This Blog Celebrates Our Sweet Sixteen Today

Most blogs are abandoned within 90 days. Those that endure typically last 2-3 years.

That works out to my blog being 5-8 “generations” removed from the blogs someone launches as a New Years resolution in 2022.

I don’t remember celebrating my actual sweet 16, but it was certainly not like the movies. I was all about passing my drivers license test. I think I got an AAA membership and car insurance paid as a gift.

Key memories – ha, pun.

Here’s my very first blog post in its original format.

When I think about 16 years of blogging, I feel that this is a foundation and nowhere near a final chapter. There are many things left to say and certainly assess with my queer eye. But reflection is important for growth and for peace of mind. Has my blogging had an impact in the world? Have I been fair, balanced, and accurate or at least clear when I’m not doing so and going into full rant mode? Have I tried to lift up and amplify other voices other experiences, and other queer points of view? Do I hold myself accountable in the same way I try to hold community leaders accountable?

I’ve often said that this is not a queer media site. It is a blog, a reflection on LGBTQ experiences in the early 21st century, and an archive of moments that might not otherwise be documented. The Pittsburgh LGBTQIA+ Commission is a good example. I have written about the various incarnations of this entity, stretching back to when it was first convened as an Advisory Board by then-Mayor Luke Ravenstahl in 2006. I believe I have the most robust documentation around and certainly have been the most attentive member of the media. So when considering whether to apply for a seat on the newly formed LGBTQIA+ Commission, something most journalists and bloggers not do, I was bringing a wealth of information and institutional history with me. So I applied, was confirmed, and elected to a role as a co-chair. And I’ve brought forth information, facts, and data that has arisen over the years and not really documented. I’m proud of that work, that service to the City. I was honored that I was the very first person confirmed in history when it should have been alphabetical. I feel that’s a credit to this blog and the impact we’ve had together as contributors, guest bloggers, behind-the-scenes techies, advisors, critics, and, most importantly, those of you who read this blog.

Thank you for being part of what we do.

Here are a few of the memories from the past 16 years that come to mind when I think about lists. I apologize if I have forgotten anyone or anything, I am writing this while sick (I’m getting tested) so let’s blame COVID-19. In no particular order:

  • Being invited to DC for a LGBTQ blogging and activist conference in 2008.
  • Creating and watching the #AMPLIFY archive evolve from 2015 onward.
  • Being the very first winner of the ‘Best Local Blogger’ category of the City Paper ‘Best of Pittsburgh’ Readers Poll. I was totally caught off-guard. That was 2016.
  • The first live-blogging of a City Council public hearing. Chris Potter was scribbling notes beside me while I typed away in 2006. I had a hotspot card, he did not.
  • Then County Chief Executive Dan Onorato yelling at me in front of a room full of people because I pushed him hard on his lackluster LGBTQ record. That was 2014.
  • Interviewing Kevin Acklin across a table at Hoi Polloi coffeehouse in 2009. That was very special interview. Even though I am quite critical of the Penguins at times and Hoi Polloi is gone, I still hope maybe we can do it again sometime.
  • Vanessa German investing in an #AMPLIFY art project in 2017. One of most humbling moments of my 16 years.
  • Meeting Maria Lupinacci and David DeAngelo whose blog is older than mine. I love them and look up to them as pioneers and continued trail blazers.
  • The time I made a Influencer cry because I accepted a Keurig to review and robustly deconstructed the many ways it sucked. She said if I cared about the environment, I should have allowed someone else to have the free Keurig for a rah-rah review. This is why I will never be a brand ambassador. Or an influencer. This was 2014.
  • Ledcat interviewing Emily Saliers of the Indigo Girls from our kitchen table while I listened. (2017)
  • Unveiling my 1991 internship photo with then-Congressman Rick Santorum. Who could have of foreseen how much relevance that would have for me in 2021?
  • Realizing that not a single member of my family – immediate, extended, or inlaw – reads my blog. They read occasional posts that I send directly to them, but for the most part they just assume I have a little hobby, even the comms folx. I’m like a little Batman in the family with a secret life and fewer tools.
  • So many other bloggers participating the ‘Blogging for Equality’ events I organized to support marriage equality. Note, we may need you again if SCOTUS rips away the penumbra of privacy. Be ready.
  • Learning a little coding, a little graphic design, some archival skills, the nuances of writing reviews, and other tools I never knew I would need or master.
  • Developing a thicker skin under the relentless and often vicious assaults on my writing, my politics, my body, and my identity. The worst of it has come from within the LGBTQIA+ community. I’m still honing this skill. Yes, I have been canceled, TERFd, blocked, shunned, uninvited, targeted, called names, stalked, and more.
  • The secret thrill when a journalist or outlet I really admire mentioned or linked to my blog (or me) – Chris Potter, Tony Norman, Rich E. Lord, Tereneh Idia, Ginny Montanez, Joy KMT, and all of the interns – I love being a source of learning and will always say yes to intern requests for interviews.
  • Being asked by a trans friend to write memorial blog posts for our trans neighbors lost to fatal violence. They asked, I’ve been doing it ever since and it has transformed my entire world. This is work I am honored, but devastated to do. This was 2013.
  • Named “Favorite GLBT Media Publication”  by Keystone Alliance Gaylife Newsletter (2012, 2015, 2016)
  • Named “Favorite GLBT Social Media” by Keystone Alliance Gaylife Newsletter (2013, 2014, 2015)
  • Voted “Best Local Blog” and “Favorite Lesbian” by the 2020 People’s Pride Awards via SisTersPgh.
  • Named ‘Oustanding Blog’ by the national GLAAD awards in 2019.
  • Taking breaks from blogging for days, weeks, even months to recharge. I take this journey one-day-at-a-time with no clearcut schedule about retiring or stepping away. Taking care of my mental health takes priority over breaking a news story any day of the week.

Looking over this list, it really is about the relationships that generate rewards. I’m part of the narrative as well as chronicling it.

All of this has led to the founding of Pittsburgh LGBTQ Charities this year, an outcome I never anticipated 16 years ago. It is a separate entity from this blog, but shares a history.

Join me in celebrating this ‘Sweet 16’ occasion

To wrap up, I used an image taken today when I was waiting my turn for a COVID-19 test at Metro Community Health. I started feeling pretty sick yesterday so being tested was vital. Two year pandemic was not something I foresaw in 2006. Hopefully, next year, I’ll be writing this blogiversary post from a sunny vacation spot instead of my sofa while I wait to see if I’m infected with a virus that’s killed over 800,000 Americans and nearly 5.5 million people worldwide.

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