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View Article  My Wish List for PrideFest Entertainment 2007

 Pittsburgh is fortunate to have a talented pool of queer and queer-friendly performance artists, some of whom I have met over the past year.  They include singer-songwriters, spoken word artists, comedians, poets, rappers, puppeteers, and so forth. 

PrideFest is the annual community celebration of all things queer (or gay) and includes a chunk of stage time dedicated to performances.  Among the usual suspects are the Renaissance City Choirs (men and women) and a slew of drag queens as well as some other amateur artists.

See the disconnect?  What I'm wondering is why this whole group of talented professional and semi-professional queer artists are not on the PrideFest performing schedule?  I know the budget doesn't allow for bringing in a huge name, but given that some of our homegrown talent have performed around the country it would seem worthwhile to give them a shot at headlining.  Or at least allocating a slot or two.  To be fair, I have to wonder why the artists haven't pursued it themselves more aggressively.  As most of them seem to perform at every other queer benefit in the region, it doesn't make sense.

My gut tells me that this is a mini-front for some of the internal culture wars in the queer/gay community.  PrideFest is this odd fusion of mainstream family-friendly festivalishness (lemonade, non-profit vendors, children's areas) atmosphere with the retro shout out to the drag queens.  The queer arts movement is less focused on assimilating into mainstream heteroculture and more in tune with queer identity. 

PrideFest should be the venue where these disparate trends find, at least for one day, a common ground in celebrating all aspects of our community.  There's small movements on either side --- the Pride parade is now an awareness march.  Its not earthshattering but it does shake off some of the complacency of the white upper middle class gays who aren't always attuned to those outside their realms of privilege.  Just as seeing lots of gay couples with babies and toddlers enjoying an afternoon of family fun reminds this lesbian of how much progress has been made at shifting the heteronormative standards of "family." 

The arts would be a powerful venue to explore the intersection of these two seemingly disparate communities. 

So I've begun compiling a list of all the local performers I would like to see at PrideFest. It is on the right hand side of this blog, with links to their assorted websites and myspace pages.  It is not comprehensive by any means.  Check out their sites and see what they have to offer.  In my opinion, they have something meaningful to say to the entire gay/queer community. 

Let them entertain us.

If you'd like to volunteer for the PrideFest committee, clink on the icon above for more information. 

View Article  Temporary New Location for OUTrageous Bingo

Just an FYI that the April and May editions of OUTrageous Bingo, sponsored by the Gay and Lesbian Community Center and Shepherd Wellness Center, will be held at CCAC Boyce Campus in Monroeville.  This is apparently due to some planned renovations at the regular site, Goodwill Industries, on the Southside. 

According to my best sources, the upcoming March 3 edition will be held at Goodwill Industries.  If I've got that wrong, please let me know.

Doing our best to keep you informed ....

View Article  Meliss and Tammy at the Oscars

Ellen was funny. Too bad we had to sit through 750 tribute and homage videos, not to mention a sound effects choir.  B-O-R-I-N-G.  I would rather listen to all the flaming fashion critics screech their way through the entire red carpet line, including the men, than sit through that again.  Word of advice -- let the entertainers entertain.  Nobody cares about the sound effects choir. I'm sure they get union scale and benefit from a job well done.  No one puts me up on stage in a social workers choir and I expect the same consideration from you.  The only montage I want to see is the dead people.  That's okay even if you feel bad for the people who get weak applause. 

Will Ferrell, Jack Black and John C. Reilly sang something.  We could barely hear the words except for "Tonight I'm taking Helen Mirren and an Oscar home."  Jack Black should just stick with being the sidekick.  Like John C. Reilly who is actually very good at it and I'm sure has a nice career.  Jack Black is just annoying.  His only redeeming quality is that he knows Sarah Silverman. 

Al Gore was awesome.  People seemed to think he might actually announce.  At the Oscars.  Sad little people.  You give Al no credit for a sense of humor.  He was awesome.  I guess its okay for the Oscars to be political about the environment.  I thought his comment about the Oscars being as green as possible was ridiculous b/c it was so not true.  But what are you gonna do -- he's Al Gore and he's not running for President. 

Abigail Breslin was very charming.  Penelope Cruz was smoking in her big furry dress.  Beyonce more than held her own singings with J. Hud.  Helen Mirren looked delicious.  I don't know what the hell happened to Cameron Diaz's hair or why a giant Christmas ribbon attacked Nicole Kidman, but overall it made for entertaining fare.  Plus, we got to hang out with our niece for a few hours who was very charming in her monkey pajamas and Zoe slippers.  A nice bedtime toddler ensemble.

I saved the best for last.  Melissa and Tammy.  They looked great.  Melissa won an Oscar.  Ellen hosted  Rock on famous lesbians, rock on.



View Article  The Trib Weighs in on Gay Sheep and Tim Hardaway

Local opinion seems to be that our own con-alternative paper, the Tribune Review, is pretty anti-gay.  The fact, however, is that most of their gay coverage has been consistent with mainstream thought on gays -- we aren't so bad after all, its not such a big deal, don't we have better things to worry about (usually the libertarian columnists), and an abhorence of violence against gays.  Its a benign quasi-tolerance that keeps us fimly in our second-class seats, but protects us (mostly) from being bashed by pipe wielding maniacs.  They may not want their sons to be gay, but it would be okay if their daughters have a quirky gay confidante. Who could ask for anything more than that?  (I'm being ironic here b/c a 72 year old harmless man was killed by a pipe wielding maniac in spite of the fuzzy Will and Gracism pervading pop culture).

Two Trib columnists have tackled gay stories of late.  In an interesting display of better late than never, Matt Sober weighs in on the Tim Hardaway furor.  Sober went to Penn State with John Amaechi, the former NBA player who recently came out.  Sober recalls Amaechi as a very bright guy who probably appreciates the tough conversations his coming out have inspired throughout the sports world.  Then Sober takes an interesting twist:

And the lesson here is that declaring you hate gay people is just as silly as, well, declaring you love gay people.

Either way, the implication is that it's possible to know an individual based on some larger group identification.

Gay. Black. Immigrant.

Pitt grad.

Saying you hate gay people is silly -- that's the teachable moment Sober draws from all this?  Huh.  Declaring you love gay people is silly?  Its unfortunate that Sober opted for a jab at Pitt fans in lieu of actually saying something meaningful about the pervasion of homophobia in the sports world.  Its great that he's a fan of John Amaechi, but he trips right over his blase attitude into the treacherous world of "let's pretend there are no difference and see everyone as the same." 

Columnist Tom Purcell uses gay sheep experimentation to underscore the collapse of civilization.  Not because of gay sheep, but because of America's obsession with gay sheep and Anna Nicole Smith.  Some researchers were exploring the sexuality of sheep.  Hue and cry ensued about the ethics of such research, bringing the attention of such entities as PETA and Martina Navritalova.  Purcell takes the obligatory "nutty advocacy group" shot at PETA, dismisses any possibility that genetic research on sexual orientation could possibly be used against gays and then wraps up his analysis with this overreaching comparison:

Evil dictators are stifling freedom and torturing millions. Ethnic hatred and genocide are killing millions. Pestilence and disease are killing millions more. But we're more attuned to things that don't matter, such as "American Idol."

And we're at war. Western civilization is in a battle of wills with fanatics who hope to restore 6th century values. They intend to get their hands on some frighteningly powerful bombs to make us bend to that will.

I'm sorry, Tom, but in a nation that has collectively handed over our welfare to a despotic idiot, I'm feeling pretty good when groups like PETA bring our attention to potential landmines.  Especially when I look at your previous columns which don't seem to focus on evil dictators, torture or genocide.  But they do feature a lot of italicized words and exclamation points.  Its practically the same thing.

So more gay-benign pablum from the Tribune-Review.

View Article  PG Takes a Look at the Pgh Episcopal Role in Larger Debate

For months, our attention here in Pittsburgh has been given to one of the nation's most outspoken mongerers of Christo-intolerance, Episcopal Bishop Duncan.  Even as Pittsburgh's Episcopal diocese moves increasingly to the conservative right with a threat to leave the Episcopal body and seek refuge in the worldwide Anglican union, there are voices in the wildnerness calling for justice -- biblically based justice.

Today's Post-Gazette delves into the interesting story of Dr. Harold T. Lewis, pastor of Calvary Episcopal Church in Shadyside.  Dr. Lewis and his flock have stood up against the "uncharitable, misguided and wrong" conservatism of just about everyone else in the local Episcopal diocese. 

"The thing that bothers me about the immutability [of the Bible] argument is that people point to the seven or eight verses that people like to point to that say that homosexuality is off the charts," he said. "But in the holiness codes, there are all kinds of statements and all kinds of justifications for putting people to death, like sassing your parents or not trimming your beard properly or wearing two kinds of cloth."

The church's views change, he said, citing divorce and race as examples. Interpretations by Europeans or wealthy scholars or the Roman Catholic Church are being challenged now by what Dr. Lewis calls, "the eyes of the oppressed." It's the same Bible, he says, but different eyes are now interpreting it.

In return for his stance on a social justice issue, Dr. Lewis has been booed at diocesan events and roundly criticized for legal battles over church properties.  In the face of this hostility, he remains unwaveringly committed to actingin what he perceives to be most consistent with canon and justice, even if it puts him in direct opposition to his bishop.

A parallel article covers the return of Bishop Duncan from the recent bishopal conference in Africa. 

Bishop Duncan led a delegation of the network to a meeting of church leaders in Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania, earlier this month where they successfully pushed for a church declaration setting a deadline of Sept. 30 for the American bishops to state unequivocally that they will not approve same-sex unions or consecrate any gays as bishops.

A lone voice of quiet dissent, Sue Boulden questioned the Bishop on his group's role in oppressing gays throughout the world.

"It seems to me the meeting has accomplished what the conservative movement wants to do, which is throw my people -- the gays and lesbians of the world -- under the bus again," Mrs. Boulden said.

The remark, which drew some gasps, received a quiet reply from Bishop Duncan that "orientation is not the issue. Activity is," and that he opposes the oppression of gays.

Boulden refers to recent legislation in Nigeria that would make any "activity" related to homosexuality illegal and punishable by imprisonment.  Not just 'gay sex' mind you, but two gay people being in the same public place, distributing condoms, meetings of groups like PFLAG and so forth. For Bishop Duncan to parse activity from orientation with regard to this legislation is the height of hypocrisy, given his own press release accusing opponents of the legislation of being "colonialists."

Apparently, the individual rights of gays and lesbians in Nigeria shouldn't be subject to the same scrutiny as Nigerian Christians being persecuted by "Islamic extremists."  Apparently, international standards of human rights only apply to people who deserve refuge. 

Take heart, Pittsburgh, for in the face of the institutional sponsored oppression that is the local Episcopal church, two differents kinds of voices cry out -- voices like Ms. Boulden's who speak from the pews and voices like Dr. Lewis' from the pulpit.  That's a mighty combination and one, I think, that will prove formidable as the church continues to wrestle these matters.

View Article  Beaver County Man - Society Sissified by Affirmative Action

What with all the weather and all, I missed this little gem of a letter in the Beaver County Times that was penned by Paul Kisiday of Freedom (ironic, no?).  Paul decries the sissification of contemporary society as exemplified by complaints over Super Bowl ads.  It seems that all the furor over distraught robots, homoerotic chocolate kisses and K-fed's diss of fasfood workers has pushed Mr. Kisiday over the edge and he's determined to save us from ourselves:

Sorry to break the news, but there are winners and losers in life and people do get their feelings hurt. In the adult world, the better person gets the job (in most cases, excluding affirmative action, which is another way our society is sissified).

As a species, we dominate the planet. It's about survival of the fittest, with the strong on top. We are getting away from that and setting a bad example for our youth.

They need to realize it's not about free handouts, that you need to work hard to achieve your goals and that sometimes you will have your feelings hurt.

So get over it and move on.

Wouldn't it really be awesome if the better person always got the job?  I mean I could live well in a society like that; I'd be able to offset feeling bad about being passed over if I could truly believe that the majority of jobs impacting my life are filled by the best person.  Not the whitest person.  Not the most masculine.  Not the best connected person.  Not the one capable of consuming the most alcohol.  Not the one most likely to end up in the boss's bed.  The best person.

Too bad Mr. Kisiday have never actually read Darwin or, apparently, any of our Founding Father -- a bunch of the "fittest" who set up a system not based on keeping the strong on top. 

View Article  The Slippery Slope of Intolerance and Second-Class Status Leads to Death of 72 Year Old Gay Bashing Victim

Andrew Anthos, a 72 year old Michigan gay man who was viciously beaten with a pipe outside his apartment, has died from his injuries.  He survived for several days, paralyzed and barely able to breathe.  Here's my post on the original attack.

This man was riding home from the public library on a public bus.  You don't get more benign than that.  Then he helps a wheel-chair bound person manage through the snow.  Then he gets hit on the head with a pipe and left for dead by someone who thought he was gay.

That's what you get in a society that wants to keep an entire group of people in second-class status.  When you say we don't deserve to be married, we don't deserve civil rights protections, we don't deserve respect and dignity and freedom ... you send a clear message to the maniac pipe-wielding idiots in society that we are fair game. 

I'm looking forward to the Christian right wingers speaking out to condemn this act of violent hatred.  I'm looking forward to the bus driver and the other riders helping to identify the murderer.  I'm looking forward to a local church starting a fund to help the Anthos family.  The gay community has already stepped up on that one so maybe the local churches can join that effort. 

God rest Andrew Anthos. 

h/t Pam's House Blend


View Article  Local queer youth explore issues of faith through drama troupe

The Post-Gazette has a thoughtful piece on Dreams of Hope, a local drama troupe for LGBTQ teens and their allies.  Their performance theme this year is "Gay Youth in Good Faith."

"One of the biggest themes is the personal issue of sin, of how something that is so natural and doesn't seem like a bad thing, can be seen as horrible and people reject them for it. That is a big issue that most of them are dealing with," said [founder]Ms. [Susan] Haugh.

One need only read back posts on this blog to verify that the intersection of faith and sexual orientation can be treacherous. It can also be uplifting and magnificent as our own local Reverend Janet Edwards has demonstrated. 

The youth themselves have different experiences of faith -- in some cases, acceptance by their faith community while others have been cast out by their very own clergy-parents.  What's cool about these young people is that they channel those individual experiences of faith into a constructive dialogue for the larger LGBTQ community. 

What a great gift for those of who aren't so much youth any longer.  These kids are creatively exploring these intersections of identity that perplex the hell out of most adults, particularly gay people of faith in non-affirming communities

Kudos to Dreams of Hope for being a few steps ahead of the rest of us, but inviting us along for the journey. 

One scene re-creates a bus ride two actors took during which another rider condemned them by reciting Bible verses.

"That really hurt me, because I believe in God," said Renee Ballard, 20, a pastor's daughter from the North Side, who was on the bus.

Ms Ballard said that when she came out as a lesbian, her relatives rejected her, asking how she could still call herself a Christian. But there has since been reconciliation, she said.

"I told them I believe in God and God is in my life no matter what I'm doing. God loves me, no matter what. My sister came and said that she would also love me, no matter what," she said.

Check out Dreams of Hope at their website.

View Article  Will Luke Ravenstahl attend Steel City Stonewall (Gay) Democrats Pgh Candidates Forum

Maybe its just me, but isn't the mayoral race important to the region, too?  Luke Ravenstahl isn't exactly Mr. Progressive per 2 Political Junkies on issues like choice, contraception, free speech, open government, blah, blah, blah.  I know the muckety muck rich Riccardi loving homos embrace these Social Conservative Democrats for all they are worth, but I'd think most of us should recognize a clear distinction between Ravenstahls "love the sinner/hate the sin" stance on most things involving women and gays  and the TRUE progressive in this race, Bill Peduto, who actually seems to value women and gays for more than our ability to contribute to campaigns. 

Will Luke show up next week?  Stay tuned ...

2007 Candidates Forum

Wednesday, Febuary 28th

6:30 pm-Union Project

801 North Negley Ave 
Sponsored by:The Steel-City Stonewall DemocratsDemocracy for Pittsburgh
The League of Young Voters
The Getrude Stein Club
Progress Pittsburgh

After the Meet & Greet our forum will focus on 3 important races!City Council District 7 - Bloomfield, Highland Park, East Liberty
City Council District 9 - East Hills, Homewood, Point Breeze
City Controller - citywide with impact on the whole region

View Article  I've Seen This Face Before

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