LGBTQ&A: Eli Kuti Brings Dykes and Trans Folks Together in Pittsburgh

An occasional series where we pose some questions to local LGBTQ folks (and Allies) to learn more about their personal experiences with LGBTQ culture. Click here for a complete list of all LGBTQ&A profiles.  During Pride 2013, we are trying to feature someone each day.

Eli (l) at Jan rally against a queer bashing incident
Eli (l) at Jan rally against a queer bashing incident

In 2005, queer activist Eli Kuti helped launch our region’s first-ever Dyke March. (Photos here.) It was my first Dyke March and the first time I met Eli – megaphone in hand, urging folks to make some noise all the while keeping a keen eye out for safety issues. Over the years, the march has evolved to include Pittsburgh’s trans community – and is now officially the Pittsburgh Dyke and Trans March. Eli is a pretty awesome activist – he isn’t afraid to stick his neck out and challenge the “cool” queers when he feels they present a threat of some type to more vulnerable folks in our community. At the same time, he is concerned that the dyke parents attending the march with their stroller and little kids feel safe and welcomed. That’s a good balance and it suggests why Pittsburgh may be one of the few cities in the nation that successfully fuses dyke identity with trans identities and comes up with a positive, powerful event that respects everyone. We aren’t the only city to have a blended type of march, but it is new terrain for many people.

Name: Eli Kuti

Affiliation: Founder, Pittsburgh Dyke and Trans March

Tell us about the very first LGBTQ person you met and what that meant for you. My ex had an aunt who was a tough mullet wearing lesbo,she gave me a huge gay flag and a guitar pic from Indigo show.She was loud,outspoken and tough.Really impressed me!

How do you stay informed on LGBTQ issues? I stay informed from media local gay paper and also,from different friends all around doing activist work.

What is the most important issue facing the LGBTQ community today? hmmm,most important id have to say gender stuff, safety in restrooms,safety walking the streets at night.

If you could wave a magic wand and change one thing in Pittsburgh’s LGBTQ community, what would it be? If I had a magic wand, I’d make our community closer – I’d make different sects  tour experiences. If you are in the LGBTQ community, trans community, allies, lesbians and everything in between come together and discuss and support each other more.

Past or present, favorite LGBTQ character in television, film or literature? I’d have to say definitely Leslie Feinberg,amazing writer and activist.

What is one simple thing a reader can do to support the LGBTQ community? I think the biggest thing readers can do is be vocal, talk about your life and experiences if you are in the LGBTQ community. If you are an ally, I think its import to support events and also to talk to your coworkers friends family about being an ally.

Follow the Pittsburgh Dyke and Trans March on Facebook.



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