I’ve been on this kick lately of reading archived media coverage of Pittsburgh’s LGBTQ history. I set up several “Scoop.It” sites to curate the information. One is specific to the Gay and Lesbian Community Center of Pittsburgh and the other is general LGBTQ Pittsburgh history.
Scoop.It is a neat tool – you can follow my topics and get updates when I find new entries. What good is finding buried treasure if you don’t share it? It doesn’t belong to me or to anyone specific. The legacy across the four decades I’ve been reading is about collaboration, shared credit and teamwork. I also find it forces me to ask some hard questions about where we are now. It is to simple to state “things got better” when so much of the content of these long ago articles still rings true.
But as we prepare to honor the 45th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots, I find it especially worthwhile to learn more about local history. So here are a few interesting nuggets you might find interesting.
1. This 1997 article in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette explored the story of John and Bonnie Larson coming to terms with their son’s identity as a gay man. John and Bonnie became instrumental in launching PFLAG in this region (1989) and helped to launch the GLCC’s Friday Night Drop-In Programs. It hits all the familiar points – healing ministries, suicidal ideations, family bonding and ends with a private commitment ceremony.
2. This 1979 article in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette was particularly intriguing – it practically celebrates the various clubs, activities, events and organizations available in Pittsburgh. It is even more interesting that it was a front page story. My personal favorite line is the clarification that the gay bars charged the same for drinks as the straight clubs. You should definitely read this piece.
3. In 1989, a group of activists submitted an op-ed challenging the Pittsburgh Press coverage of HIV and AIDS. It was signed by Michael Franzini, Rick Austill, and David Steward from CRY OUT!, Cynthia Klemariski and Kerry Stoner with the Pittsburgh AIDS Task Force, Randy Forrester of Persad, Michael McFadden of the Fairness Campaign and Chuck Honse of the Lambda Foundation.
4. In 1998, Pittsburgh responded to the murder of Matthew Shepard, remembering a similar incident from 1987 when 37-year-old David Piergalski was murdered in Schenley Park. Randy Forrest made the observation that people thought it could never happen here, even though it already had.
Follow me on Scoop.It to see what else I dig up.
One thing that hasn’t changed in 40 years is the fact that our neighbors need our support – sometimes emotional and sometimes financial. Pennsylvania is the only state in the nation that has marriage equality, but not a statewide non-discrimination law. I found dozens of articles of our forefathers in the movement pushing for these rights on a local level and the sacrifices they made.
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