In December 2008, then-Mayor Luke Ravenstahl launched the first ever LGBTQ Mayor’s Advisory Group after a year or so of planning. I was there during the planning, I was at the public meetings held by the body. I was there to ask for help with City issues. I even sat next to Mayor Ravenstahl one time. You can read all about it here.
13 years later, the City has established a formal Commission on LGBTQIA+ Affairs and today the inaugural Commissioners were nominated by the Mayor and confirmed by City Council, unanimously.
My name is on that list, it was actually the first name on the list which may have some symbolic meaning or honor or acknowledgement or just be some random quirk among an otherwise alphabetical listing. But I am now and forevermore the very first person to be confirmed to this Commission. I made history today.
In addition to me, Sue Kerr, the other Commissioners are Councilman Bruce Kraus, Guillermo Velazquez, Kathi Boyle, Richard Parsakian, Leonard Orbovich, Sarah Rosso, Jam Hammond, Denise DeSimone, Luca Salerno, Tiffini Simoneaux, Nekia Burton Tucker, the Rev. Deryck Tines, Marcus Robinson, Britton Mauk, William Hileman and Christopher Robinson.
I only recognice half of these names. That’s pretty exciting. Of course, I did some digging and on the surface it seems like a representative group.
Laura sat with me and watched the City Council meeting online today. She noticed I was teary. Now I don’t have ridiculous expectations that this body will change the nature of Pittsburgh itself or revolutionize City government. But as the wife of a 20+ year City employee, I’ve had a ringside seat to the many, many ways in which modest proposals can create a better community while the larger battles continue.
My commitment is to advocate for racial justice in all things on the table, to always center the trans and queer communities, and to continue listening to people in our community about their experiences. And I’ll likely tend to keep talking about how government is structured in terms of the City Charter, the Constitutions of Pennsylvania and the United States. We need to know what is doable.
So call me Commish and call my wife Mrs. Commish, Esquire. Let’s see what’s next …
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