Gay and single in Pittsburgh?

Forbes ranked Pittsburgh low on the list of places good for a singles scene.  I read this little article, including the sidebar profiles and thought “whine, whine, whine.”  On a bright note, they even included a token homo in their list. 

What really gets me about all this whining is the sense of entitlement — the expectation that if you sit back and wait (like a good girl) — the wonderful world of exciting dates and social connections will magically flow to your feet. 

I know it is difficult to meet someone decent, kind and trustworthy.  But there's only so many bars you can crawl out of before it must occur to you that you've turned over all those rocks and it is time to move on.  Life is not like “The Bachelor” where the beauteous babes are paid to fawn all over you. 

When I got fed up with being single and meeting a series of unhealthy people, I made a New Years Resolution to try one new lesbian activity each month.  I figured it would get me out of the house, expose me to new people and expand my circle of friends.  The only rule is that I had to try something new each month.  At my first event (lesbian potluck), I met someone.  It didn't work out, but it was a promising start.  I tried lesbian brunches, PFLAG meetings, volunteer orientation sessions, IT teams, more potlucks, picnics, church services and it was all great. Except for the Cajun dancing in Homestead which sent me home in tears, clutching the comfort pint of Ben and Jerrys, but we can't win them all …

In June, I went to a women's discussion group at the Gay & Lesbian Community Center and that's where I met Ledcat.  The rest is ourstory.  Along the way, I accumulated quite an assortment of great friends.

My point is that a lively social life is something you MAKE, not something you are given.  If the places where you spend your time aren't meeting your social needs, then you can either blame the place or move onto something new. 

Worst Pittsburgh dating hang-up: Men don't approach women anymore. “I can't seem to find a man who understands the concept of picking me up at the door, taking me to dinner, a concert, or a museum. I would love to have a date who doesn't call me and say, 'Meet me at Bar Louie around 10.' “

Well, if you spend your time with the men who do that, how are the other men gonna stand a chance?  Just don't go.  Do something else and hold out for someone who meets your expectations.  OR offer to pick him up and take him to a museum.  Sheesh.

I like this guy.

Worst Pittsburgh dating hang-up: “When someone says they're not finding the right kind of people that's because we're all spoiled. People are used to immediate gratification and if we don't get it, we go home and watch the Steelers. … If we found the right person right away, it would be too easy and we'd think something was wrong with them.”

This was my favorite comment.

Why isn't Pittsburgh a good place for singles? “It's young everywhere you go,” she says. “And if it's [an] older [crowd], it's way too old. When all you keep hearing is, 'You've got great teeth. You have really beautiful teeth,' it's just too old.”

Teeth.  Reminds me of when my fomer neighbor wanted me to go with her to some Holiday Inn bar because the old men would buy us dinner and all the drinks we wanted.  Ick, ick, ick.

My biggest hang up is people thinking there's some theme bar god up in the sky that's going to drop a club right into Pittsburgh that meets your exact expectations.  The lesbian they interviewed was rather articulate, but she longs for a nice LGBT bar/club that isn't a hole in the wall.  Sounds reasonable … but there was such a place called True on the Northside. It was predominantly male, but women have to show and spend their money to be customers.  The owner isn't going to toss out the gays to make ways for the lesbians. 

I hear this “lesbian bar” stuff all the time. Lesbian bars do not appear to be financially sustainable in Pittsburgh or else there would be one.  I wouldn't go b/c I don't like bars, but I'd be fine if one opened.  It would certainly stop a lot of whining about the good old days when we had “Bloomers” and such nostalgia.  While I appreciate the sense of loss, for those of us under 40 it starts to get a little tiring hearing this over and over and over.

There are plenty of places to go to have nice conversation with other people — it is the bar theme that seems to get people hung up.  You can't have it all.  Do some volunteer work, make a few friends, have lunch and expand your horizons.  Go to church and sign up for a committee. 

I think Pittsburgh is a good place to be single because there are so many affordable activities to pursue, activities which create the opportunity to expand your social network. 

You could even go Cajun dancing.  I'll have the Ben & Jerry's in the freezer for ya.

ps:  while I appreciate someone taking a cab rather than driving drunk, I have to say it made me laugh out loud when people said public transportation should be expanded to give them the opportunity to hook up with their latest drunken conquest … now that's the kind of thinking that's gonna revolutionalize the City …


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  • I too get tired of people whining. There are tons of people out there looking to meet other people. And no, you're probably not going to meet Mr. or Ms. Wonderful at some bar or club at 1 am, but there are other places. My mate and I don't go out late, but we do catch happy hour around town. 5801 and Spin on Ellsworth are pretty mixed between boys and girls. Elbow Room and Harris Grille (before the fire) were mixed gay and straight. Red Room, Casbah, and Abay in East Liberty get a mixed crowd.
    Try volunteering through GLENDA, get involved with Shepherd Wellness and do some good while you make new friends. Volunteer at the GLCC. Get a group together and go to a play.
    One new activity we've been partiipating in lately is PG2H2 (Pittsburgh Gay Guys Happy Hour), which sends mass e-mails out and meets once a month at a different bar for Happy Hour. This month about 100 guys got together at Tusca at the South Side Works and spilled out onto their sidewalk terrace and had a blast. Met a lot of new people and some old friends. And we didn't raise an eyebrow among all the straight people down there.
    It's up to everybody to get out there!

  • Amen, George. There are plenty of things to do — and many do not cost a lot of money. The issue tends to be what is going on personally to keep you from participating.
    I suspect quite a few folks feel a sense of security in a dedicated LGBT bar — especially those who are closeted. But volunteering at Shepherd Wellness dinner doesn't ID you as a gay and gives you an easy way to meet a few folks.
    PG2H2 sounds interesting and fun. 100 guys! That's a great turnout.
    Check out the link under “Queer Things to do in Pittsburgh” on the right for a nice list of upcoming stuff.

  • Dood. You and George (the commenter above) are coupled, so I gotta keep it real and beg to differ.
    I think it might not even be humanly possible for me to “get out there” and “do more things”. I'm out, I'm about, and I'm decidedly single (and have been for a long while), and don't see that changing any time soon.
    Pittsburgh, while I love it for many, many reasons, is not a good place to be single–unless you're looking to stay that way. (cue deep, movie-announcer style booming voice) for-EVVVVVEEEERRRRRRR!!!!

  • At first glance, I thought you meant that George and I were a couple, which would definitely negate our input on the gay singles scene 🙂
    I think some of the issues faced by gay singles are part of the local culture – namely, parochialism. People move in herds around here. If they aren't *in* their 'hood, they take the hood posse with them. That's ingrained in our nature and I've noticed that a lot of non-burghers pick up the habit. There's also the issue of not leaving your comfort zone and crossing a bridge.
    It is intimidating to approach someone when their pals are always with them. I experienced that over and over in my single days — I would go to a Wilderness Women potluck and even the hostess would spend most of her time talking with her friends and neglecting the newbies. Actually, that happened in my coupled days, too, and pretty much put the kiss of death on us attending those potlucks in the future. My buddy Louise is the only person I know who EVAH made the time to go around and greet everyone at a potluck and it wasn't even hers.
    That being said, there's still a lot to do and folks who aren't as out and about as yourself had better get off their duffs and stop whining about it when they haven't tried anything more than a few bars.
    Women's discussion group — that's the way to go. Unfortunately, that one petered out b/c no one would run it consistently. The book club is the next best thing but I never seem to make the time to read the current book …

  • Yes, the coupling of Sue and George would be quite the talk in the blogosphere. They'd have to take away our gay cards!
    I have tried to hook up some of my friends who are always complaining that they can't meet anybody new. I invite them to social gatherings where I know single people and introduce them. Invariably, they blanch and are not interested. Some are looking for the “perfect person” and some can't see beyond the physical. I have been successful just a couple of times in my matchmaking, and one couple I got together is now looking for a house together. Some guys who say they want a relationship really don't, and prefer the thrill of the hunt and can't settle down at all. And some people are perfectly happy not to be in a relationship.
    It's not hard to “meet” people, but it is harder to follow through and develop a relationship.

  • “I think some of the issues faced by gay singles are part of the local culture – namely, parochialism”
    I think you just said that it's hard to be single in Pittsburgh! I rest my case.
    And, while I'm sure George is a swell guy, I'm glad you're coupled with Ledcat!

  • Note rest of comment …
    “That being said, there's still a lot to do and folks who aren't as out and about as yourself had better get off their duffs and stop whining about it when they haven't tried anything more than a few bars. ”
    I refuse to believe it is more difficult to be single here than anywhere else. Just that people are more whiny about it and ready to believe!
    George — keep hookin' em up, baby.

  • OK, one last comment, then I'll get off my soap box.
    True story: we were in Toronto a couple of years ago, sitting in a coffee shop on Church Street, which is Gay Central up there. Got to talking to a group of four or five guys at the next table who could tell from our accents that we were from the U.S. One of them said, and I quote, “Oh, thank God! New people! You meet the same people in Toronto all the time!”
    So I think it's universal, if it happens in a city like Toronto. People always think it's hard to get a date wherever they live.

  • I think you are both right–that's it's tough all over, not just in Pittsburgh. And, I think that my own, um, challenges may have to do as much with my age (mid-thirties) as anything else. At this point, I'm fairly set in my ways. I don't stay out late. I'm not interested in randomly hooking up with someone. And, I'm picky. But, all that said, I'm definitely not fightin' them off and rejecting gals left and right for minor infractions either.
    I think one of the issues with a smallish city like Pittsburgh (and can only imagine that it gets more extreme the smaller the burg) is that it's just a small community. Everyone's dated everyone else and their ex-girlfriend's sister's aunt's cousin's whatever. One day Kramer and I tried to calculate the number of date-able dykes in town by using the “if 10% of the population of Pittsburgh is gay, and 5% are women, and x number are between the ages of x and x, and if x percentage are single, and if x percentage are ones that we haven't already dated…”. Let's just say that it was a discouraging result. And, I see that played out practically often. As soon as a new gal comes to town or is freshly single, it's like a crazy bum-rush to be the first to vie for their affections. One of my ex-girlfriends (whom I'd scooped up right after she moved here!) claimed that I'd once referred to her as “fresh mmm…” (the implication being that if I'd stopped “mmm”-ing that'd I'd have called her “fresh meat”). I deny this, but still.
    So, yeah. Tough all over. But, uh, anyone (other than the happily coupled-but-not-with-one-another-Sue-n-George) wanna make out?

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