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

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View Article  Welcome to PghGay.com!

We just acquired the domain pghgay.com thanks to a friend who wanted to see the domain support information and advocacy in the LGBT community.  Don't click - you'll just end up right back here. :-)   Hurrah!

View Article  Starring Gab Bonesso ...

Be sure to add this to your holiday to-do list.  It features our favorite comedian/actor, Gab Bonesso.


View Article  Holiday Giving Opportunities for Pittsburgh!

Click on the icon for information on giving tree, adopt a family and other holiday giving opportunities to help your ...   more »

View Article  Letters Round Up and Shout out to Cat Specter

Kudos to Dick Marshall of Crafton for penning a letter to the PG on the topic of gay civil rights. 

Hearing so many voices from the pulpits in this country condemning relationships like mine while not so subtly telling us whom to vote for is both hurtful and incongruent with the hope that many of us finally felt with this election. If the majority in this country were to have the power in this country to vote on many of our civil rights, we'd still not be permitted to have interracial marriages and we'd still have vast segregated parts of this country.

I have now seen that anyone can achieve his or her dreams in America, but I wonder if I'll ever see a day when every child can grow up to marry the person they love. That really seems like a basic human right.

Dick, I've been reading that our community needs to do a better job of reaching out to those who don't distinguish between civil and religious marriages.  Your letter is a great start.  Keep this dialogue going in the PG, my friends.  The politicians do read and pay attention to those whom are motivated enough to write letters. 

An excerpt from Leonard Pitts' most recent column about the lurking fearmongerers in the GOP:

The names change, but the playbook remains the same: Your way of life is threatened by these people and only we, the GOP, can save you.

That was the message when Jesse Helms ran a TV ad showing a white man's hands crumpling a rejection letter for a job that had to be given "to a minority because of a racial quota," and when George H.W. Bush ran for office against a black career criminal named Willie Horton. It was the message during the debate over illegal immigration, and it was the message when Rep. Tom Tancredo advocated bombing Mecca and called Miami a Third World city. It was the message when President George W. Bush thought the Constitution needed amending because of the threat posed by gay people in love.

"Let us save you from them" arguably has been the GOP's most enduring message for four decades, a promise to people shaken by change that the party will repeal the '60s and reinstate the '50s. Never mind that this would mean returning women to the kitchen, Muslims to invisibility, gays to the closet and blacks to the back of the bus.

Consider the recent rallies around the country in response to the passage of anti-gay initiatives in California, Florida and several other states. Consider the defiant signs and the upraised voices in the face of setback and ask yourself if those look like people who are about to go meekly and complaisantly back to the shadows.

They do not. Even the archest of arch conservatives must realize this by now.

The tie in, nicely made by Pitts, between the gay community and the struggle for civil rights is connecting the attempt to force us back into shadows.  There's no need to compare the bus to the closet; the point is that we shouldn't be forced to dwell or sit somewhere against our will. The POINT is that we aren't going back down those paths without a hell of a lot of noise and protest. 

I do need to give a little shout out to Tony Norman for oh-so-not-delicately pointing out the obvious that many gay people are feeling and struggling with across this nation.

 Blacks who supported Proposition 8 in California. Black folks voted 2-to-1 to deny gays and lesbians the right to marry even as they were turning out in record numbers to vote for Barack Obama. Irony is definitely lost on this bunch. Can anyone say "Loving v. Virginia"?

The challenge facing the queer community is to walk into that seeming contradiction and wrestle with the perceptions rather than merely condemn.  Pittsburgh is a great example -- our gay community is as diverse as any other Pittsburgh group, except for the younger crowds. The next big opportunity to get this right is the Mayor's soon to be appointed LGBT Advisory Committtee.  Let's hope his team finds a way to create a dynamically diverse group of folks who do not have deep pocket ties to his office.  Let's get this committee sitting down with Ricky Burgess to talk about the divide between local gays and local blacks around marriage to see what we can do about it. Probably a pipe dream.

Second chance, local membership groups amping up their outreach to black gays in Pittsburgh.  If you are reading this and you are not a member of Steel City Stonewall, I challenge you to get involved. 

Now, here's the part you weren't expecting.  I have to give a big shout out to Cat Specter for writing a nice piece of advice to a lesbian out there in PG land. While Cat still lists toward a bit of the "you go girl" side (it must be the tilt of the beret), her advice has improved and she makes no distinctions whatsoever between her hetero and homo advice-seekers.  I'd still like to see her revisit her advice on a racist landlord and redirect readers to more impactful and legal solutions when confronting racism in such situations, but maybe someday ... For now, Cat is maturing in her advice and that's a welcome change.  Maybe I was wrong about her. 

Maybe Tony Norman will take us to lunch one day. 

View Article  Phelpsians to Picket Funeral of PA Lieutenant Governor

I got a tip that the police are on high alert for Tuesday's funeral mass for Catherine Baker Knoll, the recently departed Lieutenant Governor of Pennsylvania. Why?  Because Fred Phelps and his homo-hating minions are bound for Pittsburgh to protest her funeral.  From their site (to which I will not link):

St. Paul Cathedral - Baker Knoll is in HELL! Fifth Ave at Craig Street We will picket this evil woman's funeral. She lived a lot of years, and THEN decided that she had not done enough evil in the world. So, she became a politician. Shame on her! She was a big part of the decision to make gospel preaching a crime in Pennsylvania. She no doubt is in hell, and her being in that position to begin with shows you that God hates her and Pennsylvania, to wit: Isa 3:12 As for my people, children are their oppressors, and women rule over them. O my people, they which lead thee cause thee to err, and destroy the way of thy paths. AND Pr 30:20 Such is the way of an adulterous woman; she eateth, and wipeth her mouth, and saith, I have done no wickedness. AMEN!

Why picket the funeral? Guess ... abortion and gay rights. Her connection with Governor Rendell.  Poor Catherine had her body dragged from one end of the state to another in the longest funeral procession in recent memory (she passed on November 12), now this. 

I kind of find amusing the story from a spring visit by President and Senator Clinton to rally the troops before the primary.  Apparently, the "boys" aka Mayor Luke Ravenstahl and County Chief Executive Dan Onorato thought they could get away with disregarding protocol by attempting to introduce the former President rather than deferring to Baker Knoll, the highest ranking Democrat on the stage.  She grabbed the mike and stole the show. 

God speed, Catherine.

View Article  Cinemark has an LGBT Liaison?

h/t SteelCityDyke for the link to the original letter

By now, you've read about the letter on 365gay.com from Cinemark executive and openly gay man, Bob Shimmin.  In the letter, Shimmin states that the company has an LGBT Liaison.  So ... where is this person?


During my job interviews, I discovered that Cinemark has an LGBT liaison for community outreach; Cinemark provides domestic partner benefits for California team members; Cinemark hosts the annual Vancouver Queer Film Festival; and Cinemark works with the North Texas GLBT Chamber of Commerce as well as the Collin County Gay & Lesbian Alliance to arrange advance screenings for movies of interest to the LGBT community. 

My partner participates in company and industry functions at Cinemark and is treated as my spouse by everyone here.  In short, the corporate culture at Cinemark is inclusive and the customer experience at our theatres is inclusive. 

After all, movie theatres are a community melting pot; a destination where all members of the community can share in an entertaining, and sometimes educational, experience.

I don't know, Mr. Shimmin.  What about domestic partner benefits outside of California?  Or for those whose corporate salaries don't offset the expense of private coverage (or a second salary/set of benefits)?  What about the film festivals throughout the country?  $10,000 split between 10 festivals around the country could go a long way to help promote gay-positive relations.  Who is your LGBT liaison and where has s/he been during this ongoing dialogue?  

Finally, I have had experiences in movie theaters where I've been treated poorly when I held my partner's hand or touched her back to guide her as we wind our way through the aisles.  I've heard gay slurs.  I can't imagine what it would be like to work in that environment.  I certainly don't take my movie dollars back to those establishments. 

It is great that your corporate culture is gay affirming, if that's how you define not having domestic partner benefits.  I don't.  And I think that calling attention to Cinemark's attempts to have their cake and eat it, too is a perfectly legitimate business tactic.   

I'm looking forward to your LGBT Liaison reaching out through the Pittsburgh region theaters to throw us a little love.  We have a film festival.  Have her email me. 

View Article  BlogFest, Letters to the editor, etc

Here's a good example of the challenge the gay community faces in the struggle for our full civil rights:

Democracy spoke

This letter is in regard to the photo of the Proposition 8 protest in the Region section of last Sunday's paper. While I understand the disappointment felt by those who support homosexual/lesbian marriage, I am quite baffled by their continuing protest in the wake of the vote on Proposition 8 in California.

In a true democracy the electorate vote directly on the issues, and this is exactly what occurs when a referendum is placed on the ballot. The people of California have spoken and the actions of those who desired a no vote on the proposition amount to nothing more than whining.

What would they think if those opposing the election of Barack Obama were now in the streets loudly protesting the results, which coincidentally mirror the results of the Proposition 8 vote? Get over it. If you feel strongly on this topic then begin working toward a new referendum and how you can convince the populace to see your point of view. Still be prepared for them to disagree, and if they do, please do not whine.


First, why the distinction between homosexuals and lesbians?  That's a new one. 

Second, we do not live in a true democracy.  Those with voting power weren't exactly eager to extend civil rights to African-Americans, were they?  It took direct action, education and outreach to bring about change.  Bringing about another referendum will clearly only work if the gay community gets our messages in front of more people -- we have to persuade them.

Third, Mr. Stock, I take exception with your categorization of anti-Prop 8 protests as "whining."  The 500 something people who turned out last week for the protest were vocal and focused and positive.  I was there and I heard not a single whine.  I heard people laughing, chanting, chatting, sharing their stories and creating the kind of momentum that is necessary to bring about change.  I've been following efforts to channel that energy into something positive for Pittsburgh, such as the County Anti-Discrimination Legislation.  Calls to action -- to democratic action -- are being sounded.  The Mayor is seeking nominations for an LGBT Advisory Committee. 

Rest assured, Mr. Stock, that change is coming.  We can feel it in the air and we intend to keep exercising our civil liberties -- assembling, dissenting, voting, speaking, etc-- to promote change and the justice necessary to treat all citizens fairly.  You and others are entitled to disagree.  Kudos to you for writing a letter.  I'm disappointed that our allies didn't write letters from another perspective so point to your side on this one.

Friday was my first blogfest.  I met a handful of new folks, including another LGBT blogger (look in the blogroll for Jason Cable).  I got to catch up with David.  I had no idea whom half the people in the room were as I had to leave early to meet Ledcat.  Still, I went and that's new for me. 

Tomorrow is my first day on the new job.  I am excited and nervous.  I was hoping a kicky beret might help, but none are to be found at Lesbian Central.  I did dig out two winter caps and at least 7 single unmatched gloves.  When your hands are cold, does it really matter if the gloves match?  Really?

Tonight, we take Ana over to her potential dog sitter for a trial visit.  This is the determining factor in our trip to DC for the LGBT Blogging Initiative.  I discovered that we are being treated to an exclusive screening of "Milk" and a luncheon with Barney Frank.  Plus, Pam Spaulding from Pam's House Blend will be there to talk with us.  The HRC is hosting something as is the Victory Fund and other groups.  Plus, the invited Ledcat to join me. And I might get to have dinner with my college friend Karin.  I am tres excited. 

No whining!

View Article  County Council and Anti-Discrimination Legislation

Just received a call to action from the Steel-City Stonewall Democrats.  As you may recall, legislation has been introduced on the county level which would expand civil protections with regard to housing, employment and public accomodations to include the classes of sexual orientation and gender identity.  This is an important step for our region toward achieving equality for all residents. 

Without this legislation, it remains perfectly legal for a landlord in Monroeville to refuse to rent to a lesbian couple.  It remains legal for a restaurant owner in Bethel Park  to refuse service to gay men.  It is legal for an employer in McCandless to fire someone just for being gay. 

The chance to make an impact is nigh:

Allegheny County Council is considering an ordinance that would prohibit discrimination in Employment, Housing and Public Accommodations based on characteristics including sexual orientation and gender identity and expression. 
The Council has, so far, been very interested in moving this non-discrimination ordinance forward.  Twelve (out of 15) Council members have signed on as co-sponsors!  One of Council?s next steps is to approve funding for the ordinance. Specifically, the County will have to hire folks to educate the public, to investigate complaints, and to prosecute violations of the ordinance.  The Council's Government Committee will be discussing the ordinance next Tuesday.

This isn't a feel good resolution expressing the will of the Council.  It needs to have some funding to give it teeth.  My partner Ledcat, as you may recall, is an investigator and can attest to the need to ensure that qualified people are hired -- outside of the ken of politics -- to protect the interest of the residents of the County.  This is a critical step in the process. 

The meeting is Tuesday at 5 PM.  Can you attend?  Perhaps not. It is a holiday week and you do have jobs.  One thing you can do is make a telephone call or send an email to your County Council Rep (and the two at large reps).  Those details are below:

Please contact your County Councilperson to thank him or her for supporting this ordinance.  Encourage your Councilperson to continue moving the legislation forward.  

You can look up your County Council District by following this link:
Matt Drozd, Dist. 1
Jim Burn, Dist. 3
Michael Finnerty, Dist. 4
Joan Cleary, Dist. 6
Nick Futules, Dist. 7
Chuck Martoni, Dist. 8
Bob Macey, Dist. 9
William Russell Robinson, Dist. 10
Rich Fitzgerald, Dist. 11
Jim Ellenbogen, Dist. 12
Amanda Green (lead sponsor), Dist. 13
John DeFazio, Council At-Large
In case you wish to encourage the non-sponsors to become co-sponsors, here is their contact information:
Chuck McCollough, Council At-Large
Jan Rea, District 2
Vince Gastgeb, District 5
(Councilmembers ?at-large? are elected county-wide and represent all residents of Allegheny County.)
In case you would like to attend: the Government Committee of the Allegheny County Council will be meeting this Tuesday, November 25, at 5:00pm to discuss this legislation.  The location is
436 Grant St., County Courthouse Rm. 119, Conference Rm. 1.  At this type of Committee meeting there is not the opportunity for public comment, but the public is welcome to attend, and you would be supporting the legislation with your presence.
 This is the forward momentum you've been hoping would spring from the Obama election and the anti-Proposition 8 rallies. This is your chance to do something very concrete that will have an impact in your own backyard.  Our Councilwoman is the primary sponsor, but I am going to call Chuck McCullough as he represents me in his "at-large" capacity.  I'm going to call John DeFazio, too. 
Imagine the impact if each of the 400-500 people who turned out this past Saturday picked up the phone to do the same thing.  On a County issue, that's huge. 

This is your opportunity.  Don't squander it. 
View Article  Gender and the City Paper

This week's City Paper has some good stuff ...

First up, the cover story on a gender discrimination suit that could have a tremendous impact on women in the workplace.  Was Brian Prowel the victim of sexism or homophobia?  We've covered this before.  Now we wait for the court decision. 

Marty Levine talks with activists about the importance of including "gender identity" in all LGBT advocacy efforts in 2009.  In PA, two bills are planned - the extension of non-discrimination protections and a hate crimes legislation bill.  This is particularly poignant as today is the National Transgender Day of Remembrance.

Among the 30 states lacking statewide protections for LGBT people, Pennsylvania has the greatest number of individual municipalities with anti-discrimination laws: 14, up from six in 2002. Trans protections in Pittsburgh were added in 1996 to a law that already protected gay people. In Philadelphia, protections for transgender residents were added in 2000. Other local governments are weighing similar measures. In Allegheny County, 11 out of 15 county councilors support anti-discrimination legislation that protects both gender identity and sexual orientation. A hearing is scheduled for Nov. 25.

For the two state anti-discrimination bills to be proposed next year, Democratic state Rep. Dan Frankel of Squirrel Hill urged those attending the meeting to seek personal contact with their legislators. Even if a legislator would actively support such changes, Frankel says, voters can try to convince them to let the bills come up for a vote.

"Everyone in this room has a personal story that is powerful and meaningful and represents something that could be a teachable moment for a legislator," added the HRC's Glassman. "They need to see human beings who are transgender."

Go.  Read.

View Article  Luke forms LGBT Advisory Council with input from Leadership Pittsburgh

We've learned that Mayor Luke Ravenstahl is working with Leadership Pittsburgh to form a permanent LGBT Advisory Council, comprised of 8-10 individuals.  The Mayor is currently working with more than 35 leaders in the LGBT community to solicit recommendations for the Council.  He and his staff will review the recommendations and determine whom will participate. 

Finally.  I've been blogging about this for months.  The participation of Leadership Pittsburgh may be a signal that this won't be a perfunctory nod to the local gay community.  With all of the new energy surrounding Prop 8, perhaps we can start to tackle some of the remaining sticky issues in the City.  Beginning with the fact that most of my contacts who work for the City and are gay do not believe their work environment is particularly gay supportive. 

Do you have any suggestions for the Council?

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