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Bruce Kraus Elected As Pittsburgh's First Openly Gay City Council President

2014 will see a new city council president in Pittsburgh, PA in the form of openly gay Councilman Bruce Kraus. Kraus has served on the council since 2008, when he became the first openly LGBTQ member to be elected. He was re-elected in 2012 after several strong years of service, including municipal reforms for Pittsburgh's LGBTQ citizens like the Domestic Partner Registry and the requirement of domestic partner benefits for city contractors. Kraus's achievements extend beyond one specific community, however, and his emphasis has been making Pittsburgh the best city it can be.

BrucekrausPittsburgh Lesbian Correspondents reports:

Kraus’ achievements are perhaps most notable in his fight against blight, litter, and related conditions that plague the neighborhoods, especially those with sizable hospitality businesses. He’s often cleaning abandoned lots with his staff and volunteers, literally “redding up” as well as tackling the issues on a systemic level in Council. Kraus has worked on anti-violence initiatives that generated a safe-schools partnership between Persad and GLSEN. He also notably opened two satellite offices staffed by volunteers, one in the South Side slopes and the other in South Oakland. Kraus currently serves as chair of Committee on Public Works...

While he prefers to focus on the issues on the table, Kraus does acknowledge the unique significance of being the first openly gay man to serve and to assume the role of Council President. He understands that it does matter and it will send a positive message about the diversity he so values. He’s often said “I look forward to the day when it won’t matter, but I understand and respect that it does right now.”

That Kraus's sexual orientation matters is especially evident given the disrespect LGBTQ citizens receive at the hands of another council member, Reverend Ricky Burgess. Kraus reportedly challenges Councilman Burgess's remarks on a regular basis, indicating that his status as the first openly gay city council president could bring a great deal more respect for Pittsburgh's LGBTQ community and their rights. 

Congratulations to Bruce Kraus, and best of luck in your new role!

Study: Straight Men Less Likely to See Bisexuality as 'Legitimate Sexual Orientation'

Bisexuals are often given short shrift when it comes to awareness and advocacy about LGBT issues, subject to prejudice and a general lack of visibility.  According to a new study from the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health, there are notable differences in attitudes towards bisexuality along gender, racial and sexuality lines.  From a press release today announcing the study's results:

500px-University_of_Pittsburgh_Seal_(official).svgMen who identify themselves as heterosexual are three times more likely to categorize bisexuality as "not a legitimate sexual orientation," an attitude that can encourage negative health outcomes in people who identify as bisexual, according to an analysis led by University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health researcher Mackey Friedman, Ph.D., M.P.H.

"Bisexual men and women face prejudice, stigma and discrimination from both heterosexual and homosexual people," said Dr. Friedman, director of Project Silk, an HIV prevention initiative. "This can cause feelings of isolation and marginalization, which prior research has shown leads to higher substance use, depression and risky sexual behavior. It also can result in lower rates of HIV testing and treatment."

Dr. Friedman and his colleagues asked hundreds of college students for words they associated with bisexual people, getting responses such as 'confused,' 'different' and 'experimental.' They then wrote a 33-question survey which was administered to an online sample of 1,500 adults.  The results were illuminating, if disappointing:

Overall, respondents were generally negative in terms of their attitudes toward bisexual men and women, with almost 15 percent of the sample in disagreement that bisexuality is a legitimate sexual orientation. However, women, white people and people who identified themselves as lesbian, gay or bisexual had less bias and prejudice against bisexual people. Of note, respondents who identified as gay or lesbian responded significantly less positively toward bisexuality than those identifying as bisexual, indicating that even within the sexual minority community, bisexuals face profound stigma. In addition, these findings indicate that male bisexuals likely suffer more stigma than female bisexuals.

As the University of Pittsburgh study shows, not only does our country have a ways to go towards greater tolerance and visibility for bisexual issues--it seems the LGBT community itself has some soul-searching to do on the issue.

Gay Couple Beaten by Group in Pittsburgh Hate Crime: VIDEO


Ben Stoviak and his boyfriend Aaron were attacked outside of Remedy Bar on Butler Street in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania on Saturday night after being taunted by a group of men.

Wrote Stoviak on Facebook:

Last night, a group of men attacked me and my boyfriend on Butler Street in Lawrenceville. After yelling, from across the street, "Faggot!" at us, I replied, "yes, we're faggots!" Immediately after, the group of men ran across the street and began hitting, kicking, and stomping me. The mark on my right cheek is a bootprint. Aaron threw himself on top of me to discourage them from continuing the assault, but they began kicking him in the head, as well.

To the women who saw the ordeal, wrote down their license plate number, and stayed to talk with the police, thank you.

Three of these men have been arrested since the assault. Aaron and I were in the hospital until almost 10 am so that the doctors could take MRI, CT scans, and x-rays to make sure there was no internal bleeding.

I don't ask you to cheer on my romantic and sexual lives. I do, however, expect people not to act violently against one another because they do not share tastes and preferences.

Watch a CBS Pittsburgh news report on the attack and interview with Stoviak,

Police report here.

Continue reading "Gay Couple Beaten by Group in Pittsburgh Hate Crime: VIDEO" »

Landry Jones, Rookie Steelers Quarterback, Supports Gay Players Despite Christian Background

Pittsburgh Steelers rookie quarterback Landry Jones spoke with Outsports reporter Cyd Zeigler at the NFL Players Association (NFLPA) Rookie Premiere.   He discussed his Christian beliefs and the novel perspective that they shouldn't interfere with having a gay player on his team.  Asked about how Christian and gay players would mesh on the field, Jones had this to say:

Landry_jones"There's not a conflict," Jones said. "People are people and God tells us to love everybody. And so that's what I do."  

"Now, do I condone what they're doing? No, I don't think it's right," he continued.

"But, am I going to go out there and not talk to them? Am I going to go out there and be hateful and mean to them? I think that's ignorant. I think we respect and love everybody. But, there's also a moral standard there for me, and I'm going to take a stand on that. I don't think it's right, but it's their life and I'm not going to go up because someone is gay and be mean or hateful and say terrible things to them. I'm going to treat them like a human being."

Jones recalls other NFL players, the notorious Tim Tebow in particular, with his strong Christian background.  During their interview, Zeigler noticed a Biblical passage from Philippians printed on Jones' hand.  But Jones also respects the gay community, and gay players:

"It doesn't matter if you're gay or if you're straight," Jones said. "If you can play the game of football, you're going to be on a team and you're going to have a job. Just like if you're in a regular business setting. If you can do your job well, you can do your job. You can get paid and earn a living and provide for your family, whatever your family looks like." 

Jones' words echo the recent outspoken support of former NFL player Kurt Warner and recently dismissed-and-resigned punter Chris Kluwe.  And though Landry is hesitant to fully support the gay community, Zeigler suggests that his may be the halfway-there perspective we need to embrace in the sports world:

If we're going to open sports for everyone, Jones' willingness to put his personal feelings aside and treat people equally is the kind of perspective we must be willing to hear. Just as we want men like Jones to accept us, we must accept them.

Kevin McClatchy, Newspaper Scion And Former Pittsburgh Pirates Owner, Comes Out

McClatchyKevin McClathy stepped down at CEO of the Pittsburgh Pirates in 2007, eleven years after the then-33 year old stepped in to take control of the baseball team.

In the five years since, McClatchy has done a lot of thinking and growing and today, in an interview with The New York Times' Frank Bruni, came out of the closet.

"I’ve got a birthday coming up where I’m turning old," the soon-to-be 50 year old told Bruni. "I’ve spent 30 years — or whatever the number is specifically — not talking about my personal life, lying about my personal life."

But McClatchy, heir to the McClatchy newspaper chain, says his announcement, a big one for the wide world of sports, where despite greater acceptance of LGBT culture as a whole not one major player has come out while still on the court, field or pitch, is about more than just private acceptance. He hopes to inspire a player to come out.

"Tens of thousands of people have played either professional minor league baseball or major league baseball. Not one has come out and said that they’re gay while they’re playing," he said. "You’re not going to solve any problem until you start a dialogue. And there’s no dialogue right now."

Chris Kluwe, the Minnesota Vikings football player who's also a vocal advocate for equality, said the biggest problem for an openly gay player wouldn't necessarily be homophobia, but narcissism: the fear from players that a gay teammate will ogle them in the locker room. "[But] that assumes that a gay person in the locker room is going to find you attractive, which I think is pretty narcissistic,” said Kluwe. "Isn’t that the shallowest kind of thinking: that all of a sudden if a gay guy comes out, he’s going be staring at you?"

As for McClatchy, he's happily in a committed relationship and just as invested in baseball as ever: "That passion is evident in his home, where one room is devoted entirely to baseball memorabilia and the main area for watching television has three large screens, lined up in a row, so that he can follow multiple games at once."

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