LGBT

Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf is applauding the U.S. Supreme Court ruling on same-sex marriage, but says state lawmakers should follow up by passing a law to protect people against discrimination based on their sexual or gender preference.

Wolf said in a statement Friday that the high court's 5-4 decision makes clear that "gay marriage" is now simply marriage and same-sex couples cannot be denied the pursuit of happiness.

Deanna Garcia / 90.5 WESA

Iggy Azalea canceled her headlining act at Pittsburgh Pride on Sunday.

The rapper wrote on Twitter, "This has been a difficult decision... however I feel my participation at this point would only serve to further distract from the true purpose of the event."

Iggy Azalea is coming to perform in Pittsburgh for the first time, and some people are not happy about it.

Last Friday, the Delta Foundation, the organization behind Pittsburgh Pride, announced that the rapper and songwriter will headline its Pride in the Street event on June 13. Since the announcement, they’ve received heavy push back from the LGBTQ community in Pittsburgh, some of whom accuse Azalea of racism, homophobia, cultural appropriation and plagiarism.

There are laws in Pennsylvanians making it illegal to discriminate against someone for a wide array of reasons, from sex to ancestry, but the LGBT community remains unprotected.

A senate bill that will be introduced by Sen. Larry Farnese (D-Philadelphia) could change that.

“Right now Pennsylvania is one of few states where discrimination is legal based solely upon who you love, and many of us on both sides of the aisle are ready to put an end to this,” said Farnese.

Liz Reid / 90.5 WESA

Saturday brought to Pittsburgh some of the most unpleasant weather yet this season, but a few dozen people braved the cold and rain to hold vigil for someone they had never met.

Andi Woodhouse, 24, jumped from the 10th Street Bridge to his death on December 13th. Organizers of Saturday’s vigil say he was mis-gendered in reports from the medical examiner’s office and various media outlets, which had referred to Woodhouse as a woman named Amber.

Best of 2014: George Takei Talks Sci-Fi and Social Justice

Dec 29, 2014
Ryan Loew / WESA

As the year comes to a close, we’re looking back on our favorite Essential Pittsburgh stories and guests from 2014. Today we’re highlighting our favorite science and sci-fi guests. 

To hear the full-length audio for this story, please refer to the original post.

In November, the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra explored strange new worlds with the PNC Pops’ Sci-Fi Spectacular. The concert featured music from classic sci-fi TV programs and films, such as “2001: A Space Odyssey,” “Close Encounters of the Third Kind,” and “Star Trek,” among others. Actor and activist George Takei was one of the stars of the first Star Trek TV series and originated the role of helmsman Sulu.

Beyond Star Trek, there were many aspects of this man’s life and career to explore, including his role in the award-winning musical “Allegiance,” which is coming to Broadway in 2015. George sat down in studio with me in November. Among other things, we asked him about working in Pittsburgh on the show “Supa Ninjas” and his activism for Japanese Americans and the LGBT community.

“The imprisonment of innocent American citizens who happened to be of Japanese ancestry is parallel to the story of what the LGBT community has gone through and still will have to go through in order to be totally full American citizens.”

The Challenges of Aging for LGBTQIA Individuals

Nov 19, 2014
Patrick / Flickr

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 45.3 million Americans live in poverty. While poverty affects people from all walks of life, last week WESA’s Deanna Garcia reported on the prevalence of poverty among those who identify as LGBTQIA, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex, or asexual. Poverty becomes an even greater problem as they grow older.

Kathi Boyle, coordinator of older adult services for the Persad Center, is part of a national group called SAGE, Services & Advocacy for GLBT Elders. August “Buzz” Pusateri, a retired pharmacist who was diagnosed as HIV positive in the early 1980s. Buzz is chair of the Pitt Men’s Study community advisory board and lives in a retirement community in Oakland. They join us to talk about the challenges of aging and being out.

Ryan Loew / WESA

George Takei, who originated the character of Hikaru Sulu on “Star Trek,” joins us in studio. This weekend, Takei will host the PNC Pops "Sci-Fi Spectacular” at Heinz Hall. Takei talks about that event, his acting career, his history of activism and the upcoming Broadway musical "Allegiance," in which he has a starring role.

Pittsburgh received the second highest grade in lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) equality among seven cities in Pennsylvania, according to a report released Wednesday by the Human Rights Campaign.

Pittsburgh scored a 90 out of a possible 100, which is based on the city’s non-discrimination laws, relationship recognition, employment policies, law enforcement and municipal leadership on matters of equality.

Elizabeth Thomsen / via Flickr Creative Commons

 It's been a busy week in Harrisburg, PennLive and Patriot-News editorial and opinions Editor John Micek joins us to lay it all out.

Topics include: the eight former and current state officials alleged to be involved in an exchange of hundreds of racy emails using state computers, calls for protection of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Pennsylvanians and the Senate passing legislation to legalize certain kinds of marijuana.

The General Assembly's fall session doesn't begin until Sept. 15, but the state's leading advocacy group for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender Pennsylvanians is already closing the book on an anti-discrimination measure that picked up unprecedented, bipartisan support.

"At the current moment, with nine days left in the session, I don't hold out a lot of hope that the bill will pass this year," said Ted Martin, head of Equality PA.

Liz Reid / 90.5 WESA

Pittsburgh City Council took preliminary steps Wednesday to add gender identity and expression as an explicitly protected class with regard to housing, employment and public accommodation.

Council President Bruce Kraus sponsored the legislation and said the issue was brought to his attention by Jason Goodman, executive director of the Pennsylvania Student Equality Coalition, or PSEC.

Passage is looking unlikely this year for a bill to prohibit discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Pennsylvanians.

The measure would outlaw firing someone from his or her job, evicting someone from his or her home, or not seating people at a restaurant on the basis of their sexual orientation or gender identity.

Gov. Tom Corbett supports it, as do a bipartisan group of state lawmakers.

An Update on PA's Non-Discrimination Legislation

Jun 19, 2014
Erin Molchany / Twitter

“Marriage equality is now a reality in the commonwealth of Pennsylvania, but at the end of the day you can still be fired for putting your wedding photo on your desk,” says State Representative Erin Molchany.

With a lack of legislative protections, same-sex couples in many parts of PA still face legal discrimination in the workplace, when it comes to housing, and in public accommodations.

“I would imagine that a state that does not have these kinds of protections would not be marketable to attracting talent, for businesses, employees,” Molchany said.

Dan Savage / Wikipedia

Sex columnist, author, and lecturer Dan Savage is in Pittsburgh this weekend for HUMP tour, a film festival which has garnered a bit of controversy locally. It's a festival of independently made adult films, which was originally slated to screen in Dormont. But because of a local ordinance, the festival will instead be shown in Lawrenceville. 

Savage describes HUMP as a film festival of amateur porn that marries funny with sexy. The festival begins at 9 pm Friday at the Row House Cinema in Lawrenceville.

Savage is best known for his syndicated sex advice column, regularly featured in the Pittsburgh City Paper and the It Gets Better Project, created to inspire and give hope to LGBT teens.

LGBT Pride Event Expects Record Numbers

Jun 9, 2014

Members of Pittsburgh’s LGBT community and their supporters are expected to take to the streets in record numbers this Sunday during the annual Pride March, which is part of this week’s Pittsburgh Pride celebration.

Pittsburgh Pride is the largest LGBT festival in Pennsylvania, according to the Delta Foundation of Pittsburgh. The nonprofit organization dedicated to supporting the city’s LGBT community hosts and organizes the event, which runs from June 6 through June 15.

Sharing The Stories Of Pittsburgh's Transgender Community

Jun 2, 2014
"2 Political Junkies" / Blogger

This year’s Pittsburgh Pride Week will have the most extensive spotlight on transgender communities so far.

Jessica McGuiness is a former EMT who transitioned from male to female over the last 10 years, and she shared her story about living in Pittsburgh and how growing up was difficult for her.

While working as an EMT, McGuiness started to undergo the process of becoming a female. McGuiness says she was a quiet person and kept to herself, even as her coworkers would degrade transgender patients coming through the hospital, right in front of her. She said it took her some time to become comfortable coming out to them, or anyone.

Gay rights advocates are hoping the same-sex marriage ruling in Pennsylvania paves the way for laws to prohibit bias against residents based on their sexual orientation and gender identity.  

Identical bills in the state House and Senate would protect lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Pennsylvanians from being discriminated in housing, employment, and public accommodations.

Equality PA director Ted Martin said about 30 percent of the state has such protections in place at the municipal level, but his group is seeking a state law.

Overturning Pennsylvania's Same-Sex Marriage Ban

May 22, 2014
Lindsey B / Flickr

“We are a better people than what these laws represent, and it is time to discard them into the ash heap of history,” wrote Judge John E. Jones III in his Tuesday ruling, ending Pennsylvania’s ban on same-sex marriage. 

It was a sudden, entirely unexpected ruling from a judge appointed by President George W. Bush and endorsed by Rick Santorum. The public was further surprised when Republican Governor Tom Corbett decided not to appeal the decision.

The ruling was met with jubilation by same-sex couples across the state, who can now marry, and for those who married out-of-state and want their union recognized in PA.

Asserting human rights or disregarding democracy? 

Irina Zhorov / 90.5 WESA

Update (3:09 p.m.): Pennsylvania Won't Appeal Same-Sex Marriage Case

In overturning Pennsylvania’s ban on gay marriage Tuesday, U.S. District Judge John E. Jones III concluded his nearly 40-page decision stating: “We are better people that what these laws represent, and it is time to discard them into the ash heap of history.”

Heather McClain / 90.5WESA

Sewickley Academy is hosting an event titled "NFL to LGBTQ" featuring former NFL player Wade Davis. 

As a defensive back for the Tennessee Titans, Washington Redskins, and Seattle Seahawks as well as NFL Europe, Davis was constantly challenged physically and mentally. 

He said he grew up with limited understandings of what it meant to be gay and was constantly on his guard.

Helping the LGBTQ Communities in Honduras

Apr 18, 2014
Eric Vázquez

Honduras is one of the world’s deadliest countries, overrun by gangs and violence.

Women, journalists, lawyers and members of the LGBTQ community have been singled out as victims.

Liz Reid / 90.5 WESA

Pittsburgher Dan Burda’s partner of eight years, Rohn, passed away from a heart attack this year. Like many families of the recently deceased, Burda and his loved ones wanted to donate Rohn’s skin, tissue and organs to someone who needed them.

But they were not allowed to do that because of a long-standing FDA ban on such donations from any man who has had sex with a man.

Jason Collins Gets a Chance and Makes History

Feb 24, 2014

NBA center, Jason Collins walked onto the court Sunday after signing a 10-day contract with the Brooklyn Nets. As he checked into the game in the second quarter, Collins became the first openly gay man to play one of the nation's four major professional sports.

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette sportswriter emeritus Bob Dvorchak says on the part of the Brooklyn Nets, the signing was not made just to make history.

Gov. Tom Corbett is supporting a measure to ban the discrimination of Pennsylvanians based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

The proposal would update the commonwealth’s anti-discrimination law to include what supporters call basic protections for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender Pennsylvanians.

The governor insists he’s not changing his stance on the issue, claiming it’s the first time he’s had any kind of position.

Exploring the Wider Impact of LGBT Homelessness in Pittsburgh

Dec 12, 2013
scribbletaylor / flickr

Homelessness among Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) people is more prevalent than any other statistical group in America.

Forty percent of homeless youth in America identify as LGBT. The same statistic applies to the city of Pittsburgh.

Lyndsey Sickler, chair of the Gay and Lesbian Community Center of Pittsburgh, and Nayck B. Feliz, associate director of Project SILK, work firsthand with young LGBT Pittsburghers who experience homelessness.

Feliz said this high homeless population has negative societal ramifications for the Pittsburgh region. 

PA’s Hate-Crime Law Still Leaves Many Groups Out

Nov 24, 2013
Alexandra Kanik / PublicSource

Jane’s whole life has been like one long hate crime.

As a teenager, her classmates beat her to a pulp because she shaved her legs. Her family believed that praying would cure what the belt didn’t.

Jane was born a man. Today, she is a woman.

Jane, a transgender woman, asked PublicSource not to use her name because of fear that she might be targeted. She completed her transition from male to female in rural Pennsylvania about two years ago.

wikipedia

The Pittsburgh International Lesbian and Gay Film Festival or Reel Q, runs October 11-10 and will offer 15 full-length films.

Pittsburgh City Paper Film Critic Al Hoff previews some of the best feature flicks including I Am Divine, GBF, Alice Walker Beauty and Truth and Interior. Leatherbar.

A Virtual Time Capsule of Pittsburgh's LGBT Nightlife

Oct 10, 2013
Center for the Arts in Society / CMU

Harrison Apple has been exploring the underground. In speakeasies, bathhouses and after hours clubs, he’s found a hypothetical time capsule of a rich gay nightlife in Pittsburgh between 1960 and 1990.

Now as Artist in Residence at Carnegie Mellon University’s Center for the Arts, Harrison not only exhibits his own work, but has been successful in bringing award-winning author and gay rights historian George Chauncey to CMU’s 2013 Kim and Eric Giler lecture in the humanities Thursday afternoon.

Rep. Sims: Same-Sex Marriage 'Inevitable' in PA

Oct 9, 2013

State Rep. Brian Sims (D-Philadelphia), the first openly gay member of the General Assembly, said same-sex marriage “will become law” in Pennsylvania, either through legislation or judicial action.

Sims spoke Wednesday with Essential Pittsburgh about his LGBT anti-discrimination legislation and marriage equality bill.

He said most believe gay marriage will someday become legal in Pennsylvania, which is the only state in the Northeast without laws providing for civil unions or same-sex marriage.

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