Saturday, February 28
by Sue on Sat 28 Feb 2009 04:45 PM EST
Uncomfirmed sources report that Lynn Cullen will be back on Pittsburgh's airwaves, beginning on Monday, March 9, 2009 during the 5-7 drivetime slot. The station is WAMO AM 860 right before the hugely popular Bev Smith Show.
WAMO management is expected to make a public statement on Monday.
Great news, kids. Great news.
by Sue on Sat 28 Feb 2009 12:10 PM EST
I have been an amateur genealogist for about 12 years and just discovered my first long lost relative via Facebook. I've found plenty of folks via ancestry.com and other websites, mostly very distant cousins. My mother found my father's cousin at her hair salon. I am using Facebook to connect with known relatives, which is surprisingly underutilized by my extended clan.
But Facebook to find someone? I took a shot and typed in the name. Up popped the person so I took a shot and it was him!
Who? Well, it is a long story that boils down to my grandfather's biological sister being adopted by extended family after their own father died. She and her children wove in and out of the family, lived a few blocks away but there was no real contact. On Friday, contact was made when I called my Dad's cousin Dave and emailed him my family tree file later that afternoon.
So in about 24 hours, I've added this whole branch and filled in some "missing pieces" of my Dad's life. That's pretty cool.
The image above is a button I found in my grandmother's belongings. It apparently was a photo taken at a fair circa 1925. The adults are my great-grandparents, Kelso and Edna Kerr. The boy sitting on the ground is my grandfather around age 12. The baby is my Great-Uncle Jimmy. The older girl is my Great-Aunt Edna (Aunt Diddy) and the the younger girl is Great-Aunt Ruth. Aunt Ruth is the only one still alive -- she's 90 next week. This is the only memento of my grandfather's childhood I have ever found.
(I have yet to discover any other gay relatives, but with 1200 and counting it can't be long ... quite a few bachelors in there!)
Thursday, February 26
by Sue on Thu 26 Feb 2009 06:18 PM EST
Lambda is shepherding Pittsburgh's queer community into the 21st century in a holistic manner which creates some concrete opportunities to forge connections with our heterosexual allies. Thanks to responsible stewardship, Lambda has been part of nearly every significant LGBTQ initiative in Pittsburgh's history (and herstory). I personally took a greater interest in their inner workings when they stepped up with a last minute sponsorship of the 2008 Dyke March. That was classy and quite essential to something we very much need in Pittsburgh -- investments in alternative voices.
Congratulations to the recipients.
LAMBDA FOUNDATION ANNOUNCES 2009 FIRST GRANT CYCLE RECIPIENTS
The Lambda Foundation exists to foster for the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender People- educational, social, cultural, health and artistic projects and programs in the Greater Pittsburgh area through grants and scholarships to organizations and individuals.
The Lambda Foundation was incorporated in 1983. The first grants were awarded in 1984. Over the past 26 years the Foundation has awarded nearly $1,000,000 back to the community.
These grants were made possible by the participation of our individual contributors, our Annual Ball participants, our corporate sponsors, UPMC and Merrill Lynch and our special contributors Scott Noxon, Paul Gitnik, Kirk Johnson and Henry Kravovsky.
The Lambda Foundation would like to thank the following organizations for the opportunity to co-participate in such worthy projects.
Persad Center, Inc. $1925.00
Persad, founded in 1972, is the nation?s second oldest licensed mental health counseling center specifically created to meet the needs of the GLBT
Community. Funds will be used for the Closing the Gap Afterschool Project.
Renaissance City Choirs $1925.00
The Renaissance City Choirs is a non-profit organization comprised of the Renaissance City Men?s Choir and the Renaissance City Women?s Choir.
RCC?s artistic vision is to be recognized as a cultural institution in the greater Pittsburgh area. Funds will be used to enhance their website
Dreams of Hope $1540.00
Dreams of Hope develop leaders within the LGBT youth community and promote awareness and understanding through the creative and performing arts. Funding will support their 2009 Season.
The Open Door, Inc. $1540.00
The Open Door, Inc.?s mission is to provide a supportive housing program that improves the health of the forgotten population of high risk, chronically homeless people living with HIV/AIDS. Funds will be used for their operating budget.
Adagio Health, Inc. $1540.00
Funds will be used to provide breast and cervical cancer health education and screening opportunities at the GLCC to lesbian and bi-sexual women, with no cost services available to women who are under-insured or uninsured.
The Mattress Factory, Ltd. $1540.00
The Mattress Factory is a museum of contemporary art that supports the creation and exhibition of site-specific installation art. Funds will enable the museum to permanently install ?It?s all about ME, Not You?, Greer Lankton?s (1958-1996) final work. This work documents Greer?s life and experience as a trans-gender person coming to terms with Midwestern values (which she embraced in a way) in contrast to the freedom of New York?s East Village in the late 1970?s and 1980?s.
Shepherd Wellness Community $1500.00
Shepherd Wellness Community offers a program of support and assistance to people infected and affected by HIV/AIDS. Funds will be used for purchase of equipment.
Women?s Law Project $1155.00
Funds will be used to expand efforts to educate and enlist women?s organizations and other allies in the struggle for LGBT rights.
Charles Christen, Med, LPC $1000.00
Funds are to be used to fulfill the requirements for a doctoral degree at the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health Department of Behavioral and Community Health Sciences, as well as further the research related to gay men?s health. The overarching goal of this research project is to explore and describe the motivations, attitudes, beliefs and intentions (MABI) related to sex partner acquisition of men who have sex with men between the ages of 18 to 39 years old and with either a low number (1-2) or high number (over10) of sex partners in the past year. A secondary purpose of this study is to explore MABI related to acquisition of sexual partners and the possible association of these MABI with HIV transmission.
Steel City Softball League $1000.00
The purpose of the Steel City Softball League is to provide and protect the opportunity for individuals who support the bonds of fellowship, to play softball in an atmosphere of friendly competition, free from discrimination on the basis of adult age, race, creed, sex and ability. The league will foster and maintain the spirit of good fellowship and true sportsman ship. Funds will be used to keep registration fees down for their members in the face of a fifteen percent increase in expenses.
GLSEN, Pittsburgh $1000.00
Funds will be used to expand GLSEN, Pittsburgh?s ?Unified! Safe Prom for All?. ?Unified! Safe Prom for All? is a program designed in response to the findings of the latest school climate survey conducted by GLSEN National and Harris Interactive. Of the 6,209 middle and high school respondents 9 out of 10 (86.2%) experienced harassment at school in the past year. GLSEN Pittsburgh?s ?Unified! Safe Prom for All? allow local students a venue to meet others, gather information, enjoy themselves and have a truly grand experience in a safe environment.
REMINDER: THE LAMBDA FOUNDATION?S ANNUAL FUNDRAISING BALL SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 21, 2009
by Sue on Thu 26 Feb 2009 08:28 AM EST
On December 10, 2008, I sent a series of follow up questions to Deputy Chief of Staff Kristen Baginski, who had promised to procure some information for me during the Q/A meeting about the Mayor's GLBT Advisory Committtee. See earlier post for details.
On February 25, 2009, I received the following response from the Mayor's team. Note that the name has changed: it is now the LGBT Advisory Panel.
The change to LGBT is an understandable attempt to be more culturally sensitive. The change from committee to panel? Just another question to be answered.
I never asked if there was anything new to report; I was interested in the old questions from December about the selection and nomination process. The information about Charles Morrison is interesting and I immediately sent him an email. His hands are probably tied, but it is interesting that he's been brought in to ensure representation.
I'll be frank with you. It will be fascinating to see how far the progressive elements working on the campaign have managed to push the Mayor in terms of breaking up with his gay white male business owner trifecta. If the Pittsburgh AIDS Task Force is going to give the Kerry Stoner Award to Peter Karlovich and Steven Hereforth (see comments in previous post -- it has been confirmed), there is clearly no real fallout or accountability for "pay for play" or potential criminal conduct. So why not include them on the advisory panel? These men are untouchable. He has nothing to lose.
Board of Directors 2007 - 2008
Peter J. Ennis, Esq., President
Kevin J. Altomari
Wednesday, February 25
by Sue on Wed 25 Feb 2009 01:41 PM EST
Just as a follow up, I called the offices of Allegheny County Chief Executive Dan Onorato and that of Mayor Luke Ravenstahl to inquire about my previously ignored questions. I opted not to confront them at the Steel City Stonewall Meeting which was probably a mistake on my part, however given their ongoing broken promises on these questions, it would probably have served no purpose.
Remember this from Rich Lord's article about the Club Pittsburgh pay for play?
I guess it is their prerogative to not meet with me and avoid answering my questions. Still, it is worth the ask.
In case you forgot:
My LGBT related question submitted for Onorato's cyber town hall meetings was not answered. I was informed by his staff that they would send me an individual response. To the best of my knowledge, no one who submitted an LGBT related question received a response. Bram from The Pittsburgh Comet reported that he did receive an individual response to a question on an unrelated topic. I have tried to contact the Chief's office repeatedly with no luck.
My follow up questions on the Mayor's LGBT Advisory Council were submitted to Deputy Chief of Staff, Kristen Baginski, and Press Secretary, Joanna Doven. Baginski promised at the meeting to get me one specific answer. Doven asked for my cell phone number and never called. She recently told me she would be in touch when the "woman in charge" of the project returned to the office. No follow up.
Folks, if they sent me unsatisfactory answers or answers I disliked, that would be one thing. IGNORING our questions suggests that the pay for play suspicions are right on the money.
Nobody wants to play with me. Sigh.
Monday, February 23
by Sue on Mon 23 Feb 2009 09:05 PM EST
So, heck yeah, I'm still a little sore. Thanks for asking. I actually did pretty well until my last trip down the narrow flight of stairs at work. Thankfully, my wrists and fingers are fine so I can blog away.
How about someone saw my Twitter updates about the Steel City Dems endorsement meeting and asked for information on how to get involved? Anonymous commenters be damned, we are doing our share of recruitment here at lesbian central. :-)
So before I get started, let me update you on my ongoing attempts to get responses from the offices of Mayor Luke Ravenstahl (on the GLBT Advisory Council) and Chief Executive Dan Onorato (on the cyber town hall meeting). Let me check my notes ...oh, that's right. No response from Joanna Doven or Megan Dardanell. Nothing.
I arrived at the endorsement meeting just as the networking was wrapping up which give me a chance to snag a front and center seat for the "meeting" portion of the meeting. I took some notes as fast as my Blackberry permitted. I was sort of annoyed that I forgot to bring a pen, but did enjoy the discomfiture of certain folks who believed I was live blogging. Ledcat accused me of getting carried away with photographs, but as no one stood still very long I had to delete quite a few less than flattering shots. The lighting was terrible for photos, but I took a few anyway.
First up was Dan Onorato. Frankly, I have no idea why he spoke as he is not running for anything. I was not impressed. Regarding the County Anti-Discrimination ordinance, he said "we have to get legislation that we can pass." He also acknowledged a new national "tone" and that we must "keep the tolerance level where it should be."
Huh? I hate to let you down right from the get go but this was just absurd. Legislation that can pass sounds suspiciously like "lose the gender expression language and you got yourselves a deal." And what the hell does it mean to keep the tolerance level where it should be? Tolerate homosexuals because the country elected a black man? This is what the third most powerful Democrat in the state chooses to talk about at a gay meeting? Not his position on the ordinance. Not his position on domestic partner benefits for his employees. Not plans to diversify his staff, train his first responders or any such issue. No, he spoke the language of capitulation and I think that is a bunch of bullshit.
The worst thing is that once again someone who does NOTHING for our community is going to earn bonus points for merely showing up. You can see where
I am mightily disappointed in whomever made the decision to give him the microphone. Thanks for once again devaluing our endorsement. I fully know I am going to get a lot of flack for this opinion, but this was an egregious violation of the community's trust with such important legislation hanging in the balance.
We did, at this point, learn that the County Ordinance is in committee and that they are hashing out the financial side of things -- how to pay for the education and enforcement components. It was alluded that there might be a possibility of combing HRCs between the City and County. If that happens without the domestic partner benefits issue being successfully addressed, shame on everyone.
We did not learn how he plans to vote. We can assume, but we can't know.
State Representative Dan Frankel spoke. One of the elected officials who has been there on every vote since the dawn of time, he deserves any chance to speak he wants. He wants us to support HB 300 which will expand statewide protections to include sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression. He asked for our "passion and persistence."
Then several judicial candidates spoke, with a very awkward interruption by Sheriff Bill Mullen who was clearly the most uncomfortable person in the room. I have no idea why a Sheriff should speak before a judicial candidate but he really had nothing relevant to say anyway. No word on training his staff or hiring more gay people or pretty much anything except "please vote for me."
Back to the judicial candidates. I was completely lost. It was like a blur of people throwing around terms like "super lawyer" for a long period of time. I *think* the important thing to remember is that there is one opening on the Supreme Court and this could have a significant impact on legislative redistricting after the 2010 Census. The Court is even divided between Democrats and Republicans. Go read the questionnaires for more details on the individual candidates. Here is what stood out to me. (I fully admit I forgot to bring a copy of the ballot home with me so I don't know everyone's names --- I did try to wade through the Steel City page, but I simply could not figure out a few. I apologize and feel pretty stupid.)
Part of me thinks I should write nothing, but I recognize that I'm going to vote based on the things that stuck with me not a ton of research. This will be my only exposure to these candidates before the primary so I'm going to share with you what stuck with me.
Assistant District Attorney ???? unionized his office. I didn't know the District Attorney's office was unionized. That was a bit impressive.
Court of Common Please candidate Arnie Klein made a very impassioned speech about a judge needing experience across multiple divisions. I agree and I endorsed him because he said it and because he has been at almost every gay political event I've attended. I genuinely believe that Arnie Klein would be fair and respectful to gay people. He's worked hard to earn our trust.
Don Walko hopes to leave the State House for the Court of Common Pleas. Walko is another one who has been there on the votes and earned our support.
Joe Williams, I had my doubts about, but when he spoke, he got me. He said two things. He worked on a Persad committee where he learned a lot about gay issues. Second, he spoke very movingly about the unexpected emotional impact of serving on the bench such as concern for the young children of the parent he just sentenced to prison. Joe, you got my vote.
There were several female candidates. This is my ugly secret. I don't remember who said what. One read something kindergarten children wrote about her. Another one is pro-choice. But I was very confused. I do recall that one woman is running for the Commonwealth Court which Ledcat explained is a pretty specialized court. Why do we vote for people to fill judicial seats that require such a high level of skill? That sounds better suited for appointments of qualified people rather than campaigns. I spoke after the meeting with a female candidate who knows a lot about gay issues, but I cannot recall her name and I can't help but wonder why she didn't say that in her speech?
Still, none of the judicial candidates really spoke to the issue of having gay people in their courtrooms. I guess judges have to be circumspect, but I would like to hear an affirmation that they understand that sentencing a gay parent may have extra complications for the kids left behind. Something a bit more concrete.
Hugh McGough has some pretty tough concrete stuff to say. He's running for the Court of Common Pleas and he is openly gay. He talked about his experience in City government as the face of gay Pittsburgh, in what I hope was meant to be a reflection that we have a long way to go when the employee who happens to be gay is the only channel for elected leaders to get a feel for gay issues. Hugh certainly sets the bar high, running as an openly gay candidate, for those who argue that we have to take baby steps in politics. Good for you, Hugh. I voted for you, too.
Onto County Council. Thomas Michalow who is running for District One publicly committed to support the County ordinance and hoped it would pass before he gets elected. Apparently, this is a real opportunity to tumble a Republican seat so get out there folks and unelected Matt Drozd.
Amanda Green for District 13 (my district) was the acknowledged rock star of the evening. She was also very adroit at handling the awkward moment when people basically said they are raising money for her (and no one else). I was embarrassed, but she was classy. She was very matter of fact about her
Next up were the Mayoral Candidates.
Carmen Robinson is one challenger. She was pretty tough on crime, but didn't have anything more specific to say. She claimed that the solvency rate for the City of Pittsburgh was over 95% in 1991 and is now below 50%. If that's true, someone needs to pay attention.
Patrick Dowd led the amen corner. He was eloquent and excellent. I'm glad he's already elected because we need all the straight white male allies we can get.
Mayor Ravenstahl. Sigh. At least he was supposed to be there, even if he did bring his body guard for crying out loud. The only other person in Pittsburgh I ever see with a bodyguard is Mr. Rooney. Luke claims his Administration is all about diversity and inclusion. In the next breath, he admits they are still looking for nominations for the LGBT (he changed the initials -- someone is working with him) Advisory Council.
Natalia Rudiak from City Council District Four is the only candidate in her district that returned a questionnaire. I know some of you live in Carrick. Pay attention.
Robert Daniel Lavalle is challening Tonya Payne for her District 6, which is my City Council District. He seemed earnest, but I disagree with his claim that Tonya isn't visible in the District. I've seen her more frequently than anyone else who represents me. She holds meetings, she responds to email messages, she talks pretty tough. She was at the endorsement meeting before I arrived, but apparently had another commitment and had to leave. I"m sure Mr. Lavalle is a nice guy because Ledcat reported he seemed puzzled when she responded "Yes" when he asked if she had ever seen Tonya in our district. Tonya marches in the Pride Parade. We're good here.
Last up, Bill Peduto. Now you know I have not hesitated to pull punches when I have disagreed with Mr. Peduto or others. I may disagree with him on occasion, but he very simply reminded us that he, along with Dan Frankel and Michael Lamb, have walked with Steel City Stonewall Democrats from the very beginning. Others belong in that pantheon ... Doug Shields, Rich Fitzgerald and Patrick Dowd.
But you know what is cool? We now have someone among our champions who is not a white straight man. Her name is Amanda Green. She doesn't have an East End district with a built in cushion of progressive voters to fall back on (not my words, but a frank acknowledgement from Bill). Now don't get me wrong -- I think Amanda joins the League of Justice and it wouldn't even exist if not for Bill, Dan, Doug, and Michael. I'm just glad that our allied leaders are becoming more reflective of our community.
Bring on the new alliances.
Sunday, February 22
by Sue on Sun 22 Feb 2009 10:00 PM EST
Dustin Lance Black won for his original screenplay for the film, Milk. This is the text of his original acceptance speech.
"Oh my God, this was not an easy film to make. I have to thank all the real life people who shared their stories with me... When I was 13 years old my beautiful mother and father moved me from a conservative Mormon home in San Antonio, Texas to California and I heard the story of Harvey Milk. And it gave me hope, hope to live my life, gave me the hope to live my life openly as who I am. And maybe even I can fall in love and get married. I want to thank my Mom who always loved me for who I am even when there was pressure not to. If Harvey had been alive today, I think he'd want me to say to all the gay and lesbian kids out there that have been told that they are less than by their churches, their government or their families that they are beautiful, wonderful creatures of value and no matter what anyone tells you, God does love you and that very soon I promise you, you will have equal rights, federally, across this great nation of ours"
Video at Good As You.
by Sue on Sun 22 Feb 2009 09:50 PM EST
I completely did not anticipate attending today's endorsement meeting of the Steel City Stonewall Democrats. I had to show my rental property and were it not for a nasty slip on the ice which gave me an excruciating headache AND nonshows, I would have missed both Luke Ravenstahl and Dan Onorato coming to speak at a gay event.
Never have I been happier for a throbbing head and being stood up than I was when I snuck into the meeting and learned this news. I have photos. It really happened. They ALMOST took questions. Luke even brought his body guard -- what was he expecting?
Anyway, I grabbed a front seat, whipped out the Blackberry and documented away. But that headache is pretty harsh now and has spread to the entire left side of my body. So I'm going to post a few photos and leave the analysis for tomorrow. I should be receiving the endorsements via press release by then. I hope.
OK, I have to make a few observations.
- Rob Frank is a really cool guy. I know everyone loves Georgia and she seems pretty nice and an ally and all that. But something about Rob Frank really touched me. His speech was heartfelt and he seems like he has really paid his dues to our community, plus has experience. So regardless of the endorsement, I think you should give some attention to this candidate for City Council District 2 which includes Banksville, Chartiers City, Crafton Heights, Duquesne Heights, East Carnegie, Elliott, Esplen, Fairywood,Mount Washington, Oakwood, Ridgemont, and Sheraden
- There were a lot of judicial candidates there. So many that I cannot recall much of who said what. I can say that we really underestimate the importance of the judiciary so I'm going to be very careful when I write that up. But it it tough to understand it. I personally would expect someone to prove (in 3 minutes!) that they have the necessary credentials AND that they get LGBT needs. No one did that really well, except for the candidate who is gay. I'm glad they are pro-choice and like kids and all that, but I want to hear them acknowledge that the family in the gallery in any of the divisions (Criminal, Civil, Family, Orphans Court and Juvenile, I think) ANY of those families could be gay and how that impacts their presence in court.
- Ledcat has been elected to the Board of Steel City Stonewall Democrats. Huzzah for Ledcat!
Saturday, February 21
by Sue on Sat 21 Feb 2009 10:31 AM EST
Wow. All the comments, FB messages and email ... the love, people, the love. :-) Yes, I get discouraged and default to blogging about celebrity conception. And, yes, perhaps that is my little cry for help. Thanks for all the support. I promise not to quit in a blaze of glory. LOL. Of course, I find out Dennis Roddy asked to speak with me at BlogFest. Not sure if he said "Sue Kerr" or that lesbian blogger, but either way .... Dennis Roddy!
It hasn't been a bad week at all.
After a seven to nine month battle, the County Assistance office finally approved my grandmother's PDA 60+ Waiver which means we should be able to keep her out of a nursing home until it is absolutely necessary. Only a few more hurdles (mostly meetings) and I can breathe a little more easy. I also learned that my grandmother's new hairdresser went a little overboard on the red dye and she looks a little vivid. Oh well, there are worse things that could happen, right? She likes it! Battling for public benefits is an awful nightmare. My grandfather worked 30+ years for J&L Steel and got screwed on his pension. Her pension is like $78/month and it took months to get the Federal Pension Guarantee Bureau to send a simple verification of income letter. I would have simply preferred to reimburse the money rather than go through that red tape.
The fun little aside is the my second cousin's wife and I are now FB friends and she made a cute comment about that little update. I also used FB to track down some potential other second cousins. Kewl, n'est pas? Let us see if they respond to me. Still, family is family. I have nearly 1300 people in my family tree and it is addictive to track down the details of their lives. I've only met DJ once but FB really does bridge that geographic gap to give you a connection.
Around the queerosphere ...
Pam has some details on how national LGBT organizations are struggling with the tough economy. This could impact us here in Pittsburgh. The Victory Fund is cutting back on campaign donations to openly LGBT candidates and we have one running here. Hopefully, this might help organizations be a bit more accountable to their constituencies and help say the HRC reconsider their stance on an inclusive ENDA? I'm not saying reduced circumstances are a good thing, but as I'm sure your ability to give has been impacted you might want to tighten up your criteria as well. The groups certainly need your support. Don't stop giving, just give in a way that reflects your own values.
Here's Pam's take:
Surf over for some interesting insight on the impact on LGBT media. As I mentioned in an earlier comment, I've been asked to contribute content to two local publications, Cue Pittsburgh and the PrideGuide. One of the factors I'm mulling over is whether writing for free has an impact beyond just me ... does it devalue LGBT journalism as a whole if you can get a non-professional writer like myself to give you free content? Sure it does. So is it ethical for me to contribute when I have no intention of leaping into paid journalism and I know there are qualified LGBT professional journalists in my own backyard?
I can't imagine anyone paying to read a blog, at least not a Pittsburgh blog. I was pretty annoyed when the Post-Gazette put out feelers for folks to blog for free after laying off unionized writers. Most bloggers recognized the conondrum and opted out. Most. Not that they approached me, mind you. Can you imagine a lesbian blog at the PG? I'm choking on my coffee. A blog written by someone who happens to be a lesbian, sure. Maybe. If my source is right. LOL.
This is probably long enough and I have to surf over to read my soap opera updates. Yeah. I like the soaps. If I could write for the soaps, that would be awesome.
Friday, February 20
by Sue on Fri 20 Feb 2009 07:20 PM EST
I like Alison Bechdel. I want to read one of her books which the Carnegie Library does not own. So I requested it via interlibrary loan. This is what they told me:
It seems kind of weird that only four places in the world own this book when other folks I know on GoodReads.com have read it. I'm not sure what to make of it. I gave them the name, author, and ISBN number so I doubt there's a mistake. Right?
The book? Postmoderne Lesbenheit published in 2003.
It just seems weird. They have all of her other books. I guess I'll ask them to buy it. Then we'll be the 5th place in the world to own it. I guess.