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Weekly: Pride – The Pride Side of Pittsburgh: It’s Not Paris, But It’s Worthwhile

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Pittsburgh is one of the more unique American cities, specifically in that there isn’t a specific neighborhood associated with the LGBTQ spectrum. Sure, there is Liberty Avenue, which hosts the Pride parade that has now come under some new controversy over a dodgy sponsorship – but that’s just a part of downtown. But overall, the Steel City doesn’t have its own Castro District or Fire Island, nor has it really needed such a thing. Nevertheless, there are plenty of options for those who belong on the spectrum in the city that Carnegie built, especially when it comes to dining and entertainment.

First of all, there are the usual spots along with the aforementioned Liberty Avenue, which several of the good gay bars and drag clubs call home. The best among them (though your mileage may vary) is the Three Ultra Lounge. Yes, it is a dive bar, but it’s the fun kind of dive bar, with drag show performances and other fun things as well. Plus, the drinks are nice and economical, so there is a spot for a traveller to just relax with a rum and coke while watching all those yinzers party the night away. If that’s not you thing and were hoping for something a little more sophisticated and in the same general area, there’s always the Backstage Bar at Theater Square. Run by the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust, Theater Square also includes a cabaret with events on the weekend, along with a nice menu that includes a good $8 artisan pizza.

Of course, there is far more to any city than just the downtown area, and Pittsburgh has plenty of good neighborhoods for you to explore. Perhaps the most LGBTQ-friendly area of the city is the Shadyside neighborhood, which has a great coffee shop in the form of Coffee Tree Roasters, and it’s not too far from the spectrum-friendly Chatham University. After all, you’re in a place where people value coffee as much as beer. So if Coffee Tree isn’t your thing, there is also the Crazy Mocha chain, which has plenty of spots around the area. And it goes along in the morning with a good lunch at Doc’s Place, which has some really good burgers that are at a good price. Not to mention that Shadyside has some really good shopping, which includes nice little stories like La Feria and Kawaii, the latter of whom specializes in distinctly Japanese merchandising.

But if drinking and shopping just doesn’t suit your fancy, there’s always just walking around Shadyside, downtown and Lawrenceville. Along with the two campuses of the University of Pittsburgh and Carnegie-Mellon, there are plenty of places to just simply take a nice stroll. Although each of them are not connected to each other, they are the areas of the Steel City that will probably be the safest for members of the LGBTQ community (or at least the areas that are not very susceptible to homophobic and/or transphobic violence and abuse). Of these three, Lawrenceville is the area where most people are going to live, as many who aren’t in the upper crust get consistently priced out of the other two.

Then again, there are niche little places that cater to those who are members and allies of the community. Chief among them is the sublime Blue Moon, which is probably the best LGBTQ bar in the city. This is a place that has a really good drag show and some fine music if you don’t mind the standard EDM artists like Armin van Buuren and David Guetta. Plus, it’s got a better selection of drinks besides the usual Red Bull and lemon shot. In other words, you’ve got yourself a fine time in Pittsburgh – as long as you don’t call the Steelers or the Penguins overrated.

Originally posted 2017-06-15 02:49:10.

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Danica Roem Earns Seat in Virginia’s State Legislature

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I’ve previously written about Danica Roem and how she, a transgender woman, made history by winning Virginia’s Democratic primary in June. She’s done it again! On November 7th, Roem defeated Bob Marshall, a man who once referred to himself as “chief homophobe,” in Virginia’s House of Delegates election.

Who is Danica Roem?

Danica Roem was born in 1984 at Prince William Hospital in Manassas and went to Catholic school for thirteen years of her life. She attended St. Bonaventure University where she majored in journalism. She graduated in 2006 and reported for the Gainesville Times and eventually for the Prince William Times. Danica also wrote about schools, development, business, and transportation. In 2012, she started her transition and in December of 2013, she began hormone replacement therapy. Her name changed occurred in 2015 and her coworkers were supportive of her. She was eventually hired as the news editor of the Montgomery County Sentinel in Rockville Maryland, where she worked from August 2015 until the end of 2016. After, she left her position at the newspaper to run for office.

A major victory for trans rights

By defeating long-standing Republican and firm social conservative Bob Marshall, Danica Roem became the first openly transgender official to be elected in Virginia and made history by being the first transgender person to be seated in a state legislature. This is a huge step for LGBTQ rights, as transgender individuals are heavily discriminated against in many forms, such as workplace discrimination and discrimination in regard to using public bathrooms. By electing Roem and ousting Marshall, Virginia, a traditionally conservative state, is showing that more and more Virginians are moving toward positive change.

So who exactly is Bob Marshall, the man that Roem defeated? Marshall was elected to the House of Delegates in the early 1990s and has run and won every single election until this year. He authored Virginia’s 2006 “One man, one woman” bill that supports the idea that marriage is defined as a union between one man and one woman, is anti-abortion and opposes tax funding of Planned Parenthood, purposely uses disingenuous language to undermine the struggles of the LGBTQ community, is against gay men from serving in Virginia’s National Guard because he believes that there would be an increase in the spreading of STDs, and is in favor of legal discrimination against LGBTQ people. He is very clearly anti-LGBTQ and holds views that go counter to the direction that this country is heading in.

A way forward for Virginians

In contrast, Roem is in favor of raising the minimum wage in Virginia, making preschool more accessible, vows to increase teacher pay, wants to decrease bullying and discrimination in schools and promises to create a more inclusive Virginia by making sure people do not get singled out based on sexual orientation, race, gender, or disability. Her experience as a journalist helped her gain excellent listening skills. Because of that, Roem is able to listen to the residents of Prince William County and help achieve what needs to be done. According to her bio page, she promises to tackle public issues the way she wrote news stories: by researching, questioning, listening, and reporting. By electing her, the residents of Virginia showed that they were tired of Marshall’s antiquated (and frankly) bigoted views and wanted a real change. Bob Marshall won fourteen consecutive general elections which definitely displayed Virginia’s views but this year created a huge change. In the wake of all of the tension within the United States government, Danica Roem offers a much-needed and refreshing perspective on how people view transgender people. Hopefully, this will be a crucial catalyst in the fight for transgender and LGBTQ rights and an important stepping stone in the fight for equality.  

Originally posted 2017-11-14 15:36:41.

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Transgender Day of Remembrance

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The LGBTQ community has faced violence for hundreds of years and the transgender community has sadly faced the brunt of these heinous acts. Every year, hundreds of trans folks around the world are murdered, purely for being trans. For many reasons, the majority of these murders are either not reported, or not classified as a hate crime against a trans person. Transgender Day of Remembrance (TDoR) is a day set aside to honor those that we do know were killed due to their identity and/or gender expression.

Out of Sight, Out of Mind?

Americans are desensitized to violence – on any news station on any day, there are multiple reports of accidents and attacks. When trans murders are reported, they are but a minor blip on the radar, often forgotten by the public by the next day. These reports often misgender the victim, and erase their identity. GLAAD (the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation) provides a resource kit for journalists, especially tailored for TDoR. These simple changes in language have a major impact in how the individual is respected, validated, and honored. The report becomes less sensationalized and more personal and grounded.

History Repeats Itself

TDoR is a fairly new event considering the number of years these tragedies have been occurring. It started in November 1999 to honor the still unsolved murder of transwoman Rita Hester on November 28, 1998. Each year there is a list of names from November of the prior to current year of trans folks that were murdered. As of October 14, 2017, there are a total of 87 reported murders worldwide caused by transphobia. Again, it is important to note that this number is incredibly low, and inaccurate. Most trans murders go unreported, or are misclassified. These names are confirmed through news sources, and have been reported specifically as hate crimes towards trans folks. Brazil had the most murders at 65, while there were 24 in the United States, the most being in Maryland and Texas.

Vulnerability Factors

Being trans in and of itself is dangerous, and trans folks face violence of all types on a regular basis. Transgender women of color sadly face the worst of it.

For the last five years NCAVP has documented a consistent and steadily rising number of reports of homicides of transgender women of color, which continued into 2017. In August of 2017, NCAVP has already collected information on 19 hate-violence related homicides of transgender and gender nonconforming people this year, compared to 19 reports for the entire year of 2016. 16 of these homicides were of transgender women of color.

For an indepth study and database about the murders of transwomen, click here.

How to Host a TDoR Event

Here are the guiding principles of Transgender Day of Remembrance:

  • All who die due to anti-transgender violence are to be remembered.
  • It is up to us to remember these people, as their killers, law enforcement, and the media often seek to erase their existence.
  • Transgender lives are affirmed to have value.
  • We can make a difference by being visible and speaking out about anti-transgender violence.

Options are infinite of what one could do during this event. Some ideas include (but are not limited to):

  • Candlelight Vigils / Marches
  • Roundtable Discussions
  • Performance Actions
  • Political Rallies
  • Read-Ins
  • Art / Photography Displays

What is most important is that every name on whatever list you choose to use, is read aloud. On this day, we remember each person that was murdered, and give them our attention and respect.

A great way to end the event is to distribute printed material with follow-up actions. Where can people who are moved go to help? How can they pass the message on to others? TDoR is not just a day of memoriam, but also a call to action.

Events near You

The following is far from a complete list of TDoR events being held this year, but is certainly a good place to start looking for ways you can participate. TDoR is November 20, which lands on a Monday this year, so many events are being held on the weekends.

United States

California

San Francisco LGBT Community Center

1800 Market Street

San Francisco, CA 94102

Monday, November 20, 2017

5:30 PM – 8:00 PM PST

 

Illinois

Center on Halsted

3656 N Halsted

Chicago, IL 60613

Monday, November 20, 2017

5:30 PM – 9:30 PM CST

 

Brave Space Alliance

1434 W 51st St.

Chicago, IL 60609

Sunday, November 19, 2017

2 PM – 6 PM CST

 

Washington, D.C.

Metropolitan Community Church of Washington, DC (MCCDC)

474 Ridge St. NW

Washington, District of Columbia 20001

Monday, November 20, 2017

5:30 PM – 8 PM EST

 

Massachusetts

First Parish UU Church of Chelmsford

2 Westford St. (on the Chelmsford Common)

Chelmsford, MA

Saturday, November 18, 2017

6 PM – 9 PM EST

 

Cathedral Church of St. Paul

138 Tremont St.

Boston, MA 02111

Sunday, November 19, 2017

6 PM – 8 PM EST

 

Harwich Community Center

100 Oak St.

Harwich, MA

Friday, November 17, 2017

A light dinner will be offered starting at 5:30 PM EST

The program will begin at 6:15 EST

 

North Carolina

Fayetteville, NC

Saturday, November 18, 2017

4 PM – 6 PM EST

 

Indiana

First Presbyterian Church

512 7th St.

Columbus, IN 47201

Saturday, November 4, 2017

7 PM – 8 PM EST

 

Missouri

Courtyard by Marriott St. Louis St. Peters

4341 Veterans Memorial Parkway

Saint Peters, Missouri 63376

Monday, November 20, 2017

7 PM CST

 

Europe

France

Cinema the Variety

37 rue Vincent Scotto

13001 Marseille, France

Monday, November 20, 2017

7 PM – 8 PM UTC +01

 

United Kingdom

ARC Stockton Arts Centre

Dovecot St.

TS18 1LL Stockton-on-Tees, United Kingdom

Monday, November 20, 2017

6 PM – 9:30 PM UTC

 

“Those who cannot remember the past are doomed to repeat it.” – Santayana

Originally posted 2017-10-24 14:35:28.

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The Assassin Chronicles: Chapter 4 – Dreams of Dublin

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CONTENT ADVISORY:  Contains Strong Violence and Sexuality, Grisly Images, and Some Language

 

Smith had tried to stay awake all night, but the events of the past week had slayed him.

Edward knew it.  When he sat up in bed and saw his son sleeping upright, he decided that having another human being to worry about was simply not in Smith’s nature.  So, he took out a pen and pad from an oak drawer and scrawled a lengthy note on it.  He placed the note on his pillow.  With one last look at his boy, he crept out of the room as rays of sun began to settle on the floor.

That same sun brightened the lavish stateroom about an hour later.  Smith found the note before his butt ever left his chair.  He picked it up, balled it up, uncurled it, balled it up again, then finally smoothed it out to silently read it.

“My darling David,” it began, “This is all on me.  Years ago, when I left your father for a tall, lanky American girl, he was heart-broken.  I had just found out I was pregnant, but Susan wanted to be with me even still.  Love is a wonderful thing.”

If you were to look Smith in the eyes, you might see a small puddle beginning to form in one of them.  The letter went on, “Somehow, you’re father found out about ya.  That’s why he’s after us.  He wants the family back I took away.  Jeremy Wolf, that cunt.  Yes, I suspect him of digging up old secrets.  If that’s true, it’s better to part ways love, at least for now.  I’m gonna collect Susan – sorry you won’t get to see us renew our vows.  Love always, Edward.”

The Assassin showed his first human weakness; he headed for the bar.  It’s funny how cruise ship bars look no different than high-class dive bars.  It amused him, at least.  He sat down on the cold, gold colored stool, anxious to taste something eighty proof.  His lips almost quivered.

A gorgeous brunette bartender with an overweight, yet desirably curvaceous figure sauntered over to him.  “Scotch man,” she asked in a sultry voice. She called herself Tracey to some men, Mandy to others.  Tonight she was Trixie.

Smith was born in Ireland.  He hated it.  That’s why he did, in fact, prefer scotch to standard whiskey and nodded at his new best friend.

“Neat.”  Trixie slid the glass over.  It didn’t contain an ounce of ice.

Smith tried to laugh.  Instead, a horrific cackle eked out of him.  It was like someone trying to talk while choking on their own esophagus and it disgusted Tracey, er… Trixie.

She tried not to give herself away, but in this case that’s like trying not to fall right to sleep after fucking your brains out.

Kowalczyk just smiled, then tapped the glass for a refill.

Langley, VA; unlike Palm Springs, was nothing to boast about. Tourists flocked here every year in a misguided attempt to catch clandestine agents running in and out, heading to secret dangers they hoped to one day experience themselves.  Langley was actually filled with CIA paper-pushers – at least to outside appearances.

In the basement of the CIA headquarters, however, Wolf was clinging to life on a medical gurney.  My God, he looked like hell.  A surgeon continued chipping away at his bottom jaw, ripping out teeth and broken bone fragments.  He was restrained, but he was awake.  The screams coming from his exposed throat weren’t human.

Graham came in, Frankenstein admiring his creature.  “Wolf, you’ve never looked better.”

Wolf gurgled.

“I’ll keep this short.  You and your friends cocked up a perfect operation and you’re gonna pay for it, boy.”

Wolf tried to push the doctor away.  He didn’t have the strength.

“The end of that operation, to capture Fred Phelps, meant the end of my promotion to DDO.”  Graham leant over the table.  He put a hand on Wolf’s shoulder.  “Unless you get me Hans.”

Graham’s helpless victim just stared up at him, wide-eyed.  He shook his head side-to-side with great effort.

“What makes you think you got a choice.  You’re my dog now, Wolf.  My bitch!”

Still on the ship, a very drunk, former pro-killer zig-zagged across a side deck.  Smith was plastered and zero shits were given.  He turned a corner and was horrified at what he saw:  Four young men were breaking bottles over the most beautiful nineteen year old boy ever seen.  He had caramel skin, deep brown eyes, an oddly attractive sinewy build, and nice natural waves in his hair.

Something triggered in Smith.  He was back in Dublin , a very built-up city in Ireland.  This was his hometown.  It was idyllic and sleepy.  Aside from a few domestic IRA scuffles, not a lot happened.  

Unfortunately for him, he surely didn’t have the luck of the Irish.  Growing up gay was not something the IRA tolerated.  A group of them turned down the same street Smith had one day, and found him giving a special birthday present to his boyfriend.  In fairness to Smith, his killer instincts had not kicked in yet, and this present required him to be on his knees.  He did not hear anyone approach due to the moaning.

The IRA snatched him up by the neck, smashed a piece of glass, and slit the other boy’s throat.  They made Smith watch his lover bleed out in that alley.  When he finally passed, the gang still needed more fun.  They dropped the bloody piece of glass, crushed it into slivers, and forced them all into Smith’s mouth.  After making him chew them a while, they held his nose and forced him to swallow.  The mystery of his speech problems had finally been solved.

Even drunk and swaying on the water, Smith managed to plug each of the four men with his handgun.  He tossed the men overboard and helped the boy up.  It seemed he was a stowaway – his clothes had not been changed and his feet were dirty.  To return the favor, the boy helped Smith sway back to his stateroom.

His name was Nick.  It took a while before he opened up to Smith, but when he did, he was frank.  Writing back and forth, the two exchanged a few words about who they were.  Nick was a professional thief and bankrobber.  Switzerland had proved too challenging for him.

Right now though, he was in the shower.  Smith watched from the doorway, astonished at Nick’s total lack of boundaries.  The curtain was clear and Smith watched Nick soap every area of his body.  First his lanky arms, then his muscular chest.  When Nick got to his bare buns (of steel), he watched Smith watch him wash them.  They were so tight and firm; Smith couldn’t resist.  He disrobed, stepped into the shower, and shoved Nick against the wall.  Necking, kissing, groping, and when the foreplay was over, Smith opened Nick’s back door.  Nick grabbed one of Smith’s free hands and placed it on his lucky charm.  They got off together.

Smith had forsaken his values a second time.  This time, he prayed, he wanted it to last.

Neither knew that the cruise was nearing an end.  It was going to make port in a few days… in Tokyo.

FADE OUT.

I really hope you enjoyed this chapter!  Feel free to leave comments on ways you might like the story to evolve, and please continue supporting us at TravelPride.  We really appreciate it.  Thank you.  – Ryan MariK

Originally posted 2017-10-21 18:25:31.

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