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View Article  Philly Anti-Gay Protestors Arrest OK court rules

Not feeling so well today so I'm going to cheat.  From 365gay.com and the Philadelphia Daily News comes word that bigotry does not always win.

(Philadelphia, Pennsylvania) A federal judge has ruled that the city of Philadelphia did not violate the rights of an anti-gay group when it arrested them during a protest at the city's gay pride celebration in 2004.

The 11 demonstrators from Repent America had sued the city and Philly Pride Presents, the organizer of OutFest, alleging their civil rights had been violated.

U.S. District Judge Lawrence Stengel disagreed, granting summary judgment for the city and Philly Pride.

When members of Repent America showed up at the 2004 event police allowed them to demonstrate at the edge of a cordoned off area where OutFest was being held.But when the demonstrators began using a bullhorn yelling Biblical passages to drown out the events on stage pride organizers complained to police. 

The protestors then allegedly attempted to enter the cordoned off area, continuing to use the bullhorn to condemn homosexuality.

At that point they got into an argument with a group of Pink Angels, who screamed back.

It was at that point police intervened and arrested the demonstrators. They were held 21 hours but charges were later dropped and Repent America and its leader Michael Marcavage filed the civil rights lawsuit.

In his ruling Stengel said that the right to speak and assemble is not without limits. 

"There is no constitutional right to drown out the speech of another person," he said in his written ruling.

Stengel noted that the city did not bar Repent America from demonstrating, but that after the protestors left the designated area and entered the cordoned off place where OutFest was being held the city had the right to intervene.

He has been arrested, detained or cited by police around the country since founding Repent America in 2002, including at a demonstration against same-sex marriages in San Francisco. 

View Article  Ravenstahl "There's more than one reason to handcuff a man"

Now that Main Stream Media (MSM) has sunk its teeth into this little tale of a man and his handcuffs, the gay drama just escalates.  This is like Queer Eye meets Cops.

WPXI airs previous interview where Ravenstahl plays word games to essentially deny being handcuffed.  If he didn't actually lie about it, he omitted to tell the truth.  Or did he? 

The Post-Gazette runs a story from former Chief McNeilly calling for an investigation.  To be fair, McNeilly is completely disengenuous when he claims no political motivation to speak out (his wife is Catherine McNeilly), but he's probably the only police-related person involved (or not) who has the ability to speak out.  No cop who wants a future in this little metropolis that could is gonna speak out after the Mayor bitch slapped Catherine McNeilly into the warrant office, which I understand is the police equivalent to Siberia. 

The the PG editorial board minces into the scene and bitch slaps (sorry for being repetitive) the Mayor's critics, especially ooohhhh ... the bloggers for engaging in rumor mongering.  The High-Priestesses of Hissy have their feather boas in a furor because the facts don't support the accusations.  I'd suggest the facts equally fail to support the defense.  Not to mention the fact that we'll have a hard time getting the facts since the Mayor is the boss of everyone involved.

To sum up, we've got handcuffs, gagged cops, axes to grind, peeved members of the Main Stream Media, outraged husbands, silent sturdy types in uniforms, alcohol and a privileged frat boy with a pretty wife claiming that just because he wore the handcuffs doesn't mean he did the deed.

Again I say, I can't make this up.

View Article  Nigeria About to Outlaw "Being Gay" -- Thanks Episcopalians!

Shout out to all the Pittsburgh Episcopalians who have supported the Grand PooBah of Intolerance, Bishop Duncan and his desire to break away to form his own sect.  We've covered his longstanding attachment to Nigerian Archbishop Peter Akinola. 

Well you should be congratuled b/c your bigotry and anti-gay sentiment have built a direct bridge to the impending misery of gay individuals and families throughout Nigeria.  Not only will they be prohibited from attending church to taint your sanctimonious little Christian family values, they will be prohibited from ... well, pretty much existing (365gay.com).

Legislation that would strip gays and lesbians of all civil rights has passed its final hurdle and is set for a vote in Nigeria's Parliament.  

The bill started out as a ban on same-sex marriage and has been revised to make it a crime for more than two gay people to be in the same venue at the same time.

It prohibits LGBT social or civil rights groups from forming.  It would be illegal to sell or rent property to same-sex couples, watch a gay film or video, visit an LGBT web site, or express same-sex love in a letter to one's partner.

The legislation goes so far as to make it a criminal offense to impart information of HIV/AIDS to gays or for non-gays to meet with any group of gays for any purpose.

The penalty would be five years in prison with hard labor.

Gay sex already is illegal in Nigeria with sentences up to 14 years behind bars. In the mostly Islamic north homosexuality can be punishable by death.

This is the slippery slope we tread around here in America.  Those of you who believe second-class citizenship is good enough for homosexuals open the door to the kind of oppression listed above.  I know some of you harbor in your hearts the notion that "gay sex" probably deserves punishment, but can you really say two gay people being in the same place at the same time should result in imprisonment? 

This is a human rights travesty of immense proportions.  And here in Pittsburgh, just find your nearest Episcopalian Duncan-loyalist and say "Thanks!"

View Article  Ravenstahl, McIntire, Pgh City Police: The Gay Angle No One is Talking About

Not a single homo involved and this story has more twists and turns than a drag queen's virginal encounter with panty hose, a site much prettier than watching Luke Ravenstahl contort an explanation out of this story. 

If you read the subtext, its right out of a gay movie -- Slightly inebriated guy meets guy in uniform, intense exchange occurs, guy ends up in handcuffs, guy returns to wife and goes on to become mayor.  Old guy makes it like it never happened. Denials ensue. MacGuy asks questions. The story comes tumbling out. Wife stands by MayorGuy. UniformedGuy can't tell, so don't ask.  I can't make this stuff up. 

Except most gay people are smart enough to know not to confront a cop in the middle of police activity.  I'm with David at 2PJ's that there's something off about claiming one lone cop surged into a crowd.  Plus, there's the claim on KDKA's report that the cop was a rookie. Since the details are good extra money, I'd imagine working Steeler games is a pretty plum assignment.  Does it make sense that a rookie would land that assignment? Or someone with a least an iota of seniority? 

Its hardly credible that Ravenstahl would pull out his City Councilman credentials to interfere in the midst of a police matter (a big no no) but then put them back in his hip pocket when he himself is cuffed so as to be treated like any other citizen.  Any other citizen might have complained a little about being ill-treated and then filed a formal complaint with the Office of Municipal Investigations.  Luke, however, was able to independently correct the officer in question.  Did he continue to monitor the situation to ensure the officer behaved appropriately?  Did he follow up with the officers superiors to discuss his concerns?  Did he ask OMI to investigate?  Nope, he caught a game, tossed back some cold ones and went about his yinzer frat boy way.

It doesn't make sense either as a gay movie or as mature political conduct.

Much more interesting was WTAE's take on the blogospheric eruption in Pittsburgh.  I especially liked when "Pittsburgh Lesbian Correspondents" rolled across the screen TWO times.  We didn't actually get a mention like 2 Political Junkies but lesbian beggars can't be choosers ...

That, my friends, is the gay angle to the story.  Sure I could churn out a few more bits of analysis -- Luke's lisping to Marty Griffin, McIntire's obvious homoerotic fixation on putting Peduto on the throne at any cost, David's homoerotic fixation on McIntire's homoerotic fixation, Tony Norman's soon to be written homoerotic interpretation of McIntire's fixation ... it can only go downhill from here.


View Article  Is Pittsburgh a Gay Tourist Mecca? Post-Gazette Readers Chime In

Earlier in the week, our beloved Post-Gazette took a half-hearted look at Pittsburgh's potential as a gay tourist destination (or not).  Someone beyond your faithful correspondents noticed and took the time to share their perspective with the PG readership.

First, we have the "tolerant" homophobe who believes in live and let live as long as he doesn't have to see "leather-clad men groping each other."  Mr. Scott Smith of Boulder, Colorado (yes, he moved away but, thankfully, continues to share his wisdom with us) thinks Pittsburgh has enough problems without adding homo-lure to its list.  What is Mr. Smith's objection?  It gives gays ... wait for it ..."special consideration."  Which is bigot talk for chipping away at white-heterosexual-middle class-male privilege.  GASP!

Mr. Smith sums up his own camouflaged homophobia in two sentences:

After all, being gay is just about how to have sex. It shouldn't be so all-encompassing as to define a person ... or involve a campaign to attract them.

I wonder if Mr. Smith thinks his hetero-masculinity defines his person?  If he took the time to pick up the pen because some queens and a few dykes might roll into town to see the Andy Warhol museum and bring their tourist dollars with them, he's got some problems. 

Mr. Smith wants us to stay in the closet and pass as breeders when we sally forth into the streets of Pittsburgh.  I'm tempted to write "Fuck you, Mr. Smith" here but instead I'll just enjoy the fact that his delusion of a gay-sanitized Pittsburgh ain't never gonna happen.

Christopher Miller of Shadyside offers a gay man's perspective on several other key points we mentioned last week.  The article was all about what the professionals think and very heavy on what professionals outside of Pittsburgh at that.  No one asked Pittsburgh, straight or gay:

Your article does not address what Pittsburghers would think of our city becoming more gay-friendly. Has anyone asked them? Would they be comfortable with seeing two men holding hands walking down the street? Would our citizens be at ease with gays and lesbians being seen and heard? Would they welcome not only the GLBT dollars to help build the city's infrastructure, but also the love and pride that many members of the GLBT community have to share?

Mr. Miller points out that a lot of gay and lesbian families he knows move to the suburbs for peace and privacy.  Thus, Pittsburgh has a lot of work to do in attracting homosexuals to live here much less vacation here. 

While I agree that there is tremendous room for improvement with regard to local tolerance,  I believe Mr. Miller is incorrect about moving to the suburbs. First, those who do so are deluding themselves.  We have more civil right protections in the city than anywhere else in Western Pennsylvania.  Any sense of heightened peace and privacy is entirely at the whim of your particular neighbors.  I think there is a strand of the community that just wants to convince themselves that passing for a "normal" white middle class family is the goal of gay civil rights.  Its a sad trap b/c it only ends up isolating them from the rest of their communities, gay and straight. 

I also perceive that a lot of gays continue to live in the city.  I live on the Northside and see family everywhere -- at the store, at the gas pumps, in the park, at the bank, everywhere.  The issue is that we aren't connecting with each other.

And that ties back to Mr. Miller's issue -- is we aren't working on visibility and connections from within Pittsburgh's gay community, we are doomed.  Most people are not comfortable with openly gay people unless them know one or two or a dozen.  Why?  Because our culture trains us to define heterosexuality as the norm.  My opinion is that exposure is the only way to realistically chip away at that.  Exposure through the arts, in the workplace, politics, Little League, faith communities, etc.

We need more people living proudly and out (albeit safely) rather than hiding away in some cul-de-sac in Mr. Smith's neighborhood being careful not to hold hands.  Or grope leather clad men. 

View Article  Pittsburgh Gay Round Up : McIntire, McCain, and Madison, Wisconsin

Not much happening locally in the LGBTQ world.  No rancid letters to the editor, no debates over GSAs in the local schools, no closets being opened.

Peduto's announcement is good news for those of us who want an actual Democrat, not the Yinzer Republican Prince in sheep's, oops, lamb's clothing.

For the chicas, coming up on Monday is the monthly Queers: They're Whats for Dinner at the Gypsy Cafe on Pittsburgh's Southside.  Much big fun to be had and a great way to get to know some really cool sisters. 

Also, coming up on January 20 is Operation Sappho a queer/lesbian dance at Ava Bar and Lounge. Dress in red, enjoy 3 dj's and the smoke free environment.

For those of you who love McIntire, there's the Sex, Religion, Politics, Cats, Lesbians, Cheesy Hawaiian Shirts and Geezers Tour at the Club Cafe on Weds Jan 31. Brought to you by Starbucks and Geritol.  Ironically, we cannot go b/c the 11 PM kick-off is past our bedtime.  Plus, they smoke there (thanks for that Danny O!). 

John McCain was dissed by Christian Grand Poobah Jimmy Dobson for being un-conservative.  McCain is now spinning himself into a frenzy to fix things with the wingnuts. Guess what the sticking point is?  Bing!  Traditional Marriage! Pathetic.

Rudy Giuliani, on the other hand, has actually hired a homo-hater for his will I/won't I exploratory team.  Jim Nussle from Iowa is anti-choice and anti-gay. 

Madison, Wisconsin city council Tuesday night approved a measure allowing city officials to include a statement supporting same-sex marriage in their oaths of office. Wisconsin has a anti-homo amendment in their constitution, but Madisonians want to work to overturn it.

View Article  Peduto Announces for Mayor on Monday?

Received this today vis a vis the Run Baby Run email list ...

Everyone is invited to join Bill Peduto for a Special Announcement:

Monday, January 22, from 7 -9 p.m.

At the Union Project, 801 N. Negley Ave., in Highland Park Refreshments will be served.

This event is free & open to the public.


Speaking of pro-choice Democrats, January 22 is the date for another important event also in East Liberty ...

Allegheny Reproductive Health Center Invites you to attend a celebration of
The 34th Anniversary of Roe V. Wade and ARHC's 30 years of service to women
Monday, January 22            5:30 ? 8:00pm
at ARHC's recently-remodeled office!
200 N. Highland Avenue in Pittsburgh's East Liberty neighborhood
The Lesbians are going to try and make both events.  Tell us hello if you see us!
View Article  We predict city Solicitor will take fall for Ravenstahl

Our prediction on the McNeilly/Regan situation - Acting city Solicitor George Specter will resign or retire, Ravenstahl will continue to blame the O'Connor administration and the city will settle with McNeilly prompting her to retire immediately afterwards.

The Ravenstahl puppetmasterers will easily sacrifice one lawyer to keep their golden Pinnochio bright, shiny and electable.

Our hope is that since KDKA and the Post-Gazette tenaciously continues to follow this story, the public won't let Opie get away with it.  He's knee deep in the funk of politics as usual.

View Article  Anti-Rene Portland sentiment flares in Michigan

According to an online edition of Michigan's LGBTQ newsletter, a group of 300+ straight and gay women wore lavender shirts to the recent University of Michigan/Penn State women's basketball game.

Sunday's protest served as a triumphant moment for gay folks, especially considering the massive turnout. It showed that there are people in the state of Michigan (and nationwide) who will not stand for discrimination. The best part: Some of these people aren't even gay. They're just on our side. Now that, that's a victory.

Personally, I think the writer is hyperinflating the magnitude of the protest.  Penn State won't step up to the plate to handle Portland until 1) Jennifer Harris' case settles very unfavorably, 2) Portland overtly discriminates again or 3) Portland begins to lose.  Given that she just netted her 600th win, those prospects don't look too good.

Nonetheless, its good that the issue hasn't been lost amidst a million other concerns.  Portland is an arrogant nasty bigot.  But the greater shame rests on Penn State for allowing her to get away with it.

View Article  Post-Gazette Looks at "Gay-Friendliness" of Pittsburgh without talking to the gays!

Usually, I enjoy MacKenzie Carpenter's articles ... sort of like curling up in your bathrobe with a warm cup of coffee and the tattered copy of "Pride and Prejudice" or "The Brothers Karamazov."  Sure the predictability is there, but you never tire of the artistry, the divine spark that generated such a wonderful read.

So I'm perplexed how she could write a very long piece about Pittsburgh as a gay-friendly destination without talking to any local gays.  You might think -- local gays are already here doing their homo-thing so what could they possibly have to add to the need to lure other unsuspecting queers to the 'burgh? 

Well, I'm glad you asked.

According to a study commission by the Travel Industry, gay tourists are seeking: whether a place is safe and free from intimidation and threats; whether it is culturally welcoming and known to support diversity and GLBT civil rights; and word of mouth.

San Francisco, Dallas and Philadelphia have done outstanding jobs creating the right environment and marketing those features. 

The question becomes -- is Pittsburgh gay-friendly?  And that's where the local homos should come in to the story.  But instead we go to Visit Pittsburgh  

While Altus Group also published Pittsburgh's City "Navigaytor," which was unveiled here in 2005, a brochure alone isn't going to have the same kind of impact, Mr. McHugh says. "You can have the greatest ad agency in the world but if the budget and political will isn't there, it won't happen."

"It's about leadership," added Mr. Witeck. "A city can't whisper 'welcome.' You have to say it out loud. The cities who say it out loud and get it are the ones that win."

Beverly Morrow Jones, a spokeswoman for Visit Pittsburgh, the city's tourism information bureau, says the city is prepared to do that.

"VisitPittsburgh is very interested in pursuing the GLBT marketplace," she said. "We've found tremendous acceptance from that community, who are amazed, once they visit, about how wonderful Pittsburgh is and how welcoming we are."

I wouldn't exactly count Visit Pittsburgh as indicative of the will of the leadership.  Remember, this is Pittsburgh where the most intrepid gay elected officials are among the city's best kept secrets. 

Here's what the creative force behind Philadelphia's "Get your history straight and your nightlife gay" marketing campaign has to say about Pittsburgh's potential to rock the gay tourist business.

There are the cities that have the attractions and the gay product, but they're not known. Pittsburgh is one of those cities. It may not be high on the radar, but it has what it takes to attract the gay tourist."

With its great neighborhoods in Shadyside, Lawrenceville and the North Side, with its gay-owned and gay-friendly shops, restaurants, inns and bed-and-breakfasts, "Pittsburgh is definitely ready to take the next step" to attract gay tourists, he said.

That being said, my problem with this whole approach is that the article (or the interviewees perhaps) sum up the "gay product" in terms of bars, shops and hotels.  What about Pittsburgh rather vibrant GLBTQ faith communities -- yes, Pittsburgh is the hub of some knock down, drag out battles over the gay place within mainstream denominations but not only does that put us on the map, it demonstrates that there is a strong voice among those who do welcome and affirm us with dignity and respect. 

Let's not forget what is supposed to be the hub of Pittsburgh's gay community -- the Gay & Lesbian Community Center in Squirrel Hill.  Or our PrideFest in June each year.  Our thriving gay and gay-friendly arts scene -- hit the performance venus in Lawrenceville and Garfield almost any night of the week for slam poetry, live music or some other creative experience with a throbbing queer beat.  How about LGBTQ owned restaurants?  We have a gay-focused mental health center for crying out loud. 

There are some other questions MacKenzie missed that aren't so favorable, but are worth a look.  Pittsburgh has few if any gay-women dedicated spaces -- mainly, no bars.  What does that say to your cosmopolitan lesbian couple looking to vacate for a few days?  We have very few (if any) openly gay muckety mucks.  A high-profile Pittsburgh athlete uttered the f-bomb heard round the nation and no one complained (except the homos).  We're more famous for the television series that was set here, but didn't film here than we are for just about anything else. 

Does Visit Pittsburgh employee any gays?  Is anyone dedicated to the gay market?    Do they have any gay advisors? Do they talk with anyone who isn't a gay white upper middle class man? 

Perhaps Visit Pittsburgh should be working with the local LGBTQ community to build the promotion tools rather than partnering with a Philadelphia group to write a brochure.

That would be leadership.

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