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View Article  Pittsburgh GLSEN Day of Silence

You?ve been silent all day.
Now it?s time to live out loud!
End your Day of Silence by speaking up and
sharing your story with us at GLSEN Pittsburgh?s annual
Break the Silence Party.
Friday April 17 2009 ? National Day of Silence

? Meet new people,
? enjoy free food, and
? bring your ipod and we?ll play your favorite tunes!

April 17th from 3:00 to 6:30
Planned Parenthood Center
933 Liberty Ave Suite 200
Right in the middle of downtown Pittsburgh.
Two blocks up from the Wood St station.
Sponsored by the Pittsburgh Chapter of the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN).

 

For more information on the Day of Silence, click here.

View Article  Rumor has it ...

Prediction time. Lots of little birdies have been whispering in my ears.  These predictions are based solely on my interpretation of recent events, historical behavior and the indignation of anonymous comm enters.  I hope I am wrong. 

First, I predict Luke Ravenstahl will announce the formation of Pittsburgh first Mayoral LGBT Advisory Committee two weeks before the primary.  His advisors who are actual progressives will recognize this will delude people into thinking he, too, is a progressive and give him a little more lefty bounce over Dowd.  It will work because people will want to think our Mayor is progressive enough to do SOMETHING/ANYTHING for the LGBTQ community and thus, willingly forget that it took over a year to make it happen.  The committee will include one transwoman, two lesbians, one LGBT person of color and two gay white male business owners.  There will be at least one troublemaker who wants to help poor people or use the term queer or some other such act of political indiscretion. 

Second, Luke Ravenstahl will continue to be dismayed that he did not get the Steel City Stonewall endorsement (this came from multiple Luke supporter birdies) and render said committee essentially as a mouthpiece to announce his plans to attend various high profile LGBT events, thus solidifying his illusion of gay friendliness.  He will also continue to ignore the advice of his progressive advisers who urge him to actually do SOMETHING/ANYTHING meaningful for the LGBTQ community so as to actually earn future endorsements.   Vicious cycle ensues.  As to why the Mayor's team thought he would get the endorsement over Dowd?  I have no explanation except that they might be taking advice from the wrong people. 

Third, gay people with privilege will continue to defend the Mayor's attendance at the 2009 PrideFest as a sign of how much better things have become in a City that passed anti-discrimination legislation and extended domestic partner benefits over a decade ago.  When the Mayor couldn't vote.  Luke just may ride in the parade during the parade leading up to the County Executive elections.

Fourth, Dan Onorato appears to be listening to all the mighty mighty D's pointing out the meaningful angle of the  SOMETHING/ANYTHING argument.  I predict he will use that same two week window to mention the County Anti-Discrimination Ordinance and shore up support for his protegee.  He probably won't go so far as to wholeheartedly endorse it, but he will actually mention some variation of LGBT rather than insert diversity as a synonym for gay.  (That's how Luke refers to our issues "diversity.  I think there's a perpetual frat rule about drinking every time you say "gay.")  Onorato will sign the legislation at PrideFest after it passes. 

The County will still lag far behind the City in terms of progressive LGBT policy, but the Chief Executive will get the glow.  The Mayor might, however, pull off the nifty trick of getting elected multiple times without engaging in an actual debate.  He also gets bonus points for playing the "dead police officer" card while appearing to accuse one of his opponents of doing so, "Shame on you, Patrick!" indeed. 

Oh wait, he did engage in a debate on WQED.  The one where he opposed "gay unions." Ah yes. 

Let's see what happens.

ps:  I enjoy Carmen Robinson calling Luke and Patrick "divas".  I can completely see KDKA treating her schedule as second class.  Let's be real -- KDKA cancelled the debate b/c they sacrificed 8 hours of advertising revenue to let Marty Griffin narrate the police memorial, painful comment by comment. 

 

View Article  Lesbian Spa and Health Care Event

 

Pampering Women: a night of Relaxation and Health Care

 

            

 

Come and let yourself be pampered!

 

FREE mini spa night featuring:

chair massages, hot wax treatments,

henna art, guided meditation, facials,

hand massages, blood pressure monitoring,

breast cancer screenings,

hemoglobin checks, BMI, STD testing,

 breast exams and

vouchers for mammograms

Door Prizes

Refreshments provided

 

 

Sponsored by Adagio Health, Inc

and the GLCC

by grants from

Birmingham Foundation

and the Lambda Foundation

 

PLEASE NOTE  location change:

Presbyterian Church of Mt. Washington

213 Bailey Avenue, Pittsburgh, PA 15211

 

 

When:   Thursday April 23rd  6:00-9:00 PM.

 

Who:    Lesbian Women

 

Why:  Because taking care of ourselves and     our health care is important!

 

RSVP required

 

To reserve your spot for the night :

call Gwen or Candice 412-661-2900

View Article  Why Allegheny County Cannot Throw "Gender Identity" and "Gender Expression" out the window

Dear Allegheny County,

Please go read this account of how an incident of transphobia manifested itself as homophobia, almost as an incident of public accommodation.  http://www.pamshouseblend.com/diary/10382/national-car-rental-employee-to-trans-woman-customer-screwedup-man-faggot    (h/t to Pam's House Blend for a well-done exclusive story)

I read this and think of those of you, friend and foe, who think that stripping the County anti-discrimination ordinance of protections based on "gender identity" and "gender expression" might be necessary as a means to get some sort of protection in place.

I respectfully disagree.  As Autumn points out, there is no fine line of discernment when it comes to hatin' on the LGBTQ community.  Thus, any attempt to pretty up the bill by excluding protections for those who are most vulnerable is self-defeating and somewhat self-loathing.  Would lesbians accept an ordinance that only protected gay  men only?  Would gay men accept a bill that solely protected bisexual men and women in relationships with opposite gendered individuals?  No. 

The employee of this car rental company used the term "faggot" as a general slur against our community --LGBT and Q.  He wasn't addressing a gay identified man.  He was bashing someone in our community.  It is 2009 and we should not accept subterfuge as an acceptable means of dealing with discrimination.  Trans men and trans women living in Allegheny County should not be slipped into a protected class through the back door. 

It is 2009 and Allegheny County is in 14th place, at best.  Let's not make a deplorable situation worse by tacitly feeding into some sort of hierarchy of acceptable queerness. 

When it comes to discrimination, we are all faggots.

View Article  A Solemn Moment

Ledcat and I just returned from paying our respects to the slain Pittsburgh Police officers at the City-County building.  We waited in line for about 10 minutes.  We waited with officers from the Federal Reserve, the Port Authority and the state of Indiana amidst a sea of private citizens. 

The atmosphere was solemn and reverential.  We seemed to be moved along a quite a clip so I didn't have to reflect until we were through.  I do recall the children behind me laying daisies at each memorial.  A colleague of Ledcat's was part of the honor guard; she acknowledged us with a very solemn nod of the head, but a sad look about her eyes.

It appeared the some family members were present and clearly grief stricken.  At the end of the line, we were ushered to the back door of the lobby. 

That's where I had to stop. I had to stop because my emotions caught up to me like an unexpected wallop to the chest.  I teared up and bowed my head.  Ledcat came over to me and we left together as I tried to explain why I felt overcome.

First, it was the nearness of the tragedy.    The reality that this could be S, J or R went through me like a chill. 

Second, I just realized that these men died to protect us.  It wasn't our neighborhood, but it could have been.  We've had domestic calls a few doors away and I'm well aware of the illegal activities that go on there.  I can't say they don't have an arsenal and wonder what might push them over the edge.  One neighbor's son was due in court today for an arraignment on his third set of felony charges at the ripe old age of 19.  This could easily be any of us and that is a humbling realization.  I wonder if it will stay with me? 

Finally, I am deeply moved by examples of purity -- pure grace, pure kindness and pure heroism.  Tonight, a fire truck was parked along Grant Street and a firefighter was helping to direct traffic and ensure pedestrians made it safely across the street.  I recall during the procession for the Pittsburgh firefighters several years ago, fire-persons from other communities staffed the Pittsburgh stations so the Pgh force could attend the funeral. 

We don't often get to see pure moments with our police.  The irony of being moved by a SWAT contingent in full uniform is not lost on me, still there you have it.  We often see them show up hours after a call and unable to do a lot about the drug deal that took place an hour ago.  We see them on the news when really bad stuff happens.  We experience that stiffness of a cruiser falling in line behind us as we drive anywhere.

The pure moments are far too rare in our lives.  Last week, my niece looked up at me with sleepy eyes and whispered "I love you Aunt Sue."  My heart soared in appreciation and my soul bowed in honor of the moment.

That's how I felt tonight.  Soaring appreciation tempered by the soul's deference to the honor these men have bestowed on those of us whose lives are a bit more safe now. 

The hundreds of officers present tonight are as close to witnessing heroism as I ever hope to be.  I want my encounters to be when we stop by Giorgio's Pizza and inevitably bump into a colleague of Ledcat's.  I want to be slightly bored listening to shop talk and fascinated by the number of tools someone can carry on a belt.

I want to go back to the mundane, but never forget the moment of tonight.

View Article  And Allegheny County?

Hmmmm.  4 states with legalized marriage. 

Allegheny County still can't recognize that gay people suffer discrimination NOR deserve health insurance.

Remember that the next time a large company picks somewhere else for their headquarters.  Southwestern Pennsylvania is not only behind Erie and State College, but we are behind Iowa. 

Iowa.  Have you ever been to Iowa?  You might go there now.  With your family.  Because Iowa values your rights.

I'm going to save my pocket change now so I'll have a substantial donation for whomever runs against Dan "La la la, I can't hear the gay people" Onorato. 

View Article  Pittsburgh Passion
http://www.pittsburghpassion.com/tickets.htm
View Article  Big Gay Day

Wow.  Yesterday was quite the day for the LGBTQ community.  First, the Vermont legislature overturned a veto of the marriage equality legislation, becoming the 4th state in the country to legalize same sex marriage.  That's almost 10% of the states.  Woo hoo.

Plus, the District of Columbia Council voted to recognize same sex marriages performed elsewhere.  So your Vermont marriage will be recognized when you travel to DC to see the cherry blossoms. 

Momentum, dear readers. 

k.d. lang was in Pittsburgh.

President Obama invited LGBT families to participate in the annual Easter Egg hunt at the White House.  This has been a big issue for several years.  Even as recently as 2006, our families were excluded.  Families now wear rainbow leis to identify themselves.  I understand that the White House set aside tickets for the community.  Joe My God has the story.

View Article  This should be about red flags and gun control, not discrimination

I understand that people are grieving the three officers who died on Saturday, especially as more information comes to light.  My heart breaks for the 911 dispatcher whose error in describing the situation proved fatal. 

But I can't help wondering about all the systems and people who let Richard Poplawski down before he picked up that high powered assault weapon he was not supposed to have.  Booted out of school and booted out of the Marines.  PFAs.  Repeated domestic calls involving his mother.  How many systems is that --- the educational system, the military, his family and friends, etc. 

Arm-chair "diagnosing" Mr. Poplawski doesn't help in the least.  It just perpetuates fear of mental illness and probably reinforces people's unwillingness to seek assistance for themselves or their loved ones.

Take this:

It is time, really past time, to recognize that paranoid, schizophrenic or otherwise mentally unstable people in possession of high-powered modern weapons are a threat as great if not more so than al-Qaida, and to address that threat accordingly.

No one would feel safe knowing that one of his neighbors was an avowed member of the Taliban who had openly professed hatred for our government and society and who was known to possess assault weapons. The same should be true for people who are convinced that the government is out to get them, and who act on their fears by arming themselves to the teeth.

Indeed, possession of a military assault weapon is de facto evidence of potentially dangerous mental instability, as such weapons have no other purpose than to kill large numbers of people in combat. No hunter uses or needs a Kalashnikov to get his yearly buck or doe.

Another reader cautions:

Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh and the folks at Fox News did not kill the policemen in Stanton Heights, but I think they need to take more responsibility for the collateral damage caused by their fear-mongering rhetoric.

Do you see the irony?  Fear driven rhetoric drives us to make poor choices, be it to pick up an assault weapon because we believe the President wants to strip us of our civil rights or to actually deprive people of their civil rights. 

Most mentally ill people are not going to shoot police officers.  They are not going to harm other people, perhaps only themselves.  We never hear about them because the news doesn't report on the millions of Americans who see their doctors, therapists and take their medications and go about their daily lives.  We do hear about the exceptions because funding for mental health intervention is woefully inadequate and awareness of resources is poor and the safety net to provide the basic needs necessary to address mental illness is horribly frayed. 

The simple truth is that providing affordable housing, reasonable disability payments, food security and health care could go a long way to helping people recover and move on to become productive members of society, self-sufficient even.

If we are going to debate restricting Second Amendment rights, we should have an honest discussion on the reality of ANYONE needing an assault rifle and addressing those underlying issues, most of which bring us back to anti-poverty programs. 

If we are going to do something concrete about mental illness, we need to avoid jumping to conclusions about people's "diagnosis" based on media reports.  Despair and fear are not the province of the mentally ill alone.  Neither are desperation and anger.

We also need to look at systemic breakdowns when it comes to responding to red flags.  Did the school district and the Marines exercise due diligence in connecting Mr. Poplawski with resources?  Did his family even know about the Resolve Crisis Line?  Does the PFA system actually accomplish anything in addressing potential domestic threats?  Then there's the claim that Mr. Poplawski was despondent over his employment prospects.  That's an entire landmine of culpability and accountability.

Let be clear. I do not absolve Mr. Poplawski for his personal responsibility in picking up those guns and murdering three people, people who simply came to help his mother.  That's an act of atrocity and he should be held accountable.  I heard on the CBS news this morning that he plans to write a book while in jail.  Even if he can't profit from it, he'll be infamous and fuel the very fear based rhetoric that seems inextricably tied up in this tragedy.

I am saying that tossing around mental health diagnostic terms can drive people who need help -- people who are desperate and anxious and fearful and mistrustful -- further away from the very resources they need to function in mainstream society.

The fear based rhetoric is counterproductive and a disservice to the thousands of police officers who respond to domestic calls every day.  The feelings we all struggle with right now -- anger, helplessness, fear -- can be channeled productively into helping the families of the slain officers AND advocating for the resources necessary to prevent this from happening in the future.  Yes, some of that might mean tighter gun control laws.  It also means making sure people know about Resolve.  It means that we stop the stigmatizing language so the person in the back of the room struggling with depression or anxiety doesn't feel isolated and marginalized.

And it means we should take a look at these systems and figure out if everyone did what they could to respond to the red flags that I'm sure were there far before this past Saturday.

 

View Article  What the hell is going on?

My partner works with the police so we've been very saddened by the weekend tragedy.  I have to admit that I sat on the edge of my sheet knowing that it could easily have been a friend of ours whose name was read at that 3 PM press conference. 

So, having read the papers over the past two days, I'm like wtf?  This morning: 

Woman shoots ex-husband in Pine
Monday, April 06, 2009

A woman shot her ex-husband Sunday outside the home in Pine they had shared, then put police through a three-hour-plus vigil before surrendering.

Police took Lynne Agnew, 46, of Shadyside, into custody about 8:50 p.m. after posting SWAT teams around the house and coaxing her out with a bullhorn.

Northern Regional Police Chief Bob Amann said Ms. Agnew had a gunshot wound to the chest, and was taken to UPMC Passavant Hospital in McCandless. Her ex-husband, Daniel Kelly Agnew, age unknown, had sustained multiple gunshot wounds, Mr. Amann said, and was flown from Passavant to one of the Pittsburgh hospitals.

 

And also this morning:

Somerset County man, 73, accused of killing wife of a few weeks
Monday, April 06, 2009

JEROME, Pa. -- A 73-year-old Somerset County man was charged with killing his 73-year-old wife after authorities said he was upset by her decision to end their marriage of just a few weeks.

Relatives found the body of Ruth Anne Henderson-McTonic on the back porch of her home Friday, police said. She had been shot twice in the chest with a .22-caliber firearm.

William McTonic, of Jerome, is charged with homicide. He was arrested in nearby Somerset after he was pulled over by police Friday and is in the Somerset County Jail.

Saturday:

IUP student arrested in off-campus shooting
Saturday, April 04, 2009

An Indiana University of Pennsylvania student out with a group of friends on his birthday was charged yesterday with shooting a fellow student in the stomach at an off-campus bar at closing time.

Police in Indiana, Pa., arrested Martin R. Boyd Jr., of Philadelphia, a sophomore accounting major.

Mr. Boyd turned 20 yesterday, and police said the shooting stemmed from an argument he had with the shooting victim, Justin D. McCoy, 21, of Springfield, Va.

Mr. McCoy, a junior criminology major, was listed in fair condition yesterday at Memorial Medical Center in Johnstown.

Don't forget the shooting rampage in Binghamton which killed 13 people.  My childhood friend lives in a suburb of this City and never in a million years would I think we'd be exchanging text messages about muderous shootings.  Never in a million years.

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The Correspondents