Pittsburgh's LGBTQ Blog ... out'n proud in the Burghosphere.

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View Article  A little election fatigue

I feel a bit fatigued, to be honest with you.  Obviously, I'm tired of the ads and the 27 minutes of media coverage during a 30 minute program.  But I'm also getting tired of my political friends.  I get at least a dozen Facebook invitations to rally after get out the vote campaign after fundraiser.  And dozens of similar email messages. 

All with this fervent undertone of urgency that implies I am somehow lacking if I am not 100% on board.  That the fate of the world as we know it rests in my hands.

Well, back in 2004, I did volunteer for the Kerry campaign. I was sent to HQ downtown and forced to make phone calls to other volunteers asking them to come in to make phone calls to other volunteers. It was the most ridiculous waste of time.  I never went back.  I did volunteer on election day, but was treated like a moron by Kerry's guy on the ground so never went back to that, either.  I mean I'll do the drudgery work, but I've got a dozen other very worthy causes that need my time and energy, too so please don't waste my time making me feel important.  Just give me a real job.  It can be boring.  Just real.

This year, a popular tactic seems to be making fun of Western PA's fondness for yard signs.  That's not elitist at all.  People even have it as their Facebook icon.  Get over yourself.  We like signs.  So what?

Today someone explained the situation with the local elections.  It sound serious, but very convoluted.  Why isn't anyone taking the time to break down this important information instead of just wasting our time?  Stop shoving clipboards in my hands to ask for my email address.  Give me good information and ask me how I can help. 

If the Pennsylvania House and Senate seats are in jeopardy, why did only one State legislator turn out for a recent Gay Dems event?  Or why didn't he bring it up?  The only State Legislator that asked for my help is a Republican woman who reached out to me.  My own rep's staff is taking days to answer a simple question about a fundraiser.  There's a disconnect there.

Frankly, I'm tired.  It is never enough.  I'm working OT to convince some borderline voters on the presidential campaign.  I'm deleting email messages to events I can't afford.  I'm trying to process new information that just makes me feel panicky, not informed.  And I'm hoping to avoid charges that I don't appreciate the volunteer hours other politicos are putting in.  All of which is just bullshit.  All of it.

I appreciate your hard work.  But you are alienating me when you hit me with all of these intense demands for my time, money and attention.  What I'd like to have is information.  I'd be happy to talk with my neighbors about our state elections. But I need something to say.  Stop mocking me and start educating me. 


View Article  Live Blogging from Sleep-In for the Homeless

Tonight, I'll be live blogging from the Sleep-In for the Homeless down at the City-County Building over at the Pittsburgh Women's Blogging Society.  Surf over and see what's going on.

View Article  I Love the Gays!
View Article  Recently in the Burghosphere ...

It seems that three popular blogs have decided to close up shop.  You probably read something about in the PG a few weeks ago.  I've peeked at the commentary and heard some of the reasoning.  I can appreciate that folks want to invest their time and energies into something more personally fulfilling.  I can also appreciate wanting to get away from the negativity that opinions generate. 

But those blogs are part of the past and, true to form, folks are bemoaning the loss of the past.   Even when those blogs were bemoaning the folks who bemoaned ... never mind.

People move on and new voices move in.  It happens in the MSM (except for those weather people who keep coming back) and it happens in the blogosphere.  We miss brillliance, but at some point we have to turn around and wonder whose voice wasn't part of that original dialogue.  Maybe by closing up shop, these trailblazers have created an opportunity for folks from alternative perspectives to get a little more attention. 

I continue to be amazed that after nearly three years (in December), there are no other regular LGBTQ bloggers.  There are a few folks who occasionally post.  There are some LGBTQ folks who blog for their friends and family.  But even the politicos are too busy to blog.  The bandwagon is completely missing our community.  It would be great to see OUT in Pittsburgh launch a blog vis a vis Slag Heap on the City Paper site.  Jane Muder would do a great job.  Plus, they could really do it for minimal cost. 

I am often graciously included among lists of political bloggers, even though most of my content is not about politics except for the infusion of the homo element into the everyday.  I have been told to shut up and stick with politics instead of commenting on local gay culture and business, especially when my comments aren't flattering.  But, I don't delude myself into thinking I'm rocking any worlds here.  I'm just drawing attention to a lesbian perspective.  Not much attention.  And just one perspective.  Still, it does put things in perspective when Tony Norman tells me he reads my blog when David from 2pj's sends him links (thanks, David).  If the most progressive columnist in town, aside from Potter,  reads my blog only with prompts, then I'm not really breaking much ground.  There'll be no PG pages dedicated to my departure from the Burghosphere.

And that's okay.  I have about 75 readers a day.  I get the occasional email or comment from someone who appreciates a lesbian voice in the wilderness.  The people who get the angriest with me tend to be lesbians and other queer people because I think I'm breaking some codes about keeping it in the family.  I grew up in a really dysfunctional family so I'm not really very good with those dynamics. 

So I'll just keep plugging away and trying to find ways to bring some other non-traditional voices into the Burghosphere.  They may not be CMU trained or attentive to the nuances of sentence structure, but they certainly have something to say.  It is kind of exciting.

Here's a little glimpse into my past.  More than anything in the world,  I wanted to have a sweatshirt like Belinda Carlisle's in this video. I should have wanted to play the bass. It would have served me better.


View Article  Bruce, Jason and Smores: A Lesbian Evening

Tonight, Ledcat and I rolled up Route 28 to a bonfire sponsored by the Steel City Stonewall Democrats.  There were hot dogs (and veggie dogs).  There was a real dog for petting purposes.  There were smores (two pronged marshmellow roasters!). There was plenty of beverage.  And, I am pleased to report, there was more than a smattering of young people in attendance.

I have to be quick because I need to go pour more fake blood on the disfigured cafeteria lady in front of the house.

First, let me thank all of the candidates and elected officials who turned out for this event.  It does matter that you come and even as I critique your speech and/or your actions, please know that you are heads and shoulders above our allies who never put us on their schedule.

I met Bruce Kraus tonight.  First time.  He's very smart and we had a nice little exchange, even if I disagreed with some of his points.  He still invited me to sit down with him and chat.  And he was very on point and attentive to the issue of electing Barack Obama.  I think some of the other officials who aren't actually on the ballot in 23 days muffled that message a little bit.  I suspect Bruce personally asked almost each person in attendance to volunteer for Obama.  That's commitment.

Jason Altmire was there.  He and I met back in 1999 and he recognized me.  That always gets me.  He was very on point, made excellent arguments about electing Democrats and just really impressive (except on ENDA).  I was dismayed that someone cut him off to introduce someone running for office in May.  If a U.S. Congressman takes the time to attend a gay event, he should at least get a gracious exit.

The thing I noticed was the lack of women candidates and elected officials in attendance.  That's a stumper because there were a lot of lesbians and queer women in attendance. 

The other thing I noticed was that there is no conventional wisdom in the LGBT community.  I heard at least three different perspectives on the current status of HB 1400.  If you are going to put it on the table, you really need to get Dan Frankel out to tell us why electing Barack Obama and other Democrats is going to get that damn bill passed.  Or get cosponsor Chelsa Wagner to attend.  She's up for reelection. 

The final thing I noticed is that more openly gay men are running for elected office.  That's great and a sure sign of forward momentum.  Now we just need to run, baby, run to keep things moving a little more in synch with the community. 

Overall, it was a nicely done event.  The crowd seemed appreciative, the hostesses were very gracious and the setting was super-duper.  I'm so happy that Steel City is getting out of the bars a bit. 

OK, I gotta go spill some blood.  

Oh, I almost forgot Rob McCord.  He was there early, greeted everyone and made a nice speech.  He went to Harvard, I believe.  I was swayed.  He did not receive the PG endorsement b/c of his ties to Wall Street and his lack of ideas on campaign reform. I did not get a chance to ask him about those accusations.  If anyone can fill me in, that would be great ...

View Article  3 down, 47 to go ... eh, maybe 46 and a half

By now, you've probably read that gay marriage is legal in Connecticut.  Technically, the Supreme Court overturned a gay marriage ban.  This has been in my inbox for several days as I've pondered what I could possibly add to the debate. I'm part of a national LGBT blogging email list and my inbox has probably 700 messages on this topic.  From people who pretty much agree on the topic. 

It is a big year for gay marriage.  A tough year.  California legalized it, but is facing the mother of all battles over a ballot initiative to de-gay the constitution.  Arizona, the only state to successfully beat down such an amendment at the polls, is facing it once again.  Florida also has it at the ballot box.  Most of the monies are flowing into California on the conventional wisdom that defeating the proposition keeps marriage legal which is a step ahead of paving the way to legalize gay marriage.  And some people really are stupid enough to vote against the Prop (the good vote) because Brad Pitt donated money (to the good side). 

I had lunch with Tony Norman yesterday (name drop!) and he is of the opinion that the imminent election of Barack Obama will signify a culture shift of epic proportions in American society.  Apparently, Tony opines, the homos will be along for the ride as we chatted about passing an inclusive ENDA and eliminating Don't Ask, Don't Tell. 

What comes to mind when I think about the opportunity to marry Ledcat is purely financial and legal.  I've never even entertained the romantic and symbolic aspects. I watch my parents age with very little of a safety net and wonder how our interdependence will play itself out without even that safety net (Social Security survivor benefits, etc).  We are secure with health insurance right now, but one small change in our employment situation could negate that security.  It is a little scary.  But then again marriage didn't do my grandmother too good ... after grandpap died, she garned a $78 monthly pension and no health insurance.  Plus, the realization that she had been merrily charging (and paying) for years solely on his credit so she had none.  Scary.

Legalized gay marriage isn't on the radar for Pennsylvania and that's fine with me.  We have enough attention on this issue as the fracture point for the entire Western Kingdom of the Episcopal Church. I'm sure I'll be following how the divorce settlement turns into an ugly example of why "marriage" isn't such a holy union in all cases.

Pam's House Blend does a wonderful summary is you are interested in what the national LGBT groups are saying about this court decision (and the wingnuts, too).


View Article  Hunger and Stuff

One of the members of the Northside Social Workers (NoSoWo) Subversive Committee sent me this link ... $25 Challenge.  A group of food bank folks and allies in Illinois took a challenge to survive on a food budget of $25 per person for an entire week.  That's the average amount of food stamps folks receive in Illinois.  It is very eye opening.  I'm not so far out of grad school that I can't remember eating pretty cheaply, but I've usually had Mom and Dad to bail me out. 

I may have written about this before, but once upon a time I was a social service person in a rural Kentucky county.  That's where I learned about real poverty.  Not have a home with running water source type of poverty.  One woman who befriended me taught me a lot of about food stamps -- back then, they used stamps.  She would trudge back and forth between the two grocery stores in town to round up enough cash to puchase diapers and other non-food items.  Like soap.  And deodorant.  One time, I ran to the store for her because the baby was sick.  She insisted I use her stamps.  I had been to this store dozens of times, paying with cash or check.  This time, my experience was completely different.  The teenage cashier was noticeably rude to me and impatient when I fumbled with the stamps.  She rolled her eyes, she whispered to the bagger about my purchase of pop (ginger ale - the older kids had upset stomachs).  It was one of the most humbling experiences of my life.  When I talked with Karen about it, she just shrugged it off which spoke volumes about the universality of the experience. 

I have since always said that, as part of our training and education,  social service folks -- like MOI -- should be dropped in a foreign city with food stamps and forced to do our shopping for a week.  Most of the women I knew in Kentucky never bought tampons or maxipads -- they were a luxury.  Soap was more important.  So they used rags.  My volunteeers would just set aside all the unsellable clothing that would make good menstrual cloths. 

That made for some interesting chats when I met with women's groups.  The tampon and pad donations began flowing in every week.  Pun fully intended.  People just don't know. And the sad thing is that they really prefer not to know because then they have to go buy tampons.

Something I don't know -- how gay sensitive are the local food banks?  Do poor queer people feel comfortable disclosing their true household composition in order to get the necessary amount of food?  I'm going to look into that.  I know THE food bank is cool, but I wonder about the little pantries tucked here and there. 

Can you imagine -- $25 and no tampons? 

View Article  Janet Edwards Cleared!

From the PG:

A church court of Pittsburgh Presbytery ruled 9-0 that the Rev. Janet Edwards did not violate scripture or the constitution of the Presbyterian Church (USA) when she conducted what she has always said was the marriage of two women in 2005.

Since church and state define marriage as between a man and a woman, she cannot have done what she was accused of, the court ruled yesterday.

"It can't be an offense to the constitution to attempt to do the impossible," said the decision, read by the Rev. Stewart Pollock, chairman of the Permanent Judicial Commission of Pittsburgh Presbytery.

In 2005 the Rev. Edwards, a parish associate at the multi-denominational Community of Reconciliation in Oakland, conducted the ceremony in McKees Rocks. The Presbyterian Church (USA) says clergy may bless same-sex couples but "should not" offer a service that could be mistaken for a marriage. She argued that "should not" doesn't mean "must not."

The testimony at The Priory, a North Side hotel, was lopsided on the side of the defense. The prosecution called one witness, a church official who had told her that she could bless a gay couple, but not marry them.

The defense presented three biblical scholars and theologians who testified that her acceptance of same-sex marriage was within the Presbyterian tradition of interpreting scripture in its cultural context. They also called an authority on church law who said that it did not prohibit same-sex marriage.

Janet had this to say:

Even though the decision did not affirm gay marriage, the Rev. Edwards said the trial was an opportunity for dialogue.

"My ministry has been that of reconciliation," she said.

"I love the kind of conversation that was had in these two days, when Christians were able to talk together about our understandings of the church and how to engage in the world."

Asked if she would conduct similar ceremonies, she said, "I am glad we are all allowed to have the space we need to respond to God's call."

It really is about dialogue.  What a tumultuous dialogue we've had in Pittsburgh these past weeks -- this trial, the huge mess within the Episcopal church and the District Court Appeal on sex discrimination by a Butler County man.  On the national level, we've had Sarah Palin affirming the being gay is a choice, albeit one she "tolerates" and Joe Biden reaffiming that while he supports gay civil rights, he is opposed to gay marriage.

Whew.  That's a whole lot of people talking about queer stuff.  Conversation about topics that were completely taboo only one generation ago.  Institutions -- courts, churches and executive branches (despite what Dick Cheney might think) -- wrestling to reconcile "traditional" views with the very real American lives of gay people. 

Good job. 

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