Political Q&A With Candidates Who Don’t Follow Through With the LGBTQIA+ Community

For several years, I have published a Q&A series with candidates for all sorts of offices. Some people approach me and I try to create an open invitation to candidates who meet the criteria of being an LGBTQ ally running for office in Pennsylvania.

Each Q&A is hand-crafted so to speak to dive into issues unique or very specific to the candidate. It takes a lot of time for me to do that work, but it is immensely more useful than a cookie cutter template.

Today is May 1 so we are 18 days out from the Pennsylvania Primary election. This typically means I will not receive any further Q&A’s.

Typically, there are three reasons I assign to candidates who ask for a Q&A but don’t return it.

  1. Their campaigns are chaotic and disorganized so things fall through the cracks.
  2. They don’t like or know how to answer the questions so they turn a blind eye.
  3. They don’t prioritize the LGBTQIA+ community.

Those who do explain will often tell me how busy they are doing big and important things or family things, as if my time and, ultimately, your time is less important or less full of big and important things. Still, here you are reading this post and there they are having wasted our collective time. Not to mention that I have to chase them down with repeated reminders to even learn they aren’t planning to complete it. Seriously.

The most embarrassing moments are when campaign supporters tag me and them in a social media post and I have to clarify that they opted not to participate. Those comments are usually quickly deleted. Whoops!  What should happen is that supporter could be asking the candidate to explain the WHY NOT decision instead of covering up the oopsie. Instead, they expect me to give them cover by just saying nothing. I’m expected to get in line and cooperate to support them because it is what is best for the region. Blah. Blah. Blah. 

You know who made time to complete the Q&A – the two progressive candidates for Mayor – Mayor Bill Peduto and State Representative Ed Gainey. No other mayoral candidate anywhere in the region even considered it. But they both did and they did so early on and they did so quickly. 

As for the rest, I don’t go out of my way to call them individually out because that’s rude, but I also don’t lean into their straightwashing framing. I highly doubt they tell labor unions, big donors, or PAC’s the same things they tell me to excuse their lack of follow through.

I have a few Q&A’s left to publish. I hope more will come in and I will maintain my faith in progressive support for LGBTQIA+ folx.  I will publish right up to election day, but it says something when a candidate’s team gets their responses to me on the Sunday before the primary right? That happened two years ago. 

This is not an endorsement. Many of them might have the Steel City Stonewall, Victory Fund, or Gertrude Stein endorsements and good for them. This is an interview. It is an investment, not a reward. The candidate is not doing ME a favor by participating. 

This year in particular the sounds of silence echo painfully through our community. (At least) three bisexual candidates are on the ballot. But more so there is the terrible mass killings our region endured when three young trans BIPOC were shot to death in two different domestic incidents. Their names were Chynaa Carillo (24), Jasmine Cannady (22), and JJ Bright (16). Chynaa was killed by a man she was dating near her home in New Wilmington, Lawrence County. Jasmine and JJ were killed by their mother in their home in Ambridge, Beaver County.

The same candidates who claim they oppose efforts to restrict youth sports participation using anti-trans criteria, who claim that they listen to and trust Black women, and who claim that they understand the vulnerability of trans youth in our society. There are more than 120 anti-trans bills across the nation, including Pennsylvania. These people could not make time to complete a Q&A for the closest approximation to a media site for the trans and queer community. If the fates of Chynaa, Jasmine, and JJ do not motivate folx to do this work, who will?

I’m ashamed of progressives who cannot rise to the occasion just months after such devastating violence right here. True, not Pittsburgh proper, or even Allegheny County. But the travails of living in the region as a trans or queer person do not really start and stop at municipal borders especially in a Commonwealth with no statewide protections.

If you are a voter in these races, I urge you to read the responses and to give serious consideration to the fact that these candidates took time to invest in our community. They deserve your consideration even if you don’t give them your vote.

And look at whose name is missing. Your candidate for magistrate? Court of Common Pleas? Borough Council? School Board? Mayor? Sheriff? Then ask them why that is the case. 


 Q&A’s in this election cycle series. You can read previous cycle Q&A’s here.

  1. Q&A With Bill Peduto, Mayor of the City of Pittsburgh
  2. Q&A With Ed Gainey, Candidate for Mayor City of Pittsburgh
  3. Q&A With Raymond Robinson, Candidate for Magisterial District Judge 05-02-42
  4. Q&A with Bethani Cameron, Candidate for City Council District 4
  5. Q&A with Hilary Wheatley Taylor, Candidate for Magisterial District Judge for District 05-2-19
  6. Q&A with Connor Mulvaney, Candidate for City Council District 4
  7. Q&A with Judge Derwin Rushing, Candidate for Magisterial District Judge 5-2-40
  8. Q&A with Alyssa Cowan, Candidate for Court of Common Pleas Judge
  9. Q&A with Anita Prizio, Allegheny County Councilor District 3
  10. Q&A With Tiffany Sizemore, Candidate for Judge, Allegheny County Court of Common Pleas Judge
  11. Q&A with Robert Disney, Candidate for Bellevue Borough Council
  12. Q&A with Cheryl Patalano, Candidate for Northgate School Board of Directors
  13. Q&A with Laura Pollanen, Candidate for Bellevue Borough Council

Shame on all of us.

Edited. Chynaa Carillo was murdered in New Wilmington, not New Brighton. We apologize for the error.

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