Today marks the eighth anniversary of Pittsburgh Lesbian Correspondents. Over those 8 years, I’ve personally written between 2500 and 3000 blog posts – exact count is hard to determine due to some behind the scenes software “stuff” I can’t explain well.
I never had ambitions to be a writer. Any time I started to keep a diary, I would be appalled at my paltry attempts and quickly destroy it. I took one journalism class in college which was very interesting, but I did not have any faith in my ability to become a professional journalist. Being able to turn a phrase here and there was not the same thing as the skills needed to join the Fourth Estate.
Instead, I became a social worker and learned that strong writing skills were useful in that discipline, as well as greatly lacking among most people. Strong writing skills were useful advocacy tools. That eventually led me to this thing called a blog – frustration that there was little information about LGBTQ issues available via any tradition media source.
And it worked, at least in the sense that I was able to create a form to put some of that information out there with my own spin, obviously. I found other LGBTQ bloggers, other Pittsburgh bloggers. I learned some HTML, brushed up on grammar 101 and tried hard to carefully cite my sources. And pretty much each year I would cycle through disillusionment, empowerment and many week of not giving a damn. Then I was asked to contribute to other sites. A few other LGBTQ blogs based in Pittsburgh sprang up, but only one has remained viable – this is unfortunate, IMHO. I say that in part due to the sheer volume of information unfolding almost each day – sure could use more hands on deck to cover LGBTQ news, politics and social issues.
When I asked Ledcat what she thought was most significant about this anniversary, she said “that you’ve kept at it for this long.” And that’s true – I’ve been with Ledcat for 10 1/2 years and my longest period of time at one job was 5 years so this is my second longest commitment, excluding my pets. I do tend to cycle through things like hobbies, interests, jobs, etc.
The follow-up question was why she thought I had kept at it all these years? She responded that I use my blog as a platform to say things I believe need to said and that I use it a quasi-journal/diary to talk about personal things that I think need to be said.
Huh. So I ended up with a journal after all, a journal for the whole world to read. I also ended up a professional writer – a card-carrying, dues paying member of the National Writers Union.
Do I have any regrets? Well, my most recent post on Ani DiFranco’s Righteous Retreat and racism has brought some unanticipated criticism from a few Southern gay men and a prominent bisexual activist. Criticism does not equal regret except that I do regret if my words (especially the flippant ones) unintentionally harm someone, especially an ally. So I need to reread that piece – not one of my finer posts to be sure – and rethink their feedback. I need to think about how intentional I was being and take ownership. But that’s part of the process of being accountable and using a blog to engage people in dialogue, not just spewing my opinions and holding my hands over my ears to avoid hearing the negative feedback. It was a rather humbling reminder of these lessons on the eve of an anniversary.
I reread some of the posts I shared when I was very ill – both manic and depressed – and those are difficult to read. But they are accurate reflections of my distorted view of reality so while awkward, I am not taking them down. And I’m a little amazed at how even at the heights of my illness (or the depths), I still stuck with some of the fundamentals. Sometimes the swirling thoughts around political events just coalesced for me in a way that nothing else did. I’m embarrassed by my self-aggrandizing preachiness about my year-long weight loss odyssey. I’m not embarrassed because I gained the weight back, but embarrassed that I was such a braggart and obnoxious about it. Thank you for sticking with me during that time frame.
I’m not a big fan of bloggers removing content although I have done it. We’d be better served if we updated or corrected or even apologized. We aren’t journalists, but we aren’t spouting off in our private homes either. There is some accountability that comes with blogging – it is not merely an expression of our personal brand.
The best thing about a blog is that you can get up in the morning and start fresh. And these days, there is A LOT of LGBTQ information to analyze and share.
Let me wrap up very quickly with a few bullet points.
Favorite moments in 2013
- The LGBTQ&A series: mini interviews with about 50 local LGBTQ folks and allies.
- Our coverage (Trish and I both worked on this) of the violent murders of three trans women in Cleveland this past year and a related series on transphobia on the CBS Show “Mike and Molly” Trish’s pieces were in particular very compelling and continue to draw dozens of hits per day.
- Taking a very public stand when this blog was blocked by the City of Pittsburgh web filters and having both Mayor-Elect Bill Peduto and Councilor Natalia Rudiak commit to new policies that are based on best-practices.
- Advocating very loudly when the City of Pittsburgh misplaced the Domestic Partner Registry affidavits.
- Everything Trish Mifflin has written. She’s an amazing journalist and a very brave woman. I am very honored that she contributes.
What I hope to accomplish in 2014
- Bring in at least one new contributor (send me an email if you are interested pghlesbian at gmail.)
- More in-depth coverage of stories from working class and lower-income LGBTQ persons and families. These are issues that are almost completely overlooked.
- Traveling to Netroots Nation in Detroit.
- Waking up to learn that the Easter Bunny brought me a Galaxy Note 🙂
- A new interview series.
I want to thank a few people who have made this all possible – contributors Trish, Jen, Sarah and Ledcat; guest posts from Ian Awesome (and others); all of City Council and most of my elected officials who aren’t put off by a woman with a chip on her shoulder, my blog guy Jeff (and Luigi) and the local political bloggers – Maria, David and Bram who have walked this path with me for years.
And, most importantly, thank you for reading.
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Congratulations, Sue! Yours is an important voice in our region AND in the blogging community. We’re fortunate to have you.