By Emerson Andrews
Pittsburgh Current Intern
Last year was a busy one for Sue Kerr, a long-time social worker-turned-writer who is the person behind Pittsburgh Lesbian Correspondents.
The 14-year-old blog is about Kerr’s life, politics and her experience living in Western Pennsylvania the past few decades. In 2018 alone, Kerr covered the Turahn Jenkins campaign for Allegheny County District Attorney, the Pittsburgh Diocese report on child sex abuse and she even tangled with Fox News over Chick-fil-A’s sponsorship of the Pittsburgh Marathon despite their ongoing contributions to anti-LGBTQ causes.
Her work was rewarded in May when Pittsburgh Lesbian Correspondents was recognized with the title of Outstanding Blog at GLAAD’s 30th Annual Media Awards. This was her second consecutive nomination and her first win. Though her partner and other people in her life provided positive responses, Kerr was taken aback by the lack of local media response.
“I expected local media to pick the story up…it’s about the longest-running LGBT blog in Pennsylvania,” Kerr said. “Pittsburgh’s never won this award in any category. It’s national, it’s Pride, it’s the 50th anniversary of Stonewall.”
Kerr has only been interviewed by her local paper, the Northside Chronicle since winning, as well as the Current, for which she contributes a regular op-ed column primarily on issues facing the region’s LGBTQ community.
Kerr has been thinking a lot about the relationship between Pittsburgh and the LGBTQ community. In her view, the lack of coverage is a story itself, and one of queer erasure.
Pittsburgh has one of the smaller LGBTQ populations for a city, which leads to a smaller market. Only one print publication has an LGBTQ beat. This puts pressure on bloggers like Kerr to pick up the stories that might otherwise be missed.
“People get mad at me because of what I do and do not cover, and sometimes it’s a really conscious choice on my part about how to approach something, and sometimes it’s just that there’s too much,” Kerr said.
Kerr is one of three contributors to her blog now. She also runs a project called, AMPLIFY, a space for LGBTQ community members in Western Pennsylvania to tell their personal stories and have them archived. These unfiltered Q&A interviews showcase the diversity of the community.
Kerr believes that this is the best way to promote the voices of those whose identities she does not share or those with the experience of living as both LGBTQ and a racial minority. Racial justice, along with socio-economic inequality, are issues she feels Pittsburgh should be focusing on most this Pride month.
“I’m glad we have People’s Pride. I think it’s really important…I’m also there at an event that is celebrating and lifting up people who are not white cis gay men and lesbians,” said Kerr. “That we’re there, we’re included, we’re welcome, we’re supported, but at the same time, like this is a real, very diverse — it’s so political and so safe at the same time.”
Kerr’s current focus besides these issues is on the kittens she and her partner are taking care of after they were born under their porch. Her blog is updated with posts and photos regularly. She is also very active on both Facebook and her Twitter, @PghLesbian24.
For Kerr, one of her proudest achievements has been keeping the blog running so long. A recent humbling experience came in the past week when she put up a fundraiser for a new laptop, which was fully funded in around twelve hours. Kerr describes those donations as “investing” in her work, and is grateful to not have to worry about losing access to having her voice heard.
A lot of the data on the blog needs to be archived, and Kerr says she is always in the market for a web designer and developer who would be willing to put in about five hours a month to help deal with the site’s increased traffic and attacks, especially in the light of her receiving the GLAAD Award. Despite this, Kerr has few regrets that her life took this turn back in 2005:
“My life is much richer, it’s a better life than I would have had, I think. If it stopped tomorrow, I’d still be very glad I did it.”