June 29, 2022 -Pittsburgh City Paper

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Pittsburgh responds to death of Roe v. Wade


JUNE 29-JULY 6, 2022


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pghcitypaper.com JUNE 29-JULY 6, 2022 VOLUME 31 + ISSUE 26 Editor-In-Chief LISA CUNNINGHAM Director of Advertising RACHEL WINNER-EBERHARDT Director of Operations KEVIN SHEPHERD News Editor JAMIE WIGGAN A&E Editor AMANDA WALTZ News Reporter JORDANA ROSENFELD Arts & Culture Writer DANI JANAE Photographer/Videographer JARED WICKERHAM Editorial Designer LUCY CHEN Graphic Designer JEFF SCHRECKENGOST Digital Editorial Coordinator HANNAH KINNEY-KOBRE Marketing + Sponsorships Manager ZACK DURKIN Senior Account Executive OWEN GABBEY Sales Representative MARIA STILLITANO Circulation Manager JEFF ENGBARTH Featured Contributors REGE BEHE, NATALIE BENCIVENGA, MIKE CANTON, LYNN CULLEN, TERENEH IDIA, JORDAN SNOWDEN Interns LADIMIR GARCIA, RAYNI SHIRING, DONTAE WASHINGTON National Advertising Representative VMG ADVERTISING 1.888.278.9866 OR 1.212.475.2529 Publisher EAGLE MEDIA CORP.


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PROTECTING CHOICE A LTH O U G H ANTI C I PATE D f o r months, Friday’s announcement that Roe v. Wade will no longer protect the right to abortion has set off shockwaves around the nation and here in Pittsburgh. Democratic officeholders and abortion advocates say they will work to ensure abortion remains legal in Pennsylvania, while Republicans laud the seismic overturn of legal precedent. The Supreme Court ruling does not itself outlaw abortion, but removes former federal protections on reproductive health care, allowing states to pass their own restrictive laws. PITTSBURGHERS PROTEST Locally, Pittsburgh abortion providers are gearing up for new demands, as patients make their way here from neighboring states, including Ohio, where a ban on abortions after six weeks has taken effect, and West Virginia, where a pre-Roe v. Wade law remains on the books and is likely to soon resume enforcement. Seizing on this, Pittsburgh Mayor Ed Gainey said during a protest on Friday that Pittsburgh would remain a sanctuary for out-of-state abortion patients during his administration. “Pittsburgh is for you,” Gainey said. “If you want to get an abortion, come to the city of Pittsburgh.”



Gainey’s comments were echoed by a slew of advocates and providers, politicians, and supporters, who each took to the podium during two back-to-back rallies outside the City County Building on the evening following the ruling. The first, hosted by Women’s March Pittsburgh, attracted throngs of protesters, who spilled across Grant Street and into a parking lot across from the building. The crowd of about 1,000 held signs condemning the Supreme Court ruling, with messages including, “I am so grateful for my abortion,” “Rape survivors matter,” “I will not quietly go back to the 1950s,” and “If my uterus was a gun, would you protect it?” When the first event ended around 7 p.m., many protesters remained for several more hours to participate in a second rally and march, which had been pre-planned in anticipation of the announcement and co-led by several advocacy groups. Earlier on Friday, City Councilor Bobby Wilson (D-North Side) announced a trio of new bills seeking to protect abortion


Protesters rally outside the City County building Downtown on Fri., June 24.

“It’s a grim day for our fundamental rights, especially Black and Brown women, and birthing folk who are going to be even more impacted by this decision, but we have to keep fighting because the truth remains people deserve care and they deserve this freedom and we can’t stop ’til they get it.” – Summer Lee access locally. One of these, in keeping with Gainey’s remarks, would grant protections to out-of-state patients who undergo abortions in Pittsburgh. The law, if passed, would prohibit city personnel and law enforcement from “cooperat[ing] with, provid[ing] any information related to, or expend[ing] or us[ing] time, money, facilities, property, equipment, personnel, or other city resources in furtherance of any out-ofstate investigation, civil action, or prosecutions related to providing, obtaining, funding, or helping someone else obtain reproductive healthcare that was legal in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.” The law lists exceptions where any of these provisions is overridden by “a Pennsylvania court order, Pennsylvania law, or federal law.” Wilson’s other proposals seek to regulate “deceptive advertising by crisis pregnancy centers,” commonly referred to by abortion advocates as “fake clinics,” in the city, and another would “shield abortion providers in the City of Pittsburgh from out-of-state investigation or prosecution for providing abortion care that is legal in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.”


Protesters rally outside the City County building Downtown on Fri., June 24.

TIDAL WAVE Despite these political overtures, some local providers and advocates have pointed out that new demands cannot automatically be met without further financial and political support. Moira Abrams, member of Pittsburghbased organization the Abortion Defense Committee, tells Pittsburgh City Paper the Supreme Court decision unleashed

havoc in Ohio, where a law passed by the legislature years prior took effect almost immediately. “There was a lot of people who had already paid for their abortions, and when the decision came down, everyone’s appointments were canceled,” she says. “Quite literally, the entire state of Ohio was referred, more or less, to Planned Parenthood of Western Pennsylvania or Allegheny Reproductive Health Center. And so … when most of us in Pittsburgh were processing the news of Roe being overturned, and some of us were getting in the streets, the clinic workers were fielding hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of phone calls from people in Ohio who need to get an abortion, and might not be able to if it weren’t for Allegheny Reproductive and Planned Parenthood.” The Allegheny Reproductive Center is one of just two clinics providing abortion in the western part of the state. The other is Planned Parenthood of Western Pennsylvania. Both are in Pittsburgh. Abortion clinics receive almost no federal funding in Pennsylvania, with Medicaid funds only kicking in in cases of rape, life endangerment, and incest. Instead, patients pay out-of-pocket or are assisted by fundraising efforts. La’Tasha D. Mayes, Democratic state house candidate and founder of abortion advocacy group New Voices for Reproductive Freedom, says the increased demand from neighboring states will call for more fundraising efforts to assist those who struggle to pay transportation and accommodation costs. “ The resources and the support CONTINUES ON PG. 6





Protesters rally outside the City County building Downtown on Fri., June 24.

are going to come from people on the ground,” Mayes tells City Paper. Mayes also says the new bans in Ohio will simply add more fuel to an existing problem. “There’s no doubt that the infrastructure to provide abortion care in Pennsylvania is already over-taxed and exhausted,” Mayes says. “So many abortion providers are already serving women and folks who need abortion care from Ohio and West Virginia.” Maternal-child health workers say they will also face new demands as a consequence of the court ruling. Several voiced these concerns during a June 28 press conference. “This influx of patients will entirely overload a system that is already frequently operating at unsafe nurse-topatient ratios, which means, ultimately, all of our patients are only able to receive the bare minimum in their care,” said Mary Lea Mansfield, a labor and delivery nurse at West Penn Hospital. “We, as health care workers, struggle every day to provide the care our patients deserve during pregnancy and postpartum.”

STATE OF THE LAW? The U.S. Supreme Court’s overturning of reproductive rights at the federal level will turn the spotlight on state legislatures, which now have the power to pass laws restricting abortions. Abortion remains legal in Pennsylvania up to 24 weeks into a pregnancy, and Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf has vowed to veto any anti-abortion bills that may soon pass the Republican-led legislature. But Wolf’s seat expires in November, when he will be replaced by either Democrat Josh Shapiro or Republican Doug Mastriano. Shapiro issued a statement Friday voicing his opposition to the ruling, and vowed as the state’s current attorney general to protect the practice of reproductive health care from legal challenges. “While this decision has no immediate impact here in Pennsylvania, it opens the door for our legislature to ban or criminalize abortion by simply passing a law — because there are no longer federal protections,” Shapiro says. “I will fight any attempt to erode women’s rights in our Commonwealth.”

Meanwhile, Mastriano, a staunch conservative, has frequently indicated support for restricting abortion in Pennsylvania. In a press statement issued at the time of the May 3 court leak, Mastriano referred to the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision as “one of the darkest days in American history.” He went on to refer to abortion as “anti-scientific genocide” and heralded former President Donald Trump’s role in securing a conservative majority in the courts. Mastriano, a current Pennsylvania senator, introduced a state bill that would require physicians to determine “whether the baby has a heartbeat” before performing an abortion. The bill, introduced in 2021, has six co-sponsors but hasn’t made it out of the health committee. Separately, a move to amend the Pennsylvania constitution to include language prohibiting support or funding for abortions is also moving through the General Assembly. If it passes, the move must then be approved by voters in a statewide ballot referendum. Across the state, other Republican officeholders have heralded the ruling as a CONTINUES ON PG. 8



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IMMEDIATE ACTIONS Want to help people in need of abortions? Here's how. BY LISA CUNNINGHAM // LCUNNING@PGHCITYPAPER.COM



Planned Parenthood of Western Pennsylvania CEO and President Sydney Etheredge

conservative victory that grants states the right to choose their own laws and policies. “Today’s ruling is a major victory for the pro-life movement, but our work has only begun,” says Mike Kelly, a Pennsylvania Republican Congressman from Butler County. “All little boys and little girls deserve a chance at life, and this ruling ensures they will get that chance.” Many pro-choice advocates have criticized the rhetoric of Kelly and others for its narrow focus on the well-being of unborn babies. During Friday’s rally, Allegheny County Councilor Bethany Hallam (D-North Side) countered that a truly “pro-life” outlook would place a high value on the lives of pregnant people, newborns, and families. “If this was about babies, we’d have universal health care,” Hallam said. “[I]f this was about babies we’d have formula on the shelves of Giant Eagle.” • Follow news editor Jamie Wiggan on Twitter @JamieWiggan



..-ITTSBURGH abortion care worker Crystal Grabowski’s Twitter feed is currently full of cries of distress, not only for the local abortion clinics being inundated with calls since the collapse of Roe v. Wade, but for patients from nearby states who now have to travel to Pennsylvania to receive a legal abortion. “We are drowning. We are drowning!” Grabowski tweeted on the Monday following the Supreme Court ruling. “So many patients! So many callers! How will we survive this?” With Ohio’s six-week abortion ban now going into effect, Pittsburgh’s two abortion clinics — the Downtown location of Planned Parenthood of Western Pennsylvania and East Liberty’s Allegheny Reproductive Health Center — are now finding themselves having to make room for even more patients than normal as out-of-state patients are having to travel to the commonwealth for abortions. At a Downtown Pittsburgh rally the evening following the ruling, politicians encouraged the crowd to vote this November to ensure Pennsylvania keeps a Democratic governor. But Etna councilor Jessica Semler, who was one of the speakers at the event, stresses that urgent action is needed now and that politicians should not use the ruling to fundraise for their own campaigns. “Dems should be using every tool at their disposal to treat this like the emergency it is,” Semler tells Pittsburgh City Paper. “Abolish the filibuster, pass the Women’s Health Protection Act, pressure large health care providers to expand access to medical abortions. There is no reason every OB-GYN and PCP office can’t offer this very safe, and most common method of abortion.” Allegheny Reproductive Health posted online that the interest in volunteering has been “incredible,” but stressed that interested folks should not call clinics because their phone lines are dedicated to scheduling new Ohio and West Virginia patients as quickly as possible. PPWP UE Local 696, the unionized workers of Planned Parenthood of Western PA, also posted that they are answering calls, scheduling patients, and providing services.

Pittsburgh-based Abortion Defense Committee has stepped in to help gather support from those interested in helping take immediate action. ADC member Moira Abrams says the organization supports Planned Parenthood and its union, but works primarily to help raise funds and support for Allegheny Reproductive. “We won’t just be providing support in the form of volunteers and helping pick up the work where they’re already taking on so much,” says Abrams, “but also supporting them morally and spiritually as they take on such a heavy load of clients from across this region.” IF YOU NEED AN ABORTION: If you are in need of an abortion, contact Allegheny Reproductive Health Center at 412-661-8811 or Planned Parenthood of Western Pennsylvania at 1-800-2307526. If you are not local, you can search for a provider at AbortionFinder.org. For abortion pills, visit PlanCPills.org/guide. If you can’t afford an abortion, find help at the National Network of Abortion Funds at abortionfunds.org/ need-abortion. DONATE FINANCIALLY: If you have the means to give financially, you can donate at Western PA Fund for Choice, which helps fund abortions at Allegheny Reproductive, at wafundforchoice.org, as well as the Vivian Campbell Fund, which supports patients of Planned Parenthood of Western PA, at plannedparenthood.org/planned-parenthoodwestern-pennsylvania. You can also donate to the Abortion Defense Committee, which will cover their volunteer coordination, outreach efforts, and community aid, in addition to “helping make sure that the material and everyday needs of the abortion workers are met,” according to Abrams. Donate on Cash App at $pghabortiondefense. Nationally, you can donate to the National Network of Abortion Funds at abortionfunds.org/donate. VOLUNTEER: The Abortion Defense Committee is organizing volunteers to help provide clinic

work for Allegheny Reproductive, which currently means answering phones. According to Abrams, the clinic has a small staff that needs help fielding the “hundreds and hundreds” of phone calls coming in from abortion patients in Ohio, in addition to people in need in Allegheny County and central Pennsylvania. “Our biggest thing right now is focusing on making sure all these calls get processed,” she says. “Because if we wait another week, then someone could pass the legal term in Pennsylvania, and then we couldn’t even offer them an abortion.” To volunteer, email abortiondefensepgh@ protonmail.com. The Steel City Access Network, which works with clinics to get rides and other assistance to patients, is also accepting donations. Clinic escort Laura Horowitz recommends emailing steelcityaccessnetwork@gmail.com for more info. REGISTER TO VOTE: While other steps are needed before November, Pennsylvania’s governor’s race this fall means a choice between Josh Shapiro, the Democratic candidate who believes abortion is health care, and Doug Mastriano, the GOP candidate who wants to ban abortion in the commonwealth. You can register to vote in Pennsylvania for the general election on or before Oct. 24. Learn how to register at vote.pa.gov. CONTACT YOUR LOCAL REPRESENTATIVES: Semler recommends that concerned citizens should call their state reps. “Tell them why you’re angry,” she says. “There will be a massive influx of patients from bordering states coming to Pittsburgh seeking services.” If you don’t know who your local government officials are, find out by typing in your address at whoaremyrepresentatives.org.

SPREAD KNOWLEDGE: In addition to volunteering and donating funds, Western PA Fund for Choice posts that “spreading accurate, comprehensive & inclusive resources and information about abortion access is just as important as donating!” •

Follow editor-in-chief Lisa Cunningham on Twitter @trashyleesuh





This story was co-published by Pittsburgh City Paper and our news partners at iblicSourddd


Nikki Burfield




......ALKING THROUGH my f i r s t P r i d e i n Pittsburgh’s North Side earlier this month was like being in a fairy tale: Surrounded by friends and family, I was able to act as gay as I pleased without ever having a single fear of judgment or risks to personal safety. For the first time since I came out as a trans woman earlier this year, I found myself able to live freely. I knew I was transgender when I was 6 years old. It just took me almost 40 years to live my truth. As early as kindergarten, I remember vividly wishing I was allowed to wear Mary Jane shoes. But growing up with mostly older boys meant a childhood of never jumping rope on the playground and, instead, playing football — a masculine role I would eventually take on.

2018, but nothing changed. I had only a casual queer community who didn’t know my full story because I really didn’t honor that side myself. In essence, I was still in the closet. Being a private crossdresser was easy enough to hide. But what I didn’t realize at first was the euphoria I experienced when expressing that side of myself was close to what cisgender people commonly experience living in their own bodies. In search for answers to help me understand, I stumbled upon a therapyfocused online support group and many non-sexual LGBTQ groups on Reddit. I found honest and caring support from other married crossdressers like myself who also had young children. Many of them encouraged me to explore what I was experiencing and pushed me to consider telling my spouse before it was

There has never been a better time than right now to start living your very best life. Still, I started secretly collecting feminine clothing and would often purge them to feel in control of my gender identity. When my mother found my collection, everything went sideways. She laid out all my clothes and confronted me about them in front of my stepfather, someone who was always demanding I butch up and “be a man.” My anger and depression from my parents’ abuse led to me abusing cold medicine, which landed me in rehab. When I was officially diagnosed with gender dysphoria at age 14 while in rehab, my mother chose to ignore it and only focused on the side effects of abusing Benadryl. Soon after, I chose to call myself Nikki, but only told a few friends. A rumor at school started that I was a closet crossdresser, and I began working extra hard to deny that. In my 20s, I found community in a group of fellow eclectic artists who I confided in, but after I got married to a woman, I ended up back in the closet for another decade. After we divorced, I came out again to a few good friends, and even had a boyfriend for a while. When I met my second wife at age 36, I let her know my sexual orientation but not my crossdressing because I still didn’t have a grasp on my gender. I came out as bisexual in

too late. A spouse discovering a hidden pile of women’s clothes can sometimes lead to feelings of betrayal, they told me. I assumed I would keep this secret to my grave and often worried what would happen if I died suddenly. What would they find of mine? The pandemic changed everything. I genuinely thought we were all going to eventually die of COVID. In fear of the collapse of American society, I built a panic room on the top floor of our house, which included physical barriers to slow down intruders and a chain ladder for escape. I was terrified that I would be unable to protect my family from evil. One night, during a profoundly intense panic attack, I lay in bed shaking uncontrollably. I was convinced I would die but I found myself paralyzed, unable to ask for help. I came out of it shaken to my core but with new confidence in my path and realized this was finally my chance to examine myself fully. After my time working for hospice care, I saw many deathbed regrets and I knew it was time to pivot my path. Something had to give. I soon discovered that every assumption I had about trans folks was incorrect, that the stereotypes taught to me by my parents and peers came from fear and ignorance, not truth. Yet, despite knowing CONTINUES ON PG. 12



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that facing this truth would put me at risk of violence and ridicule from those very folks who are so quick to discriminate, the answer from everyone on the other side: this was the best decision they’d ever made. And they were right. There has never been a better time than right now to start living your very best life. I came out to my wife of 10 years in August 2021. It was at first an admission of crossdressing and discussing what this would mean to our marriage and family, and then revealing that I was a trans woman. Despite knowing it was a huge risk, I had seen it work out for many others and I knew I needed to do this for my ultimate happiness. Sadly, it did not work out for us, but that’s OK. I was never going to become a better parent, a better spouse, a better friend until I faced myself and my truth once and for all. I moved out in January 2022 and started hormones for gender transition to female. I went alone and cried incredible tears of joy. It felt like the nurse had injected sunshine into my thigh, and I wanted everything it was promising me. July 10th I will be 6 months on hormones, and it has been the best era of my life. Becoming true to oneself is essential to honoring your soul and the best gift you have to others is being 100% genuine.

At first, I felt I was betraying my family by moving from Washington County to transition alone in Pittsburgh, but it turned out to be the very best for everyone. I have my two kids over half of the week and continue to be very involved with their lives. We just celebrated Father’s Day and they gave me a bouquet of flowers. There are no rules to life; this is how we do it. The euphoria that I now experience on a daily basis comes from little things. It’s someone smiling in acceptance, a woman treating me as an equal and not the weird dad who always makes friends with the wives because the husbands are … well, men. It’s often just the pride in myself for finally figuring out what’s felt missing for 47 years. I tried to fill a space with everything but the truth. I’m working very hard to live as free as I felt that day at Pride. I try to spread love wherever I go in hopes that society will continue to evolve and realize there’s absolutely nothing wrong with being queer. I am filled with joy seeing that the next generation is learning this before I did and cheer on kids who are able to come out while still in high school, saving a lifetime of struggles. I know there will be a time when being transgender doesn’t raise an eyebrow and we can all simply live. •

Nikki Burfield is the artist Tiltcycle. If you want to send a message to Nikki, email supertranswoman@gmail.com.







HE TITLE GIVES IT AWAY: in the end, She Gets the Girl. Pittsburgh City Paper’s June Book Club selection, a bouncy young adult romantic comedy set at the University of Pittsburgh, is about two teenage girls, Molly and Alex, who start off thinking they couldn’t be any more different from each other. Alex comes across as effortlessly cool and daring, but she worries she’s not good enough. Molly is plagued by social anxiety and feels permanently out of place. Both are fictionalized versions of the authors, Rachel Lippincott and Alyson Derrick, married writers who fell in love while attending Pitt. To be fair, She Gets the Girl’s title is not as straightforward a spoiler as it might appear. In true rom-com form, both girls first pursue different paramours: Molly, her dream girl and high school crush, Cora Myers (who, Derrick says, is based on one of her real-life high school crushes); for Alex, it’s her kind-of girlfriend Natalie, the lead singer of a hip rock band who is quite manipulative. In fact, Alex and Molly’s friendship begins when Alex catches Molly mooning over Cora, too scared to make a move. She offers to coach Molly on how to win her dream girl, hoping that if she can help Molly and Cora hook up, Natalie will trust that Alex hasn’t been cheating on her while her band tours the country.





ILLY PORTER went from Pittsburgh’s Hill District to becoming an Emmy, Grammy, and Tony Awardwinning actor, singer, dancer, and writer. Read about his journey in Unprotected, a memoir described by publisher Abrams Press as “a resonant, inspirational story of trauma and healing, shot through with his singular voice,” relaying Porter’s struggles as a Black, gay man who became a powerful creative force. Be sure to grab a copy of Unprotected at shop.riverstonebookstore.com and join the conversation during the July Pittsburgh City Paper Book Club.

The authors have composed thoughtful back stories for their romantic leads, whose family lives make a stark contrast. Molly’s family is middle-class and close-knit. Molly’s mom, who was born in Korea and adopted by white Americans, struggles with internalized racism that she pushes onto her kids (it’s implied that Molly’s father is white). Alex is the primary caregiver for her working-class mom, who is an alcoholic in active addiction.

Follow a&e editor Amanda Waltz on Twitter @AWaltzCP

Lippincott and Derrick are not afraid to touch on serious issues or put their characters in difficult situations ... Lippincott and Derrick are keyed into the frantic anxieties that can come with the transition from high school to college: a deep conviction that one must urgently change everything about oneself, fear of failure and of being known, and the misperception that everyone else has it all figured out. While Alex and Molly are plagued by typical teenage self-loathing, refreshingly, it has nothing to do with their sexuality.

They’re both assumed white. Although they write for a younger audience, Lippincott and Derrick are not afraid to touch on serious issues or put their characters in difficult situations, nor do they mock their characters’ fears and hang-ups. Instead, they offer a sweet coming-of-age story that champions patience, acceptance, compassion for oneself and others, and rollerskate dates. •

Follow news reporter Jordana Rosenfeld on Twitter @rosenfeldjb PITTSBURGH CITY PAPER JUNE 29 - JULY 6, 2022



Pittsburgh Starbucks employee Cayla Enis outside the coffeeshop’s Market Square location




....HEN STARBUCKS EMPLOYEE Tori Tambellini got ready for this year’s Pittsburgh Pride parade, it was about more than expressing an identity. They came to fight the power. “At my store, we feel like our safety isn’t really taken into account. We have people that harass us. We’ve gotten threats of violence,” says Tambellini, who works at the Market Square location. “So we felt like it was important to come out with our fellow organizers to show that we won’t stand for that, and Starbucks needs to take our safety concerns more seriously.” Tambellini is part of a growing workers rights movement spreading through



coffee shops across the country, including seven locations so far here in Pittsburgh. Some workers say they’re petitioning for better pay, more regular hours, health care benefits, and safety protections. And an increasing number of LGBTQ employees say they see themselves at the center of that campaign. Starbucks Corporate has historically advertised itself as an inclusive workplace with benefits like gender-affirming health care, including hormone therapy, surgery, and fertility treatment. But employees say those benefits aren’t always attainable, because they can’t control whether they’re consistently scheduled for the

required 20 working hours per week. Concerns like those have prompted a wave of union filings nationwide, from zero at the close of 2021 to 164 so far this year. The National Labor Relations Board shows 12 filings in Pittsburgh; organizers say others are still in the planning stages. Daisy Pitkin, a Pittsburgher and national field director for Workers United, estimates there could be 500 intent-to-unionize letters filed in the U.S. by Labor Day. “It’s one of the fastest growing movements in recent labor history,” Pitkin says. “And as an organizer, I just feel really honored to get to see this in my lifetime

and get to support this really workerdriven campaign.” Starbucks Workers United, the national arm for employees, has filed over 200 unfair labor practice charges against the coffee giant through the NLRB for all sorts of retaliation efforts, including cutting hours, which effectively bars access to life-saving, gender-affirming care. Pitkin says it’s become an incentive for company managers to entice LGBTQ people to work for them, then threaten to cut benefits if those same workers express interest in unionizing. “’If you speak up, we’ll take away your benefit.’ That’s the way the threat is being





where available


Starbucks partner Tori Tambellini holding a sign that says “if you are a union buster, you are not pro-LGBTQIA+” alongside fellow partner Brett Taborelli holding a sign that says “Union Busting is Disgusting” at Pittsburgh’s Pride.





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interpreted,” Pitkin says. “And in these one-on-one conversations that managers have with workers, they hone in on (any specific) benefit that they know that particular person really counts on or needs, and they threaten to take it away.” A Starbucks spokesperson who asked not to be identified says the company isn’t threatening to take away benefits and that “it’s difficult to predict the outcome of negotiations, and each store’s negotiation may look different. We do want to prepare partners for the possibility of the benefits being changed through the process of collective bargaining.” Hear more on Starbucks unions picking up steam among local LGBTQ workers in City Cast Pittsburgh's podcast at pittsburgh.citycast.fm

Cayla Enis, who works with Tambellini in Market Square, identifies as trans. She’s still covered under her parents’ insurance until she turns 26 next year, but she’s worried that, under Starbucks’ current coverage, she won’t be able to reach her goals as she transitions. “It kind of feels like a carrot on a stick that’s held in front of me,” Enis says. “It’s like, ‘You can get this care that helps you live the way that you want,’ but also ‘We’re not gonna really meet conditions that are sustainable for you.’” Another Pittsburgh-area Starbucks employee shared her experience anonymously with Bloomberg, saying two managers met with her privately to suggest a future contract negotiation might eliminate her access to genderaffirming care altogether.

Locally, Pitkin says hours have been cut drastically as retaliation for organizing, which makes it even more challenging for employees to maintain a predictable income. “The company simultaneously was insisting that workers increased their availability, meaning the number of hours they’re available to work, and then decreased the number of hours which they were actually called in to work,” Pitkin says. Starbucks is selling an atmosphere, Pitkin says – an experience, or “third place” that isn’t home or work for people to feel comfortable and safe. Which to her, means they’re also selling people and their identities. “So when you go into Starbucks and you order a cup of coffee, coffee is not the only thing on the menu. They’re selling an interaction with a certain group of people that they have created to match the sort of aesthetic character of the company.” That resonates with Brett Taborelli, who started working at Starbucks eight years ago because he saw it as his safe space. His location, Penn Center East, just voted to unionize last week. “I think Starbucks should have recognized the demographic that they sell … the type of people who are usually a minority that have been affected by major political issues or major people just like standing above us,” Taborelli says. “And we won’t back down.” Tambellini, who held her rainbow union campaign sign next to Taborelli’s at Pride, agrees. “We’ve spent our entire lives fighting to be recognized, and unionizing is no different,” she says. “It’s kind of something we’ve always done.” •

Francesca Dabecco is the newsletter editor at City Cast Pittsburgh. Follow her on Twitter @francescaalina




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VEN BEFORE the interview begins, the rotary phone connected to the wood-paneled wall rings. “I can’t remember the last time I got interrupted by a landline,” I laugh as Bottlerocket Social Hall co-owner and artistic director Chris Copen trots across the bar to answer it as “Pinball Wizard” by The Who plays softly in the background. After a short conversation, he returns, saying, “A lot of this stuff was already here.” Besides the ancient phone, Copen is referring to the red velvet wallpaper on the back staging area, the U-shaped bar, and the light fixtures, all left over from the Allentown space’s days as the St. George Lyceum, a social club that catered to people in the neighborhood until it shut down in 2017. Now Copen, his girlfriend Gracie Dickinson, and friend Ben Helinski have set out to make Bottlerocket into a destination where Pittsburgh residents can see some of the most innovative new voices in comedy, all in a space time-warped right out of the 1970s. To emphasize this, the 100-plus seat venue officially opened in May with an event featuring comedian, actor, and former television show host Chris Gethard.

BOTTLEROCKET SOCIAL HALL 1226 Arlington Ave., Allentown. bottlerocketpgh.com


Bottlerocket Social Hall

Much of the decor remains untouched, and any updates appear to meld seamlessly with the old setup. The walls are plastered with found or reprinted posters for concerts that took place at long-closed Pittsburgh venues. New stage lights, a “cutting-edge sound system,” and a 150inch projector screen all happily coexist with a working record jukebox and cathode-ray televisions. Even as the space seems primed to welcome a younger crowd, Copen and his partners still honor its history. There are even old photos of the Lyceum’s clientele hanging on one wall, like a mini shrine to the space’s past. “It’s funny, a lot of the Lyceum people



still live up here,” says Copen, a Point Park University graduate. “And they’ve come in and drank here and hung out and they really like the space. And they’re like, ‘You didn’t change anything. I love it.’” Its future as a comedy club differs greatly from its original fate, something winked at with an “Arlington Beverage Club” sticker displayed on a corkboard along with an accompanying Post-It that reads “RIP :( 2020-2020.” Bottlerocket operates in what was supposed to be celebrity chef Kevin Sousa’s vintage Pittsburgh-inspired bar. That, along with Sousa’s other Hilltop-based project, Mount Oliver Bodega, were both

abandoned after much fanfare in the local media. The Bodega says that it has “closed indefinitely” until the new owners figure out its future. Rather than revel in the Arlington Beverage Club’s demise, Copen shrugs at it, perhaps because he knows how tough trying to set up a new space can be. He had banked on another alt-comedy concept, Dad’s Basement in Dormont, which he says “collapsed spectacularly” after what he claims were issues with the building’s owner, primarily in regards to providing an ADA-compliant bathroom. Now Copen and his partners can finally embark on their dream of bringing

a more interesting, potentially less toxic brand of comedy to the area compared to what’s offered at chain clubs and big concert venues. Copen says the vision allows him to use the skills and connections he formed working for a Los Angeles talent management company, where he rubbed elbows with people writing shows for Apple TV and rode the elevator with the likes of Will Ferrell. When the pandemic ended his talent management job, he relocated to Johnstown, Pa. where his family lives, and began to look at ways to continue working in entertainment. He says the

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Chris Copen

failure of Dad’s Basement coincided with the Arlington Beverage Club’s fallout, so he knew the building existed and viewed it as a second chance. “And then I saw it was listed one day, and I was working at a hotel at the time,” says Copen. “As soon as I saw it was listed, I ran away from the front desk, and I called, like, ‘I need to talk to someone about this tomorrow. I’m ready to pitch this idea.’” Copen says the building’s owner, the community development company RE360, were “really receptive” to the idea for Bottlerocket. For now, the space is open on weekends, presenting a variety of events ranging from comedians to film screenings, including one hosted by beloved local documentarian Rick Sebak. Copen says they want to offer access to comedians who may not otherwise be booked in Pittsburgh, as well as be an alternative to a comedy scene that has become tainted by big stars more concerned with “being mad than being funny” and taking shots at so-called “cancel culture.” This is reflected in hosting Gethard, who has addressed mental health issues in his shows, including speaking candidly about his own suicide attempt. Throughout July,

BottleRocket will host comedians Michael Cruz Kayne, Martin Urbano, and Marcia Belsky, a feminist comic/musician who made a splash with a song about NASA giving 100 tampons to Sally Ride, the first female astronaut to go into space. Copen says they also look forward to leaning into Bottlerocket’s 1970s vibe with a big Fourth of July bash inspired by the country’s 1976 bicentennial. By August, Copen says they hope to be open five days a week and add live music, dance parties, and other types of events to their repertoire. They also want to use an adjoining warehouse to host larger festivals or larger concerts. Ultimately, Copen says they hope Bottlerocket could do for Allentown what Mr. Smalls Theatre did for Millvale, being a creative “focal point of the neighborhood” for both performers and audiences that also helps to support other local businesses. “I mean, our general rule is anything that we think is interesting, we will go out of our way to try and make happen and try and facilitate,” says Copen. “And so, people come to us with pitches and we’re like, ‘Yes, let’s do it. Whatever it takes to do that, we will do it.” •

Follow a&e editor Amanda Waltz on Twitter @AWaltzCP

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Stay up-to-date with the latest news, updated daily at pghcitypaper.com PITTSBURGH CITY PAPER JUNE 29 - JULY 6, 2022





...HILE IT IS ILLEGAL in most states to discriminate against an employee or coworker for being gay, many LGBTQ people choose not to come out at work for fear of personal safety, knowing that it can sometimes lead to harassment. For LGBTQ baker Josué Luciano, being out at work is a great source of pride, though he says he wasn’t always able to live his life openly. Luciano, who’s originally from Puerto Rico, first started designing cakes while working at a major grocery retailer in Florida. He says that when an opening in the bakery came about, he jumped at the chance to take the job, but his employer still didn’t allow him to express himself fully.

JOSUÉ LUCIANO tiktok.com/@jou.king91 and.instagram.com/jou.king

Now, Luciano lives in Pittsburgh and works full-time creating vibrant, gorgeous cakes, many of which are LGBTQ-themed. “At my old job, they often stressed quantity over quality. But in my mind, I was, like, I want to learn how to decorate,” says Luciano. “So I need to focus on quality first. I also didn’t like that I had no creative freedom. I couldn’t do any LGBTQ cakes, either. So that’s why I actually quit my job in Florida and I moved to Pittsburgh.” Luciano says he moved to Pittsburgh after visiting his sister and her wife here four years ago, and now works at Grandview Bakery in Mt. Washington, where he says he has the creative freedom to design the cakes he wants to make, and take special requests from customers, many of whom are LGBTQ. Around the time that the pandemic started, Luciano says a friend suggested he post his cake decorating videos on the social media app TikTok. “At first, I didn’t want to because I don’t like watching people dance,” he laughs. “I didn’t know there was more than just dancing videos on the app. So I made a video and posted it, and I showed it to him, and he said, ‘You have thousands of views’


DJ Arie Cole


Luciano pictured with his Encanto cake



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For Josué Luciano, being out at work is a great source of pride ... and I said, ‘Is that good?’” Luciano now has 500,000 followers on the app, and over 18,000 on Instagram. He’s even gotten sponsored by different companies who pay him to create content, and through the audience he’s built on social media, Luciano was able to make a cake for one of his favorite drag queens, Thorgy Thor from season eight of RuPaul’s Drag Race. Once Luciano started posting to TikTok, he started getting requests for lots of Pride-themed cakes, and his feed is full of colorful LGBTQ designs. Some are decorated with the rainbow gay pride flag or the pink and blue trans pride flag, while others are adorned with flags Luciano says he hadn’t even heard of until he got a request to make the cake. He also makes other cakes as well. One that he says is the most memorable for him is a cake he made inspired by the Disney film Encanto, and he was astonished by the number of his TikTok followers who donated money to help him complete the cake. “Who sends $200 to pay for a cake they aren’t gonna eat?” he laughs, while

stressing that he is grateful for the support he’s received online. Luciano says that he gets messages from younger people who are afraid to come out and find solace in his pride, or from parents who are looking to understand their LGBTQ children a little better. He even receives messages from people who he inspired to come out. He says he’s incredibly grateful and inspired by people who do reach out to him and support him because it makes it easier to deal with the people who don’t.

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GRANDVIEW BAKERY 225 Shiloh St., Mt. Washington. grandviewbakery.com

With further support from his current boss and his family, Luciano continues to make beautiful cakes that inspire thousands. “I will always be outspoken and proud of being gay because when I was younger, I wasn’t that way. I was really afraid of being who I was,” he says. “And now that I’m older than myself, I just represent my community whenever I can.” •

Follow news reporter Dani Janae on Twitter @figwidow



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^ Anthrocon Furry Parade

THU., JUNE 30 MUSIC • IRL Have your voice ready for the Independence Day Hamilton Sing-Along. Presented by NonStop Broadway and Hard Rock Café, the event invites guests to belt out tunes from the hit show about America’s Founding Fathers. If you are more of an observer, you can watch your friends or family put on a special show. Something like this only comes around once a year, so make sure you bring your entire crew. 7 -10 p.m. 230 W. Station Square Drive, South Side. $5, $10 to sing. facebook.com/NonStopBroadway

EVENT • IRL Pittsburgh will be overrun with visitors in animal suits when Anthrocon returns to the David L. Lawrence Convention Center. After being put on hold by the pandemic, one of the most anticipated events in the city will deliver a long weekend of workshops, parties, vendors, and other happenings dedicated to the furry lifestyle. Be ready to ask for selfies with the myriad of anthropomorphic fursonas you will soon encounter Downtown. Continues through Sun., July 3. 1000 Fort Duquesne Blvd., Downtown. $60-70. anthrocon.org



EVENT • IRL Interested in mingling with other environmentally like-minded individuals? BrewDog Pittsburgh is hosting an event by Green Drinks Pittsburgh, where you can have a drink and learn about local environmental causes and environmentally focused professionals, or just make new friends. Everyone is welcome to this non-partisan event and you’re encouraged to bring friends. Ray Roberts of Citizens’ Climate Lobby will be at the event, where you will be able to hear about how an average citizen can make a difference as a lobbyist. 6-8 p.m. 6144 Centre Ave., Shadyside. Free. facebook.com/greendrinks412

FRI., JULY 1 MUSIC • IRL Pittsburgh Playhouse once again welcomes Chatham Baroque for Alchemy for Three, an evening of classical music highlighting songs, dances, and sonatas spanning the 17th and 18th centuries. For this installment, the trio — which includes Andrew Fouts on violin, Patricia Halverson on viola da gamba, and Scott Pauley on theorbo and baroque guitar — will play selections from Corelli, J.S.

Bach, Schmelzer, Matteis, and others. 4:30 p.m. 350 Forbes Ave., Downtown. $25. playhouse.pointpark.edu

include a full bar. 5-8 p.m. 644 Broadway Ave., McKees Rocks. $15 with dinner, $8 movie only. jumpcuttheater.org



The PGH Flea Night Market returns to Garfield with a wide variety of vendors selling plants, vintage clothing, jewelry, decor, and more. Shop from Root Forge, Pip & Lola’s, Frankenpins, and other local vendors. Get a reading from The Golden Deer Tarot or check out secondhand items from Bad B**** Thriftin’. It all takes place indoors diagonally across from People’s Indian Restaurant. 5-8 p.m. 5150 Penn Ave., Garfield. Free. facebook.com/The.PGH.Flea

Shakespeare is coming to Dormont thanks to the New Renaissance Theatre Company. The company, with a mission to connect the classic to the contemporary “through ensemble-based development and performance,” will bring its Unrehearsed Shakespeare Project tour to the Dormont Borough Building to present the Shakespearean comedy The Merry Wives of Windsor. The tour will continue through July 10 at various locations throughout the Pittsburgh area. 5 p.m. 1444 Hillsdale Ave., Dormont. Free. Donations accepted. newrentheatre.com

SAT., JULY 2 FILM • IRL If you like hardboiled detectives, femme fatales, and high-contrast lighting, head to Parkway Theater for Noir Night Out: D.O.A. Presented by Jump Cut Theater, the event will combine dinner with a screening of a 1949 film about a businessman who must find out who poisoned him before it’s too late. Dinner will consist of a hot dog bar with a wide selection of toppings, as well as vegan and vegetarian options. If you’re interested in drinks, the event will also

SUN., JULY 3 EVENT • IRL Make a trip out to the Meadowcroft Rockshelter and Historic Village for its Independence Day Celebration. Enjoy pastimes that were played hundreds of years ago with Games on the Green. Go back in time and witness the reading of the Declaration of Independence.


^ Pittsburgh CLO’s PUFFS

Finally, before you leave, do not forget to explore the archaeological wonder that is the Meadowcroft Rockshelter. 10 a.m.-4 p.m. 401 Meadowcroft Road, Avella. $7-15 for adults, free for children 6-17. heinzhistorycenter.org

STAGE • IRL Harry Potter fans should know that the Pittsburgh CLO production PUFFS takes a different approach to the mega-hit wizard franchise. Taking place at the Greer Cabaret Theater, the show follows three House Hufflepuff students as they try to survive a magic school that “proves to be very dangerous for children,” according to a description. See Hogwarts through a very different lens during this stage comedy, which offers performances tailored for kids 8 and up and audiences 13 and up. 2 p.m. Continues through July 31. 655 Penn Ave., Downtown. $29-65. pittsburghclo.culturaldistrict.org

MON., JULY 4 FILM • IRL Due to a certain recent Supreme Court decision, some people might not feel particularly patriotic this Independence Day. If you’re not in the mood to do the usual cookouts or fireworks shows, retreat to the quiet of a movie theater when Row House Cinema screens We’re All Going to the World’s Fair, the debut work by trans/ nonbinary filmmaker Jane Schoenbrun. The film follows a teen girl as she becomes consumed with an online role-playing horror game, resulting in what a Pittsburgh City Paper review called “less of a straight horror film than a film about the different shapes horror takes in our lives.” 5:10 p.m. Continues through Thu., July 7. 4115 Butler St., Lawrenceville. $12.84 plus fees. rowhousecinema.com


Every Monday thru Thursday at 10 a.m. Listen in at lynncullen.pghcitypaper.com

Are you an amazing bowler? How about after the lights go out? Stonewall Sports, a community-based nonprofit dedicated to LGBTQ sports leagues, invites everyone to have a good time and eat plenty of fresh snacks during The Fruit Bowl-Cosmic Bowling at AMF Bowling Co. The event will have a whole table of fruit-focused dishes to enjoy between frames as teams compete for a variety of prizes. 7:30 p.m. Check-in at 7 p.m. 2440 Noblestown Road, Crafton. $10. facebook.com/StonewallSportsPgh

ART • IRL Songbird Artistry presents Truth Be Told: An Artful Gathering of Women, an exhibition showcasing 14 female polymer clay artists, seven of whom are Black and seven white. As described on the Songbird website, the show was inspired by monthly talks in which the featured artists discussed issues related to the death of George Floyd and the 2020 protests. Each piece was inspired by certain words relating to the discussions. Continues through Aug. 13. 4316 Penn Ave., Lawrenceville. Free. songbirdartistry.com

WED., JULY 6 MUSIC • IRL Be there when Roger Waters kicks off his This Is Not a Drill tour at PPG Paints Arena. In a press statement, Waters calls the show a “groundbreaking new rock and roll/ cinematic extravaganza” and “a stunning indictment of the corporate dystopia in which we all struggle to survive.” The statement also suggested that this might be the Pink Floyd co-founder’s last tour, so don’t miss this one. 8 p.m. 1001 Fifth Ave., Uptown. $32.25-255.25. ppgpaintsarena.com PITTSBURGH CITY PAPER JUNE 29 - JULY 6, 2022



Why you need dental insurance in retirement.


Many Americans are fortunate to have dental coverage for their entire working life, through employer-provided benefits. When those benefits end with retirement, paying dental bills out-of-pocket can come as a shock, leading people to put off or even go without care. Simply put — without dental insurance, there may be an important gap in your healthcare coverage.

When you’re comparing plans ... f Look for coverage that helps pay for major services. Some plans may limit the number of procedures — or pay for preventive care only. f Look for coverage with no deductibles. Some plans may require you to pay hundreds out of pocket before benefits are paid. f Shop for coverage with no annual maximum on cash benefits. Some plans have annual maximums of $1,000.

Medicare doesn’t pay for dental care.1

Previous dental work can wear out.

That’s right. As good as Medicare is, it was never meant to cover everything. That means if you want protection, you need to purchase individual insurance.

Even if you’ve had quality dental work in the past, you shouldn’t take your dental health for granted. In fact, your odds of having a dental problem only go up as you age.2

Early detection can prevent small problems from becoming expensive ones.

Treatment is expensive — especially the services people over 50 often need.

The best way to prevent large dental bills is preventive care. The American Dental Association recommends checkups twice a year.

Consider these national average costs of treatment ... $217 for a checkup ... $189 for a filling ... $1,219 for a crown.3 Unexpected bills like this can be a real burden, especially if you’re on a fixed income.

1 “Medicare & You,” Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, 2021. 2 “How might my oral and dental health change as I age?”, www. usnews.com, 11/30/2018. 3 American Dental Association, Health Policy Institute, 2018 Survey of Dental Fees, Copyright 2018, American Dental Association.

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ACROSS 1. P-Valley channel 6. Ring stones 11. It may come in a blanket or be in a bank 14. Trash ___ 15. Side of a diamond 16. “Oi, Claudius!” 17. She’s got a HOT head 19. He hosts Jeopardy! when Mayim doesn’t 20. Battle of Tannenberg conflict, for short 21. Chapeau holder 22. Not more than 23. Anne Nichols comic play for AIR heads 28. FaceTime platform 29. Overpower with troops 31. Yitty rival 34. Parting phrase for BIG heads 37. Pressure R&B singer Lennox 38. Looking like you’ve been hitting the gym 39. Was ahead of the curve 40. Glad-hand for WAR heads 43. Maker of the Gator Utility Vehicle 45. 2009 Sean Paul hit with the lyric “Girl, girl, I’ll be your sunshine,

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10. See 67-Across 11. It’s an uncomfortable thing to wear 12. Supremely enthusiastic 13. Okerlund in the WWE Hall of Fame 18. One sitting on a potato pan in palindromes 22. Speck of dust 24. A as in Augsburg 25. Chicago nine, for short 26. Windbreaker part 27. 1921 play about androids 30. Branch bump 31. Cuts wood 32. Check to see if a slip is showing 33. Bombers’ spots 34. “This sucks” 35. Hammock brand

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IN The Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County, Pennsylvania: No. GD-22-5913 In re petition of Torland L Hardy for change of name to Torland Monae Hardy. To all persons interested: Notice is hereby given that an order of said Court authorized the filing of said petition and fixed the 22nd day of July, 2022, at 9:30 a.m., as the time and the Motions Room, City-County Building, Pittsburgh, PA, as the place for a hearing, when and where all persons may show cause, if any they have, why said name should not be changed as prayed for.

IN The Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County, Pennsylvania: No. GD-22-6400 In re petition of Bonita Jean Waters for change of name to Bonnie R. Waters To all persons interested: Notice is hereby given that an order of said Court authorized the filing of said petition and fixed the 2nd day of August 2022, at 9:30 a.m., as the time and the Motions Room, City-County Building, Pittsburgh, PA, as the place for a hearing, when and where all persons may show cause, if any they have, why said name should not be changed as prayed for.

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