Today’s post comes from my friend Sue Kerr of Pittsburgh Lesbian Correspondents, and is part of a special day of shenanigans from other Pittsburgh Bloggers. For April Fools, local bloggers are having some fun by showing up on other blogs with guest posts. You can see my post over on my friend Emily Levenson’s new blog harvest + bloom, where I talk about how a potential freelancing opportunity allowed me to see the value of time in a new way.
And now, without further ado, please welcome Sue Kerr!
I am not a writer. There’s no unfinished manuscript in my life, nor any lingering regret about not pursuing a career as a journalist. I don’t write poetry and I’ve never kept a journal in my entire life.
In 2005, I began blogging as a community organizing tool (I’m a social worker, not a writer.) I never expected to still be at it in the year 2016. Didn’t expect to write – WRITE – over 2,000 blog posts. Didn’t see it coming that my blog would be the longest running LGBTQ blog in Pennsylvania (yep, the whole darn Commonwealth) nor did I imagine being asked to write things for other people’s sites. Sometimes, they pay me. Who knew?
I should also tell you that I am not an artist. But somehow I find myself now managing a multi-year community art project on my blog. I’m a blogger artist attached to a gallery and funded by a major foundation. How did that happen?
Blogging. Blogging happened and now I am fortunate enough to be curating a project called AMPLIFY which explores the everyday ‘lived experiences’ of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) neighbors in Western Pennsylvania. I collect their stories using an online form and publish them in a Q&A format without editing or modifying their words.
Blogging allows for many things. It allows me to publish without concerns for grammar or spelling overruling someone’s authentic voice. It allows me to modify the questions as we move through the project. I have the flexibility to use pseudonyms to protect identities. And I have the privilege of using my own voice via my original content to continue drawing people’s attention to this curated archive of their neighbor’s experiences.
We started in January 2015 and now find ourselves with more than 125 contributions from people with ties to 18 of the 26 Western PA counties in our cachement area. They range from 18 – 71 and run the gamut of identity, gender, race, religion, family status and so forth. Their stories are profound and ordinary; I’m sure you would find at least one anecdote that rings true for you, no matter who you are.
There are three reasons why I am doing this. First, I believe that the power of sharing one’s story is a positive experience and want to create a safe space for my LGBTQ siblings and neighbors to be able to do that on their own terms. Second, there is also power in having access to an archive of people’s stories that mirror your own experiences. A blog archive can be accessed anywhere in the world where there is Internet access. It serves both as a unifying experience now for today’s neighbors and a permanent record of what life is like in the mid 2010’s for LGBTQ residents in Pennsylvania, a state with marriage equality but no statewide non-discrimination protections. And, finally, I know that the act of being more visible is a dynamic force that creates change.
AMPLIFY will continue throughout 2017 so we have the opportunity to reach out and connect with people in the outlying counties, to gain their trust and invite their participation. After that, who knows what is next? I am working with the Senator John Heinz History Center to ensure that AMPLIFY’s archive is accessible.
In the meantime, I am publishing an AMPLIFY zine series and working with a local playwright to create a staged version of the blog posts. I just submitted a forum piece to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. And there are three partially completed grant proposals in my inbox.
Clearly, this not a writer thing hasn’t worked out for me. And I couldn’t be happier.
Established in 2005, Pittsburgh Lesbian Correspondents is the longest running LGBTQ blog in Pennsylvania. Editor Sue Kerr is a social worker, social media consultant and avidly shares pet pics to her Instagram account. She is currently a Resident Artist with Most Wanted Fine Art Gallery where she created the #AMPLIFY project. You can find her on Twitter at @pghlesbian24 and Instagram @pghlesbian
Thanks, Sue! For more April Fools fun, visit the other participating Pittsburgh Bloggers listed below.
Harvest + Bloom // Yes, Wear That! // jelly jars // Glam and Graffiti // To The Streets // In Pursuit // Pittsburgh & Pearls // Beezus Kiddo // Goodness Madness // Last Minute Panic // Steel City Intrigue // Crank Crank Revolution // Amanda Narcisi // Pittsburgh is Beautiful // From Cats to Cooking // Yum Yum PGH // Breelicious Bites // Parmesan Princess // Coffee & A Blonde // The Steel Trap // Wavy Alabaster // everybody loves you… // Eat with Emily // Don’t Forget to Eat // Sloping in the Sky // From Farm to Turntable // Secrets in the Wall // Red Pen Mama // Feedback Soup // The AP Collection // Blog Or Die PGH // Pittsburgh Happy Hour // Friendly Fitness Foodie // Small Town Dad // Josh’s World // Geeky Sweetie // Sean’s Ramblings // Lunges, Long Runs and Lattes // Try it and You May! // lil Burghers // Orange Chair Blog // Ya Jagoff // Pittsburgh Lesbian Correspondents // Melissa Firman