I've been blogging for just shy of six and a half years this June. For a while it was just me. A few other blogs existed, but they weren't updated on a consistent basis.
Thomas Waters started blogging in November 2008. We don't see eye to eye on all things and we often go in vastly different directions with our blogging. We do agree that 1) most Pennsylvania LGBTQ residents do not understand the true situation about their (lack of) rights and 2) we need more voices.
Hence, the launch of the 2012 Western Pennsylvania LGBTQA Bloggers Summit. We hope to meet in June.
It is a pretty simple concept - we want to invite everyone using social media to promote LGBT equality to sit down face to face. It isn't a formal training, there's no predefined agenda. It is about building relationships and finding ways to share our tools for the shared agenda of equality.
The first step is for interested Western PA LGBTQA social media users to complete a very brief survey here.
What can we accomplish? Well, anything.
We can raise awareness about which of us are using social media - please note that we include "A" in the invitation - allies using social media to promote LGBTQ equality are welcome. We can promote voter registration. We can reach out into our various sub-communities and share good information. We can find the hashtags and the Facebook groups and the bill numbers to share. We can lend our considerable resources to existing efforts and perhaps identify an issue for a shared effort.
Western Pennsylvania's LGBTQ community is completely lacking in organizing or advocacy infrastructure. We have those at the top of the socio-economic strata who are well-connected and benefit from the privileges of being white, male, upper-middle class and so forth. Then there is a strong organizing element among younger generations who are less stratified by acronyms and reflect more of a third wave mentality, but the disconnect is very wide.
In the middle are thousands of LGBTQ folks struggling to find & maintain their jobs, keep their families housed, find safe leaning environments for schools facing Draconian cuts in general and struggling with a local media that simply lacks any consistent understanding of our issues.
If you're a Pennsylvania netroots activist, I urge you to take the survey. This rallying cry is for anyone - from the most hardened activist to the newest Twitter user in the realm.
As I was reflecting on why I wanted to do this, I thought back to PrideFest 2006 - then Governor Ed Rendell kicked off the march with a sincere personal commitment to marriage equality. We all cheered to hear our Governor say those words, but six years later we still do not have a single statewide "right" - no hate crimes protections, no civil discrimination protections, no bullying laws, no relationship validation - nothing. The only thing we've gained (and this was in 2002!) is a court ruling on second parent adoption that has yet to be codified.
I'm glad Governor Rendell spoke just as I am glad the President spoke about his support for marriage equality. But clearly we are well past the time when that translated into decisive action by our elected officials.
Join us in Western Pennsylvania to work in concert for equality for all families.
I have my own ideas where I would like to start but I'm also very open to hearing what others have to say and determining how I can fit in to support their work.