Please Don’t Vote For Me: Pgh City Paper ‘Best of Pittsburgh’ 2017

Nominations are open for the 2017 ‘Best of Pittsburgh’ poll hosted by the Pittsburgh City Paper. I’m asking you to not vote for me as ‘Best Local Blogger’ the category I won in 2016.

Don’t get me wrong, this is not false humility. Winning is fun, excellent even. I was blown away when I was notified of the award in 2016 because I never saw it coming. According to the City Paper, that was the first year for this particular category which only adds to the overall pleasure and pride I felt – the first winner ever was a middle-aged, fat, queer, disabled woman. That’s not what anyone expects.

Winning is fun, but sharing – sharing is fun, too. After all, signal boosting and amplifying other voices are sort of what we’ve been doing around here for the past 12+ years. I aspire to be a winner who shares and signal boosts.

These sorts of voter polls can be important, especially for retail and commercial establishments whose work is central to their income. That’s not true of 99.9% of bloggers in Pittsburgh. While we deserve to be compensated, we typically aren’t, leaving me and a handful of others involved in these contests with the discretion to bow out and create space for others to be in the limelight. I’ll always have bragging rights as the first ever blogger to win, right?

Investing in local blogs is another way to vote!

I feel an acute need to do better by my colleagues and comrades both in the blogging world and the queer community. Sometimes it seems that we are caught up in a twisted battle for winning at all costs versus an incessant demand that we allocate all resources to others (see all recent discussion about Pgh Pride.) We have to find a way to negotiate a world that crowdfunds funerals of crime victims less successfully than whimsical artisanal social experiences. We have to do better at acknowledging those who came before us and those who walk with us now.

What if we did something radical and asked all winners to stand down the following year? Just for one year. Maybe we would still end up with Pamela’s and Eat n Park swapping off ‘Best Breakfast,’ but it would at least create chance for someone else to win.

And our community is better when someone else wins. That would mean new advertising sources for the outlets, new spaces for us to support, and only a modest restriction for winners. The outlets could even offer the 2016 winners a chance to congratulate their successor – the handing off the crown moment as they do at the pageants. So no lost exposure.

It would be the gracious and Mr. Rogers type approach to celebrating the ‘Best of Pittsburgh’ – a one year rest between eligibility and winning again.

I haven’t practiced what I’m preaching in the past. For example, I’ve won the same category multiple years in the Keystone Alliance Gaylife Newsletter Readers Choice Awards. But I had a conversation with someone recently about the toxic impact of erasure and invisibility in the local LGBTQ community that inspired me to do something differently this time. I’m exhausted sometimes with trying to set the record straight about regional queer history (and current events.) And I saw myself in someone’s behavior that I thought was self-serving and hurtful to the queer community. So I’m trying something new right now.

I also want my nieces and nephews to grow up knowing that winning is not everything whereas being a community builder, a good neighbor and a person who shares their resources is everything.

Would I win in 2017? Who knows – but I do know that those of you who might vote for me can have a role in helping someone else win. And there’s no dearth of eligible blogs for this honor.

So here’s how it works. Between today and July 28, you can nominate whomever you like in the various categories, one per day per category. All nominations are verified and then the Voting round runs from July 28 – August 18.

I tried to recreate the ballot with my personal suggestions, but the voting software is not helping me out. So here’s a general list of the categories that resonate with me.

Culture & Nightlife

  • Best Local Theater Company – Off The Wall/Carnegie Theater
  • Best Gallery for Local Artists – Most Wanted Fine Art
  • Best Local Visual Artist – Jason Sauer
  • Best Local Writer – Damon Young
  • Best Place to See a Local Band – James Street Gastropub
  • Best Haunted Attraction – ScareHouse
  • Best Fundraising Gala – Art for Change

Food & Drink

  • Best Restaurant (NORTH) – Royal Myanmar (in West View)
  • Best Sushi – Royal Myanmar
  • Best Milkshake – Antney’s Ice Cream
  • Best Pizza – Giorgio’s Place
  • Best Coffeehouse – Arnold’s Tea
  • Best Tea Shop  – Arnold’s Tea
  • Best Bakery – Priory Fine Pastries
  • Best Ice Cream – Antney’s Ice Cream
  • Best Sunday Brunch – Drag Brunch at James St Tavern

People & Places

  • Best Nonprofit – Persad Center
  • Best Local Twitter Account – VOTE FOR ME @PghLesbian24
  • Best Activist – you could vote for me too, but I’m voting for Angel Gober
  • Best Public Servant – I’m voting for my Ledcat because not all public servants are elected. She’s worked diligently for 17+ years to serve Pittsburgh.
  • Best Media Personality – David Highfield from KDKA
  • Best Local Celebrity You’d Like to Take to Dinner – Carl Redwood or Billy Hileman
  • Best Protest Action – Intersectional Feminist March

Goods & Services

  • Best Florist – K.S. Kennedy Distinctive Floral
  • Best Hair Salon – Veraldi Salon

I don’t really have a lot of suggestions. It seems most of the categories are related to alcohol or activities that I don’t do.

So, please don’t vote for me as best blogger. I’m very determined to do this so even if you vote, I’ll not accept the award. I will cheer for the winner because blogging matters.

Whom do I think is the best local blogger? I’ll share a few names here and note that I am specifically not including folks who already have plenty of attention and PR.

If you want to live in a neighborhood with lots of terrific people, you have to make sure they have room and feel welcomed.


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