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View Article  Photo Exhibit Focuses on Queer Black Life in Pgh

Not a very exciting headline, I admit.  I'm a little tired this morning, but I've been meaning to blog about this exhibit for a few days so I need to get down to it.

Teenie Harris.  You may have heard of him -- photographer, documentarian of life in the Hill District for nearly 30 years (30's - 60's) which was, as you know, a period of intense socio-economic, cultural and demographic change.  Harris exhibits are nothing new for Pgh, but this one provides a unique glimpse into what is generally assumed to be an anomaly in Pittsburgh - historical queer black life. 

What's even more interesting is that these photographs are not from hidden little corners frequented by furtive members of Pittsburgh's African-American community.  No, this was an integrated scene wheer queer members were part of the larger culture, not separate from it.  From the City Paper:

While clubs such as Little Paris, the Loendi Club and even the famed Crawford Grill weren't necessarily gay-owned or specifically gay clubs, they hosted cross-dressing performers and welcomed a gay audience. In some photos in Carryin' On, in fact, female impersonators are backed up by legends of jazz and R&B, likely after their pay-gigs let out: R&B singer Sonny Hines, legendary drummer Joni Wilson, pianist Roy Hamilton. In one of Tines' favorite photos, a car, bedecked in streamers and toting a huge speaker on its roof, drives slowly along in one of the Hill's annual parades. On the car's hood, two drag queens bear a sign: "Meet Me at Little Paris."

The exhibit is the brainchild of Deryck Tines who serves as guest curator for the exhibit.  Tines plans to work with local photographers to document today's queer scene for a planned "Then and Now" exhibit in 2008.  (Tell your queer photographer friends.)  

I really like this particular photograph.  There's just this lovely fusion of flamboyance and ordinariness that makes me actually believe the rest of the story about the integration and acceptance of queer black community within the larger cultural context of the Hill District.

The exhibit runs through September 2 at the Andy Warhol Museum over here on the North Side.  We are absolutely going to catch it and I must say the articles in the PG and the City Paper have prodded me to make that happen sooner rather than later. 

I'm really interested in Deryck's plans to capture the current queer scene. I wonder what the photographers are going to document?  Most of the "images" the media feeds us involve this perception that the African-American community is highly homophobic.  The City Paper did a stunningly awful job on that front in April of 2006 <how can you write about the local gay black experience without including local gay black women?> 

My African-American friends deny that is true and regale me with stories about their parental generations mingling freely with gay individuals.  I'm sure my slice of friends are not representative b/c of the fact that they are friends with a lesbian, but still there's this dischotomy.  That's my new word ... dischordant + dichotomy = dischotomy. 

What should be really interesting is if Deryck's photographers examine the younger queer community and the older gay and lesbian community.  I wonder what differences, if any, would crop up? 

Anyway, check out the exhibit and stay tuned for more from Deryck Tines.  Maybe next year, the City Paper will have found a few local gay black women to interview <just kidding, Chris.>

View Article  Correspondent Covers City Council Hearing.

I was busy today at the City Council hearing on the promotions of three police officers with domestic violence histories (or allegations).  I live blogged for the Pittsburgh Women's Blogging Society.  You can start here and scroll back through nine posts.

While local LGBT activist Billy Hileman showed up to testify, I was somewhat stunned that no other LGBT leaders were there to at least put the issue of same-sex intimate partner violence on the table.  In the usual scenario, victims of same-sex domestic violence are hesitant to contact the police for fears stemming from perceived homophobia ... they won't be believed, they won't be treated fairly, etc.  Imagine the deeper chilling effect upon LGBT couples living in Zone 2 where Commander Trosky now presides?  Or having someone show up at your door who is in the news for assaulting his own daughter? 

So, I wonder why no one from Persad testified at this hearing? 

View Article  Pittsburgh's Slant on Kids of Gay Parents

I am really, really tired tonight so I will definitely not give this justice.  However, I've already had two inquiries asking me if I'm going to post about the Post-Gazette article on gay parenting.  So here is my post.

Click here for the article and wonderful sidebars.

A few points of interest ...

    * The existing research does not suggest children are harmed growing up with gay parents.

    * There is not good research comparing children of heterosexual parents versus children of homosexual parents. 

   *  The existing research focuses on upper-middle class white homosexual families, most of whom have adopted their children or concieved their children within their domestic partnership.  The intersection of race and class have not yet been accounted for in the research.  

 Census figures show that about 45 percent of same-sex parents are either black or Latino. And most of those same-sex couples with children have household incomes below that of their different-sex married counterparts.

It stands to reason that when you factor in race, socioeconomic status, blended families, etc things would get dicey --- just like they do in heterosexual families. 

This is an important article because it reveals that, yes, Pittsburgh has all sorts of families, including homosexual families.  Check out PrideFest this Saturday and you'll see many strollers amongst the crowd. And  I'm really proud of the young people who agreed to be interviewed, although I am very curious why their respective parents declined. 

Some of my Kennywood compatriots were betting how long it will take until the right wingnut letters are published.  Stay tuned b/c you know I'll cover them.


View Article  Buffy Sing-A-Long This Friday -- How Very Gay!

View Article  The search for weapons of heterosexual destruction -- Mary Cheney's baby garners yet another opinion piece

The PG ran an interesting commentary by Slate's William Saletan who contemplates the oft-cited but never actually proven claim that homosexuals are not fit parents.

The 30-year search for proof that gay parents are destructive looks a lot like the hunt for WMD.

Saletan uses the conception and pregnancy of Mary Cheney to illustrate his point that there's simply no proof that gays make bad parents.  There's a lot of date however, that heterosexual men do a lot of damage to children than lesbians.  If you want to rely on averages to make parenting decisions as in who should and should not parent.

If you're going to base family policy on averages, the chief problem isn't stepparents; it's men. That's what "pro-family" groups keep covering up. According to Focus on the Family, "increased risks of physical and sexual child abuse at the hands of non-biological parents are another serious concern for same-sex families." Nope, not for lesbians. The latest study the group cites actually concludes that the "key risk factors are living with a stepfather or the mother's boyfriend." Of 55 child deaths reviewed in the study, the number caused by a stepmother or by a biological mother in a stepfamily or live-in relationship was zero.

I don't think Mary's pregnancy warrants all this attention. The fact that she is a dyke is more than mitigated by the fact that she's the daughter of an incredibly rich and powerful white man.  I'm sure she'll be able to raise a child of privilege in a manner befitting any other uptown chic.  Now what would be interesting is if Heather were to be the biological parent b/c then Mary would have no legal relationship with their child (they live in Virginia).  Regardless, Mary and Heather could spawn a dozen children between them and still have no clue of what life is like for the average homosexual parent.  And as long as they support a President who embraces the wingnuts, they deserve no kudos for gay milestones.

Back to William's piece ...

You want to protect kids? Here's my proposed constitutional amendment: "Marriage in the United States shall consist of a union involving at least one woman."

Or you could just let Mary Cheney raise her child in peace.


View Article  Escaping Thanksgiving Unscathed But With A Lot of Dirty Dishes

That's right ... I served Stove Top stuffing for our Thanksgiving dinner and I make no apologies.  :-)   I bought an organic free-range turkey, mashed potatoes like there was no tomorrow, and baked the ancient-family recipe Date Nut Pudding from scratch.  So I took a few shortcuts in other areas.  I think all the organic goodness cancels out the stuffing slur.  I should have bought organic stuffing, but I didn't think that quickly on my feet.  I'll put my early morning slicing of dates against your onion and celery dicing any day of the week....

Gay turkey celebrations are always interesting.  At best, you have the usual two family balance to master.  We spent actual Turkey Day with Ledcat's family which was vastly entertaining due to the adorable antics of the 11 month old niece.  Especially when she was staring entranced at 97 year old great-grandpa as he napped in his chair.  Plus, there was homemade pecan pie.  Now that's Thanksgiving.   Friday my family came to our abode for dinner.  No baby, but I did get to watch my 110 lb dogs act like total fools over my 100 lb grandma -- she's like the Pied Piper of dogs. Today, I want a cheeseburger ....

No matter how crazy and hectic and stuffing-challenged the holiday, I am thankful that between Ledcast and I we have three 90something grandparents still celebrating with us. 






View Article  Trib's Mike Seats Opens the Closet Door

Long-time gay admirer (nothing wrong with that) and Tribune-Review columnist Mike Seate outed his Aunt Mary in his newspaper column.  And her "housemate" Ms. Lillian.  They along with long-suffering Uncle Bernie live in Harlem which presumably is not part of the Trib's distribution area.  Hopefully, Ms. Lillian doesn't suft the net on her Blackberry.

Like Florida's disgraced Republican congressman Mark Foley and evangelical Christian leader Ted Haggard, Aunt Mary and Ms. Lillian were sharing space in society's largest walk-in closet.

Lately, it seems, they have an awful lot of company.

Let's see a show of hands from folks who spent Election Night wondering how bans against gay marriage could succeed as a ballot issue in seven states when so many of our public figures and elected officials seem to be in the life themselves.

Paging Robert Traynham!  Mike, the homos have been screaming about the hypocricy for years.  Check out Mike Roger's blog www.blogactive.com for a long list of "openly gay" Republicans who want to have their cake and eat it too (there is something wrong with that.).  I'm glad the heteros are waking up to this. 

Without naming names, I can think of a half-dozen local politicians who are well-known in gay and lesbian circles, though the lifestyle they present to voters is more hetero than the crowd at a Ted Nugent bow-hunting seminar.

And for each of those closeted gay power-brokers, I can think of twice that many local notables I've unexpectedly run into at local gay bars and parties. Yeah, I know -- you're wondering what I was doing there myself, but I swear I favor gay bars for the ambience.

Yep, they get forced out of the closet by scandal and intrigue.  No one political is walking out voluntarily or proudly.  And yet there's subtle pressure in the LGBT community to support our "family" who still cling to the love that dares not speak its name mentality.  Maybe we should spend a little less time speculating about Melissa Hart's sexual orientation and a little more time talking honestly with our known gay comrades about their reluctance to come out.  However, this being Western Pennsylvania where you can't swing a duck without hitting a "pro-life" Democrat, I suspect our good friends will keep their beards firmly in place.

I'd like to nominate Pennsylvania as the first state in the union to honor a Coming Out Day. We could lead the country with an observance when all closeted gay, lesbian and transgender Pennsylvanians can openly, freely admit who they are without fear of recriminations, judgments or any more of those sideways glances that say, "Isn't it about time you stopped with the 'my special friend and roommate' business?"

It's a simple concept. Straight people could mind their own business. Gay people wouldn't have to hide, lie or resign their political posts.

I was going to laugh uproariously at this suggestion from a Trib writer until I realized that Mike's columns are plucking away at the homo-contempt so rampant in this part of the state.  Most people have an Aunt Mary and Ms. Lillian in their family.  I just happen to be the Aunt Mary with my own Ms. Ledcat.  Minus the oblivious husband and Tanqueray gin. 

Pennsylvania recognizing National Coming Out Day would be a welcome event.  I'm sure the AFA of PA would have a field day with that one and issue at least 13 poorly worded press releases asking people for money and to pray (in that order).  That I would enjoy.  But it would be more a celebration of being out for those of us who are rather than an opportunity for real dialogue with those in the closet.  The perceived risk is too great.

So they'll continue to take advantage of the private parties and social events AND campaign contributions while we continue to take the risks of living out and proud in a less than fully tolerant society.  Sounds fair, right?

FYI, National Coming Out Day is October 11.

View Article  Movie About Heroic Gay Chaplain to be shown on 9/11

h/t Post-Gazette

A documentary about the Rev. Mychal F. Judge, a gay chaplain with the New York Fire Department who died on 9/11, will be screened in Pittsburgh on Sept. 11.

Ian McKellen narrates "Saint of 9/11," which had its world premiere at the Tribeca Film Festival earlier this year. All five festival screenings were sold out.

An obituary published at the time said the chaplain died amid a rain of debris as he went to the Twin Towers to minister to victims. He was 68 and lived in a Franciscan friary across from a firehouse.

His head was struck by debris, according to friars at the Holy Name Province of the Franciscan Friars. Firefighters carried his body to St. Peter's Church on Barclay Street, then to the firehouse, in a scene captured in a memorable Reuters photo.

When TWA Flight 800 exploded off Long Island in 1996, Judge helped console families of victims. Not long before his death, he went to Northern Ireland on a peace mission with a New York police officer who had been shot and left paralyzed.

The Pittsburgh showing of the documentary, sponsored by the Pittsburgh Lesbian and Gay Film Society and Pittsburgh Filmmakers, will be at the Melwood Screening Room, 477 Melwood Ave., North Oakland. The 90-minute movie will start at 7:30 p.m. on the fifth anniversary of the terrorist attacks.

Admission, $5, will benefit the Shepherd Wellness Center. Firefighters and members of the clergy will be admitted for free, with proof of identification.

View Article  Preacher o' Hate Targets Johnstown Gay Bar

A group of wingnut bigots has been picketing Lucille's, a Johnstown gay bar for the past several months.  The group's leader, self-styled Anabaptist Preacher Ron McRae, has an illustrious career of hating everyone from Catholics to Mormons to everyone's favorite group, the homos.  From the City Paper report, it appears McRae worships at the feet of Fred Phelps. 

The pickets began the first weekend in July, and have taken place on Friday or Saturday nights. There have been at least seven so far, and McRae has attended most, along with four to 10 other protesters. McRae did not respond to a request for comment.


?Some of the women [patrons] are very upset ? [picketers] call them hogs,? Schnur says. And the preachers? group has targeted one slim male patron with, ?Hey, skinny boy, do you have AIDS?? he adds. They?ve also brandished a sign reading ?Sodomites, burn in hell.?

Christianity in action, folks - demeaning and slandering people.  Good to know Jesus is in their hearts. 

The bar's owner, Tom Schnur, has worked with local police and the Human Relations Commission to contain the protestors, carefully trying not to add wind to their sails.  Here's hoping boring the protestors will prove fruitful. 

View Article  Why does everyone ask me if Yarone Zober is gay?

Every single day for the past month (or more) someone has found their way to this little blog by typing the keywords Yarone + Zober + Gay into various search engines.  MSN, Yahoo, Google, Ask.com, Dogpile ... you name it, they've surfed here ....

The answer is I don't know.  He was recently married and is, according to MacYapper, now getting divorced and living temporarily with Jim Ferlo.  Does that make him gay?  Nope.  Does it make him not gay?  Nope.   Do I think its worth contemplating?  Not particularly. 

But PghLesbian is now like the Magic 8 Ball on homo issues.  I get all sorts of strange inquiries looking for gay data on assorted Pgh notables ... asking about assorted Steelers, state and local politicians, media mavens, and sometimes an actually openly gay person.   And many, many such inquiries on Rick Santorum.

Stop trying to put all these uncomfortable heterosexual people in our closet!  You spawned them, you have to learn to live with them.  Don't kick them to the curb and think we'll be happy to take them in.  Not every homophobe is a self-loathing closet case.  Sometimes they are just jerks who should know better.

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