Saturday, March 21
by Sue on Sat 21 Mar 2009 10:07 AM EDT
The Tribune-Review interviewed Rachel Maddow. I've probably read 15 interviews with her as there has been one in almost every publication we receive. But I've never seen her show.
The Trib has remained shockingly mum on LGBTQ issues of late. Nothing on HB 300, the Allegheny County HRC ordinance, rallies or anything. Very curious.
by Sue on Sat 21 Mar 2009 09:45 AM EDT
Ladies, ready to dance?
WHO? WOMEN'S DANCE with D.J. Adele
PLUS Vendors, Raffles, Door Prizes!
WHERE? Absolute Ballroom
(Across the street from Animal Rescue League)
WHEN? Saturday, APRIL 18th, 2009, 7 PM
Ticket sales start March 1st
@ A Pleasant Present- $10 CASH
or $12 CASH at the door (if available!)
Only 200 tickets will be sold, so get your tickets early!
Parking on street or Animal Rescue League lot
BYOB & MUNCHIES: NO FOOD OR DRINKS WILL BE SOLD
Any questions send an email to OUT2dance@verizon.net
benefits the GLCC
by Sue on Sat 21 Mar 2009 09:41 AM EDT
I realize the absurdity of writing about a fundraiser immediately after posting about poverty, but there's a very important connection ... the services of Persad Center, the region's LGBT mental health service provider. "Celebrate Life, Celebrate Art" is a clear way you can help.
Ledcat and I will be live-blogging this year's "Celebrate Life, Celebrate Art" auction in May. Something neat for you to explore is the online "thumbnails" of this year's art donations. Here's the link. We'll be covering the Patron Party, too.
I'm working with Persad to provide training for my team so we can make sure our services and program meet the needs of LGBTQ individuals and families we serve. I've been with my agency for a little over 3 months and have identified that we need to be very proactive to assure our consumers that we respect their LGBTQ identities. I'm out at work, to my team and to consumers as appropriate. My team is pretty good and certainly wants to be competent on LGBTQ issues, but there's only so much I can personally do to ensure that they have the appropriate information. There's also only so much I can do to assure our consumers that they can take the leap from coming out to me, an openly queer woman, to coming out to their staff person. That's a huge step and there has to be trust, as well as the right information.
Thankfully, I can turn to Persad to provide that information.
by Sue on Sat 21 Mar 2009 08:59 AM EDT
The Washington Blade has an interesting article on the myth of gay affluence. A recently published survey by the Williams Institute of UCLA reveals that the percentage of lesbian and gay families living in poverty is significantly higher than same sex families.
A new report from a think-tank on sexual orientation reveals how poverty is affecting gay people in the United States.
The Blade article goes on the make the logical conclusion that as women, on average, earn less than men so two women living together are likely to earn less than a man and a woman pooling their earnings as well as two men.
This study uses data collected before the current economic recession so it might be particularly useful to put this in perspective on how plans to revitalize the economy impact LGBTQ families.
I find this examination of socioeconomic status interesting because of my work in the human services field. The ability of low and moderate income LGBTQ families (and individuals) to access services and resources becomes even more acute when you factor in the double negative of being poor and queer in a society that devalues both groups of individuals.
What does this mean here in Pittsburgh? Well it certainly suggest that organizations such as the GLCC are human service providers and should be part of the equation when examining service delivery. It also suggests we should be mindful of the ability of low and moderate income queer families to access the social opportunities so critical to developing a strong support system -- events that cost $15 per person might be out of reach for a family living on $12.00/hr wages.
Groups that strive to create these social support opportunities that are free or income sensitive -- like the PrideFest Committee and the Dyke March -- do tackle this issue. Certainly organizations like PATF, Persad Center and the Shepherd Wellness Community play a significant role in serving individuals struggling with the day to day reality of surviving on limited means.
This makes your support of these groups even more vital. It also means we should continue agitating for systemic change on the local level. I would argue it makes advocacy on the County level even more critical to have any real impact on the delivery of local human services and strengthening the safety net to include all kinds of families.
I'm going to please Adam by also pointing out that changing federal laws on marriage would go a long way toward addressing a myriad of systemic barriers facing queer families. It is tax time and we once again face the lowering of the boom in terms of federal taxes on our domestic partner health insurance. It is still a bargain, but ridiculously unfair. Thus, while I absolutely believe we should push County Chief Executive Dan Onorato to offer domestic partner benefits we should continue to urge US Congressman Mike Doyle to make the federal government treat our families fairly. It is a continuum.
The myth of affluence is just that.
Wednesday, March 18
by Sue on Wed 18 Mar 2009 08:11 PM EDT
Human Relations Commission Chair Stephen Glassman has a well-written, thoughtful argument in support of the passage of HB 300.
The economic arguement is quite compelling for those who fail to see the import of the human rights argument. I would put forth that it also supports the reason we need to invest equal resources toward the passage of the Allegheny County HRC Ordinance.
Glassman argues that Pennsylvania is woefully late in passing this legislation. Allegheny County residents should carefully consider that reality. 13 municipalities have beat us to the punch. We are the second largest county in the Commonwealth and home to the second largest city in the Commonwealth.
We should be a leader in protecting vulnerable citizens, not in 14th place.
Tuesday, March 17
by Sue on Tue 17 Mar 2009 08:31 PM EDT
The Post-Gazette has the story on today's Rock the Dome Rally in Harrisburg, organized in support of HB 300 which would extend protections based on sexual orientation and gender expression and identity.
The rally turned out several hundred participants. Unfortunately, this "breaking news" article did not include a reference to the Allegheny County ordinance. Hopefully, that will be corrected tomorrow so folks have proper context.
I hope we can attract some comments from rally participants to get first-hand accounts from the action.
Monday, March 16
by Sue on Mon 16 Mar 2009 04:09 PM EDT
Do you need food assistance?
Evening Food Distribution at the Food Bank warehouse in Duquesne
Targeting Unemployed & Underemployed Families
Thursday Evening, March 26, 2009
NO NEED TO PRE-REGISTER
TO HEAR A PRE-RECORDED MESSAGE ABOUTALL DIRECT
Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank
by Sue on Mon 16 Mar 2009 07:49 AM EDT
Two quick items of interest today.
Rob Owens from the Post-Gazette has a nice interview with award winning actress and CMU grad Cherry Jones, who is currently portraying the President on 24. I've never seen 24, but I do admire Jones' after seeing her in the "What Makes a Family" Lifetime special with Brooke Shields as a lesbian couple. Jones is an openly gay actor and has been honored by GLAAD for her achievements.
The Owens' interview actually gave me some food for thought about 24, but its far too late to pick it up now I guess.
Also, h/t to Christopher Hixson for the "Buying for Equality 2009" guide from the HRC. As you make your spending decisions, this guide which is based on the Equality Index can be a useful way to measure which national corporations support our community. For convenience, I've linked the document below.
This proved useful to me in an interesting way. My (former) insurance agent's staff treated in a very disrespectful manner, including referring to me as "the gay" and refusing to acknowledge that Ledcat is my domestic partner, insistently referring to her as a business partner in spite of my corrections. This all happened after I made it clear that I did not want an auto policy at this time. I contacted the agent for an apology which he refused to offer, proceeding to make his own bumbling offensive comments comparing homophobia to discrimination based on eye color or weight. So I contacted the corporate office and brought up the company's Equality Index rating. To my surprise, she was familiar with it and assured me that the agent was out of compliance. (It certainly helped my case that they made most of these comments via email.)
In 48 hours, I had a written apology from the agent and a promise from the company that his staff would be retrained on diversity.
Beyond buying, you can use this tool to insist that local affiliates meet the standard or go back to the corporate office (or the HRC) if they don't. It works.
Sunday, March 15
by Sue on Sun 15 Mar 2009 11:34 AM EDT
I am pleased. The Post-Gazette's coverage of yesterday's vote by the Pittsburgh Presbytery is a balanced report on the complexities of "gay issues" in communities of faith. Rather than a reductionistic portrayal of people of faith as vigorously anti-gay, Ann Rodgers presents multiple perspectives from various heterosexual members of the Pittsburgh Presbytarian community.
At issue was an amendment to the church's constitution which would have eliminated the mandate that ministers be either chaste single adults or married. In other words, it would have created room for gay clergy with partners. The local vote is part of the larger effort to amend the constitution nationally. Sadly, the local vote was against the amendment.
The good news is that the vote did bring out allies to testify on behalf of their gay sisters and brothers in the church (and beyond).
Of course, there were testimonials from those who belive homosexuality is a sinful lifestyle and opposed to ordaining gay clergy. You can go read the article to catch those. I'm very sad that Lebanon Presbyterian Church in my home community of West Mifflin seems to generate a lot of the opposition. I was a member of the youth group for two years. It was the alternative to my parish down the street which was being served by a pedophile priest who creeped the hell out of me. Great options, huh?
I'm just pleased that the coverage itself is thoughtful and nuanced. I really do believe that increasing the profile of people of faith who are allies to our community will help challenge the false claim that every right accorded to a LGBT person is one right removed from a person of faith.
I also hope the thorough news coverage will help the genuine dialogue continue.
Saturday, March 14
by Sue on Sat 14 Mar 2009 09:52 AM EDT
A. Altmyer of McCandless wrote in to the "Letters to the Editor" page to share his or her belief that marriage should be between one man and one woman. He makes a series of disjointed, but not unfamiliar points.
1. We are founded on Judeo-Christian values.
2. The majority of Americans are Christians who believe marriage is between one man and one woman.
3.Our society believes that we have to change laws when any small minority group (faction) wants to.
4. Family is the bedrock of society since the dawn of time.
5. Family is the order of things in the natural world.
OK, I have to stop. A. Altmyer is arguing along the lines of both "that's the way is has always been" and "that's the majority view." What if either were to be untrue? Would it change A's mind?
Setting Disney aside, families in the natural world do not look alike. It is definitely not Mom, Dad and the happy kids with a random visit from the extended clan. In fact, there is ample scientific observation and evidence of same sex sexual activity and same sex parenting and same sex families. I wonder how Mr. or Mrs. Altmyer might consider a herd of one male and multiple females to fit into this design?
Ultimately,A wants us to go away.
Suit their lifestyle? Apparently, a lifelong marriage doesn't suit the lifestyle of most adults given the high rate of divorce. It doesn't suit the lifestyle of the sad closeted gay people who crawl into the City for a taste of the life and then crawl back home to their spouse and kids (and church). It sure doesn't suit the lifestyle of the millions of adult children who grew up in unhappy families who stayed together for the kids' sake.
I also object to the implication that the LGBTQ community has not helped to build our society or our social institutions. The entire debate over Don't Ask, Don't Tell is filled with examples of how the military is weaker because of the exclusion of openly LGBTQ individuals who have the necessary skills and talents to defend our nation.
Many LGBTQ individuals and our allies have helped to build communities of faith. You can disagree with them, A, but you cannot deny they exist. My parents are staunch Catholics, but they don't want to vote me off the island. They can't quite figure out how to reconcile me to the island, but you can't claim them 100% for your side just because they receive the Eucharist each week.
This is actually a refreshing letter for me, because it reminds me why I started blogging in the first place. A. had this letter published in response to nothing the PG wrote, probably just because of the Prop 8 furor and the general "issueyness" of the topic. Your letter could also be in the Post-Gazette. Here's the link to submit a letter.
Some have been critical of anonymous commenters who pop up only in relation to what they define scandal. There may be some truth in that, but I also know 1) anonymity is a historical phenom in gay culture and 2) we are human beings. I also have not read any letters to the editor from those who are casting these stones so this might be an opportunity to make your point. :-)