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Does Bloomfield Hate the Gays Now?

Note: I’ve made one change to my post based upon the comments I received. Eli’s comment- she said it well- what this march is all about. I’ve left the text present, but display the change as strikethrough, to denote the change. The opinions expressed here are solely my own and do not represent any one else or any organization.

The Case of the Missing Pride Parade

I got the strangest set of direct messages (type of twitter message) from @CarmanAvenue this afternoon:

11:50 BTW I’m going to be at Donatelli’s for the parade.

2:40 Are you on the parade route?

3:15 hey blocked off Liberty for hours so that a small group could walk down the street chanting. People expected a real Pride parade.

3:27 Bad PR. The cops even blocked off the street for hours.

3:46 Everyone on the street thought it was [a pride parade]. I think even the cops thought it was.

3:48 don’t know the source. My guess is bad communication from the Dyke March.

4:34 I don’t know if you’d be able to track it down. It was the talk all over the neighborhood.

4:37 People were very annoyed that the streets were blocked off at noon for a small group that didn’t start marching until 3. Bad 4 the community.

What actually was happening was the Dyke and Trans March.  In the past, I think it was only called the Dyke March, but for some reason, I think the name was expanded. I had every intention of going this year to support  them, but after being away for work most of the week, and then trying to pack to be ready to move in a few weeks, I couldn’t fit everything in today.

Still, it has me really intrigued as to how or why the Bloomfield community came to the assumption that there was a Pride Parade happening today. I think the Dykes had applied for a permit or whatever they needed to have police protection. In the past that has been their big complaint- that the police weren’t there to offer protection. But really- shut the entire street down through a business section of a business neighborhood in the middle of a Saturday?

Last year the Dyke March was in Oakland/Sq Hill near the CMU campus I believe. Someone correct me if I have that wrong. This year, it was moved to Bloomfield after the altercation between a drag queen and some drunk bar patrons. The event was originally characterized as a gay bashing, however, as the facts have come to light, it looks as if it was simply a fight started by a homophobic slur, but the queen threw the first punch.

So, where are we now? A Pittsburgh neighborhood which relies of traffic and business on a Saturday, has the main thorofare shut down (starting at noon??) for an event that was to start at 4PM (??) that included only a small number of participants. The residents (and the police on the street??) think that what is happening- or supposed to happen is Pittsburgh’s Pride Parade. and now they’re annoyed.

Local lesbian blogger, Sue Kerr explains the Dyke March:

…allow women who don’t typically attend fundraisers and public meetings the safety to exercise their first amendment rights?

I’m all for anyone being able to exercise their first amendment rights, but I’m really at a loss to see how today’s action really did that? I guess for the small group of participants, it did- I hope they felt seen or heard or whatever they wanted.

For me the bigger question is, what do they really want and how are they communicating it?  How is it that the residents of Bloomfield thought that what was happening was a Pride Parade? Were the organizers trying to co-opt Pittsburgh Pride, or the reputation of Pittsburgh Pride (which is not a parade either, but also a march that happens next Sunday in downtown Pittsburgh). Or did the organizers of today’s event just do a truly lousy job of communicating their plan and purpose?

Pride is many things to many different people, but generally speaking, it is a celebration and a commemoration of the Stonewall Riots in New York city, where a rag tag bunch of lesbians, gays, drag queens and assorted characters refused to be intimidated by the bullying cops, and fought back. Many see it as the start of the modern Gay Rights Movement.

How today’s event fit into that history is beyond me. This march continues in that tradition of people, raising their voices and being visible.

I think there are some who do not feel they have an adequate voice within the larger LGBT community. It may be real or only perceived, but that doesn’t matter in some regard. These individuals feel as if the “Gay Community” in the broadest sense of what it is, doesn’t represent them, or give their voice and needs agency. In the past, I have always had respect for these individuals to stand up and do what they needed to, and to some degree, I still feel that way. I’m just baffled, as to how what they felt the need to do, got misconstrued as a Pride Parade.

Something leads me to think that this Dyke March isn’t only about the exercising of first amendment rights at all, but it is about seeking or getting validation from city officials? Kerr writes:

Don’t get me wrong — I had responses when I reached out, but not a single leader offered to attend in solidarity with these women.

Maybe I’ll be wrong and they’ll show.  I’ll let you know.

For me the standby chant is, We’re Here! We’re Queer! Get Used to it! It isn’t about seeking validation or demanding solidarity! It is about having your own voice and declaring yourself as equal, and valued and important. We become empowered when we stop expecting validation from others, and give ourselves voice!

Photo used in cooperation with the Creative Commons License, Photographer: See-ming Lee ??? SML

25 Comments

  1. wow this thread.  makes me super depressed to be a pgh lesbo.

    • Don’t be depressed. Pittsburgh’s lesbian community is a thriving, vibrant and meaningful part of the whole of the LGBTQ community, as well as a part of the whole of Pittsburgh. The Dyke March is a useful and important form of activism. Last year, in my opinion, it just needed more communication connected to it so that residents and store owners understood what was going on. I applaud the organizers who worked very hard. I have heard from a number of participants that the event was great for them. I think if this year;s Dyke March can do a better job interfacing with the community, they can build upon what was good last year and keep this event growing.

  2. I just want to say, as a cis-gendered male who marched on the sidelines as an ally during the dyke and trans march, that I can't understand where you are coming from with this article either. I am a resident of Bloomfield and I never once heard anything about this march being associated with the Pride march. I heard about this march through Facebook and word of mouth. The Facebook event, along with every person I spoke with, made it clear that it was to create a space specifically for queer people who were not cis-gendered males to march together because that space rarely exists to the extent that it should. From the sidewalk, during the march, I didn't hear anyone say anything about Pride. There were questions about what the march was and why the roads were blocked off so long, but nothing about Pride. The banners all along the march were very visible and clearly stated what the march was. The problem with the permit situation seems to be that the cops simply didn't understand that the actual march started at 3 and the meetup time was 2. This would not be the first time that the cops bumbled a permitted march.

    I don't need to say much else about this. I only wrote this to give the perspective of a Bloomfield resident who walked on the sidelines among the other observers of the march and also to agree with the other posters in that I can't understand where you came from with most of this article. Honestly, I think you owe everyone that marched in the dyke and trans march an apology. It was a great march and I can understand why many people would be happy with it. Your article, on the other hand, did rely on very little information, seemingly only one persons' twitter account, to make it seem like much of Bloomfield had no idea what was going on and that they thought it was a Pride march. Maybe next time you should ask the organizers or participants a few questions before you write something so baseless.

    -Ryan Williams

  3. Eli Kuti says:

    LAUREN,
    YOU ARE AWESOME!

  4. tcwaters says:

    Thanks for your comment Lauren! Lots here for me to respond to, and when I can later today, I will. Would you mind however emailing me as well? thomaswaters@mac.com. Thx.

  5. laurenjurysta says:

    The case of the missing support

    Your response to the dyke trans march was very disappointing. It seems to me that you might feel threatened by the fact that there’s more than one march representing the gay community. And the point of the dyke trans march is so that every voice from the gay community can be heard. If you look at pride, out and cue mag, all the gay bars you’ll see that it’s all mostly catered towards gay men. That’s fine, we just want to make some space in the community for ourselves. We want a space where we feel equally represented and where we can speak our own thoughts. And btw the name was expanded because trans men and women do exist you know.
    We have had trouble in the past acquiring a permit and also had rocks thrown at us one year. I believe that it’s very important to have a permit and protection. Pride parade has both and is never questioned. We should have the same luxury.
    I don’t know where your getting your information but the ‘altercation’ that happened in front of the pleasure bar was in fact a gay bashing. What else would you call three straight men kicking a drag queen on the ground? Whether or not he threw the first punch (I don’t know) he was beat up for being gay and being a man in dress. Why are you trying to make this seem ok?! Bloomfield has a history of homophobia and racism so we thought it would be a great place to show visibility.
    “For me the bigger question is, what do they really want and how are they communicating it?” I live in Bloomfield and truthfully id like to be able to walk down the street as a woman holding my girlfriends hand and not feel like I could get gay bashed or threatened at any point. And ultimately I'd like to be able to walk down the street as a not so typical woman presenting herself in a more masculine way and not get glared, and stared at constantly. And its not just Bloomfield. It’s everywhere, which is why we change the location of the march from time to time. Visibility is so important. I'd like to know what your intention for writing this is? Did you ever question yourself on why dyke trans march made you so unjustifiably mad?
    If you knew your gay history you would know that dyke marches have been happening all over the country for many years. Why would we need to “co-opt” pride? We just want our voices to be heard. I don’t know what your problem with it is. I have a problem with the way the delta foundation is monopolizing pride and making money off of the gay community. I understand paying money to see a performance but not to be an actual part of pride. Not all gay people are wealthy.
    To tell you the truth I hadn’t heard that dyke trans march got misconstrued as pride parade. And I don’t know how it did either. But it seems to me that you might think that the organizers of the dyke trans march lead people to believe that. I don’t like your accusing tone. Like I said earlier, pride is great, we just want our voices to be heard in the community too. And also, were not trying to get validation from anyone. Don’t you want support from city officials? The same city officials that are making laws that affect us.
    What really matters is that a bunch of gays marched down liberty ave in solidarity and felt great! Isn’t that what pride is about? Everyone’s voice should be heard. And there’s much more to pride than rainbows and getting gay married. Were all different and we all have slightly different opposition from the straight community and all of it should be addressed.

    Sincerely
    Lauren Jurysta

  6. Becky Klink says:

    You conclude with a powerful statement regarding the Queer Chant: “It is about having your own voice and declaring yourself as equal, and valued and important. We become empowered when we stop expecting validation from others, and give ourselves voice!” Nonetheless, you’ve just spent several paragraphs expressing both annoyance and worry about everyone in Bloomfield including the Police’s confusion and annoyance with the Dyke and Trans March and how this might “look bad” for the larger “Gay Community” especially since it blocked business—god forbid, they might have confused us with Pride. (and if they did they can’t read and know nothing about Pride in the first place).
    Furthermore your entry is about a struggle to understand how this fits in with “Pride” in the broader sense as it is connected with the spirit of the Stonewall Riots and again, how this allowed some who feel underrepresented / misrepresented to express their first amendment rights.
    I’d like to clarify this for you. Open up a Pride Magazine and look inside it. The first four pages are dedicated to business ads: Coors Light, Downtown Pittsburgh, Jim Beam, and Highmark. The first pages of content are from male politicians. Now, go on a tour of “gay owned” businesses in this town or any other for that matter and tell me what is the ratio between “lesbian” and “gay” owned businesses. Try to go out on Saturday night and tell me how many spaces for lesbian women there are in this community—we don’t even get a w4w section on craigslist without straight men being all up in it. Better yet, google the word ‘lesbian’ and tell me what the first 100 hits you find are. Go to Netflix and count on your fingers how many lesbian films there are. Go to the library and etc. etc. etc. Now do the same thing for Trans. If we want to walk down the street together in solidarity are you still going to find that to be confusing?
    I’m no anarchist. I realize that the world revolves around big business but the fact of the matter is that Pride has been sucked right up by business interests—and that’s not something to be proud of. I have and I will support Pride but the Dyke and Trans March is something a little different… it is a break away from the Miller Light Girls, it is free of advertising, free of (don’t get me wrong I love my gay brothers but you all run the gay scene here and everywhere else) gay men. I’m sure many of the same participants in the Dyke and Trans March will gladly participate in the Pride Awareness March but we need our own space too—even if it’s just for a few hours. Most of us will not be sorry if that confuses or annoys anyone and that's why I love(d) the Dyke and Trans March.

  7. tcwaters says:

    Yes this makes perfect sense. Thanks for adding your comment!

  8. tcwaters says:

    Eli,
    Thanks for add ing your comments to this post! I'm glad it was a great event for you, and I hope it grows and grows each year!

  9. the police protection is needed for the traffic not so much the neighborhood denizens. last year a delivery truck tried to run over the marchers.

  10. Eli Kuti says:

    Hello, my name is Eli I am the organizer of THE DYKE /TRANS march. I had a blast! WE had 200 people marching HARDLY a small turnout. Im not gonna waste my energy arguing! This is a seperate event that has been going on for 5 yrs, people thought it was pride,Who cares? I felt proud marching.Im sure others did too! The point of The DYKE/TRANS march isnt to see how many people can come with rainbow corporate sponsered COORS cups! The point is to get together take up space,PRIDE IS FUN< I WILL BE MARCHING.But the DYKE/TRANS march is political,its seperate (check out other cities) and I THINK IT IS FR**** BEAUTIFUL! LOVED ALL MY PEOPLE WHO CAME! LETS MAKE BIGGER N BETTER NEXT YEAR!!!!!

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  12. I wouldn't call what I wrote “reporting.” I'm a blogger, not a journalist. I don't believe I ever said that all Bloomfield did, said, or thought anything

  13. Frances Monahan says:

    propagate — excuse me. It's late.

  14. Frances Monahan says:

    I'm not sure that asserting that all of Bloomfield believed there was a Pride Parade today based on a string of Twitter DMs from one individual is a good idea. Reporting this prima facie without further investigation only propogates misinformation.

  15. tcwaters says:

    Happy to chat over coffee! We all give our power away when the first statement we make is a direct accusation, such as “you subjugate… ” We hold our power and we speak from it when we use language like “I disagree with you, and here is why.”

  16. believe me…I gave no power to you. I gave a voice to all of the women that walked in that march today. maybe we should chat over coffee instead?

  17. tcwaters says:

    Jen,
    Please get a grip. You tell me I have emotional issues and you say I'm playing dirty. I simply suggested looking at what subjugate really means. I'm not making anyone submissive. By your own listing of it. I'm not doing anything that makes anyone submissive. Why do you give away your power so easily? Why not just say you don't agree with me?

    BTW, I never said I think the Dyke March was of lesser value! I think it is/was/will be of enormous value! I think I wrote:
    I think there are some who do not feel they have an adequate voice within the larger LGBT community. It may be real or only perceived, but that doesn’t matter in some regard. These individuals feel as if the “Gay Community” in the broadest sense of what it is, doesn’t represent them, or give their voice and needs agency. In the past, I have always had respect for these individuals to stand up and do what they needed to, and to some degree, I still feel that way. I’m just baffled, as to how what they felt the need to do, got misconstrued as a Pride Parade.

    The question here that I ended with: I’m just baffled, as to how what they felt the need to do, got misconstrued as a Pride Parade.

    This doesn't make anyone submissive at all, nor does it treat them as less than anyone else.

    I think the Dyke March is really important. I'm sad (and baffled as to why the Bloomfied Community was expecting a Parade, and why people who saw what happened didn't see the same thing that the participants thought they were displaying.

    Why do I care? I care about a lot of things. I wouldn't have written at all about it except for the fact that I received messages saying things like “People expected a real Pride parade.” It got me wondering why that was. What set the community up for having this expectation and what does it mean that the expectation wasn't met? Those are valid questions and they don't dismiss, make submissive or “treat as lesser” anyone.

  18. Oh Thomas….now your just playing dirty. Insulting my intelligence only makes you look like you are “reaching” for any opportunity to make yourself look better, and again…to try and make yourself look more intelligent- I do have a dictionary- Subjugation= to make submissive- Miriam Webster- which is precisely what I stated that you were doing in your blog post. Try another one…I have as many degrees as you do I am sure- but that is not the real issue here.
    I used the term “subjugation” in reference to why you are treating the dyke march as if it was of “lesser value” ie. the women of the dyke march of “lesser value” because they confused the community of Bloomfield? There was a huge sign that said DYKE MARCH on it in the front of the parade- why do you care so much about it?

  19. To answer your question-I think Emily explained some of the details and information that you posted inaccurately in your blog. Thomas, your blog post would not be as long as it was had you simply asked the question- why did the people of Bloomfield assume that it was a pride parade?- that is only one small portion of your post. The question was raised by you to attack a well known lesbian blogger-get it right- Honestly, I read your blog often and am wanting to learn how to be a better advocate for the community here in Pittsburgh…and yes, I am looking to those people like yourself that have been in the community to welcome me in with open arms. I am very disappointed in what you posted as it only reinforces the separation between members of the gay/queer community here in Pittsburgh. I do think that the post that you wrote was subjugating and it certainly does not help inspire people who are wanting to be a part of the community- How can we stand together and “declare equality” if we are unequal within our own community? Almost everything I see on your blog lately bashes people-particularly other bloggers-particularly women of the community- I understand that is your right-however, it separates us all.

  20. I do not know why anyone thought it was the pride parade. But imagine how nice it would be to have a pride parade in a busy part of town on a weekend instead of the ghost land that is downtown. Then maybe people would know what the pride parade was. There was no effort to “co-opt” the pride parade…That was they last thing on peoples minds. What was happening today was community outreach. We walked through a neighborhood and brought awareness. We chanted ” we don't want to argue, we don't want to fight, we just want to be fabulous and that's our human right”.
    The facts:
    The permit was to organize at 2 and step off at 3.
    We stepped off at 2:50 Not 4 as stated in your ramblings.
    The community and police were cheering as we walked by.
    People carried signs stating that it was a Dyke march…
    There was no mention of Pittsburgh Pride

    I do not have a problem and do not know why you implied that I do. I just think that what you posted was so negative and would apply to a lot of gay efforts. You are minimizing what happened today.

    You are doing exactly what Rupert Murdoch does to news. You are twisting the facts to make it seem like these women were ridiculous…you are horribly mistaken.

  21. Sorry Jen, but I'm not subjugating anyone, and most especially not a group of people. But thanks for adding your comment. If I had any information wrong- what was it specifically? That the people of Bloomfield, or cops on the street that that what was happening was a Pride Parade?

  22. Did this bring people together or simply leave the Bloomfield community wondering why “some people” are taking over their streets? Or, what impression is left with those in the neighborhood who are under the impression that what they are seeing is a Pride Parade, when what they actually see is a small group of people?
    I'm all for Dykes or any group of people who feel the need to make their voices heard! Go for it!!! Go for it with gusto! I just wonder how it is that the folks of Bloomfield got the impression that what they were seeing was a parade, Pittsburgh's Pride Parade.

    If you can't see the difference between my pinpointing that issue, then, I think you have the real problem.

  23. You obviously have emotional issues where you have to berate others- particularly the women of the gay/queer community- for whatever reason that satisfies your inadequacies. However, I applaud you on getting your information completely wrong. You state: “We become empowered when we stop expecting validation from others, and give ourselves voice!” That statement itself is particularly telling of your want to seek validation from people reading your blog. It is completely unconscious on your part apparently. We don't write or state anything that is not already in our own emotional experience- So..let me educate you about the lesbian community of Pittsburgh- we are here and we do have a voice. You discuss in your blog about “declaring equality” but at the same time you are subjugating an large portion of the same community you preach about! You should be ashamed.

  24. It is so incredibly sad that you have so much negativity towards the Pittsburgh gay community. It is my belief that any opportunity to bring people together in a community is a good one and if YOU were a GOOD advocate you would spend a lot less time criticizing peoples efforts. You are the Fox news of the gay community here in Pittsburgh. Check your facts, show up, and get it right before you types this crap.

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