There's  much to blog about today, but I'll start with PrideFest which was really nice this year.  Organizers estimate that 6,500 people attended.  I can tell you it was very crowded and there were more vendors than ever before.


 This is the first year I've seen the parade from the beginning where we drove to catch the opening remarks of Governor Ed Rendell.  His comments about legislative attacks on homosexuality and wingnuts using our identitites to polarize and divide the Commonwealth were very well received.  And, as promised, he did say "Ladies, Start Your Engines" to the dykes on bikes.  Which I must admit was pretty cool. 

He also openly endorsed gay marriage.  Openly.  Not second-class citizenship.  Not separate, but equal.  Not telling us to go make the environment safer for him to speak out on our behalf. 

The parade was larger than ever and filled with happy homo-lovin' people.  I heard from others that Councilwoman Tonya Payne marched in the parde which makes her the coolest City Councilperson going.  The others showed up at the festival, but we think that there's something about being in the parade -- about actively marching for community pride ---- that distinguishes our supporters from those who just talk to us.  

We then drove down to the festival on the North Shore (my previously broken foot cannot handle two marches in two days).  The festival was great.  We arrived in time for the opening comments and to hear the political guests:  our community's greatest champion -- State Representative Dan Frankel; City Councilman Bill Peduto, Doug Shields and Jim Motznik; Allegheny County's Valerie McDonald and Councilman  Rich Fitzgerald.  Frankel was eloquent and ferocious as always.  Valerie spoke movingly about her family's African-American pride and made wonderful connections between the civil rights struggles of all minorities.  Motznik told George Bush to kiss his ass which drew a mighty response.  Shields and Peduto lived up to expectations with their enthusiastic support.  And it was great to see a County Councilman there.  I don't know much about Rich Fitzgerald, but my Councilwoman wasn't there so I'm gonna look him up.

All these fine and lovely people showed up to support our celebration, the second largest gathering of the LGBT community in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.  What's striking is who was NOT there, namely three specific people:  Bob Casey, Dan Onorato and Bob O'Connor.  

I heard it everywhere yesterday.  How come Bob Casey didn't show up?

Bob Casey blew it.  He is under fire for being too moderate and there are many people in the LGBT community who view his support with skepticism and dismay.  There are many people who don't plan to vote at all.  He didn't attend the recent national gay democrats convention and he didn't show up for this.  So in our opinion this was a perfect opportunity for him to reach out to the everyday homosexuals, not just those who can afford $100 plate HRC dinners.   This was his chance to show up that he values and respects our families, our contributions, our lives.  But he didn't show up.  Sending interns with stickers doesn't cut it. 

Even the local Democrat top dogs didn't bother to show up.  Both Allegheny County Chief Executive Dan Onorato and City of Pittsburgh Mayor Bob O'Connor had committed to attend and speak with the crowd.  Both blew us off.  At the very least it would have made the absence of the Democratic nominee for Senator in the race against our greatest foe a bit more palatable if the local boys had come in his stead. 

What the hell is that about?  Does our community lack the political muscle to turn out these guys? I fully expect to get a Rovian spin from the Steel-City folks who on KDKA radio openly approved of Howard Dean's 700 Club outreach, but there's very little you can do to convince me that NONE of these guys could show up.

Who else wasn't there? 

State Senator Wayne Fontana in whose district this was held and whose staff hasn't  acknowledged my correspondence asking if he would attend. 

US Congressman Mike Doyle.

Any Allegheny County Democrats running for office.  The only candidate who made this a priority was running for office in Butler County (I missed his name but I'll get it and post it b/c he deserves the props).  The list goes on of course. 

Everyone will have a good reason to offer, but I suspect if it were an event put on by a union, senior citizens, African-Americans or other groups they would have found a way to be there.  Laura summed it up very well "They don't respect us enough to show up."

I wonder if they respect our votes and our financial support?

As for media coverage, I was disappointed with KDKA's typical exploitive coverage.  On the 11 o'clock news, they covered the Epilepsy Run right before us and the camera showed a wide range of people in the race:  adults, families, people with strollers, dogs, wheelchairs, scooters, couples, singles, friends, etc.  When it came to PrideFest, they showed two shots of anyone who wasn't a drag queen and one shot of Governor Rendell.  The text was fine, but it was obvious that the KDKA news team puts about as much effort as FOX into fair and balanced coverage of the LGBT community. 

On the other hand, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette got it REALLY right this year.  Front page of the region section with a very well-done article contextualizing PrideFest with the marriage debate.  They even worked in "Ladies start your engines."

Wearing "Just married in Canada" T-shirts and identical gold wedding rings, Maria and Beth Kramer, of Ross, were on a motorcycle at the start of the gay community's Pride March, which Gov. Ed Rendell kicked off Downtown yesterday with "Ladies, start your engines!"

A few minutes earlier, the governor had brought the couple, who married in Stratford, Ontario, in April, on stage.

"Some day I hope that shirt says 'Just married in Pennsylvania,' " he said, to a roar of approval from the crowd.

The Tribune-Review had nothing.  Perhaps our quasi-buddy and Trib columnist Mike Seate will weigh in this week.  I didn't see the news on WTAE or WPXI, but there's nothing on their websites under local news. 

We'll weigh in on specific aspects of Pride over the coming week.  I need an entire post for the Dyke March itself.  And I want to revisit the queer v gay issue.

Let us know what you think.