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Pop rock band HAIM created a shirt on their playful Haimukkah ditty as a way to show support for the 3 Jewish congregations targeted by a white domestic terrorist in October in Pittsburgh. It is a lovely gesture.

Dreidels, Candels, Latkes oh my! All the things you need to get your Haimukkah celebration going!

a portion of all sales of this long sleeve shirt will be donated to the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh

Happy Haimukkah!

But there are two problems that can both be easily address.

First, the language is inaccurate and potentially very harmful. The Tree of Life synagogue is home to three congregations, all of whom lost members on that terrible day and all of whom must move through the post-traumatic experience. It would be helpful if HAIM specified that they are supporting all three congregations and said their names online where there is space to do so. They are: Tree Of Life/Or L’Simcha, New Light Congregation, and Dor Hadash. Tree of Life owns the actual building, but Dor Hadash may have been the primary target of the shooter because of their immigration work. So it is best and most respectful to be accurate and share any proceeds with all three congregations.

It is also a matter of legalities. If people buy shirts to support Tree of Life Congregation, that Congregation is bound by federal law as to what it can do with the money – it can’t just say “Let’s give part to the other two.” It is not an unrestricted gift unless HAIM says the funds will be an unrestricted donation.

Second, I noticed the shirts only come in sizes S-XL. Since HAM is a feminist band, this is a little surprising – body positivity is an important feminist concept. I explored this in a piece I wrote in 2015 about feminist performers and their promotional swag after my first Sleater-Kinney concert.

Why does it matter?

Two reasons. First, I expect feminist bands to be conscious of the inclusion of all of their fans in the fan experience. The graphic designers and printers I asked about sizing told me that bands requesting 2X or larger usually do so because of an actual person that they know—a fan, a band member, family, etc. In other words, they have a personal awareness of the need for larger sizes. That makes sense, but I would expect feminist groups to have that heightened awareness on a systemic level—much like buying shirts that are sweatshop free. It isn’t just a personal favor; it is a conscious choice by the artists to invite all of us into the full-fan experience, not just those in typical sizes.

Second, the merch is a way to engage the community. If I walk around with a Sleater-Kinney (or HAIM) shirt, the world knows that people like me are fans and listen to the music. People whose bodies that look like mine. I’m not just a listener; I’m a fan. It is a message that transcends my personal engagement. The XL shirt that I bought is cute, but not comfortable so it will never see the world. Or be seen by the world. It will be a sleep shirt or a shirt used for layering during cool weather. I won’t put it on because I want to be a fan that afternoon; I’ll put it on without any real conscious thought. Or worse I’ll just cram it into the back of my closet because it annoys me to think that I dropped $25 on a shirt I don’t really like until a few years down the road when I finally think to donate it to Goodwill.

Ideally, feminist bands should intentionally offer sizes XS-4X with the same thought that they give to using sweatshop-free, union labor or organic inks and fibers.

Yes, there is often a cost different at the manufacturing level, but you simply factor that into all of the prices because the people wearing Medium shirts are better off too when their XS and 3X friends can be part of the fan community. Share the extra cost. No one will even notice.

Earlier this year, HAIM made headlines over demanding equal pay for their work as female musicians and artists so we know they are serious about their feminism and equality and respect.

I figured these special shirts came from a certain run and that’s why they stopped at XL. I was genuinely shocked to browse through their online store and see that everything is S-XL, across the board. Wow, that’s a significant way to exclude a lot of fans who don’t look like the stereotypical rock music fan we see in movies and such.

I know that myself and others have reached out to HAIM about both issues with no response. And even though I’m disappointed, I still included the shirts in my Holiday Shopping Guide at the Pittsburgh Current. Here’s hoping HAIM and their team will at some point stop to think about the irony of excluding 2 congregations and very small/fat fans from a fundraiser intended to resist bias and oppression.

But like I said, this can all be fixed. The promotion text can be clarified. The shirt ordering person can find a vendor who fits feminist needs.

In the meantime, I’m going to make my donation directly and hope down the road I can buy the very cute and cool shirt.

first night of haimukkah sandler we’re coming for you pic.twitter.com/E58paQp0mu

— HAIM (@HAIMtheband) December 12, 2017

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Zahair Martinez, a Black transgender man living in Pittsburgh, claims he was assaulted inside a 7-Eleven on Wood Street in Downtown Pittsburgh by a group of seven people. This was 10:15 AM on Sunday December 2.

Martinez spoke with WTAE

“ZAHAIR MARTINEZ TELLS ME HE WAS TARGETED FROM THE SECOND HE WALKED INTO THIS DOWNTOWN 7-11 HE SAYS WITHIN MINUTES OF BEING INSIDE HE WAS MINUTES MARTINEZ UNDER ATTACK AND TERRIFIED

I CAN FEEL MY BODY GETTING WEAK, SHUTTING DOWN, I JUST PRAYED THAT THEY WOULDN’T KEEP KICKING ME.

MARCIE: ZAHAIR MARTINEZ TELLS ME IN THOSE MOMENTS HE WAS AFRAID FOR HIS LIFE. 

I WAS JUST GOING IN THERE TO GET MONEY FROM THE ATM AND LEFT OUT BRUSIED UP, BLOOD EVERYWHERE, BLOOD ON MY PEACOA BLOOD ON MY SHOES.

MARCIE: THESE IMAGES MARTINEZ SAYS WERE TAKEN AFTER HE WAS KICKED IN THE FACE REPEATEDLY, HD COFFEE THROWN IN HIS EYES, AND WAS CALLED DEROGATORY TERMS BY SEVEN STRANGERS INSIDE THE WOOD STREET 7/11. MARTINEZ IS TRANSGENDER, AND SAYS HIS ATTACKERS MADE IT CLEAR THAT THAT IS WHY THEY BEAT HIM.

THEY REFERED TO ME AS A HE-SHE. I THOUGHT SOMEBODY WOULD COME TO MY DEFENSE, STOP IT, CALL 911.

Via Facebook

Martinez was able to break free and leave the store. A passerby took him to a hospital. In this interview and on Facebook, Martinez described his attackers as using homophobic and transphobic slurs, with one woman throwing hot coffee on him.

I reached out to Zahair Martinez, but he did not want to comment. Sources in the local LGBTQ communities tell me that he is being supported and prefers to handle his affairs on his own.

There’s a few critical general questions for us all to ask. I’ve reached out to reporter Marcie Cipriani to see if she asked.

First, is 7-Eleven cooperating with the investigation? Have they made the store footage available to the police? Are they requiring the employees on duty to give statements? Are they investigating internally?

Hand-in-hand with that is the question of why 7-Eleven employees did not report the incident to 911 right away? If they had done so, the police would have had the footage right away, obtained footage from nearby external cameras, and possibly been able to talk with witnesses.  Are the clerks at this store so indifferent to violence in their workplaces that they simply just did nothing?

I’m guessing the had to clean up after the incident and there absolutely must be policies about handling blood and other bodily fluids in a space that serves hot food. You don’t just schlep out a mop, clean it up, and go back to business. There are probably internal reports to fill out when things escalate inside the store and someone hurls hot coffee at another customer.

Via Facebook

Second, I’d like to know if anyone has located the footage Zahair references from the people recording the assault. If so, have they sent it to the police? Or even to local transgender activist groups? Or anyone?

In 2013, I witnessed a 7-Eleven employee use trans slurs to describe a third person. I said something, that employee ran into the back, and the owner/manager did absolutely nothing even though we had a petition up, etc. I spoke with both the franchise owner and corporate, several times. They simply refused to acknowledge that it was a problem – I remember one woman at corporate HR claimed she had never heard the slur “tranny” and made me spell it for her. I was working with a transgender activist who at that point lived near the store so this wasn’t me just going rogue.

Back then, we wanted employees to be trained in LGBTQ affirming policies. Now, I’m wondering why the hell the employees on duty who witnessed this would NOT call the police even after Zahair Malachi Martinez fled for his life? You don’t need cultural sensitivity training to realize that 7 versus 1 and hot coffee being poured on someone on the ground being kicked means call 911. That’s common sense.

And if it happens so often that store employees are immune to the transphobia and homophobia among other harassments, what does that say about the culture of the company itself?

We must respect Zahair’s wishes with regard to how he recovers and addresses this ordeal.  But that doesn’t mean we can’t hold 7-Eleven accountable for ensuring that all customers are treated with fairness and decency, must less not fear for their safety.

So this is what I’d suggest and please know I’m speaking only for myself.

  1. Reach out to the Mayor’s LGBTQ Advisory Group and ask them to work with City officials, including the LGBTQ liaison at the Police Bureau to ensure everything is being done to investigate this thoroughly.
  2. If you know someone who works for 7-Eleven, ask them privately about their work culture. Based on my own experience in 2013, I don’t have much faith that the corporation actually cares about respect.
  3. Invest in the regional transgender led organizations who are providing the support for neighbors having these experiences, both those on the news and those we never know about.
  4. Contact the Downtown Pittsburgh Partnership and ask how they are responding as part of their work to create a family friendly, vibrant Downtown community. That should include a Black trans man being able to use an ATM at 10 AM in the morning without ending up in the hospital. Send them a tweet with a link to one of the stories and ask them to address.

Finally, last night on the news I saw that the family of Dakota James is continuing their private investigation into his death because they do not accept that it was an accident. They have hired some big guns, including a retired NYPD detective and Dr. Cyril Wecht. As I watched the segment, I kept thinking how even a fraction of that investment poured into Zahair’s situation or others could help our LGBTQ neighbors who are still with us. It would be good to see the James family acknowledge this incident and use their advocacy around street video cameras to help.

Imagine how much good they can do through their foundation to ensure Zahair’s family and the families of so many other people aren’t burying their children, too. Or educating the public about the realities of corporate video and how to help your friends/advocates get their hands on footage before it disappears or without having to wait for a subpoena.

I embedded the Facebook version of the video from the WTAE website because the comments best illustrate that “stronger than hate” is not actually the way people in our City conduct themselves except for a few days after a tragedy. It is terrible, but true that hate is pretty strong here in Pittsburgh, especially for the most vulnerable among us.

Zahair commented “I thought someone would come to my defense” and that’s a heartwrenching truth. He had every reason to expect someone – anyone – to help him, to do something. The trauma of realizing that no one did has got to be difficult to process. My heart aches for him, having to endure that on his own.

I remember a few years ago receiving 7-Eleven coupons as part of a Pittsburgh Pridefest giveaway. What good are those coupons if LGBTQ residents, especially transgender fox, can’t safely go into the store to redeem them?

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Check out this story at the Pittsburgh Current and watch/listen to the podcast below.

Generous Donation Makes Holiday Brighter For LGBTQ Youth

I suggested the story to Pittsburgh Current because we never hear the media covering stories of generosity to the LGBTQ community.  We hear about Secret Santas visiting Wal-Mart every year and anonymous affluent people distributing hundred dollar bills in various unexpected locations. Examples of generosity for sure but isn’t it good to hear about a cisgender heterosexual man swooping in to invest in the LGBTQ community holiday projects?

“This year we are spending our time planning this party instead of worrying about how we are going to pay for it,” Battle says. “A lot of times we’re robbing from Peter to pay Paul, but thanks to the generous donation we received, we don’t have to.”

Dok was also willing to talk about the reason why he made the donation because HE UNDERSTANDS that his work as an ally is more than just writing checks, it involves helping other people in his circles connect with the LGBTQ community. And that understanding, the degree of effort is crucial to the sort of growth we need as a society. Dok can go into spaces talking as an ally that many of us cannot. And he gets it. So it is good that he takes the time to talk about the reasons why he invests in the LGBTQ community to keep those conversations

“Through no fault of their own, because this hate is growing and fermenting. So take a stand and give back in a way that can really help the people who are at the most risk.” – F. Dok Harris on donating to support LGBTQ led organizations. 

Charlie asks Dok “What is our responsibility?” as cisgender heterosexual men with some degrees of privilege to raise visibility of LGBTQ issues and needs.

Dok responds that it requires a personal conversation, reaching out to people you know and talking about opportunities to do good not just admonishing them when they say something wrong. If people have some money in their pocket, they should give it to someone who is in need.

How often do you hear affluent people say things like that? For those who are fans of Dok’s father, Franco Harris, Charlie and Dok talk about the impact the actual 1970’s Steelers players had on his own life, growing up with these uncles and the lessons they taught him about giving back.

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Baptist pastor Albert Weathers, 46, was arraigned Monday for the murder of transgender woman, Keanna Mattel, according to a post at Planettransgender.

Weathers is charged with open murder and use of a firearm in the commission of a felony. The 36th District Court set bond at $1 million according to The Detroit News. Other details suggest authorities are considering that Keanna’s murder may have been a hate crime, not a botched robbery as they originally claimed.

The County Prosecutor’s Office assigned the case to Special Prosecutor Jaimie Powell Horowitz from the Fair Michigan Justice Project, a collaboration between the Prosecutor’s Office and Fair Michigan Foundation Inc. The foundation helps state law enforcement officers and prosecutors in solving crimes against people who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender.

Investigators won’t reveal a motive or other details surrounding the murder, but a source told 7 Action News that after the shooting, Weathers fled the scene, clocked in at work at the Great Lakes Water Authority, and then called police an hour after the shooting to say that someone tried to rob him and that he shot someone.

“This case reflects the excessive brutality that members of Detroit’s transgender community constantly face,” said Fair Michigan president Dana Nessel, the state’s incoming attorney general, in a statement. “We thank the Detroit Police Department for their efforts to investigate the facts of this tragic crime.”

Albert Weathers is reported to be married with children, an employee of the Great Lakes Water Authority and pastor of The New Mt. Olive Primitive Baptist Church (video at link)  and more recently Logos Baptist Church.

Albert Weather circa 2008 via New Hope Missionary Baptist Church

So a Christian pastor with his own church is targeted in a botched robbery, *maybe* shoots someone, and his response is to leave the scene and drive to work, reporting the shooting an hour later? An hour later? Come on. If he shot someone in self-defense, shouldn’t he have immediately called for help? I understand getting somewhere secure if you are in mortal fear. I understand maybe he didn’t have a cell phone. But I don’t understand how a Christian pastor shoots someone and goes to work, logs in, and then calls the police about a shooting.

Who does that? People who have to think up a cover story? If he’s carrying a permitted weapon, he should know the basic rules of shooting someone in self-defense not requiring cover stories. And also being a pastor he shouldn’t probably leave someone to die on the street like a dog over a robbery. Is that what Jesus would do? NO.

Public information shows that Logos Church was incorporated in Michigan in 2003 with an annual revenue of $100,00 and a staff of two. It was originally incorporated in 2000 as a nonprofit corporation, but appears now to be a privately held corporation. The church does not have much of an online presence beyond a few stray snippets of video shared by other people. So there’s no clear way to determine what if any beliefs this church teaches about sexual orientation and gender identity (or married men shooting women in the street.)

Weathers remains in jail. His lawyer is screeching about his ties to the community, but I’m guessing the lack of information about Mr. Weathers or his church suggests perhaps those ties aren’t quite set in firmament. And there’s a lot of questions unanswered as of now. A Christian pastor who flees the scene where someone is dying in the street without immediately seeking help for that person is not exactly someone we need walking around free and clear.

Friends of Keanna have organized a fundraising event for Wednesday December to help defray her burial expenses. Her family appears to have a relationsihp with Keanna, acknowledging her by her pronouns, but the Crowdfund they set up does deadname her and some comments use male pronouns. They will be at the fundraiser event. They have a goal of $4,000 to bury their daughter.

Visitation and public viewing  have been set for Friday from 4 p.m. to 9 p.m. at James H. Cole Home for Funerals which is located on Schaefer near Puritan in Detroit.

Her funeral is set for 3 p.m. Saturday at the same location. I do not know if her identity will be respected at either event or in the formal obituary.

A Black male married Christian pastor with children shooting to death a Black trans woman in the middle of the night is certainly suspicious. It reinforces – for me – the need for Christians to clearly and loudly affirm their support and respect for the dignity and identities of the LGBTQ community if they want our community to have any faith in them, much less their religion. Christians, you need to step up on this tragedy and more if you want to undo the harm much less build bridges.

Keanna was not sinful by nature. If she was involved in a robbery, that didn’t mean she deserved to die. If she was connected to Weathers in some other relationship, she did not deserve to die. There’s absolutely nothing righteous or decent or Gosepl like about this situation.

So we must rely on the institutions of justice to investigate thoroughly and keep our eyes tightly focuses on Detroit, offering support to Keanna’s friends and neighbors.

Thank you to Planet Transgender for their investigation and reporting.

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I’ve been working on this piece for a solid month or longer with input from various folks. It was published today on the Pittsburgh Current website – it is too long for the print edition and the editors & I could not find a way to trim it without excising important facts.

I take no joy in this. It has been devastating to consider everything from the harm to the victims and survivors and their families to the impact on the Black communities whose experiences of grief are overshadowed to the sense of betrayal I feel by because of the LGBTQ media outlets.

How long will good people in our LGBTQ community align themselves with an organization like Delta? Good, decent, much loved people who think that fairness means validating ‘the side’ of an organization that has caused much trauma and harm? If these people stopped legitimizing Delta, we could move through this chapter of our community history much more quickly and step back into the light. Unrepentant abusers and violent people who cause trauma for other community members do not deserve the same place at the table as survivors and innocent bystanders. Refusing to hold them accountable for their abuse until it loops back to you personally causes secondary trauma for everyone. Protecting the abusers, the men who violate their partners and their social contracts is perpetuating the abuse, the violence, and the pain. You have to stop or it will never get better.

The Delta Foundation owes the local Jewish community an apology, along with their long-standing obligation to apologize to local communities of color for previous damage. No one in their right mind expects either to be forthcoming. Anyone who continues to tie their credibility as an individual or organization to Delta is a fool. Those battles will rage on internally among LGBTQ folks in Pittsburgh until the day the foundation crumbles.

The LGBTQ national media outlets needs to fix their stories and reconsider their sources in Pittsburgh. You need a quote or background information, next time contact a reputable source like the Association for LGBTQ Journalists Pittsburgh chapter or journalists like two time GLAAD nominee Michael Fuoco or well-respected openly gay journalists like David Highfield. Take this opportunity to cultivate your own sources.

The people who spread the rumor aren’t off the hook. I hope they’ve learned a few lessons and that they never experience the other side of an unsubstantiated rumor traveling around the globe and causing harm to already traumatized neighbors. How gracious it would be if any of these folks publicly apologized for their part in feeding this frenzy. Again, I don’t expect that will happen.

Perhaps most importantly, we can see new opportunities for our regional QTPOC and regional Jewish communities to recognize this traumatic intersection and work directly with one another to offer mutual aid and support, with the foundation free of rumors and self-aggrandizement.

Read the entire article here.

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I’m definitely not a princess person although I do appreciate a good critical reflection upon the pop culture phenom as well as a dive into the actual dark origins of fairy tales. When I learned about this event, I wrote it off as another princess merchandising opportunity. I was wrong. And I encourage you to check it out this Friday night.

I’m sending one of our roving Correspondents (Sarah) and her seven year old princess afficionado, Elijah, to cover this event. They will report back!

Good to see the Improv embracing more queer performers. They currently host the bimonthly Drag Brunch with Kierra Darshell. We need more representation and visibility in the Steel Valley and Mon Valley, so let’s hope the Improv continues to work with local queer performers to make their space available.

Brush off your tiara and unleash your inner princess with Broadway’s original Cinderella, Belle, and Jasmine as they celebrate the season in this hit concert, direct from NYC! Two-time Tony-nominee Laura Osnes (Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Cinderella), Tony-nominee Susan Egan (Disney’s Beauty and the Beast and voice of ‘Meg’ in Hercules), and Grammy-nominee Courtney Reed (Disney’s Aladdin) host the festivities alongside their Fairy Godfairy (musical director extraordinaire), Benjamin Rauhala (Broadway’s Fiddler on the Roof) and special guest prince Adam J. Levy (Dave, the Musical).

Your every dream will come true as four knockout voices sing the petticoats off every princess and holiday song in the book, sharing hilarious and heartfelt stories of their royal antics backstage, on stage, and beyond! Critics call the show: “spectacular,” “enchanting,” “empowering,” – this is the princess party you WISH you’d had as a kid. Catch the carriage and embrace the adventure – bring your besties, your boyfriend, your girlfriend, your mom, your kids (ages 6 and older, please) or anyone who will be tempted to sing along!  Dress in your best royal attire (or cosplay) and you may even win a prize. 

To make it extra merry and gay, the Fairy Godfairy is played by an openly gay man, Benjamin Rauhala who also conceived and wrote the show. He shared some thoughts with Edge Media about this show.

EDGE: If you could be anyone’s Fairy Godfairy, who would it be?

Benjamin Rauhala: Britney Spears! She is the queen! 

EDGE: Princesses, in any story, are always willing to risk a lot for their dreams. Is there anything that you had to risk?

Benjamin Rauhala: As an out gay man, you have a couple of options in your life. At a certain point in my life, I just had to embrace that I am going to be fun and flamboyant. I need to be truthful about myself and who I am. I think there is a risk when you decide to just be who you are. 

For VIP ticket holders, the princesses will available for a meet and greet and autographs following the performance.

Showtime: Fri. 6:00PM / Tickets: Students: $30 / Gen. Ad. $45 / VIP: $125 / Ph: 412-462-5233  Tickets are available.

The Homestead Improv is located at 166 E. Bridge St. Homestead, PA 15120

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I learned terrible news tonight from Detroit where a 35 year old Black trans woman was murdered Friday morning, the 24th transgender victim of fatal violence in the US this year. Her name was Keanna Mattel.

Note that Keanna’s surname has been spelled with one ‘l’ and with two. We are using the spelling on her Facebook page.

Keanna was found dead in her Palmer Park neighborhood Friday morning, the victim of a gunshot wound. INTO reported:

Detroit Police Department spokesperson Dan Donakowski declined to identify Mattel. Instead, friends and LGBTQ advocates spread word of her passing through the grapevine. Donakowski did confirm that police found the body of a transgender female at 6 a.m. on East McNichols Road between Brush and Omira on Detroit’s East Side.

Police have arrested a 46-year-old male in connection with the shooting, said Donakowski. He would not release the identity of that person.

Keanna was active in Detroit’s ball scene and a member of the Legendary Iconic House of Ebony. She was an activist who spoke with The Guardian after the 2015 murder of her trans neighbor, Amber Monroe.

Keanna believed the crackdown on sex workers was not useful or fair.

The police are unaware with our struggle so they have no sympathy for us,” she told the Guardian. “Nobody ever asks, what happened to that person to get here?”

We have to ask these we questions now about Keanna.

She also told The Guardian:

“The way we clean up our community is not to just throw people in jail,” Mattell said. “It’s to offer help, resources, jobs … helping girls get their GED.”

She continued, “The police ostracize us. They think we’re a joke. They don’t take us seriously.”

Keanna did not deserve to die. It seems we need to remind the world of this truth. Often. Police are treating this as a botched attempted robbery as they investigate.

LGBTQ advocates, however, declining to speak on record, said some who knew Mattel said she may have been picked up by the person who killed her, suggesting she may have been targeted.

It will be on us, her community and allies, to insist Detroit police investigate this angle. And those of us who identify as cisgender must ensure our trans neighbors have support and resources. Keanna told us in 2015 what needed to be done. We didn’t listen. Now it’s too late for her, but not too late to heed her advice.

There are no details of yet about plans for her final arrangements or vigils, etc. We will update as that information is shared.

In response to Keanna’s murder, the NYC based anti-violence project asks LGBTQ folx who have experienced or witnessed violence are asked to report to the Anti-Violence Project’s hotline at 212-714-1141 or online.

It has been just 11 days since I last wrote about the death of a trans woman in Baltimore.

Rest in power, Keanna. You deserved every support in the world, to be asked to share your own story and what you needed. I am so sorry we didn’t listen to you in 2015.

This is my list of trans neighbors we have lost to violent deaths in the US this year (2018.) We know that some deaths go unreported or undisclosed for a variety of reasons, most of which are related to transphobia. I ask you to take a moment to read this list – please don’t turn away. Let the enormity of this ongoing epidemic sink in. It is the very least we can do, honoring the lives and deaths of our neighbors. And ask the as questions Keanna suggested.

  1. Christa Leigh Steele-Knudslien – Massachusetts (January 6) 42 years old
  2. Viccky Gutierrez – Los Angeles (January 9), 33 years old
  3. Tonya ‘Kita’ Harvey – Buffalo (February 6), 35 years old
  4. Celine Walker – Jacksonville, Florida (February 4), 36 years old
  5. Phylicia Mitchell – Cleveland (February 23), 46 years old
  6. Zakaria Fry – Stanley, New Mexico (February 19), 28 years old
  7. Amia Tyrae Berryman – Baton Rouge (March 26), 28 years old
  8. Sasha Wall – Chesterfield, South Carolina (April 1), 29 years old
  9. Karla Patricia Pavon-Flores – Dallas (May 9), 26 years old
  10. Nino Fortson – Atlanta (May 13), 36 yeas old
  11. Gigi Pierce – Portland (May 21), 28 years old
  12. Antash’a English – Jacksonville (June 1), 38 years old
  13. Cathalina Christina James – Jacksonville (June 24), 24 years old
  14. Keisha Wells – Cleveland (June 24), 58 years old
  15. Sasha Garden – Orange County, Florida (July 19), 27 years old
  16. Diamond Stephens – Meridian, Mississippi (June 18) 39 years old
  17. Dejanay Stanton – Chicago (August 30) 24 years old
  18. Vontashia Bell – Shreveport (August 30) 18 years old
  19. Shantee Tucker – Philadelphia (September 5) 31 years old
  20. Londonn Moore – North Point, Florida (September 8) 20 years old
  21. Nikki Janelle Enriquez – Laredo, Texas (September 15) 28 years old
  22. Ciara Minaj Carter Frazier – Chicago (October 3) 31 years old
  23. Tydie – Baltimore (November 26), age unknown

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If you are searching for a holiday project for you personally or perhaps a small group, please consider these.

First, an update.

GOOD NEWS –> The youth programs at Persad Center have had their wishes filled by a friend of mine who saw the post and generously responded to to cover all the wishes. Hurrah. The youth will be partying this coming week and receiving their gifts. I’m very glad to know such kind people.

THE UNMET NEEDS –>The gift card drive for LGBTQ elders is going well, but could use a little boost to make sure everyone receives a nice gift. If you can donate a gift card, they are seeking both Amazon and Giant Eagle cards.

Here’s the project where we need a little more infusion of the holiday giving spirit – filling backpacks for our LGBTQ neighbors experiencing housing crisis or homelessness. Now this is a good project to pitch to your colleagues, family, or friends. You can divide up the shopping list or ask everyone to chip in a few $$ and go shopping for the kit.

These backpacks are filled with personal care items, portable snacks, perhaps a gift card and/or small gift items.

Here’s what I would include in a bag I was building:

  • Multiple pairs of thick white athletic socks
  • A warm knit hat and gloves PLUS several pairs of those little stretchy gloves
  • Chemical handwarmers
  • Unscented deodorant, toothpaste and a brush with a travel case, several travel size bars of soap
  • Dry shampoo (like this from LUSH which is an uber queer and trans friendly org)
  • Unscented hand and foot lotion, lip balm or chapsticks
  • Foot powder
  • A gift card to Walgreens, Rite-Aid, McDonalds, Subway, etc. Something with multiple stores, along bus routes, and inexpensive. Giant Eagle is a good choice, too, because that gift card can be used to select something personally preferred
  • Universal phone charger
  • Granola bars or some sort of protein snack
  • Bottles of water and an inexpensive reusable water bottle

Our trans friends at SisTersPgh are looking for bus tickets and general gift cards. Port Authority told me that purchasing tickets at a Connect Card machine OR going into the Downtown Pgh offices are the best options. Another option is for you to donate to SisTersPgh and they can order the tickets directly in bulk at a discount.

Other LGBTQ orgs will benefit significantly by a financial investment. I have a list in this Giving Guide via the Pittsburgh Current.

Let’s do this, Pittsburgh.

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Nanette star Hannah Gadsby's speech about 'Jimmys' and misogyny - YouTube

Rejecting the humanity of a woman is not creepiness. It is misogyny.

From the Guardian’s reporting on the Women in Entertainment gala, presented by the Hollywood Reporter on Thursday. Hannah Gadsby had some things to say in her opening speech … you can read the complete transcript at Vulture.

“I’m sick of turning my television on at the end of the day to find anywhere up to 12 ‘Jimmys’ giving me their hot take. Don’t get me wrong. There’s nothing wrong with the Jimmys. And the Davids, and the other Jimmys,” she said, referring to the Jameses Cordon, Fallon and Kimmel, and David Letterman.

“Good guys, great guys; some of my best friends are Jimmy. But the last thing I need right now, in this moment in history, is having to listen to men monologue about misogyny, and how other men should just stop being creepy … Rejecting the humanity of a woman is not creepiness. It is misogyny.”

She said the Jimmys tended to split “bad men” into two groups: “The Weinstein/Bill Cosby types who are so utterly horrible that they might as well be different species to the Jimmys. And then there are the FoJs: the Friends of Jimmy.

“These are apparently good men who simply misread the rules – garden-variety consent dyslexics. They have the rulebook but they just skimmed it. ‘Oh, that’s a semi-colon? My bad, I thought it meant anal.’”

[W]hen men who perceived themselves as “good” were able to draw a line between “good” and “bad”, they were then able to move it.

“Men will draw a different line for every occasion,” she said. “They have a line for the locker room; a line for when their wives, mothers, daughters and sisters are watching; another line for when they’re drunk and fratting; another line for nondisclosure; a line for friends; and a line for foes.”

The result, she said, was “a world full of ‘good’ men who do very bad things and still believe in their heart of hearts that they are good men because they have not crossed the line, because they move the line for their own good.

“Women should be in control of that line, no question.”

Gadsby ended the speech with a forceful nod towards intersectionality. “Now take everything I have said up unto this point, and replace ‘man’ with ‘white person’ … [and] with ‘straight’ or ‘cis’ or ‘able-bodied’ or ‘neurotypical’ … Every single one of us has an enormous responsibility to be very, very careful about the lines we draw.”

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It is only December 6th and I’m already worn out.

I curated a Giving Guide, a Queer Shopping Guide, a LGBTQ Holiday Things To Do Guide, and took on advocating for four holiday projects. I’ve created ten+ Q&As with artists, publishing five to date. I’ve set up multiple product reviews, took on sponsorships of two local queer events, tried to figure out how to attend and review eight performances and … well, you get the point. Oh, and the SAGE/Nexus holiday party! (Send cookies!)

I’m supposed to be starting trauma processing therapy at Persad Center this month and have been working hard to get ready. Then I learned that the ED of nine months is gone and the board is at the helm. No shade to the board, but that’s not a way to instill confidence. So while I’m still going to therapy, my progress is stultified until they get a permanent solution. Great. And wtf? The stirred up trauma is causing ridiculous problems for me and sapping all of my energy.

I feel like all the running around is more about keeping a lid on the chronic trauma I’ve been experiencing and less about making the yuletide gay. And that sucks. It isn’t anyone’s fault, but it sucks.

Fortunately, my shopping is about 60% complete.

Some year, I’m going to get a Pittsburgh Holiday Season that I want and deserve. I really and truly enjoy working on the holiday projects, but I need some time to recharge my own batteries and remind myself why I do all of this work. I love that we have been invited to so many things this season, but it isn’t really relaxing if I’m working aka blogging/covering the event.

Things I would like to do:

  1. See the Nationality Rooms decorated for the holidays.
  2. See a train exhibit.
  3. Meet the creator of the 22 foot neon green Christmas tree in Elliott.
  4. Go to a light exhibit with someone else driving, my own car window, and noone asking for snacks/souvenirs/to go home early. Love the niblings, but my anxiety is too high for this outing to be with them.
  5. And ugly-fun Christmas sweater that fits, doesn’t itch & has a companion in Ledcat sizes.
  6. Hire someone to wrap my gifts with beautiful upcycled materials. Or just give me a dozen gorgeous repurposed holiday gift bags.
  7. Meet Belsnickel
  8. Have enough #AMPLIFY posts in the queu to publish through January so I’m not constantly chasing after people. For at least two weeks.
  9. Fill this empty space where my family of origin was. That space aches especially deep these days.
  10. Magically have dinner in the fridge/freezer for 30 days.
  11. Drink mulled cider. Over a roaring fire.
  12. Sleigh ride. Ha.
  13. Mani/Pedi/Facial/Massage – a whole package of pamper in a queer friendly space where I can relax for several hours without worrying about Red Hats and MAGA bumperstickers
  14. So many Christmas cookies. All of them.

Every year I say this and yet barely chip away at these goals.

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