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Monica Roberts at TransGriot is reporting the murder of Denali Berries Stuckey, the 12th trans woman to be murdered in the US in 2019. Her body was discovered in Charleston early Saturday morning.

Denali was a Charleston native. She graduated from North Charleston High School in 2011. She worked as a manicurist. Facebook is already filled with outpourings of love, grief, and rage around her untimely death. Denali was clearly much loved.Denali was known by her family surname as ‘Stuckey’ to her immediate circle. According to her Twitter feed, she admired President Barack Obama.

North Charleston PD officers responded to a 4:05 AM EDT call of a body lying on the side of the road at 2721 Carner Avenue. They arrived at the scene to find 29 year old Denali Berries Stuckey dead from a gunshot wound

Local media reporting on Denali’s murder have misgendered and deadnamed her. Some of her family and friends have misgendered her in their social media posts. So on top of dealing with their grief and loss, Denali’s advocates will need to once again take on the task of addressing the media and law enforcement on their transgender cultural competency.

I will update this post as more information becomes available about final arrangements and the investigation into her murder.

Rest in power, Denali. You deserved a robust life filled with joy, love, and many memories. I am very sorry.

My list of transgender neighbors lost during the calendar year 2019.

  1. Dana Martin – Montgomery, Alabama. January 6, 2019. Age: 31.
  2. Ashanti Carmon – Fairmount Heights, Maryland. March 30, 2019. Age: 27
  3. Claire Legato – Cleveland. May 14, 2019. Age: 21
  4. Muhlaysia Booker – Dallas. May 18, 2019. Age 23.
  5. Michelle Simone Tameka Washington – Philadelphia, May 19, 2019. Age 40.
  6. Paris Cameron – Detroit, May 25, 2019. Age 20.
  7. Chynal Lindsey – Dallas, June 1, 2019. Age 26.
  8. Chanel Scurlock – Lumberton, North Carolina, June 5, 2029. Age 23.
  9. Jazzaline Ware – Memphis, Tennessee, March 2019. Age 34. **
  10. Zoe Spears – Fairmount Heights, Maryland. June 14, 2019. Age 23
  11. Brooklyn Lindsey – Kansas City, June 25, 2019. Age 32
  12. Denali Berries Stuckey – Charleston, July 20, 2019. Age 29.

** Jazzaline Ware’s body was discovered in her apartment in Memphis, Tennessee in March. Cause of death was originally death by suicide, but according to The Advocate, authorities are now investigating her death as a homicide.

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I use my Google calendar to track a lot things, but memorial dates are perhaps the most important to me. Because I don’t want to forget them, even if its sad to think about their deaths. I want to remember that they lived (birthdays) and acknowledge that their deaths were too soon and too sad.

Saturday marks the one year anniversary of the death of our friend, Kerry S. Kennedy.

Kerry died because he didn’t have access to affordable health insurance. He was very sick for a very long time, but couldn’t access the care he needed until it was too late – he was approved for a Medicaid plan the week he died. His doctor and family suspected that he died of a cancer, but because he wasn’t able to get tests or procedures done while he waited to be approved for health insurance – he died because of the lack of health insurance.

He was 60 years old. He deserved better. I could tell you about how hard he worked, how talented he was, how much he gave to other people. But I don’t want to reinforce the idea that you have to earn health care by working 80 hours weekly, being gifted with a special talent, or donating to the point that you exhaust yourself. No, I want to reinforce this – no one should have the death Kerry S. Kennedy endured. He suffered for months, hiding himself away at home because he had lost so much weight and was tired all of the time. He kept up appearances via Facebook and text, but he was cutting himself off from his support system. Dying isolated from an unknown illness is not okay for anyone.

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A year later and we still live in a country where 60-year-old people are denied health care supports. That includes everything from health insurance to paid sick leave to medication shortages to a narrow definition of work (versus unpaid labor) and more. And many of the people who oppose these policies of creating more health care options for people like Kerry were Kerry’s friends. I know this because he bemoaned to me all of the time that some of his Facebook friends were anti-immigrant, anti-Obamacare, anti-welfare, and racist. He couldn’t grasp the refusal to connect the dots between their love for him and these policies.

I couldn’t grasp why Kerry thought they were his friends. We never did see eye to eye on that.

I hope that Kerry would be glad to see that the Pennsylvania Supreme Court has upheld a Pittsburgh ordinance that provides paid sick days to most employees, including those of very small businesses.

The ordinance requires employers with fewer than 15 workers to provide at least three paid sick days a year. Larger organizations must provide at least five days a year.

Three sick days is not very many sick days, but it is clearly a big win for labor. And Kerry labored in many retail, wholesale jobs over the years. He told us many stories, including the time he had to stay in a store (not his own store) during a hurricane. He thought both small businesses and large corporations treated most of their employees terribly so I think he’d appreciate a step toward more rights and protections for the workforce.

I’ll be honest. I’m still an angry, resentful, bewildered, and hurt by Kerry’s death today as I was a year ago. I remember standing in our bathroom when his friend Scheri told me. She had texted me first so I knew in my heart why she asked to call me. I knew and when she said it, I just screamed and cried. Laura and I curled up together on the floor of the bathroom sobbing. It was a horrible moment, a very deep loss for me.

The passage of time hasn’t lessened my grief, just tamped down the raw edges. There is unspoken work to be done between me and the memory of Kerry. I just don’t know what that is. I don’t know how to describe the unfinished business so I can’t yet resolve it.

Sue Kerr worries that the experiences of LGBTQ elders in the Pittsburgh area are being lost to history. Kerr stands outside the former location of K.S. Kennedy Distinctive Floral, a gay-owned business on North Side that closed after proprietor Kerry Kennedy died in July. (Photo by Ryan Loew/PublicSource).

I keep gravitating to the now-empty storefront that used to be his shop. When PublicSource photographed me for an essay I wrote about telling the stories of LGBTQ elders, I asked them to take the picture standing in front of his store as a reminder of unfinished and untold stories. I had to catch myself a few weeks later when another outlet wanted a photograph for a different piece because I was tempted to go back here again. That’s not healthy. Is it?

I’ve asked around to see what’s going to become of the storefront that he rented and apparently the owner simply hasn’t sought out a new tenant. I’m not in need of a storefront so that’s not something I can work with. And I’m sure it will be sad to see someone else occupy the space, but it will be better than the cobwebs and empty windows that used to be filled with so much beauty.

I know that my grief has me stuck in this place and needs to be resolved. More time will help, but so will taking time to sit with these feelings and determine what remains undone. That’s hard to do.

My anger pulsates through this post because I am just so mad at everyone, everyone for his death. I’m mad at all of us who didn’t push our way through his door and drag him to doctor. I’m mad at the systems that failed him. I’m mad at his friends who voted for Trump and opposed the Affordable Care Act. I’m mad at the Baby Boomer generation passive-aggressive communication style that Kerry leaned into and used heavily to obscure his real situation.

I’m mad because if he had health insurance, he might still be alive. At the every least, he wouldn’t have suffered and died alone.

Kerry would not want me to hold onto anger. He would also understand that I’m gonna do what I’m gonna do in spite of his advice.

And writing this post has given me an idea so stay tuned …

Rest in peace, Kerry. I will never forget you and I will miss you forever.

Maroon 5 - Moves Like Jagger ft. Christina Aguilera - YouTube

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This is part of our ongoing series to highlight cats available for adoption through Pittsburgh C.A.T.  They are part of the Homeless Cat Management Team. We are fostering our own #kittencaboodle through Pittsburgh C.A.T. and sponsoring the #CatFoodDrivePgh for feral cat colonies through HCMT.

Pittsburgh Cat Ladies News & Info

  • The #CatFoodDrivePgh continues. We urgently need donations of cat food from our Amazon list or directly at our drop-off spots or financially. These donations are specifically for the caretakers with feral cat colonies – the folks who feed everyday, but also TNR and find homes and take in new homeless kitties.
Meet Frankie

Domestic Short Hair, Good in a home with children and other cats.

Hi! My name is Frankie. I’m a girl, and I’m almost one year old. OK, so I look a little fierce, but that’s just because I’m intent on enjoying this indoor life! I love using my scratching post and kneading my favorite blanket. I enjoy attracting your attention with head bumps I can get some pets. I was born outside and lived there through much of my kittenhood, so excuse me if I’m a little shy with you at first. I promise I’ll warm up if you’re patient with me! I was found outside and brought to Pittsburgh Cat because my front paw was very swollen, and they were afraid it was broken. It wasn’t, but it was hurt, so they took care of me, and it turned out I loved to be loved! Now that I’m all healed up, I really enjoy playing and cuddling with the other cats in my foster home. I just need a forever home! Do you have one for me? http://tinyurl.com/pghcatapp

 

 

 

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The National Weather Service has issued an Excessive Heat Watch for the Pittsburgh region from Friday afternoon through Saturday. Temps in the 90s combined with the dewpoint are expected to generate Heat Index Values close to 105.

Three days in Pittsburgh’s recorded history have hit 103 degrees. That temperature was recorded in July of 1881, August of 1918, and on July 16, 1988. That last date was at the end of the longest heat wave in history: a 13-day stretch in which the high was never lower than 90 degrees. The closest Pittsburgh has ever come to that was all the way back in 1878. I was here in Pittsburgh in the summer of 1988 and I’m trying to remember the heat wave. I was working two jobs that summer to pay for my first year of college so I may have missed a lot of it thanks to the Century III Mall air conditioning.

Here’s what you need to know.

  • Stay hydrated by drinking plenty of fluids even if you do not feel thirsty. Avoid drinks with caffeine or alcohol.
  • Wear loose-fitting, lightweight, light-colored clothing. Avoid dark colors because they absorb the sun’s rays.
  • Slow down, stay indoors and avoid strenuous exercise during the hottest part of the day.
  • Postpone outdoor games and activities. Don’t put others at risk by trying to power through an event.
  • Use a buddy system when working in excessive heat. Be mindful of people who go out in the heat to work for you – like delivery drivers or the person retrieving carts or parking your car. Take frequent breaks if you must work outdoors.
  • Check on family, friends and neighbors who do not have air conditioning, who spend much of their time alone or who are more likely to be affected by the heat.
  • Check on your animals frequently to ensure that they are not suffering from the heat. They should have 24/7 access to cool water (be sure to freshen it) and access to shade.

For the critters: 

Pittsburgh will be opening cooling centers throughout the City. Check the list of Senior Centers and Community Centers to find one you can access.

The Carnegie Libraries and other community libraries are good places to beat the heat in someone else’s air conditioning.

The City Spray Parks are good places to cool off. Head to the Mall. Catch a matinee. Stop in some of Pittsburgh’s cultural spaces that are free and open to the public. Visit a friend. Visit a relative or neighbor.

If you are going to be out and about, consider putting some bottled water in your vehicle and distributing it to people you meet along your day. In a cooler even.

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This Saturday, come see a screening of Mark Janavel’s new film, Transient, about the trans community’s response to the current administration.

Allegheny Unitarian Universalist Church

416 W North Ave, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 15212
Note *This building is not fully accessible so please call ahead to discuss any accommodations you may need.
This screening is in partnership with Sisters Pgh which is the social justice beneficiary of the Share The Plate efforts by the Church during July and August.

Transient Trailer - YouTube

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Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back
Fri, Jul 19 – Sun, Jul 21, 2019
  • Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra
  • HEINZ HALL
“You must feel the Force around you…”
The Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra presents Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back  featuring screenings of the complete film with Oscar®-winning composer John Williams’ musical score performed live to the film led by conductor Lawrence Loh.

Since the release of the first Star Wars movie over 40 years ago, the Star Wars saga has had a seismic impact on both cinema and culture, inspiring audiences around the world with its mythic storytelling, captivating characters, groundbreaking special effects and iconic musical scores composed by Williams.

Fans will be able to experience the scope and grandeur of this beloved film in a live symphonic concert experience!

The battle for the galaxy intensifies in this thrilling fifth episode of the unfolding saga. As Imperial Forces launch an all-out attack on the Rebel Alliance, Han Solo (Harrison Ford) and Princess Leia (Carrie Fisher) flee to Cloud City where they are captured by Darth Vader. Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) journeys to the mysterious, marshy planet of Dagobah, where the wise Jedi Master Yoda teaches the young hero the ways of the Force.

Little does Luke know that all his Jedi training will be called upon so soon. A stunning revelation– and a seeming life-or-death duel with Darth Vader– await.

The Star Wars:  Film Concert Series is produced under license by Disney Concerts in association with Lucasfilm Ltd., 20th Century Fox and Warner/Chappell Music.

STAR WARS and related properties are trademarks and/or copyrights, in the United States and other countries, of Lucasfilm Ltd. and/or its affiliates. © & TM

© 2019 & TM LUCASFILM LTD. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED © DISNEY.

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Run Time: This performance will last approximately two hours and forty-five minutes, including intermission.
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Bianca Michelle Devins Scholarship Fund

The family of Bianca Devins announced Tuesday that a scholarship fund has been established in her name.

Money donated will be used for a scholarship for “students pursuing a degree in psychology so they can continue Bianca’s dream to help adolescents with mental illness,” the family announced in a statement.

The scholarship fund was set up through the Community Foundation of Herkimer and Oneida Counties.

Online donations can be made through the foundation. The foundation will also take donations by check: Bianca Michelle Devins Scholarship Fund, c/o The Community Foundation of Herkimer & Oneida Counties, 2608 Genesee Street, Utica, NY 13502.

“We emphasize that this is the only family-approved fund in Bianca’s name,” the family said.

Other internet funding-raising sites are not authorized by the family, the family said.

“Funds donated to those false sites will not be used for Bianca in any way,” they warned.

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Images Bianca chose to share via Instagram.

The fallout of the murder of 17-year-old Bianca Devins continues as brutal, graphic images of her dead body continue to make their way across social media channels.

Mainstream media outlets report that Instagram, 4chan, discord and possibly more are unable to keep up with the viral nature of the graphic images.

Supporters of Bianca and decent people everywhere are resisting by taking their own actions.

Then, in an attempt to drown out this spread of the images of Ms Devins’s body with her throat cut, other Instagram users started posting photographs of her alive as well as pictures of flowers and animals, using her name as the hashtag.

The man who killed her, as Brandon Clark, 21, faces a second-degree murder charge, said Sgt. Michael Curley of the Utica Police Department.  Clark had been arraigned and was in custody at Oneida County Jail in upstate New York.

No word on whether he’ll face additional charges for disseminating the murder photos and making this terrible situation much, much worse.

Many Instagram users don’t think the platform is doing enough to moderate its content, so they’ve taken matters into their own hands, tagging Devins’ account so her tagged section is filled with bubblegum pink sunsets, cats surrounded by heart emoji, and pastel stuffed animals. Accounts also called for fellow Instagram users to caption wholesome posts with the tag #escty and #ripbianca to outnumber the photos of her dead body in the searchable tag. Instagram users are also tricking each other with slideshows. Rather than showing the horrific image of her death in a slideshow advertising “pics of Bianca,” posters are using the method to criticize those seeking them out. 

I struggle with a lot of this, including these questions

  • How can Facebook constantly take down and penalize users for writing phrases like “white supremacy” or “white people are racist” or for posting photos of breastfeeding their own child with impunity, but these platforms cannot stop the spread of a horrible murder scene photo of a 17-year-old kid? If they lack the will to do so, that’s horrific. If they truly cannot do so, that’s even more chilling.
  • Are you closely monitoring your kids online presence? Like check the browser history, log in to their accounts, etc?
  • The exact nature of Bianca’s relationship with Brandon Clark is fuzzy – was it a platonic friendship, a romantic relationship, sexual, or something else? None of those scenarios offsets the horror. He was a man who not only took her life, but then exploited her death for his own fame.  Domestic violence? Stalker? Yes, those are details that need to be clarified for the trial and perhaps for the sake of her legacy being accurate, but none of it changes the fact that his misogyny trumped her humanity.
  • Bianca described herself as asexual and as usual, people are quick to say that her sexual orientation had nothing to do with this. That’s such bullshit. Of course her identity matters.

In February, the Pitt News took a closer look at experiences of asexual identifying students on campus.

It’s important to imagine a spectrum when thinking about asexuality, Casanova said. Some terms that fall under the asexuality umbrella include demisexuality — meaning someone doesn’t experience sexual attraction until after an emotional connection has been developed — and gray-sexuality, or gray-A, which can include people who experience a low sex drive or only desire sex in specific or limited circumstances, among other definitions.

In addition, Casanova said someone can be romantic or aromantic. Engaging in sexual relationships is different from engaging in romantic ones, and some people can be asexual and romantic, meaning they still enjoy romantic relationships.

Acknowledging that anyone who falls under this or other SOGI spectrums face increased vulnerability to harm and marginalization is not a big leap. Pinpointing one part of Bianca’s life that ’caused” her murder is nonridiculous.

Devins frequented Discord servers and the anonymous forum 4chan, and incorporated Minecraft and Hello Kitty into her posts. She was known as an e-girl, a subculture of young women who tend to have large followings on TikTok, Tumblr, and Instagram, and blend gamer culture with emo aesthetics. 

Clark posted a photo of Devins’ body on Discord with the message: “Sorry fuckers, you’re gonna have to find someone else to orbit.” He also doxxed her, sharing her real name and home address to the group, who previously only knew her relatively anonymous online persona.

Orbiting was originally used to describe the not-quite-ghosting practice of lurking on past dates’ social media presences. Lately, the term has also been used to describe men who engage with a woman’s social media in hopes of sleeping with them. Like many women online, popular e-girls deal with orbiters on a daily basis.  

If you have youth in your family, please take care to insert yourself into their social media activity since you cannot depend upon the social media companies to keep them safe. It is not enough to simply monitor their activity, you need to log into their accounts and see what they are doing, not just what they are posting.

If you or someone you love identifies as asexual or under the umbrella term, take the time to visit resources like Asexual Visibility and Education Network (AVEN) that can help you find support, information, and community. Stop making dismissive comments about sexual orientations that are not stricly lesbian, gay, or bisexual. It doesn’t matter if your identity (or label) is still the same as it was 10 years ago or not, what matters is creating a safe community where all of us who do not fit into the cishet normative understanding of gender and sexual identities can find respect and mutual support.

I’ve reached out to folx in the local asexual community in Pittsburgh to better understand their experiences and determine what resources are and should be available. It is heartbreaking to think of so many asexual people unintentionally stumbling upon Bianca’s death photo and having to absord that trauma, especially our youth.

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Name: Priya

Age: 24

County of Residence: Allegheny

Pronouns: She/her

How do you describe your identity? Aromantic asexual Indian American

Please describe your coming out experience. Where did you find support? What challenges did you face? I came out through a video on facebook to friends. It was generally positive, although some of my female friends asked very intrusive offensive questions and some of my male friends still tried to date me.

How would you describe yourself NOW in terms of “being out”? I am not out at college except a few people in the LGBTQ club. I’m out in my LGBTQ meetup as well.

Tell me about the first LGBTQ person whom you met. What impact did they have on your life? My uncle who helped raise me. I didn’t know he was gay till I was a teenager so his sexuality had no impact on me to be honest.

Past or present, favorite LGBTQ character or creator in television, film or literature? Please tell us why. None. Nothing has really resonated with me yet. There’s Tod in Bojack Horseman but I don’t watch that show and only watched Tod’s asexual clips. I identify much more strongly with being aro and have yet to find a really good character who resonates with me.

How do you stay informed about LGBTQ issues? I hear about stuff on facebook but I generally don’t as they usually don’t apply to me. I find out about aro ace issues through various facebook pages.

Describe your geographical community. No. I think if I came out as aro ace at home or school people would be ok with it but they wouldn’t underatand and they’d ask inappropriate questions. I’ve frequently been pressured into dating men because people think I need to losen up and don’t consider that I might not be attracted to men.

Describe your local or regional LGBTQ community. Mostly older lesbians and trans people. There’s a new LGBTQ 20s meetup which is fun but still small so far. I started an aro ace meetup. Our first meeting is in 2 weeks.

Help us continue to tell these stories. Donate to #AMPLIFY today!

Have you ever experienced discrimination based on your identity? Specifically, in a job setting, when applying for housing or while in public.  No.

Have you experienced microagressions based on your identity? Think everyday indignities & slights that you experience, but would not characterize as discrimination. Please describe in your own words. I can feel men ogling at me or having romantic intentions when speaking to me frequently in college. There are few women around so the men don’t know how to act sometimes.

Tell us about your access to health care in Western PA. Has it been LGBTQ competent (or not?) Health services and counseling at my school. It’s very inclusive to lgbtq students. It’s been extremely helpful.

Are there issues impacting your LGBTQ neighbors that aren’t visible or part of the local dialogue? Not sure.

What would you like to see elected officials do to improve life for LGBTQ Pennsylvanians? Have a more cohesive LGBTQ community. There are many different organizations that do different things. It’s hard to know where to find people. It’s also hard to find a community when first searching. There needs to be a better online and physical presence.

Please share a lived experience, anecdote or fact about life as an LGBTQ person in your community. I went to a lab to learn about research. One of the grad students was ogling at me and his friend laughed that he was getting “excited”. There was no awareness on their end that their behavior/words were inappropriate but alluding to my attractiveness in a professional setting is highly inappropriate. I must deal with such comments on a regular basis.

Beyond discrimination, what other barriers create challenges for your LGBTQ neighbors? Social isolation which causes depression

Share your own LGBTQ Western PA story now – click here!

What LGBTQ friendly resources are available for your neighbors? Meetups

What is your greatest fear for the LGBTQ community in Western Pennsylvania? Loneliness & depression/suicide

What is your greatest hope for the LGBTQ community in Western Pennsylvania? To be more active and visible

What pieces of local or regional LGBTQ history would you like to preserve and why? Dont know about local history.

What can allies do to support your LGBTQ community? I think all students should recieve sensitivity and awareness training. I don’t know about non-student communities.

How can gay men and lesbians support the bisexual, transgender and queer members of our community? Don’t make your communities just for gay & trans people. Don’t expect queer to mean those two things only. Don’t make lgbtq spaces just about sex or dating.

What motivated you to take part in this project? I was messaged

Finally, what question should I have asked? Please also share your answer. What makes you feel safe and comfortable? Platonic spaces where I can trust people to be my friend and nothing else.

Thank you, Priya

Read the entire AMPLIFY LGBTQ Q&A archive.

Submit your own Q&A using our online form.

AMPLIFY LGBTQ is a series of blog posts designed to give a “signal boost” to the voices of our LGBTQ neighbors throughout Western Pennsylvania. These are glimpses in to the lived experiences of LGBTQ people in Western Pennsylvania as told in their own voices.

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Please be thoughtful when sharing info on possible ICE operations on social media. It is not helpful to induce panic in affected communities by sharing unclear or unverified reports of ICE operations. The suggestions outlined here are a good guide via Minnesota Rights Action Committee

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