclusive "meet and greet" backstage with Emily and Amy.  Tickets for the meet and greet are $35.00 and will include the opportunity to have a photo of your family taken by a professional photographer.  Tickets for the concert are $30 and $40. 

Lambda Foundation Executive Director Anne Bowman comments that "the Indigo Girls have been very gracious" to add this to the previously scheduled concert date. 

Founded in 1983, the Lambda Foundation is Pittsburgh's oldest LGBTQ foundation and recently celebrated 25 years of supporting our community.  From Persad to PFLAG, Lambda has been part of almost every significant LGBTQ focused project or service in Pittsburgh.  Every year the community gathers to celebrate and honor community leaders in style at the Lambda Ball.

Now this is great news for Pittsburgh's Pride month festivities.  We can attend a great concert, get the opportunity to meet LGBTQ icons and help raise money for an important community organization.

Please call 412-277-2294 for more info.  A limited number of tickets are available so don't wait.

View Article  Mayor supports unendorsed candidate; will he embrace groups that did not endorse him?

Mayor Ravenstahl is getting some heat for supporting Anthony Coghill in the District 4 City Council race.  Coghill did not receive the endorsement of the Allegheny County Democratic Committee.

Huh.  I've heard rumblings that the Mayor is "disappointed" he did not receive the endorsement of the Steel City Stonewall Democrats.  Other rumblings suggest that there is concern about fallout after the primary.  It has come from multiple directions so this latest news about the Mayor is interesting. 

Let's hope he shows some consistency by respecting Democratic groups that don't adhere to the ACDC endorsement.  Just like he isn't.  Fair is fair, right?

I don't think Steel City should endorse the Mayor in the general election because there is no membership vote for that endorsement.  Pressure to do otherwise is undemocratic and would make me suspect of the value of the process.  Damage control is not in the best interests of the members. 

Let's hope the organization stays true to the vote.

The other usual "thuggery" is alive and well in Pittsburgh politics. Sigh.  These family feuds to get their proteges into office are just ridiculous.  The machine needs a good ass kickin at the ballot box.

View Article  Grove City suspends student porn star; no word on action against porn consumers

Grove City suspended 21 year old John Gechter for his gay porn career which he used to finance his college education. Gechter was due to graduate this year and begin graduate school in the fall.  Gechter is appealing the decision, claiming that his work in the porn industry under an alias is not the school's concern. 

Grove City feels otherwise, citing the school's Christian based policies on student conduct.  Students are required to abstain from sexual activity.  Grove City says that Gechter's sexual orientation was not a factor in their decision.  Gecheter identifies as bisexual.

Oh my.  I'm not sure I believe Grove City and here's why:

But on April 23, a fellow student found Mr. Gechter's ample body of work on the Internet and forwarded evidence of his secret identity to friends. By the next day, Mr. Gechter estimated that the e-mail had reached two-thirds of the student population -- and he'd landed in a meeting with administrators.

Two-thirds of the student population are viewing pornography and Grove City seemingly takes no action.  Why was the student who discovered the offending video surfing for pornorgraphy in the first place?  Don't tell me he just happened to find it. If he took such offense, why not discreetly share this information with the school administrators out of Christian love and compassion? Isn't the intent to ridicule and mock Gechter a problem?

Then there is this.

 He says he's received nearly 200 "hate mail" e-mails from other students and has even been pelted with fruit salad in the cafeteria.

Ah, more Christian conduct on the part of other students.  That code of conduct doesn't seem to have quite caught on with the Grove City student body. 

The code of conduct can be found here.  Here's the relevant portions.

Disciplinary Probation for either a definite or indefinite period; and/or a

One-Week Suspension or longer from the College; and/or a minimum fine of

$50.00 (assessed at the discretion of the Vice President of Student Life & Learning); and or

Discretionary Assignments ordinarily results for the following conduct violations:

Use of immoral, pornographic, vulgar, or obscene music or material including, for

example, possessing pornographic literature (including obscene material on a computer

system), posters and videos.

I get that Grove City wants to uphold their code of conduct and Gechter knowingly violated it.  But I wish the PG reporter had explored any school history of disciplining students over their sexual conduct.  I'd also liked to know how they plan to discipline the student who surfed for porn (consumers drive the industry after all) and for attempting to smear Gechter's reputation by spreading the information to other students. I'm also interested in how they plan to respond to hate mail, especially hate mail sent using University resources.  Especially if that hate mail is rooted in homophobia.

B) Suspension for the remainder of the semester or Dismissal may be

assessed for the following conduct violations:

Threatening or actual bodily harm or harassment or presenting an imminent danger to

any person.

Which is worse -- filming a porn flick or threatening another person?  Sigh.

View Article  Celebrate Life, Celebrate Art auction set for Monday

[This post will remain at the top of the blog until the event ends.]

One of the highlights of the year is the annual Celebrate Life, Celebrate Art auction to benefit Persad Center.  Formerly known as Art for AIDS, this event is a masterful reminder of the continued urgency of this and other issues addressed by Persad. 

You can still get your tickets.  Click here for Persad's website.

I was reminded of the necessity of supporting this cause yesterday when I completed my application for life insurance through my employer (not the work provided insurance, but our own individual polices we can purchase at group rates.  They asked three questions -- did I work 20 hours or more per week, had I been disabled in the past 6 months and had I ever been diagnosed with AIDS (which the agent referred to as the AIDS question).  Huh. 

There is work to be done folks.  I get that insurance is about probabilities, but persons with AIDS deserve the opportunity to provide for their loved ones, too. 

Work to be done.  Come to this fun event, enjoy the art and make a difference.

ps:  Ledcat and I will be live blogging from the auction.  Tune in Monday evening.

 

View Article  City Paper covers a few gay topics; my own letter to the editor

The City Paper has a nice, in-depth profile of Court of Common Please candidate Hugh McGough. Hugh is the first openly gay man to run a judicial race, but the article proposes a myriad of other reasons to support him based on experience and qualifications.  Marty Levine, who is not one for gushing, describes him as Obama-like which is pretty high praise. 

Levine quotes a few folks from the Steel City Stonewall Democrats who endorsed McGough.  The only thing missing from the article is a quote from a LGBTQ person who is not affiliated with an organization, perhaps even one of the moderate income voters with whom he is resonating.  Or someone who is both. If people most whammied by the recession are paying attention to a judicial race, that would say something to me. 

The CP also mentions the Steel City endorsement in the main piece about the Mayoral race. 

The conventional wisdom is that Ravenstahl is unbeatable this year. He has a massive fundraising advantage, having started the year with nearly $1 million in the bank. He also has endorsements from the Democratic Party and other heavy-hitters. Even the Fraternal Order of Police -- who backed Ravenstahl's Republican opponent in 2007 -- is supporting him.

Carmen Robinson, by contrast, has been endorsed by the political arm of the National Organization for Women's Pennsylvania chapter. Dowd, meanwhile, has been endorsed by the Steel City Stonewall Democrats -- which advocates for issues of concern to gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender voters. He's also got the support of Braddock mayor John Fetterman, whose cachet extends beyond his own municipal boundaries (see "The Contenders."). Other than that, though, the "endorsements" page on Dowd's Web site simply features regular citizens explaining why they're voting for him.

My only quibble is that the Stonewallians advocate for issues of concers to all persons in the LGBTQ community, not just voters.  In fact, they work pretty darn hard to convert the non-believers into active participants in the political process through voter registration and advocacy work.  The ACDC, on the other hand, has pretty much been AWOL in our lives here in Manchester -- I don't even see them at the polls.  Ah well ...

Granting that the City Paper is pretty sympathetic to the homosexual agenda, it is still worth noting that the Steel City endorsement warrants multiple mentions.  It receives a mention in the article analyzing the District 4 City Council race in which Natalia Rudiak secured that nomination.  The political tendrils circling those candidates is a little scary.  In this piece, the Stonewall group is described as representing LGBT residents. 

We need some consistency, Mr. Potter.  :-)

 

Demonstrating that I practice what I preach, I submitted a letter to the editor about County Chief Executive Dan Onorato's recent statement on the non-discrimination ordinance.  I was public with my criticism on this issue so I felt an impulse to go public with my appreciation. 

I encourage you to submit your own letter on this and other topics. 

 

View Article  LGBTQ Prom and More

GLSEN's Pittsburgh chapter is holding another LGBTQ safe prom. 

Unified, Safe Prom For All May 24, 2009
Sunday
7:00 PM - 11:00 PM
Best Western ? Parkway Center Mall

GLSEN Pittsburgh is proud to present Unified, Safe Prom For All.

Tickets ($25.00) can be purchased by check or money order made payable to ?GLSEN Pittsburgh.? Please include name(s) of ticket holder(s). Mail to GLSEN Pittsburgh, PO Box 110288, Pittsburgh, PA 15232-0288. No paper tickets will be mailed. Include your email if you would like electronic confirmation of your purchase. Your name on our paid ticket list will serve as entry to the event.

Reservations no later than Friday, April 24, 2009

Joe the Plumber is back and he doesn't want homos near his kids.  Responding to a question on marriage equality, he says:

Wurzelbacher: At a state level, it's up to them. I don't want it to be a federal thing. I personally still think it's wrong. People don't understand the dictionary--it's called queer. Queer means strange and unusual. It's not like a slur, like you would call a white person a honky or something like that. You know, God is pretty explicit in what we're supposed to do--what man and woman are for. Now, at the same time, we're supposed to love everybody and accept people, and preach against the sins. I've had some friends that are actually homosexual. And, I mean, they know where I stand, and they know that I wouldn't have them anywhere near my children. But at the same time, they're people, and they're going to do their thing.

How on earth can you call someone a friend that you wouldn't let near your children?  That's beyond absurd.  Should that be some sort of red flag that you don't really consider these people your friends?  Please.  I've had people tell me not to talk about being gay in front of their children (like I'm going to lecture a child about equality) which I translate as don't *be* gay in front of my child.  I'm outta there.  The only people I tolerate that crap from are my relatives for the sake of family harmony, but I shy away from spending any real time with them.

Expect a big announcement from the GLCC this week about their new digs.  I've heard about the possible location and find it pretty exciting. 

Obma might consider a lesbian for the Supreme Court.  Now that would be BIG.  Her name is Kathleen Sullivan and she sounds eminently qualified.

Philly turned out quite a crowd to march for LGBTQ rights.

HB 300 had 48 proposed amendments, including one that protects the Boy Scouts from homosexuals.  The Appropriations Committee vote could come in June.  Philly Gay News has more.  You know this might be strategic, but it does seem the foes of equality might not want a straight (no pun intended) on legislation they fear would pass on its merits.  I'm much more confident that the SW Pennsylvania delegation might do the left thing now that Dan Onorato has taken a public stance.

The PGN also has a 100 day gay report card on Obama.  The appointments are pretty intriguing. There's some debate in a national LGBTQ leaders and bloggers forum in which I participate as to what Obama's recent language change on DODT might mean.  He may not be forging ahead as quickly as we like, but we definitely have momentum. 

Did I mention that Carrie Prejean, Miss California, accepted my friend request on Facebook?  I read an account of her interaction with an HRC leader (in the same forum) and decided "What the hell!"  She had like 4,000 friends and it is fascinating to read the comments. You can clearly see where she might want to be the right wing darling of the moment.  I have yet to find an embeddable version of the big NOM commercial. 

Speaking of embeddable, WQED aired two segments last week. One was an On Q piece about Celebrate Life, Celebrate Art, the annual art auction for Persad.  The other is a "state of gay Pittsburgh" panel discussion.  I can't view either at the WQED website so I have no clue about the latter's accuracy.  I quite curious if the panel itself was a diverse crossection of the LGBTQ community.  I'm hoping the videos are up on YouTube soon. 

 

View Article  Judges, Judges, Judges

The Post-Gazette endorsed four candidates we've discussed before.  Joe Williams, Hugh McGough, Arnie Klein and Don Walko have all sought the Steel City Stonewall endorsement. Again, this is not the sole factor in a vote for the Court of Common Pleas, but it is something I think worth noting. 

Hugh's team has been especially adept at using social networking in his campaign.  They regularly use Facebook to send out information and announcements.  It has been an interesting glimpse into a judicial campaign as well as a County wide race.  I'm impressed by Hugh's stamina to zip from one end of the County to another and seem genuinely excited about it all.  His understanding of social networking is probably the best conduit to make this race resonate with young voters. 

I like all four and we get to vote for five. 

A follow up on the district magistrate information.  While sorting through the recycling/shredding pile, I found campaign materials from Dan Styche indicating that I may have signed his petition.  While I feel utterly ridiculous not remembering doing so, I am drawing a complete blank.  This has to mean he was at the Steel City endorsement as that is the only place I signed petitions.  So that's good.  To be fair, I can't remember so I'm not sure if the other candidates were there as well.   It would be interesting if there were endorsements on this race since it has a lot of impact on everyday life, but I can imagine that would be overwhelming. 

I also found campaign literature for Jackie Hoffman.  She has some practical knowledge of the system having been the office secretary for over five years and having a degree in Criminal Justice.  She makes concrete commitments like having evening hours.  Still ...I'm not persuaded.  Yet.

I also began to notice the yard signs for Dean Birdy.  They are all over Manchester where I believe he resides. 

I also received a personal email from a friend vouching for Derwin Rushing.  He wrote very passionately about this person's qualifications and his community support.   Rushing also has a lot of visible community support in Allegheny West, Central Northside and the War Streets. 

Still not sure of what exactly the magistrate completely does.  I just know bits and pieces. 

So anyway I have a better understanding of their professional qualifications for this position.  Birdy and Rushing are attorneys.  Hoffman has worked there for five years and Styche has been a constable for years (don't underestimate practical day to day experience).  McLellan is a police officer. 

I'm still undecided. 

View Article  PG Travel Writer: "Not a gay thing" WHAT?

Oh, Katy Buchanan of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette travel section has me all a twitter this morning.  In one of her pieces about traveling in India, she hits some pretty uggghhh moments (KFC tastes the same, TMI about her experience with eating fruit, "beggars," etc).  This is the best:

Indian men and boys hold hands, or sometimes just clasp pinkie fingers together, in public. It is not a gay thing, apparently, and I'm not sure it even connotes affection, since PDAs are frowned on in India. It was weird the first time I saw it, but I got a lot more used to that than the habit of public urination and public adjustment. This is seen all over the place.

Are you kidding me?  She opens her story by reassuring people not to freak out about men linking pinkies?  That's the FIRST thing she writes about the culture shock of traveling to India?????

This is beyond ridiculous.  To be precise, this is her sidebar column about "things that might shock you" about India but my shock is pretty much reserved for the editor who okayed this demeaning piece.  "Beggar-women" is a highlight. 

Getting back to the homophobia, Ms. Buchanan's comment that men holding hands or clasping fingers is "weird" pretty much tells you what you need to know about her professionalism.  It is a little suspect that her primary piece opens up with a reference to kissing her female hostess/friend without reassuring us she's not a lesbian.  Perhaps we are supposed to infer that because the friend is married with children?  Or it could be a subtle nod to her savvy hipster approach to life.  Maybe she's just a homophobe.

Shame on the Post-Gazette for tapping into stereotypes and gay panic to sell newspapers. 

View Article  District Magistrate for Northside

Finally I've been able to find information on the individuals running for the Magisterial District Judge race on the Northside (Wards 21-25).

Why do I care?  Well, I gained some interest after I realized how many of my neighbors were supporting the candidate they know without any real sense of his qualifications beyond the fact that he's an attorney.  I can see why people use this criteria as we all want to support our friends and, frankly, finding information is a struggle.  Candidates at this level don't have fancy websites, twitter or so forth.

I had something stuffed in my door today from a Republican running for the office.  His name is Dan Styche who is a State Deputy Constable.  I'm not clear on what that means, but apparently is makes him a lawman and able to claim 12 years experience working in the Magistrate's Offices.

That led me to the League of Women Voters of Pennsylvania site which has FIVE candidates listed. 

  • Derwin Rushing, Democratic
  • Karen McLellan, Democratic  (Karen is the only with information available: here)
  • Daniel A. Styche, Republican
  • Jackie Lynn Hoffman, Democratic, Republican
  • Dean A. Birdy, Democratic
  • So what does a district magistrate do?  I'm not sure.  I know they take care of the first steps in a criminal process.  They hear tax cases. I can't find a really good description of what they do.

    Our of the five people running in my area, Derwin Rushing is an attorney.  Karen McLellan is a police officer.  We already mentioned the constable.  I think Dean Birdy is also an attorney.   I can't find anything about Jackie Lynn Hoffman. 

    I did discover that Dean Birdy and Dan Styche are listed as committeefolks for the Allegheny County Democrat committee.  That's odd that Styche is running as a Republican then.  His literature says Democat. 

    So I frankly have no good information in this race.  I have some info that makes me disinclined to vote for one candidate, but without more details it is hard to know who my best alternative is.  It is hard to know who is qualified when you aren't sure what they do.  Clearly, the two lawyers and the police officer have a leg up when it comes to actually knowing the law. 

    Frustrating. I'll keep digging.

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