Today's Mighty Oak


Thank you to the woman who fought for love and brought down DOMA.  She leaves a giant legacy behind, and we keep fighting in her memory.



If you follow along with gay men’s health topics as much as I do (so you probably don’t, and that’s okay), you may have heard about PrEP.  Basically, it’s a pill, that prevents someone from contracting HIV.  The science behind it is much more complicated, but it’s kind of like a vaccine.  Side note, there’s also PEP, which is taken if you think you’ve been exposed to HIV, to prevent yourself from seroconverting (acquiring the infection).

It has had its detractors, some saying it will lead to an increase of other STIs, although you’re still supposed to use condoms when on PrEP, since it does not protect against anything else, and new research has showed that it actually has brought down the rates of several STIs, by as much as 40%  To continue being on PrEP, you have to be tested every three months, and knowing your status is the best and most effective way of stopping the spread of these infections.

There’s a new ad campaign out about PrEP, and while overall I really like it, the first ‘episode’ of it seems to paint condom use in a bad light, but they correct that in the next videos.  It’s also refreshing to see some more explicit images, especially since it’s a drug mainly targeted to gay men, as we’re a high risk group (but also any couple in a serodiscordant relationship, meaning one has HIV and the other partner does not).

Episode 1:

 

Episode 2:

 

Episode 3:

 

Episode 4:

 

There’s more info available here, as well as some awesome behind the scenes discussions about the project and PrEP itself, and how it fits into a full, healthy regimen of safer sex.

All my best,

Mike



Today marks the 48th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots, which launched the LGBT-rights movement.

If you’re not familiar with the riots, here’s what happened:

We owe so much to those brave trans-women of color, homeless youth and drag queens who launched the riots and the queer revolution.

People ask why we celebrate pride.  NoFo writes it much more eloquently than I ever could, here is an excerpt:

We’re proud because despite relentless persecution everywhere we turn—when organized religion viciously attacks and censures and vilifies us in the name of selective morality, when our families disown us, when our elected officials bargain away our equality for hate votes, when entire states codify our families into second-class citizenship, when our employers fire us, when our landlords evict us, when our police harass us, when our neighbors and colleagues and fellow citizens openly insult and condemn and mock and berate and even beat and kill us—we continue to survive.

We’re proud because—thanks to the incredible bravery shown by gay people who lived their lives openly in the decades before us—we can live our lives more and more openly at home, at work, with our families, on our blogs … and even on national television.

We’re proud because after all we’ve been through, the world is starting to notice and respect us and emulate the often fabulous culture we’ve assembled from the common struggles and glorious diversity of our disparate lives.

We’re proud because this weekend we’ll celebrate with drag queens, leather queens, muscle queens, attitude queens and you’d-never-know-they-were-queens queens, and together we can see through the “pride” in our parade and enjoy the underlying Pride in our parade.

Quite simply, we’re proud that we have so much to be proud of.

We can take some time, and even in the face of hatred, bigotry and discrimination, we can carve a place in this world, claim it our own and celebrate.

We can celebrate, because this is our party.  We don’t need anyone’s permission to celebrate:

Because even if Pride doesn’t change many minds in the outside world, it’s our PARTY, darlings. It’s our Christmas, our New Year’s, our Carnival. It’s the one day of the year that all the crazy contingents of the gay world actually come face to face on the street and blow each other air kisses. And wish each other “Happy Pride!” Saying “Happy Pride!” is really just a shorter, easier way of saying “Congratulations on not being driven completely batshit insane! Well done, being YOURSELF!”

We can celebrate the community that we have, the radical acceptance that we embody and the fact that we’ve survived.  We have a chance to come together, remind ourselves we belong to a larger community, have some fun and take back our city; just for a little bit.  We know that hatred will continue, but still we march forward.  We have pride because it helps those coming after us.  In the words of Harvey Milk, it gives the next generation hope:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fWo8BKJCxYQ

And this is a chance to celebrate the fact that I’ve survived.  A chance to celebrate the fact that I’m a proud gay man.  And even that act, powerful unto itself, has hopefully made a difference.

The most important and powerful action a person can make is to come out to those around them.  Then the LGBT community isn’t a scary abstract anymore, it has a face.  If you know someone who is openly LGBT, you see their humanity.  You can understand that we’re not asking for anything special, just the same rights everyone else is guaranteed by the constitution.  A chance to be happy.  A chance to live the life we want, surrounded by those we love.

When will we stop talking about coming out?

“Many of us want to, and will: when a gay, lesbian or transgendered kid isn’t at special risk of being brutalized or committing suicide.

“When a gay person’s central-casting earnestness and eloquence aren’t noted with excitement and relief, because his or her sexual orientation needn’t be accompanied by a litany of virtues and accomplishments in order for bigotry to be toppled and a negative reaction to be overcome.”

We will stop talking about coming out when it’s not news anymore, when the last barriers have finally been broken down.  We’ll stop screaming for our rights when we’re finally treated as equals by our government.  We’ll only stop telling our stories when they don’t matter.

The anniversary of Stonewall comes just two days after marriage equality came to all 50 states (and the anniversary of decisions in Lawrence v. Texas and Windsor v. United States), a major piece of the equality dream the drag queens, homeless youth and the rest of Stonewall protesters had less than 50 years ago.  In 11 years, we’ve gone from no marriage rights to full equality across the country.  We still have a lot to fight for, ENDA being at the top of that list, but for now, we can celebrate the ‘thunderbolt’ of equality that we have achieved:

So we keep fighting for progress, wherever we can.  We celebrate our advances and keep chipping away at our obstacles: and this month we can celebrate both, as well as the individuals that make up our amazing community.

In light of the Orlando massacre, it’s more important than ever to celebrate Pride.  To not be intimidated by the hate, but to instead keep rising, demand equality and fight for our very right to exist.  What hurts the most about Orlando may be the reminder that even our own spaces, which we thought were safe, aren’t.  Or maybe they never really were, not while hatred and prejudice still exist.  But as we face, united, the epidemics of gun violence and homophobia, we can at least take solace in the fact that we, as a community, know how to win epidemics.

We’re proud of how far we’ve come.  We’re proud to keep fighting.  We’re proud.



Today marks the 47th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots, which launched the LGBT-rights movement.

If you’re not familiar with the riots, here’s what happened:

And just this week, President Obama and the National Park Service has named the Stonewall Inn and Christopher Park a national historical monument (number 412 if you can believe it).  We owe so much to those brave trans-women of color, homeless youth and drag queens who launched the riots and the queer revolution.

People ask why we celebrate pride.  NoFo writes it much more eloquently than I ever could, here is an excerpt:

We’re proud because despite relentless persecution everywhere we turn—when organized religion viciously attacks and censures and vilifies us in the name of selective morality, when our families disown us, when our elected officials bargain away our equality for hate votes, when entire states codify our families into second-class citizenship, when our employers fire us, when our landlords evict us, when our police harass us, when our neighbors and colleagues and fellow citizens openly insult and condemn and mock and berate and even beat and kill us—we continue to survive.

We’re proud because—thanks to the incredible bravery shown by gay people who lived their lives openly in the decades before us—we can live our lives more and more openly at home, at work, with our families, on our blogs … and even on national television.

We’re proud because after all we’ve been through, the world is starting to notice and respect us and emulate the often fabulous culture we’ve assembled from the common struggles and glorious diversity of our disparate lives.

We’re proud because this weekend we’ll celebrate with drag queens, leather queens, muscle queens, attitude queens and you’d-never-know-they-were-queens queens, and together we can see through the “pride” in our parade and enjoy the underlying Pride in our parade.

Quite simply, we’re proud that we have so much to be proud of.

We can take some time, and even in the face of hatred, bigotry and discrimination, we can carve a place in this world, claim it our own and celebrate.

We can celebrate, because this is our party.  We don’t need anyone’s permission to celebrate:

Because even if Pride doesn’t change many minds in the outside world, it’s our PARTY, darlings. It’s our Christmas, our New Year’s, our Carnival. It’s the one day of the year that all the crazy contingents of the gay world actually come face to face on the street and blow each other air kisses. And wish each other “Happy Pride!” Saying “Happy Pride!” is really just a shorter, easier way of saying “Congratulations on not being driven completely batshit insane! Well done, being YOURSELF!”

We can celebrate the community that we have, the radical acceptance that we embody and the fact that we’ve survived.  We have a chance to come together, remind ourselves we belong to a larger community, have some fun and take back our city; just for a little bit.  We know that hatred will continue, but still we march forward.  We have pride because it helps those coming after us.  In the words of Harvey Milk, it gives the next generation hope:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fWo8BKJCxYQ

And this is a chance to celebrate the fact that I’ve survived.  A chance to celebrate the fact that I’m a proud gay man.  And even that act, powerful unto itself, has hopefully made a difference.

The most important and powerful action a person can make is to come out to those around them.  Then the LGBT community isn’t a scary abstract anymore, it has a face.  If you know someone who is openly LGBT, you see their humanity.  You can understand that we’re not asking for anything special, just the same rights everyone else is guaranteed by the constitution.  A chance to be happy.  A chance to live the life we want, surrounded by those we love.

When will we stop talking about coming out?

“Many of us want to, and will: when a gay, lesbian or transgendered kid isn’t at special risk of being brutalized or committing suicide.

“When a gay person’s central-casting earnestness and eloquence aren’t noted with excitement and relief, because his or her sexual orientation needn’t be accompanied by a litany of virtues and accomplishments in order for bigotry to be toppled and a negative reaction to be overcome.”

We will stop talking about coming out when it’s not news anymore, when the last barriers have finally been broken down.  We’ll stop screaming for our rights when we’re finally treated as equals by our government.  We’ll only stop telling our stories when they don’t matter.

The anniversary of Stonewall comes just two days after marriage equality came to all 50 states (and the anniversary of decisions in Lawrence v. Texas and Windsor v. United States), a major piece of the equality dream the drag queens, homeless youth and the rest of Stonewall protesters had less than 50 years ago.  In 11 years, we’ve gone from no marriage rights to full equality across the country.  We still have a lot to fight for, ENDA being at the top of that list, but for now, we can celebrate the ‘thunderbolt’ of equality that we have achieved:

So we keep fighting for progress, wherever we can.  We celebrate our advances and keep chipping away at our obstacles: and this month we can celebrate both, as well as the individuals that make up our amazing community.

In light of the Orlando massacre, it’s more important than ever to celebrate Pride.  To not be intimidated by the hate, but to instead keep rising, demand equality and fight for our very right to exist.  What hurts the most about Orlando may be the reminder that even our own spaces, which we thought were safe, aren’t.  Or maybe they never really were, not while hatred and prejudice still exist.  But as we face, united, the epidemics of gun violence and homophobia, we can at least take solace in the fact that we, as a community, know how to win epidemics.

We’re proud of how far we’ve come.  We’re proud to keep fighting.  We’re proud.



I’m Episcopalian.  Our church belongs to The Anglican Communion, a collection of churches around the worlds (mostly, but not entirely, former British colonies) that all work together.  We’re not like the Catholic or Orthodox churches, we don’t have a Pope.  The Archbishop of Canterbury acts as the default head of the Anglicans, but each church makes its own decisions.

The Primates (heads of each member church, I believe 38 in all: some represent one country, others represent many, like the Primate of South America, and the Bishop of York, because that office is kind of like second in command in Church of England), met at the ABC’s request to discuss the Episcopal Church’s recent adoption of same-sex matrimony.  The meeting pretty much went exactly as we’d all expect: a bunch of African Primates were upset, and the group decided to impose some de-facto sanctions on the Episcopal Church, with a few caveats.  Basically, we won’t be allowed to participate in a legislative body, but we haven’t been included in that for a while, since Gene Robinson was made a bishop.  The only change is that there is an end date on that now.

However, once that three year time period (as opposed to indefinitely, as it was before) comes up, I can only imagine some sort of larger schism happening.

The Primates were also going to impose these restrictions on the Anglican Church of Canada, but since they have not officially approved of same-sex matrimony through their process, nothing was done.

Those facts make me think that the Primates, even the most conservative ones, are being pragmatic about the whole thing.  They can say their hands are tied because of ‘process’ and ‘paperwork.’  Will that three years make that much of a difference?  I don’t think so, but it may buy them some time.

At the same meeting, the ACNA, the group that split off from the Diocese of Pittsburgh was there for part of the time.  They are not officially recognized by Lambeth/Canterbury, and their participation was unsettling to me, but I take most of that is due to me living in the epicenter of it all.

In the US, we just installed a new Presiding Bishop (our Primate), and he’s pretty awesome.  He released a video from England about the meeting, and had pledged that we will not go backwards:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PmNnzEW_oaY

In the grand scheme of things, most members of local churches don’t even think about the larger Anglican Communion.  Here in Pittsburgh, maybe things are a little different.  Or maybe I think about them because I’m gay.  Or a combination of both.  Sometimes I wish I didn’t think or worry about things like this, but I know we’re in good hands.  Integrity USA, the internal LGBT lobby of the Episcopal Church has a wonderful open letter, and response, to the meeting.

And of course, since this is the Internet, two friends (one I’ve worked with in person through Circle of Faith, the other, a true Internet friend) have posted their amazing sermons from last Sunday where they talk about the meeting.  Both are worth reading: Scott in Franklin Park, and Megan in Kansas City (Missouri, mind you).

All my best,

Mike



The Stonewall Riots in June of 1969 are what kicked off the modern equality movement.  There were organizations, riots and work done beforehand, but the riots were what most people point to as the catalyst for where we are today, and the reason most Pride celebrations are in June, as the first march was in June of 1970 to commemorate the riots one year later.

Here is the poster, which kind of looks like a poster for a dance movie or some sort, but I think the style fits for the time:

The Stonewall Inn had a dirt floor, no running water, and was run by the mob.  But it allowed dancing, which was a major draw, when the police raided that night and decided to round everyone up, the riots started.

The riots lasted for days, eventually bringing in sheer numbers of people from the surrounding neighborhood.  But that night it began with drag queens, trans* people, people of color, lesbians and homeless youth.  I’m sure there were some white gay men there, but as far as we (and history) knows, they weren’t throwing the first punches, bricks, overturning police cars or ripping parking meters out of the cement (but those did all happen).

The problem is, the movie (at least based on the trailer), doesn’t focus on those we owe everything to, but instead turns it into a story of some young, white, gay guys.

One of the veterans of the riots speaks out:

It’s absolutely absurd — you know, young people today aren’t stupid. They can read the history, they know that this is not the way it happened. These people can’t let it go! Everybody can’t be white! This is a country of different colors and people and thoughts and attitudes and feelings, and they try to make all of those the same for some reason.

Here’s the parody trailer, which sums it up very nicely:

 

The star, Jeremy Irvine defends the movie, saying it does justice to the historical event:

I saw the movie for the first time last week and can assure you all that it represents almost every race and section of society that was so fundamental to one of the most important civil rights movements in living history. Marsha P Johnson is a major part of the movie, and although first hand accounts of who threw the first brick in the riots vary wildly, it is a fictional black transvestite character played by the very talented @vlad_alexis who pulls out the first brick in the riot scenes. My character is adopted by a group of street kids whilst sleeping rough in New York. In my opinion, the story is driven by the leader of this gang played by @jonnybeauchamp who gives an extraordinary performance as a Puerto Rican transvestite struggling to survive on the streets. Jonathan Rhys Meyers’ character represents the Mattachine Society, who were at the time a mostly white and middle class gay rights group who stood against violence and radicalism.

And the director responds to the response to the trailer:

I understand that following the release of our trailer there have been initial concerns about how this character’s involvement is portrayed, but when this film – which is truly a labor of love for me – finally comes to theaters, audiences will see that it deeply honors the real-life activists who were there — including Marsha P. Johnson, Sylvia Rivera, and Ray Castro — and all the brave people who sparked the civil rights movement which continues to this day.

Some are calling for a boycott of the movie.  While others, such as Larry Kramer, are hoping the boycott is ignored.  Also in reaction, the ‘Gay Liberation’ statues at Christopher Street Park (across the street from the Stonewall Inn) were painted to highlight the whitewashing of the movie.

If we are to believe the star and the director, which I like to think we can (considering the movie isn’t out yet), it appears as though the trailer was crafted in a way to make this movie more appealing to a mass audience: which sadly means white.  If those two are telling the truth, and the movie does in fact show the true heroes of the first night of the riots, then I will have to side with Larry Kramer, especially since we can hardly expect there to be many movies about this subject to be produced, let alone get a wide release such as this film will enjoy.

I started writing this entry thinking I would be much more upset and ready to boycott the movie.  But reading the quotes, and maybe I’m just being gullible, I hope that this will be a fair representation of the riots and the birth of this civil rights movement.

Matt Baume gives a great perspective:

However this movie turns out, it will be what the general public remembers for years to come as the true version of the riots, and that’s why there is such an importance to make sure it’s done right.



Two weeks ago SCOTUS made marriage equality the law of the land, ushering in the age of same-sex marriage.

Quickly following, was the Episcopal Church’s General Convention.  The GC is the decision making body of the Church, meeting every three years in two chambers, the House of Bishops and the House of Deputies (and this year the unofficial House of Twitter).  The two houses spent nine days working through resolutions, which included electing a new Presiding Bishop, divesting in fossil fuels and even raising all church worker’s pay to $15/hour (this already on top of women bishops and conga lines.  Seriously, we’re a progressive church).  This is where the actual Canons of the church are changed, as well as countless proclamations and other resolutions and studies.

The biggest news was that both houses passed the use of a previously-tested Rite and the update to the marriage rite for same-sex couples.  The Canons of the church were updated to make marriage the union of two people, regardless of gender.

So it’s awesome, I actually wasn’t aware they were going to update the “regular” marriage rite (I did follow along on Twitter, but I didn’t read the Blue Book ahead of time with all the resolutions).

My bishop, of course, voted against the resolution.  He did not, join a letter that 20 bishops signed on to expressing disappointment in the outcome, so I suppose that is some restraint.  He has not been a friend to the queer community, so this was expected.  It’s just disappointing.  In a pastoral letter to the diocese he wrote:

However, to my mind, their supporting materials do not make a coherent or compelling theological case for same-sex marriage, nor do the rites themselves adequately explain what they are doing and why. Especially in the wake of the recent Supreme Court decision, their approval was seen by the overwhelming majority of those present at Convention as a matter ofmarriage equality, of simple justice, making irrelevant any serious discussion of sacramental theology.

My church will be performing any marriage, so it’s not an issue, but his letter reeks of pettiness.  Almost as if he wants to throw out the idea that the queer community should be seen as equal in the eyes of the church.  I don’t understand his vehemence against us, or continued insistence that the church is moving in the wrong direction by granting all its members equal access to the sacraments.

I wrote about this extensively at Global Entropy, although I still need to bring those couple articles over.

But I’m tired of fighting.  Yes, we won this battle (and there are many more to go), but this was a major victory.  And sometimes, I just need a break and want to enjoy what we’ve accomplished.  The country is not perfect, but we’re moving closer to being a ‘more perfect union.’

In the meantime, I’ll actively avoid church whenever the Bishop visits (I already do, although he was at the Easter service I went to), I don’t want to deal with a cleric who doesn’t see me as worthy as other parishioners.

I spent this morning working with the Young Adult Ministry (YAM) from my church on a Habitat for Humanity house.  I wasn’t seen as unequal or broken, the same with any other time I’m with them, including our last happy hour where every person around the table was some sort of minority.  The bishop can have his outdated and harmful views, and I’ll fight and rail against them, but for now, I’m going to take satisfaction in a job well done.

All my best,

Mike

h/t to Scott, the rector of St. Brendan’s for the awesome illustration!



Today marks the anniversary of the Stonewall Riots, which launched the LGBT-rights movement.

If you’re not familiar with the riots, here’s what happened:

People ask why we celebrate pride.  NoFo writes it much more eloquently than I ever could, here is an excerpt:

We’re proud because despite relentless persecution everywhere we turn—when organized religion viciously attacks and censures and vilifies us in the name of selective morality, when our families disown us, when our elected officials bargain away our equality for hate votes, when entire states codify our families into second-class citizenship, when our employers fire us, when our landlords evict us, when our police harass us, when our neighbors and colleagues and fellow citizens openly insult and condemn and mock and berate and even beat and kill us—we continue to survive.

We’re proud because—thanks to the incredible bravery shown by gay people who lived their lives openly in the decades before us—we can live our lives more and more openly at home, at work, with our families, on our blogs … and even on national television.

We’re proud because after all we’ve been through, the world is starting to notice and respect us and emulate the often fabulous culture we’ve assembled from the common struggles and glorious diversity of our disparate lives.

We’re proud because this weekend we’ll celebrate with drag queens, leather queens, muscle queens, attitude queens and you’d-never-know-they-were-queens queens, and together we can see through the “pride” in our parade and enjoy the underlying Pride in our parade.

Quite simply, we’re proud that we have so much to be proud of.

We can take some time, and even in the face of hatred, bigotry and discrimination, we can carve a place in this world, claim it our own and celebrate.

We can celebrate, because this is our party.  We don’t need anyone’s permission to celebrate:

Because even if Pride doesn’t change many minds in the outside world, it’s our PARTY, darlings. It’s our Christmas, our New Year’s, our Carnival. It’s the one day of the year that all the crazy contingents of the gay world actually come face to face on the street and blow each other air kisses. And wish each other “Happy Pride!” Saying “Happy Pride!” is really just a shorter, easier way of saying “Congratulations on not being driven completely batshit insane! Well done, being YOURSELF!”

We can celebrate the community that we have, the radical acceptance that we embody and the fact that we’ve survived.  We have a chance to come together, remind ourselves we belong to a larger community, have some fun and take back our city; just for a little bit.  We know that hatred will continue, but still we march forward.  We have pride because it helps those coming after us.  In the words of Harvey Milk, it gives the next generation hope:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fWo8BKJCxYQ

And this is a chance to celebrate the fact that I’ve survived.  A chance to celebrate the fact that I’m a proud gay man.  And even that act, powerful unto itself, has hopefully made a difference.

The most important and powerful action a person can make is to come out to those around them.  Then the LGBT community isn’t a scary abstract anymore, it has a face.  If you know someone who is openly LGBT, you see their humanity.  You can understand that we’re not asking for anything special, just the same rights everyone else is guaranteed by the constitution.  A chance to be happy.  A chance to live the life we want, surrounded by those we love.

When will we stop talking about coming out?

“Many of us want to, and will: when a gay, lesbian or transgendered kid isn’t at special risk of being brutalized or committing suicide.

“When a gay person’s central-casting earnestness and eloquence aren’t noted with excitement and relief, because his or her sexual orientation needn’t be accompanied by a litany of virtues and accomplishments in order for bigotry to be toppled and a negative reaction to be overcome.”

We will stop talking about coming out when it’s not news anymore, when the last barriers have finally been broken down.  We’ll stop screaming for our rights when we’re finally treated as equals by our government.  We’ll only stop telling our stories when they don’t matter.

The anniversary of Stonewall comes just two days after marriage equality came to all 50 states (and the anniversary of decisions in Lawrence v. Texas and Windsor v. United States), a major piece of the equality dream the drag queens, homeless youth and the rest of Stonewall protesters had less than 50 years ago.  In 11 years, we’ve gone from no marriage rights to full equality across the country.  We still have a lot to fight for, ENDA being at the top of that list, but for now, we can celebrate the ‘thunderbolt’ of equality that we have achieved:

So we keep fighting for progress, wherever we can.  We celebrate our advances and keep chipping away at our obstacles: and this month we can celebrate both, as well as the individuals that make up our amazing community.

We’re proud of how far we’ve come.  We’re proud to keep fighting.  We’re proud.



It’s Pittsburgh Pride, and the shit is hitting the fan.

Note, I wrote the majority of this in the days leading up to Pride.

First, some background.  We start with the Lambda Foundation.  Years ago, they were the LGBT organization in Pittsburgh.  Delta was a spin-off of Lambda and did the event planning.  Over the years, Delta became the prominent organization.  A couple years ago, what was left of Lambda was absorbed by Delta under the name “Lambda Giving,” with their goal to facilitate charitable giving (with a separate board).

 

Delta is headed by Gary Van Horn (side note, I graduated high school with his younger brother, and he’s a decent guy), and years ago he was in a bunch of legal/criminal trouble.  To anyone outside of Monroeville, this old news gets dredged up as news whenever there is a controversy around Delta, we just shrug my shoulders: we all knew Gary had some trouble in his past and just sort of expect these kind of shenanigans.  There’s more than what’s been reported, and the more I talk with my friends, the creepier interactions I keep hearing about, but suffice to say Van Horn isn’t someone you really want to hang out with, let alone be in charge of such a large organization.

 

To Delta’s credit however, I feel bad because no matter why they book to headline Pride, there is no way they’ll ever please everyone.  Last year when it was Chaka Kahn, there were a ton of people complaining it wasn’t someone more relevant.  After Adam Lambert performed, there were complaints his set was way too short.  When planning a big event, you’re never going to please everyone, that’s just how the world works sadly, and those who are disappointed by some aspect will be vocal.

 

Which brings us to this year’s headliner: Iggy Azalea.  Personally, I think her music is horrible, but she’s “relevant” (more on that in a moment).  However, in her past, Azalea has a history of homophobic and racist comments, particularly on social media.  Which again, things don’t go away on the Internet, they’re there forever.

 

I can almost give her a pass on her homophobic comments, she actually did have what seemed to be a very heartfelt and sincere apology, and I like to believe that people have changed.  But her entire career, her entire persona, is based on the appropriation of a southern, African-American rapper.

 

She’s a white girl from the suburbs of Sydney, Australia.

 

She hasn’t apologized for her racist remarks, and tries to make a living through stealing a culture that she hasn’t lived and that comes off as offensive.  She eventually backed out, in the wake of cancelling her entire tour, she cancelled her appearance at Pride, being replaced by Nick Jonas. Azalea has now gone on to say people are only hating her because “it’s cool.

 

The booking of Azalea sparked off a cavalcade of criticism of the Delta Foundation, many of which had been brought up before, but were now all adding up to create a bigger picture of the organization. Bruce Kraus, the first and only openly LGBT member of Pittsburgh City Council (and its president), as well as GLSEN and many faith orgnaizations, pulled out of Pride, not only because of Azalea, but also the direction that Delta has been going for years.

 

They are inherently dedicated to cis-gendered, wealthy, white gay men.  The board has no trans* members, and only two women.  Pride in the Street is routinely an expensive concert to go to, especially for a community that is economically disadvantaged to begin with.

 

Their magazine, Equal, was finally shut down after months of not paying their writers or their printer.

 

One service they did offer, was small fundraising/banking services to smaller LGBT groups, such as the Gardens of Peace project (much like when banks will be donation locations for non-profits/emergency assistance funds, the Delta Foundation would do the same for other projects), except when they needed to get their money, they got the runaround or were charged interest on it.

 

This is an organization that last year, during Pride in the Street, shut down the public sidewalks, so unless you had a ticket, you could not get to the business and restaurants that were on the streets that were closed to traffic.  This unannounced change led to a lot of people turned away from other events they had tickets to, or were forced to pay an additional fee to get to them.

 

But I what I think is the most damning of all, is that in the last seven years, the Delta Foundation has given less back to the community than what they contracted Iggy Azalea to play for.

 

Delta Foundation used to bill itself as the largest LGBT organization in Western Pennsylvania.  That language has softened this week to describe themselves as “one of the largest,” finally making room for others, which is a nice change.

 

As such, they have failed to encompass the LGBT community in Pittsburgh.  I don’t expect them to be perfect, no organization is.  But these are criticisms that have been ongoing for years.  And they had the balls to post on Facebook that this was the first they had ever heard of them, after hosting a meeting to try to address some of these issues:

 

 

That’s either entirely disingenuous or proof that their entire board has no clue what they are doing.  Or maybe both.

 

But I think part of the reason we’re at this point is there is less work to do in Pittsburgh than other areas.  Pennsylvania has marriage equality, and Allegheny County has ENDA.  Yes, there is a lot of work to be done, especially in the rest of the counties that constitute Western Pennsylvania, but so much of the other goals we need to fight for are at a state and national level, beyond the scope of Delta (not that they couldn’t help EqualityPA however).

 

So for now, Delta serves as a glorified party planner.  Van Horn won’t step down (why would he, it’s a cushy job, and he still owns a bar I believe), and I’m afraid not much will change at Delta.  But for the first time, there were Latin Pride events held in Pittsburgh (not that we’re known for our Hispanic population, but it’s more than I imagined, sitting around two percent), and what was formerly Black Pride, now Roots Pride, seems to be really taking off, both as a protest to Delta and as a fully inclusive and minority-oriented series of Pride events.

 

I don’t necessarily think splitting apart is the way to go, but at least right now, here in Pittsburgh, it seems to be the only way to get things done.  And if this forces Delta to actually make systemic changes and listen to the greater queer population in Pittsburgh, so be it.

 

I hope we can all reconcile and reconnect, and maybe that will even happen for 2016 Pride, we’ll have to see where this conversation goes, and we have to hold Delta accountable to keep having the conversation and to actually listen.

 

This however, is not just a problem that plagues Pittsburgh: this is a national problem. The HRC was recently described as a “White Man’s Club,” and it has every appearance as such, and a recent UK poll of gay men shows a shocking rate of racism.

 

This is something that lots of us, myself included, want to make better (and are probably guilty of ourselves).  We can’t just sit on the sidelines and allow this to be our community.  Especially when there are so many external forces at work.

 

Which brings us to the second part of this sad article, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

 

For those unfamiliar, there are two daily papers in Pittsburgh (not counting the Business Times), the PG is larger by itself and leans liberal, the Trib (which has better coverage of Westmoreland County and owns the weekly neighborhood papers), leans conservative.

 

However, the PG published an utterly shocking, bigoted and harmful article in their editorial section about Caitlyn Jenner recently.  I won’t repost it, it’s that’s bad, not only from a hate standpoint, but just flat out lies.

 

The City Paper has an excellent take down:

 

In case you didn’t catch it, yes, Graham used references to the “good ol’ days” of carnival freak shows to refer to Ms. Jenner, or as Graham so sensitively calls her: “Brucette.” Brucette?!? Really? Why not just call her “fruity,” “fairy,” “queer” or “fag?” I’ll tell you why. Because you know those words are hateful, disgusting and inappropriate. So you try and be cute and clever with “Brucette.” Guess what? It’s just as disgusting, maybe more so.

 

And what is most shocking, is, as City Paper notes, the PG was recently awarded a GLAAD award and had a great speical feature covering the lives and stories of six trans* individuals here in the city.

 

The PG has defended the article, the Editoral Page Editor responded:

 

As an editor, I found Jennifer’s piece well-written and worth publishing.

 

The HRC (yes the one above I just called out for being a white man’s club) did their job and also had a fantastic rebuttal to the horrific article.

 

Consider the facts:
• 20 percent of transgender people have lost a job simply on the basis of their identity;
• 50 percent have been harassed on the job;
• Transgender people are four times more likely to live in extreme poverty;
• And so far, at least 8 transgender women of color have been murdered across the country in 2015.

Another rebuttal did get printed in the PG itself:

By Ms. Graham’s logic, I’d be forced to use a women’s bathroom — despite being a short, bald man who, if I’m being honest, looks like a slightly more svelte version of George Costanza.

 

Whatever Caitlyn Jenner decides to do with her life (yes, HER life) will little affect Ms. Graham. You know, every major professional organization — from the American Medical Association to the American Academy of Pediatrics to the American Psychiatric Association — believes not only that I and Caitlyn Jenner and our likely 1 million or more fellow transgender Americans exist, but also that we should be supported by the medical community. And there’s widespread support for laws that protect transgender people from discrimination.

 

Pride is a celebration.  We remember the Stonewall Riots and everyone who came before us.  We remember those who have fought for our very right to exist.  To love.  To be free.  Pride is a time when all the beautiful facets of the queer community (and our allies) can rally together, enjoy a celebration, take stock, and see what our next move is.

 

Pride is always inclusive.  Even when the organizations that run the events and parts of the greater community turn their backs on us.  We will continue to fight, to make the world a better place.

 

Not just for ourselves, but for those coming after us.

 

I still marched in the Pride Parade (I’ll probably have a post about my Pride experience later this week).  Yes there was drama, both internal and external, but Pride belongs to the community.  Not to a non-profit, and certainly not to those who would make us believe we’re somehow broken.

 

Wherever you are, I hope you celebrate(d) Pride, and I hope you’ll join the queer community and our allies at Decision Day Rallies when the Supreme Court announces their decision sometime in the next two weeks.

 

But most of all, I hope you can celebrate Pride in your own way.  Safe, and with the knowledge that you’re worth it, and part of the greater community.

Social Links

Archives

What I’m writing

What we’re writing

How I’m Resisting

What I’m fighting for

What I’m running from

What I’m reading

What I’m drinking