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View Article  Two presents in one day

Today was a good day.

My friend Anne gifted me with a huge bag of gently used clothing.  She's been following my weight loss saga and set aside items she thought I would like.  It was very unexpected and very sweet.  I have my eye on a plaid skirt for an upcoming date night.  Now I need to indulge my tight fetish ...


When I returned home, I found a package from South Carolina which had my friend DeeDee's handwriting all over it. I ripped open the envelope and found a book. The Art Book!  She's an artist and I've been sharing with her about my journey through The Artist's Way and the need to do a weekly artist date.  So she gifted me with a lovely book and a gift card to a coffee house that she was regifting.  I was delighted with the unexpected surprise. 

I am very lucky to have such lovely friends. I'm also inspired to finish cleaning the spring /summer clothing I shrank out of and passing it along now rather than waiting around for the ground to thaw.  Pay it forward, right?


View Article  Learning compassion

I've always considered myself a compassionate person.  From my days of campus service projects to my years in social service ministry right through my social work graduate degree to my various jobs, I always just took for granted that I had compassion for, well, everyone.  It wasn't something I examined too closely and I rarely took the opportunity to contrast my self-belief with the way I lived my life, the manner in which I experienced my life.

I am guilt of many self-indulgences, but having compassion for myself is not one of them.  Like many of us, I can be both brutal on myself and stubborn about things I don't want to change.  I am somewhat keenly focused on the suffering of other people, but self-righteous when it comes to my own.  I'm quick to tell you when I've felt discrimination, such as when the man downtown called me a f*cking dyke last year.  I wag my finger and shake my fist at the injustice of it all, but sometimes I get so caught up in the "gay emergency" that I lose sight of the fact that compassion should extend beyond my comfort zone.

I recently had some feedback that I had indulged in some discussions about being gay that I would "crucify" someone else for having.  I was taken aback at that language.  When I was inside my own perspective, I could *get* why I might be having that conversation?  Am I really so unforgiving that I would crucify anyone?  At what point did my quest for equality become a lynch mob? (my words)

Here's where we circle back around to compassion for myself.  The conversation I was having was in the midst of a deep personal crisis and I was hurting.  I've probably criticized other people for indulging in similar thoughts, but the best I can do now is practice what I preach, remember my own frailties and not be so quick to judge other people who don't meet the gay perfection standard. 

But I also need to give myself permission to miss that standard. A lot.  Often.  Many times.  Sometimes. 

One of my goals for 2011 is to infuse this blog with more personal insight, not simply regurgitating and analyzing LGBTQ news.  The truth is that it is hard to blog out loud without exposing some of your warts.  The tendency to cover those warts with snark and self-righteous whatever is very tempting, but it does lessen my credibiliy as a compassionate human being.  I can't undo past experiences where I've crucified anyone, but I am glad to have an opportunity to be more mindful of that flaw. 

Let me be clear.  Holding people accountable for their choices is not crucifying them.  Failing to put myself in their shoes for few moments,  failing to consider their point of view is leading me down that path. 

compassion - the humane quality of understanding the suffering of others and wanting to do something about it.

As wise woman recently told me that once you can have compassion and love for yourself, you will have a twofold ability to give it back. It would be superficial and insincere to suddenly become the font of compassion for people I typically pick apart.  It would be healthy and constructive to start with myself. 

Oh, boy.

View Article  Wingnut Donutter pulls one over on LGBTQ community

I have to give Ron Razete of Peace, Love and Little Donuts credit. His anti-gay bigotry was on display in the Post-Gazette, the Pgh City Paper, national blogs and the Urban Spoon and he didn't miss beat nor repent a single vile word he spewed. 

What did he say?  Here are some excerpts from his now defunct blog. Razete drew quite a response from the lesbian blogs (ahem) to the radical queers to LGBT business owners.

But getting a two page spread in Pittsburgh's LGBT magazine, Cue Pittsburgh, is stunning. How on earth did he get free publicity from a gay publication? 

It does prove my point that he's using the "peace, love, hippie" theme as a marketing ploy, but I'm intrigued how this played out.  Did the wingnutters go looking for a palatable gay media source?  Was this calculated or just chance? Did the wingnutter know what kind of magazine was interviewing his daughter? 

The undeniable fact is that Cue Pittsburgh missed the boat in a big way. I wonder if the editorial staff is paying attention to local LGBT news if they simply "forgot" about the donut scandal?  I am puzzled. It would be one thing if they were reviewing heterosexual owned businesses and overlooking gay owned companies, but this guy really hates us.  How does Cue plan to respond?  Will they step up and take responsibility for putting gay money in the pocket of a rabid homophobe?  I truly hope so. 


View Article  Reminder ... Twitter List

Hey, I know I've told you about this before ... but I'm trying very hard to keep current a Twitter list of local and statewide politicians.  This is a most excellent way to observe the politicians in their natural habitat!  LOL.  Seriously, such a great way to see what matters to them and make some connections.


I just updated the list so wanted to put it out here again. 

View Article  GLCC merger with Celebrate the Night: Where does this leave transwomen?

In the most recent GLCC newsletter, the organization announced that Celebrate the Night has become an official committee of the organization.  Celebrate the Night is a variety show that benefits the GLCC.

As you may recall, CTN generated a firestorm last year by refusing to audition a transwoman and pronouncing that she was not woman enough to meet their criteria.  At that point, the CTN website described the event as celebrating all women.

They've since updated it to state:

For the purpose of this event, if a person is legally recognized as
a woman or living full-time as a woman, she is a woman.

No such requirement that to be a lesbian, you must be legally recognized or living full-time as a lesbian.  Which is good since there are many, many women who participate in CTN that are not 100% out of the closet and I would hate for them to feel excluded just because they aren't lesbian enough.

Well, at least if the GLCC is going to formally associate itself with an organization that openly discriminates against transwomen,things are a little more out in the open.  The GLCC has historically been a little weak on transinclusion and I don't really think this is going to come as a shock to anyone.  The truth is that Pittsburghers who are L, G, B and Q really have a long way to go when it comes to lifting up and including our trans brothers and sisters.

For a complete herstory on this situation, click here.

View Article  I was blacklisted by the City Paper

It is completely true.  My innocent little email was rejected by the Steel City Media cyber guardians.  I just wanted to ask Chris Potter a question.  Rest assured, Potter was on it once I made the call.  And once it became apparent that someone in marketing couldn't email her boyfriend ... well, he was on it a little bit.  He does have important columns to write and it has been awhile since he played the white-straight-guy privilege card so I'm gonna assume this was all just a big misunderstanding.

The important thing is that Gary and Beth are gone, right?  Right?

OK, onto other topics.  Letters to the editor.  The PG has been full of 'em -- everyone has something to write about gay marriage.  Some of it is good, some of it is crap.  Most of it is poorly written, but filled with joie de vivre!

Interesting to me has been the dearth of letters in the Tribune Review.  What's up with that? Have the subscribers been so blindsided by Richie's meeting with Hillary Clinton that they've lost track of important gay-bashing goals?  I mean how are you supposed to oppress an entire group of citizens if your base isn't stepping up on the letter writing?  The next thing, we'll be distributing civil rights to Mexicans, Hondurans and <gasp> people who wear turbans but aren't Islamic.  What is this world coming to? 

I wrote a letter to the Post-Gazette, but I forgot to send it to myself so I'm not 100% sure what I wrote.  I know that I did praise Doug Shields and draw comparisons between Sally Kern and the gay marriage amendment stuff here in PA.  I thought it was topical and had a national contexty flair that has yet to come to light in the other "published" letters.  Whatever. 

Seriously, my letter.  It rocked. 

Slow day at lesbian central.  I didn't cry when I came home which is a first since Mona's demise.  I really appreciate when people offer their condolences, but it isn't fun when someone wants to know about the injection experience.  I would think my terse one-word answers would be a social cue that I don't want to talk about it.  Ledcat brought my tulips from a local flower store here on the Northside.  He has a dog and now she wants a small little dog.  I draw the line at a dog that could actually squeeze outside of the fence. 

See what lesbian marriage creates?  Tulips (patronizing local businesses), a clean load of dishes (cleanliness next to Godliness), Chinese take out (more local business and the family of Ming Na -- hottie!), the one repeat of NCIS I missed this year (don't ask and I won't tell), and my secret hope that Ledcat will go ahead and replace the cat vomited sheets while I'm up here doing important blogging work. 

Q92.9. I listen.  I find the autotron female voice very amusing.  As well the lack of gay bashing phone calls being aired.  Ah, sweet.

View Article  Blog For Choice 2008: Why It Is Important to Vote Pro-Choice

I am pro-choice.  Tuesday is the 35th Anniversary of the Roe v Wade decision and bloggers throughout the nation are working to raise the profile of reproductive choice vis a vis Blog for Choice 2008.

My right to make decisions about my reproductive health is not something I take lightly.  While only three when Roe was decided, most of my adult years have been defined by an increasing assault on this personal freedom in the name of an undefined "fetus" which has become a personless poster-child for an agenda determined to beat women back into an age of suppression and repression.

I have many friends who identify as pro-life.  They pray for unborn children and march to restrict access to abortion.  Some fervently believe the rhetoric they are spoon fed by patriarchal structures that historically hold women in a subservient positions (hello, Catholic Church).  Some honestly think it is about babies.  Most don't give a damn about those babies once they exit the birth canal, particularly if they are born into families that are poor, of color, single, gay, young or in some other aberration from the mythological "traditional family."  Or if those babies suck up tax dollars.

My point is that there are many people who buy into this mythological assault on unborn children.  Hence, the need for those of us who see through this fairy tale to hold the line, politically and legislatively.

I confess that my record is not perfect. I voted for Bob Casey, a pro-life Democrat, to oust woman and homo hater Rick Santorum.  But choice is important to me.

I applaud creativity.  Chris Potter, editor extraordinaire of the City Paper, inspired many of us with his response to the 2007 WDUQ/Duquesne University/Planned Parenthood debacle.

In 2003, the Gertrude Stein Political Club of Pittsburgh earned my respect when they stood up to the Pittsburgh Tavern Guild who refused them entrance to distribute slate cards that did not endorse openly anti-choice Gene Riccardi.  The Tavern Guild forever lost respect in my eyes for their heavy handed, self-serving maneuver as well as the clear illustration that issues that impact women (and our autonomy) came in second place to issues that impact their bottom line and/or political connections.  Shame on them. 

Pittsburgh recently elected an anti-choice Democrat as our Mayor for the next two years.  His only vote related to reproductive freedom was against the Bubble Zone, a law that protects women from abusive protests at clinics.  Luke gave no explanation for his vote.

Western Pennsylvania is a Democratic town with a big Catholic social conservative twist.  We cannot afford to take lightly when movers and shakers in our town impose an anti-choice mindset on the rest of us, be they bastions of intellectual freedom or business owners, much less 27 year old elected officials.  Our bodies are not up for barter.  Our choices are not up for debate. 

Last year, I blogged about the hypocrisy of those on the other side.  This year, I believe it is imperative that we examine the support of our allies right here in Pittsburgh - a town of staunch Democrats and staunch Catholics.  A town where the largest Presbyterian Church in town voted themselves off the island to join a more conservative communion.  A town with one (1) local female talk show host who is also the only local liberal talk show host. 

What does this have to do with voting pro-choice?  Well, that nice young man who you wanted to have a chance as Mayor is going to someday set his sites on an elected position where he votes on more than bubble ordinances.  Those business owners who put political allies ahead of the lives of half of their own community are now financially supporting that nice young man.  Can you win a statewide seat on an anti-choice ticket?  Ask Bob Casey.  I'd prefer not to be in a position of Casey v Santorum anytime soon.

My point is that we must pay attention to the local situation as well as the state and federal situations.  My point is that we includes the women and men of the LGBT community.  My point is that when the next generation of local Democratic leadership clings to a Catholic-fused political reality (no civil unions, no birth control, no bubble zone, etc) AND the next generation of local gay leadership continues to fund that guy ... women need to pay attention. We need to sit down with these men and make sure they understand why choice impacts every single woman in our community. 

It is important to vote pro-choice. It is important to read the questionairres distributed by the Gertrude Stein Club and the Steel City Stonewall Democrats and pay attention to the questions about choice.  It is important that the questions be asked. 

We are not making progress or moving forward with a 27 year old Mayor that is anti-choice and anti-civil union.  It is incumbent on us to educate him and ourselves on the implications for our lives if reproductive choice continues to erode under the relentless assault from those who would happily impose their value systems on our bodies.

View Article  so What's Up with Sue, anyway?

i have hurt my back.  it started throbbing last week.  the two hour drive in the giant box truck to pick up toys didn't help, I'm sure.  especially the part where i was scrunched up from stress trying to find the marine distribution center.  then when i had to get all slidey with the boxes so we could unload. 

now i'm on the couch with a rolled up pillow prop, a bag of ice and a restless mind.  simply-cannot-afford to be laid up this week.  i have ten days of toy wrapping projects ahead of me and i-am-stressed-out.

it hurts.  a-lot.  yikes!

so i'm in the in-between of my body doesn't work right and my head is filled with all the tons of crap i have to do. 

i think i want to break up with my therapist.  but that is just a phase. probably, right?

i need to buy 500 "holiday" cards by tuesday.  and wrapping paper.

i'm reading god is not Great by Christopher Hitchens.  it is great.  he's persuading me that i think like an atheist.  except that i am unwilling to let go of my personal experiences with the divine.  i guess. 

i'm depressed about recycling and my environmental footprint. i seduced myself into thinking i was this awesome person b/c i tried to recycle everything.  stupid crap. then i found out that a lot of it is just self-soothing activity that doesn't make a damn bit of good. of course not.  the real emphasis should be on reducing my usage of environmentally damaging items, not patting myself on the back for rinsing and reusing.  here's what i learned from the PA Resources Council

they don't recycle the plastic bags in which we store our recycling.  doesn't that seem silly?  why not recycle into paper bags which can be recycled? 

you can recycle plastic peanuts at the USPS.  however, there's no place to recycle those little plastic sauce containers that come with takeout.  so extra sauce from Giorgio's means death to yet another baby turtle. so much for meat-free.

if you contaminate your bag of recycling with too many items that aren't recyclable (like all those lids), they sometimes just toss the whole bag into the landfill.  i think every adult i know tosses lids into the blue bags. damn.

biodegradable plastic bags don't biodegrade in landfills.  so is it all hype?  i asked the Co-op and Whole Foods to look into blue biodegradable bags made from recycled plastic b/c it seems silly to use a virgin bag just for recycling.  now it seems silly to worry about it. the damn bags aren't recycled and don't biodegrade.

i feel a bit foolish at my presumption that it would be so easy. all those pizza boxes crammed into the bins at Construction Junction prove that i am not alone in my self-delusion.  and to think i made fun of the earnest men and women driving their SUV's especially out to Point Breeze every weekend.  ha. the joke is on me, I guess.  because it is hard to reduce. 

now that's a double entendre, she thoughtfully notes as she sips her gingerbread flavored coffee and nibbles a cookie from the Priory Bakery.

i'm not really depressed so much as feeling crabby and skeptical.  i'm trying hard to use my current work assignment (toy drive) as a educational tool and not merely another facet of sopping off our consumer guilt with one giant tax deduction.  i want to get excited when people care, but it can be a bit of a challenge when i doubt their motives.  it just makes me want to shop. 

this would be a great time for an unexpected wallop from the ghost of christmas present. 

View Article  Gifts and Questions for you ....

What should I include in a Pittsburgh themed gift basket for my brother and sister-in-law?  They live in Chicago.  I am about 85% finished with my holiday purchases and this is the stumper. 

Also, is there a word, other than sister-in-law, for the woman married to your brother-in-law?  Especially when you are a lesbian and said brother-in-law is more of a brother-in-domestic-partnership?  To simplify, I'm referring to Ledcat's brother and his wife who do not live in Chicago. 

  Check our Crystal Eastman's summary from "The Next Page" feature in Sunday's Post-Gazette.  Friggin' awesome.

View Article  Man threatens to shank dog and people think the police are the problem?

I love Pittsburgh.  Only here could a jackass like Kenneth King get sympathy for threatening to "shank" a dog.  King, a resident of the Mexican War Streets, walked past a canine unit at the Cedar Avenue Sunoco.  The K-9 dog, Benny, barked at him. From inside the car. Mr. King responded to the bark.

The man screamed "shut the (expletive) up or I will shank you," according to the report filed by Benny's handler and partner, officer Ron Absten, who indicated the threat was directed at the dog. Mr. King also said "I hate dogs" and pulled a silver knife out of his pocket.

King was arrested and charged with taunting a police animal and landed his sorry ass in the County Jail b/c he couldn't come up with $100,000 bond.  Apparently, tonight his bond was reduced to own recognizance and he's been sent off to anger management classes. 

Did the police overreact by arresting and charging him?  Perhaps.  Did Judge Riccardi get a little overzealous with the bail?  Perhaps.  And, yes, those circumstances warrant a closer look, especially if there was racial bias involved. 

What everyone seems to overlook is that Mr. King threatened to shank a dog that barked at him from inside a car.  Even if you overlook the sheer degree of idiocy required to threaten a police dog, there's the fact that he threatened a dog.  For barking.  Inside a car.  Now how come no one is talking about that overreaction?

Hmm. Here's my favorite (well, second favorite) part:

Mr. King's parents, Keith and Annette Cash of the North Side, told KDKA-TV that their son was returning home from his job as a cook, has no criminal history and poses no threat to anyone.

Umm, on behalf of dog owners throughout the Northside, I'd like Mr. and Mrs. Cash to clarify how they get from "shut the fuck up or I'll shank you" to poses no threat to anyone? Are you fucking kidding me?  I can't even begin to imagine how deluded these parents must be to completely downplay the fact that their son threatened to shank a dog. 

I'm not sure who needs more of a wake-up call -- Mr. King or his parents. 

This is my favorite part, courtesy of MacYapper.  His colleague Valerie McDonald Roberts tips him off to the inside scoop.

Here's what Valerie's sources tell her.
King was with his white girlfriend. Don't know if that triggered any particular emotions in the Pittsburgh police officer or what. I'm just sayin.'
He gets out of his car to go to the Sunoco next to the Poor Man's Giant Eagle on Cedar Avenue on the North Side, a service station frequented by MacYapper.

Suddenly the dog, inside the police car, starts barking at him. He yells at the dog, possibly in an apparent attempt to show off for his girlfriend.

Then the cop comes out of the Sunoco station and says "I'll let the dog out," to the kid. And the kid says something like "oh yeah, we'll I'll shank him," or something similar, which is a far cry from the guy actually threatening the dog directly.

Valerie says her sources describe this kid as pure as the driven snow. Sounds like we have a cop out of control here folks.

Sounds like we have a 23 year old whose parents had no control over him.  What kind of grown adult yells at a dog to impress a girl?  Is she a member of the Michael Vicks' fan club?  And, once again, we return to the question of what kind of grown man threatens to shank a dog? 

Here's what I think.  If my dog is in the car and Mr. King walks by, she's going to bark. That's what dogs do. They bark. If you don't like or feel afraid to walk by a barking dog, cross the street.  Turn around.  Act like a grown adult. 

Threatening to shank a barking dog is an overreaction. Threatening to shank a barking police dog is an overreaction and possibly a sign that you are one of the most stupid people in the City.  Dating a girl who thinks threatening to shank a dog is impressive pretty much guarantees another generation of stupid, overreacting jackasses.

What do I think of Mr. and Mrs. Cash?  I think they should call up the mother of Jamarow Trowery, the Penn Hills man charged in the shooting and mutilation of a 4 year old dog.  He cut off the dogs paw and then tried to decapitate it.  Then he bragged about it.  Did anyone pay attention when he was threatening to just "shank it"?  Did they dismiss it?  Did they defend him?  Who missed the boat on that one?  His mother?  His Recorder of Deeds?  Who?   I'd hate to think what would happen if my dog barked at him through my car window and there wasn't a police officer standing nearby. The problem is that someone probably pooh-poohed it because Jamarow was a nice young man or a good father or he didn't really mean it or some other such bullshit.

Dogs aren't disposable commodities. They are living creatures capable of fear, pain and anguish when maltreated by those who reduce them to playthings for their own amusement.  It is bad enough I have to drive my dog to the freaking dog park because of the jerks in my neighborhood with untrained, off-leash dogs who delight in chasing smaller animals.  It is bad enough I cannot leave my boys unsupervised in my own fenced-in backyard.  It is bad enough that I can do nothing while a neighbor breeds pit bulls for fighting.  I shouldn't have to worry about letting my dog ride with me to the library b/c some Kenneth King wannabe gets a little hissy up his ass when she barks "hello" at him out the window.

Shame on Mr. and Mrs. Cash for turning a blind eye to a real problem.  Maybe they should spend a few moments reading up on the connection between animal abuse and family violence.  Maybe they need to bitch slap their son into reality and teach him to have some respect for himself and for other living creatures. 

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