After 12 years of spreading awareness on a plethora of LGBTQ issues, Sue Kerr is finally starting to get some recognition. In Pittsburgh City Paper’s 2016 Best of Pittsburgh readers’-poll issue, Kerr was named best local blogger for her work telling LGBTQ stories. Now, the blog she founded, Pittsburgh Lesbian Correspondents, has been nominated for a GLAAD media award, which honors outstanding representations in the LGBTQ community across the country.
Pittsburgh Lesbian Correspondents provides original coverage of untold LGBTQ stories and highlights neglected LGBTQ angles in stories told by other outlets. Kerr also publishes a section on her blog called “AMPLIFY,” which provides first-person perspectives from out individuals throughout Western Pennsylvania. Contributors to AMPLIFY come from within the Pittsburgh city limits and from rural parts of the region, like Elk County.
“I am a big believer in visibility,” says Kerr. “The more people that are out and can be out, that will bring benefits to the whole community. That is what AMPLIFY is about.”
Kerr says she is proud of the recognition, and says it’s fulfilling after she has been blogging for so long. But her work telling LGBTQ stories isn’t done yet.
“It is very flattering, but it is not about me, it is about the resource that the blog has become,” says Kerr. “The bigger issue is that the blog is one of the main things that we have right now in the area LGBTQ [media landscape]. We need more voices in the LGBTQ community. Especially for underserved communities, like the queer and trans community, and the queer and trans communities of color.”
Kerr is worried that the region is losing ground in terms of LGBTQ representation in the media and in the amount of LGBTQ stories told overall. She notes that Pittsburgh lacks a print LGBTQ publication. A local LGBTQ-focused magazine, Equal, ceased publication in 2015. And she says LGBTQ acceptance could be waning slightly nationally.
A 2018 GLAAD survey reported that 31 percent of non-LGBTQ Americans surveyed expressed some discomfort at seeing a same-sex couple hold hands, a 2 percent increase from 2016. The same survey reported that 55 percent of the LGBTQ Americans surveyed reported being discriminated against because of their sexual orientation or gender identity, an 11-percent increase from 2016.
Kerr also notes that some of the pro-LGBTQ attitudes present in Pittsburgh aren’t necessarily seeping out into the region as a whole. She says discussions are needed to bring more LGBTQ voices to the entire Western Pennsylvania media landscape.
“We should have conversations about the disparities,” says Kerr about the lack of LGBTQ voices in the region’s media. “I would like to see us take a critical look at the LGBTQ news landscape.”
Kerr recognizes that maintaining an LGBTQ magazine in Pittsburgh would be difficult, but hopes the region could start a printed newsletter, like Erie’s Erie Gay News. A newsletter could keep people up to date on all the regional LGBTQ news, says Kerr; now, those stories go largely untold. She also hopes to see more consistently worded coverage by mainstream-media outlets in the area, noting that TV reports and newspaper articles can be inconsistent in their usage of LGBTQ terminology.
Given the region’s dearth of LGBTQ-specific publications, Kerr says she will keep Pittsburgh Lesbian Correspondents running at full tilt to raise as much awareness as she can. She says LGBTQ blogs, like her fellow GLAAD nominees, have an important role in the community, one which has helped contribute to their longevity.
“I have no plans to stop,” she says. “I am really thrilled the other bloggers nominated also have a lot of longevity. LGBTQ blogs really circumvent the curve, compared to other blogs.”
And while Kerr is still motivated to blog about LGBTQ stories, she implores readers to support local blogs like hers by donating, buying advertisements, or even starting their own blogs to add more LGBTQ stories to Western Pennsylvania. And she has one more request to Pittsburghers who enjoy her work: a cupcake.
“I don’t expect a parade, but I would like a sandwich or a cupcake named after my blog,” says Kerr, who has relatives who work at the Priory Fine Pastries bakery in the North Side. “That would be more fitting, maybe just a cupcake. I may not be at sandwich level yet.”