RIP Chuck Tierney (March 29, 1948 – Oct. 11, 2017)

Chuck Tierney
Chuck Tierney (left) and Chuck Honse in April 2007, a few weeks before they closed their LGBTQ bar, the Holiday. Photo from Pgh City Paper

A founding father of the regional LGBTQ community has passed, Chuck Tierney.

Chuck was a 1966 graduate of Munhall High School. In 1977, Chuck purchased the legendary Holiday Bar on Forbes Avenue in Oakland, along with Chuck Honse. For 40 years, the bar played host to the city’s LGBT community and kept the secrets of closeted patrons who dared not let employers, neighbors, even spouses, know their sexual orientation. Over the years, Chuck and Chuck opened or bought a succession of businesses in Pittsburgh including the Fourth Avenue Stock Exchange, New York New York (now 5801), and Images.

A founding member of the Pittsburgh Tavern Guild and the Delta Foundation of Pittsburgh, Chuck was generous, kind, and known as the being the “idea man” for LGBT fundraising. In 1974, he brought the city’s gay bar owners together and formed the Golden Triangle Picnic Association, which planned outings for the community including boat rides on the Gateway Clipper and picnics in North Park, which continue today. In 1989, he was instrumental in bringing 2,700 panels from the Names Project to Pittsburgh for display at the Convention Center. He also spearheaded the annual City Theater AIDS benefit to benefit the Shepherd Wellness Community, which will celebrate its 25th anniversary this year. In 2010, Chuck was honored as a Grand Marshal at the Pride Equality March along with his partner. Chuck will be cremated and a Celebration of Life will be announced at a later date.

Gretchen McKay has a lovely tribute in the Post-Gazette.

Another lovely piece from Ryan Deto at the Pittsburgh City Paper.

I was very moved by this quote from Scott Noxon:

Scott Noxon, a close friend who followed Tierney’s lead and owned gay bars like The Eagle and The Pegasus through the years, says he enjoyed Tierney’s reservedness. Noxon says it gave Tierney power when he did choose to talk. “When Chuck talked, everyone listened,” Noxon says. 

Noxon says Tierney was a “pioneer” in Pittsburgh’s LGBTQ scene and that his loss shouldn’t be forgotten quickly. “It is a shame that the newer bar owners never got to know him,” says Noxon. “He had a lot of wisdom that he could give you.”

Scott’s comments get to the heart of why we deserve a regional LGBTQ archive. We are literally losing our history. Chuck’s contributions go far beyond those listed above. I took some time to delve into the newspaper archives and shared a few of the more interesting find below.

And please, please take the time to complete the AMPLIFY Q&A today. Every story matters. Every voice should be heard.

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