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DEC 2012


How to budget as a couple for the

holidays meet













Abuse and pain. Just another day for Lily. Lily lived in fear. Chained up outside. Left without food or water for days. Yelled at constantly. A concerned neighbor brought her to the Animal Rescue League. We gave her medicine to heal her body. Food to build her strength. Love to soothe her spirit. But so many other animals just like Lily are suffering. They need your help.

Help us come to their rescue. Make a gift to the Animal Rescue League of Western Pennsylvania at today.

Animal Rescue League of Western Pennsylvania Scan with your phone using a QR code reader app to learn more about Lily’s story.



OUTRAGEOUS Bingo Rodef Shalom

1st & 2nd 11th Annual Warehouse Sale to benefit Persad Center Riverside Design Group


Pittsburgh Lesbian and Gay Quarterly Film: Frauensee (Woman’s Lake) Eddy Theater


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5th Gay for Good Social: Tree Pittsburgh Happy Hour Location TBD


Underwear Karaoke Images Pittsburgh


Cool Yule Holiday Dinner First United Methodist Church First Fridays with Kierra Darshell Cruze Bar


Traspitt Event GLCC Main Conference Room


Renaissance City Choir Holiday Concert Carnegie Music Hall PFLAG Pgh Monthly Meeting Third Presbyterian Church


Our Trans* Social Hour The Garden of Peace Project GardenOfPeaceProject

Gay for Good Volunteers with Toys for Tots


G2H2 Pittsburgh Apocalypse Wow Burly-Q The End of the World Holiday Show bridgecitybombshells


Highmark First Night New Year’s Eve at Cruze Bar Cruze Bar New Year’s Eve at Images Images


Lez Liquor Hour Location TBD

Collage by Mundania Horvath

CONTRIBUTORS David Adkins is a 38-year-old gay male, living in rural southwestern PA with his partner of 10 years. He’s the founder and director of Project HOPE of Beaver County, an HIV/AIDS service organization. He enjoys traveling, dining out, exercising, and hanging out with family and friends. John Britt, proud graduate of the University of Pittsburgh, his BA in Political Science and did his post graduate studies in Information Systems. Mt. Washington was home for 22 years, before moving back to his hometown, Jeannette, PA, to be closer to family. (A wise move, but my dearest friends are still in the ‘Burgh.) Jeff Brizek has lived in the North Side since moving back to his hometown of Pittsburgh over 5 years ago. In his free time, Jeff enjoys being active in social and political activism as well as partaking in outdoor activities with his fiancé and Italian Greyhound Bonsai. T.C. Brown has an M.F.A. in Acting from WVU and acts occasionally around the ‘burgh. His passion, besides spending time with his husband, Victor, is genealogy. Someday, he hopes to travel to Europe to visit the towns where his ancestors lived. Victor Capone studied Art Education at IUP. He currently teaches art in Pittsburgh Public Schools and paints watercolor portraits. Scott Creary is staff entomologist for Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens, where his duties include educating the public about bugs, plants, and green living. He is also an ISA Certified Arborist with a B.S. in horticulture and an M.S. in entomology from Cornell University and the University of Maryland. Jessica Ezykowsky: Client Account Manager at I like to eat, drink, be somewhat merry and NAP A LOT.


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Kara Holsopple is a Pittsburgh-based freelance writer and radio producer. She’s a regular contributor to the regional environmental radio weekly, The Allegheny Front. Her work in print, includes features for the food and lifestyle focused TABLE Magazine. She loves good coffee, hanging out with her nieces and barking orders from the back of a canoe or kayak. Mundania Horvath is a designer and illustrator, living in the Regent Square area. After being away from Pittsburgh for a few years, she returned in 2009 and was excited to see so many changes happening in the city. In her spare time, she runs the blog Steeltown Anthem, where she writes about design and architecture throughout the city. Alicia Fennell is 27. She lives in Greensburg, in a cute blue house, with her partner, their daughter, and their new puppy, Roxy. Ignacio Filippini is a Bikram Yoga Instructor since 2010. He has a past life in design and marketing strategy. He’s thrilled to be part of Equal. Nora Mathews is a fiction writer, massage therapist, and recent transplant to Pittsburgh. She lives in the South Side Slopes with her girlfriend and their dog, and enjoys knitting sweaters and cooking in fancy aprons. Mara Rago specializes in portraits, fine art, pets, events, model portfolios, legal, and corporate photography. She has a studio in the East End of Pittsburgh and shoots in studio as well as on location. Photography is Mara’s life. It’s a passion. Capturing visions in her little black box is a gift... and, every day, she is grateful. Lauren McKenna: What do you do with a B.A. in English? Well, if you’re Lauren, you work at a Corporate Relocation company and write anywhere you see fit: napkins, legal pads, coffee shops, bars. She laughs often and loves fiercely. She’s obsessed with latte art. She also has a life’s goal of meeting a koala.

Megan McLachlan is a freelance writer and editor, who lives in Pittsburgh. She graduated from Allegheny College with a degree in English. Her pop culture blog is Photographer Adam Milliron’s work has been seen in Elle Decor, Food & Wine, The Wall Street Journal, and on 30 magazine covers. Before he lived life through a lens, Adam was a creative director and a designer, specializing in branding and color therapy. He lives above his studio in Lawrenceville with his Vizsla, Jeek. Lauren Uranker is a senior financial analyst, who loves poetry. She lives in a tiny, happy apartment with an amazing “roommate” and adorable puppy. Pittsburgh native Rachel Vallozzi is an image consultant, professional wardrobe stylist, and indie film costume designer. Through her services in closet consultations, personal shopping, and personal styling, she uses her trained eye to help people streamline their closets and create go-to looks for every occasion. You can learn more about her work at Tiff Waskowicz is a Civil Rights Attorney. A large percentage of her practice is representing individuals in employment discrimination, retaliation, sexual discrimination, whistleblower, Family and Medical Leave Act, and sexual harassment cases. Tiff received her J.D. from the University of Pittsburgh School of Law in 2006 and a B.A. from Amherst College in 2000, where she emphasized her study in creative/persuasive writing. Tiff is a huge Pittsburgh Penguins fan, and, in her spare time, she enjoys cross word puzzles, reading, and jogging.






at our 6 DEC S UR AR








965 Liberty Ave. Pittsburgh, PA 15222 (412) 391-9990 Open 2 PM to 2 AM 365 days a year!


Dear Friends, As newlyweds, my wife and I are all about adopting new traditions for our little family (me and her and our two female cats, Doug and Manny). We revel in morning coffee dates on the couch and Sunday nights, making sauce in our kitchen. To kick off this holiday season, we wanted to start an even grander, more inclusive, tradition. We hosted 25 dear friends — our “extended family” — for Friendsgiving. Jenn made a succulent turkey, while I set the table with burlap runners from our wedding and gourds I spray-painted gold on the front porch. Soon, our favorite people filled our home, warming the space and us in it. We were ignited in the spirit of celebration, which became a theme for this issue: Let’s celebrate it all. Two years ago, we started the tradition of cutting down our own Christmas tree, but it wasn’t until working on this issue that I discovered what an eco-friendly practice this actually is. Did you know that live trees absorb greenhouse gases, reduce our carbon footprint, and boost our Pennsylvania economy? Read more about the argument to forage for your own fir in Scott Creary’s article on page 44. And then, buddle up with someone beautiful, arm yourselves with a saw and some spiked hot cocoa, and go do it. While you’re at it, start a new tradition of ultra unique gift giving for everyone on your list. We had a ball compiling our first gift guide as a magazine, uncovering cool finds for some of the more off beat people on your list (like your drinking buddy and the hot guy who sometimes cooks for you). Check it out on page 22, and get an eyeful of the gaggle of glorious-looking girls and guys we shot for this spread (our gift to you). In this issue, we’re also spotlighting big gift-givers in our community — like Evan Wolfson, who is heading up the Freedom to Marry Coalition, nationwide (page 30, and Dan Rossi, executive director of the Animal Rescue League, who is making it easier for his employees to be out at work (page 16). Candi Castleberry-Singleton, chief diversity officer at UPMC, is our “Ally” this month for her work on the outstanding and hopeful Dignity & Respect Campaign (page 37). We feel blessed to share a hometown with these heroes. We hope these stories inspire your own traditions, that you’ll be ignited, too — with warm ideas and enlightened forward thinking. Let’s celebrate who we are and where we live and the incredible people around us. Let’s adopt a ritual, this season, to spread overwhelming love and to feel that love come back to us. Happy holidays to your little family and to the extended family you’ve built around you. You guys are awesome. With love and peace,

Victoria Bradley-Morris Editor-in-Chief 8

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On the cover: Believe it or not, cover models Melissa Finley and Jennifer Gold met the night of our photo shoot at Mara Rago’s studio in Friendship. The fun-loving females were naturals when it came to popping bottles of Champagne and splashing the camera (we didn’t even know that this was a skill!) and had marvelous chemistry. By the time we wrapped, the girls were tip-toeing in heels over puddles of foaming bubbly. See more shots from this shoot in our gift guide on page 22.


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The Delta Foundation of Pittsburgh

Victoria Bradley-Morris

Board Members Gary A. Van Horn Jr. President Steven R. Herforth Vice President Brian J. Stankavich Secretary Peter J. Karlovich Treasurer Matthew J. Arch Samuel C. Badger Michael G. Bartley Daniel M. Catanzaro James R. Sheppard


Louise F. Stutler

Emeritus Board Members Charles W. Honse William R. Kaelin Donnie R. Thinnes

Art Director Jonathan Fobear

Advertising Director Chris Bryan

Emotional Support My gay husband Jenn Shawn Mark Coffee & wine Vodka Edward Marc Chocolates (so good) For questions, comments, and advertising inquiries, please email info@ EQUAL Magazine, PO Box 100057. Pittsburgh, PA 15233.

Charles P. Tierney

(THAT’S 966 IN DOG YEARS) We have a good nose for finding the right pet for the right person. With our Perfect Match adoption program, we’ll connect you with a canine or feline that fits your unique way of life. To learn more, visit western pennsylvania


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The mission of the Delta Foundation of Pittsburgh is to increase awareness and understanding of and improve the quality of life for the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender community in the Pittsburgh region. Opinions and claims made by advertisers are those of the advertisers ONLY. Equal accepts no liability for claims made by advertisers. All rights reserved. ©2012 Delta Foundation of Pittsburgh.









The Sweet Life: Meet Pittsburgh’s Willy Wonka (Psst — He used to work for George Bush) Gay on TV: Check out our timeline of great kisses, coming outs, and more The Gift Guide 2012: A market tote for your “personal chef,” a flask for your “unofficial therapist,” and everything else to wrap up this year



28 Fitness. Shoot hoops with Jeanna Rayman 38 Fashion. The Babysitters Club inspires big sweater wearin’ 14 Food. Light the Hanukkah candles, and cook this 31 Finance. How to save and budget (as a couple) this holiday 16 Sticking Out. Dan Rossi is out at work — at the Animal Rescue League 37 Sticking Up. Candi Castleberry-Singleton preaches the golden rule at UPMC 44 Going Green. Why decorating a live tree is saving the planet 46 Nightlife. Sean Gray gives us a timeline for his perfect evening



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on Born on a Blue Day By Jeff Brizek Photographed by Adam Milliron Pittsburgh native and Chatham University student Ashley Dunbar is a very busy young lady. She is currently studying Elementary Education and mourning her favorite sports team, the Pittsburgh Pirates. She’s also talking a lot about her new favorite book, Born on a Blue Day, a memoir of Daniel Tammet. Tammet was diagnosed with Asperger syndrome at an early age, and is now considered an autistic savant. He has been described as a mathematics and linguistics genius. The book explains how he was bullied throughout his time in school and struggled with the fact that he was gay as teenager. “A friend recommended this book, and I knew I had to read it,” Dunbar says. “I base what I read on emotional drive. I like to read about real people and real things, and I have read a lot of memoirs.” Tammet wrote the book so that others with Asperger, or any overwhelming challenge, can still feel successful and have a place in this world. “He’s inspired me to share more,” Dunbar says. “If I can take my experiences and share that with people or students who have had similar struggles, why would I not take that opportunity to show how great life can be?”


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Feasting, during the

Festival of Lights What to cook (take out, pick up…) and EAT this Hanukkah By Jessica Ezykowsky Here’s the deal: It’s the end of the year, and here come the holidays. One of the highlights is Hanukkah — The Festival of Lights. The gist of the holiday is that after the successful rebellion against Antiochus IV, the Jews wanted re-purify the Holy Temple. Part of the purification involved lighting the Menorah. However, they only had enough oil for one candle on the first night. Miraculously, the next evening, there was enough oil to light two candles. This continued for eight nights. To commemorate this miracle, most of the foods prepared on Hanukkah are fried in oil (putting a spiritual angle on deliciousness). Despite your religious affiliations, Hanukkah


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is a time to reflect, be with friends, and share in food, glorious food. Whether you’re adopting a new tradition, or putting a few new slants on your family’s favorites, here are some notes on what should be on your menu, where to get it, and (if you’re feeling ambitious) how to make it. Start with jelly donuts, traditionally called sufganiyot. You can go with the old-school approach and fill your fried dough with jelly, jam, or marmalade. Or you can go new age and try them with custard. Either way, a great place to start, locally, is Sweet Tammy’s in Squirrel Hill. If you are not into the donut, a new twist is the pretzel. This is the more American take on Hanukkah, when yummy pretzels are striped with chocolate and nuts or candy. Try The Pretzel Shop on the South Side:

They have pretty much every kind you could want, and they bake them in a brick oven. Get ‘em while they’re hot. If you are a shiksa like me, you may be hoping for an invite to a Hanukkah dinner just so you can taste some latkes (grated, fried potato cakes — yum). To ensure your invitation, offer to bring the goodies yourself. Smallman Street Deli has great latkes togo. They are about a half-inch thick, lightly crisped on the edges and warm and soft on

the inside. Try dipping them in applesauce or sour cream. Or, for a twist on an original, get the Smoked Salmon Boxty at the Monterey Pub: potato pancakes layered with smoked salmon, spring mix, tomatoes, red onion, and capers. (Available for take-out. Promise.) You can also try making the latkes yourself: Grate up about 6-8 potatoes, throw in baking soda and a little lemon, salt, and pepper. Then fire up a non-stick skillet, filled about half way with canola oil. Fry those taters up, until crispy and golden brown on the edges.

Put the brisket into the oven with salt and pepper for seasoning and a little oil for about 25-30 minutes. In another pan, sauté onions, garlic, salt, pepper, paprika, and oil. When the brisket is done, add in your onion mixture, and put it back in the oven for 3 or so hours.

Finally, it is time for the brisket. The main attraction is generally braised as a pot roast in traditional Jewish cooking. It falls apart with the prod of a fork, and melts in your mouth. Pittsburgh Barbecue Company’s beef brisket is on the top of the list of great places to pick up this delicious dish. But, if you are motivated, you can do this. Pick up a 5- to 6-pound brisket. This is the breast or lower chest of the beef, and you’ll want to look for a cut that’s not too fatty. Put the meat into the oven with salt and pepper for seasoning and a little oil for

about 25-30 minutes. In another pan, sauté onions, garlic, salt, pepper, paprika, and oil. When the brisket is done, add in your onion mixture, and put it back in the oven for 3 or so hours. If the roasting pan gets dry, add a little bit of water. Check it every hour or so to determine if it is tender. Use the trimmings to make a delicious gravy. It’s a nice touch. During this holiday season, go traditional, do it yourself, solicit an invitation, or throw your own time-honored feast. The food will be worth it, and the company memorable.




Dan Rossi loves animals — and people, too By David Adkins Photographed by Mara Rago Dan Rossi grew up in a strict Italian-German household. But his inclusive family helped Rossi to foster an inclusive career, and, as executive director of the Animal Rescue League, love is a big part of the workday.

EQ: What’s your business background? ROSSI: I am a Pittsburgh native. I received my undergraduate degree in business administration from Carnegie Mellon University and my graduate degree in nonprofit management from Robert Morris University. I spent the bulk of my career in the nonprofit sector, here in Pittsburgh, but moved to Phoenix for two years. I returned to Pittsburgh in April of 2010 to accept my current position as executive director at the Animal Rescue League Shelter & Wildlife Center.

Has it ever been an issue for you to be out at work? ROSSI: Being out at the Animal Rescue League has never been an issue. The League has a diverse employee and volunteer base, and people find commonality in the love of saving animals.

EQ: Are there other out employees? 16

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ROSSI: There are several out employees at all levels throughout the organization, including volunteer, direct care staff, mangers, and directors. We also have an out member on our board of directors. I do believe the fact that I am the “boss” and am out at work has made other employees feel comfortable about being out.

EQ: How is the Animal Rescue League involved in the community? ROSSI: The Animal Rescue League has become very involved with LGBT events, including Pride (we are the only shelter to have a float in the parade). We have also created events such as the Bitches Ball (at Cruze Bar) to increase awareness of the importance to spay/neuter pets, and have advertised in many local gay publications.

EQ: Was your family always supportive? ROSSI: I grew up in an Italian-German family, where being gay was not one of those things ever really talked about. But my family never excluded boyfriends from parties or events. They were always very inclusive.

EQ: What advice can you give about being out at work? ROSSI: Coming out may be scary or stressful, but worth it in the long run. I can remember working at places where I was not out and being in situations where coworkers were talking about what they did on the weekend or how the spent their vacation, and I could not participate in those conversations. I felt cheated, and I also cheated past co-workers from knowing the real me. I think it is important to, first — do an excellent job at whatever your job, and to, second, be the best person you can be. Employers are more interested in hiring a good, qualified, hard-working staff. They care less about what you do in your spare time.

“I can remember working at places where I was not out and being in situations where co-workers were talking about what they did on the weekend or how the spent their vacation, and I could not participate in those conversations.”

My first serious relationship took place in the mid ‘80s, and two years into our relationship he was diagnosed with HIV. Back then, there were no medications or hope, and he died within six months. I found myself in my early 20s with no support groups, such as PATF. The situation made me grow up very quickly. I am in a long-term partnership now for more than five years.


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Deck the Halls ART TO GIVE THIS HOLIDAY By TC Brown and Victor Capone This year, instead of fighting the maddening crowds at the mall, why not start a new tradition of visiting a local art gallery for some unique works to complete your holiday list? Art comes in all shapes and sizes, styles, mediums, and best of all: price ranges. (Yes, Virginia, there is something available for those on a tight budget.)

Diane Grguras, pastels  Cliffside (top left) Coca (top right) Frost (bottom) 18

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Entering a gallery can be like entering Santa’s workshop as you immerse yourself into an aesthetically rich environment of unique, well crafted and engaging objects to behold. It’s fun to look at, and it’s a fantastic shopping experience! But how do you decide what type of art to get someone? We spoke with several people to help give some tips on selecting a work of art.

Jill Moodie-Pellegrino, ceramics Green and Purple platter, $85 Set of Nesting Bowls, $185.

Mary Coleman, owner of Gallery on 43rd Street, in Lawrenceville, says that, “you have to know who you are buying for and know them well. When you buy art, it should be based on how it makes you feel, not whether it goes with the couch.” Current artworks include pastels of trees by Diane Grguras ($400), small studies of Pittsburgh neighborhoods by Ron Donoughe ($200), beautiful nesting bowls by Jill Moody

Scott Davidson, photography Across the Mon (top) Rowing on the Allegheny (bottom)

Pellegrino ($185); and glass art by Sam Foreman, including pretty ornaments ($20).

also suggested giving images of Pittsburgh to people who have moved away.

Through December, while browsing items at the Gallery, you can also take in the exhibition of small works by Dylan Critchfield-Sales, painted in Norway where the artist worked in a studio and farm for seven months. They include black and white watercolor portraits, and interiors done in oils ($175 to $1000).

Across town, Michael Hertrich Art+Frame, on the South Side, has two very different painting exhibitions in December, with something to entice the buyer regardless of artistic tastes. The month starts with an exhibit of painting by Nellie Lou Slagle, whose work is abstract and painterly, with gorgeous colors. And Patrick Ruane is exhibiting “Out of the Woods,” including new large oil paintings that bring the viewer into nature, with images of barren trees set against clear open skies or receding into the fog ($400-$4,500).

Photographs of Pittsburgh always go over well. Gallery patron Lynne Flavin has given photographs by Scott Davidson to her nephews, and notes that it’s a good way to educate them and influence their taste. She

Patrick Ruane, oil painting Untitled #1 (top) Untitled #2 (bottom)

Nellie Lou Slagle, painting Expressionism (top) Botanical Garden #2 (bottom)

Ruane notes that giving a painting as a gift is very personal and touching. He has had couples come to his studio together to buy a gift for themselves. He gets enjoyment out of leaving them alone in a studio, lined with paintings, and then seeing how they reach a consensus on what’s right for them. — Because a gift of art can be personal, chic, and a worthy investment. And add a new true love to your holiday home. For more information, visit,

Dylan Critchfield-Sales, watercolor


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Election Aftermath

What it means to have Obama in office and where we go from here By John Britt After a campaign that seemed longer than President Obama’s first term, the advertisements are gone, vitriol has disappeared, and the result is clear and resolute: President Obama has been reelected. Despite unemployment numbers and an economy that many view as tenuous, the President captured a majority to claim re-election. Was it Mitt Romney’s disconnect with women voters? Or the continued belief in


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Hope and Change promised by President Obama four years ago? Yes, yes and more. Governor Romney failed to connect with women voters, which lately seems to be a problem for Republican candidates. This may be due to the party’s stance on reproductive rights and opposition to organizations that help women, such as Planned Parenthood. Governor Romney’s loss of the female vote cost him dearly. Preelection polling showed that if only women voted, President Obama would win in a landslide.

Of course, President Obama had his own demographic problems. While he had the majority of female, minority and LGBT voters, white men favored Governor Romney by a large margin. But President Obama’s favorable numbers with women and minorities was more than enough to propel him to victory. And his message of Change and Hope still rang true with many younger voters. Locally, President Obama won Pennsylvania and Ohio. This is n ot surprising in Pennsylvania, which has voted consistently

for the Democratic presidential candidate. Ohio was highly contested, but the improving economy in Ohio and Obama’s support of the auto industry likely gave him the edge in the Buckeye State. West Virginia once again voted for the Republican candidate, which was predictable. But what are the implications of this victory? There are several issues that need to be considered. After all, a President does not govern the nation alone; the Legislative and Judicial branches have a large role in the process, and sometimes a larger role than the President. Congress didn’t change dramatically in this election. Senator Casey was able to retain his Senate seat, despite a strong challenge from Tom Smith, yet Democrat Mark Critz lost his bid for another term in Congress. As it stands today, the Republicans still have control of the House, and the Democrats keep control of the Senate. The important issue though, is that Congress controls the money, not the President. He can propose, but Congress must enact. The Democrats retaining control of the Senate is a huge benefit for the President, but Republican control of the house inhibits his ability to act. And, frankly, most people seem to like it this way. The next major branch, Judicial, is critical. The President will probably have the opportunity to appoint two Supreme Court justices. Having President Obama appoint the justices, rather than Romney, is crucial. President Obama’s appointees are more likely to support the reproductive rights of women, although Supreme Court justices are not always predictable. And this brings us to how all of this affects the LGBT community. The next Supreme Court will decide the rights of the LGBT nation. This is not only marriage rights,

but the rights of same-sex couples in all aspects. Will you be able to visit your partner in the hospital when he or she is gravely ill? Will you have the right to make decisions regarding your partner’s health care? Will you be treated with the respect that you deserve regarding decisions involving your partner? Will your employer be required to provide you and your partner with the same benefits given to other couples? With a Supreme Court appointed by President Obama, the outlook improves tremendously. As President Obama said in his victory speech after the election, “it doesn’t matter who you are or where you come from or what you look like or where you love. It doesn’t matter whether you’re black or white or Hispanic or Asian or Native American or young or old or rich or poor, able, disabled, gay or straight. I believe we can seize this future together because we are not as divided as our politics suggests. We are greater than the sum of our individual ambitions… ” This is why, for many of us, President Obama’s re-election is so meaningful. Our rights are more secure. Our future looks better. And to my many good Republican friends, in our fractured society, a little more than 50 percent of our country is very happy with the results and a little less than 50 percent will be miserable. It’s a good thing.

“it doesn’t matter who you are or where you come from or what you look like or where you love. It doesn’t matter whether you’re black or white or Hispanic or Asian or Native American or young or old or rich or poor, able, disabled, gay or straight. I believe we can seize this future together because we are not as divided as our politics suggests. We are greater than the sum of our individual ambitions… ”



The GIFT GUIDE 2012 Photographed by Mara Rago

TAKERS ‘Tis the season to celebrate!

We rallied some gorgeous girls and guys to help us toast to the holiday — and to compile the ultimate gift guide for every adored darling on our list. Peruse our picks for what to give everyone, from your crush to your “personal chef,” and circle something special for hardworking, good-looking, big-gifting you. You deserve it. Cheers! 22

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For your BOSS:

The first batch of aged whiskey available in Pittsburgh since Prohibition will be released on December 15. (Wigle Whiskey is opening its doors at 9 a.m. and giving the first 50 people in line a whiskey-spiked hot cocoa!) And you can score a bottle for your higher-up to show off your distinguished taste and historic sense of style. Aged Wigle Whiskey, .375 ml (half-size) bottle. $24.


Reward the astounding eye of your favorite architect of aesthetics with a Series 7 chair, made famous by Danish designer Arne Jacobsen and still produced today by Fritz Hansen. Show off, and throw in a print from one of the most famous nude photo shoots of all time: the iconic 1963 reel with model Christine Keeler, curving into the chair’s sensual lines. Fritz Hansen Series 7 chair, $531.


Your buddy probably needs a hug. And a bubble bath. And then another hug. Gift organic Affina bath towels from the Hexogonaria line — the design is based on the Petoskey stone, a fossilized 350 million-year-old coral named after Ottawa Indian Chief Ignatius Petosega whose name poetically means “rising sun” or “rays of dawn.” Warm and fuzzy thoughts, huh? Affina organic bath towels, $65 for a 3-piece set.


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For your PARTNER:

For your QUEEN:

Snuggle on him or her. No mistletoe required when there’s cashmere. Club Monaco Cardigan, $698.

Dote on your diva with a fancy and fierce tube of red lipstick. She’ll feel timelessly beautiful and effortlessly sexy — and will most likely dedicate her next song to y-o-u. Diorific by Dior, Dolce Vita, $36.


Nothing says “Thank you for getting me through some rough sh**” like a stylish flask. And if there are two things you can count on from your drinking buddy, it should be good advice and good booze. Make sure your sage has both, on the go. Bottoms up! Dean Chocolate Wax Flask Set, $50.

For your BOY CRUSH:

Dress him up in your love. Show the gentleman of your dreams how dapper you think he is by arranging for a fitting. And then take him out for a fancy night on the town to show off his new duds. He’ll prance like a prince, styled in clean lines and razorsharp structure, and you can playfully call him “Mr. Bond” all night. Geoffrey Beene comfort stretch slim fit dress shirt, $52.50. Alfani slim fit suit separates: pants, $80; jacket, $149.99. Geoffrey Beene slim back tie, $55. 24

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If you’re lucky enough to have a hunky culinarian in your life — you know, the guy who’s always dropping by with the ingredients to whip up a beautiful Bolognese while you talk and pour the wine — then it’s time to gift the Teranishi Market Tote. The hand-worked leather smells and feels like heaven, and your cook will look deliciously hot with this over his shoulder at Whole Foods. Teranishi Market Tote, $300.


The one who builds the best playlist in your world should own the smallest, coolest speaker in the world. It’s wireless and will play the tunes from your groove master’s cell phone, even if he/she is dancing in the other room — you know, mixing a drink while you’re shaking your tail feather. Jawbone Jambox Red Dot, $199.


The SpareOne phone takes one AA battery and keeps a charge for 15 years. It’s good for 10 hours of talk time, and it works everywhere (So, you can summon your sexy sweetie no matter where he/she is.) Plus, pop in a pre-paid SIM card, and your dearest will never get a bill. SpareOne Emergency Phone, $99.99.

For your FIRST DATE:

If the eggnog gives you the gumption to finally ask that Mr. or Mrs. Right on a date, you’ve got to bring a gift. Wrap up the iPhone pocket projector, and screen a sexy movie in an unexpected location — like inside an aquarium. You’ll totally score a date #2. Brookstone Pocket Projector, $179.99.

For the BITCH WHO ALWAYS LOOKS BETTER THAN YOU (and you love her for it):

Did you know that you could show up to a party in Nicole Miller, Vera Wang, or Badgley Mischka without selling your car? Rent the Runway proffers the fashion-obsessed with up-to-the-minute style (in your size) for four to eight days, without breaking the bank. Give this gift card to your favorite date, and then RSVP to a gala worthy of Anna Sui. Rent the Runway, gift cards available from $50-$1,000.


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HONEY, HONEY The lady in William’s life is actually a pit bull By Alicia Fennel Photographed by Mara Rago Three and a half years ago, William Wingo went to the Animal Rescue League to find a friend. He walked down rows of sad, whiny, barking dogs until he saw her: a honey-colored pit bull with matching eyes. “She stood straight up, with her paws on the gate and cried,” William says. “My heart broke. Her name was ‘Bunny.’ It took about 10 seconds to correct that to ‘Honey.’” The two took immediately to friendly walks and playful romps in Frick Park. William especially remembers the first time he let Honey off of her leash: She splashed around in the creek and bounded around with the other dogs. “As we approached the parking lot, she took off running,” William says. “Simultaneously a car was pulling up, and I watched, mortified, as my 75-pound, soaking wet pit bull jumped into the side of the car! She crawled across a terrified passenger and positioned herself between the two front seats, upon the consol, and grinned ear to ear, with her long, slobbering tongue hanging out. I apologized profusely, but, by then, the angry drivers had rolled up tinted windows. It’s hilarious to me now, but I was so embarrassed then.” Honey is still excited about making new friends. One of her favorite spots is Animal Nature, in Regent Square, where everyone knows her name. “They always have the coolest, newest, healthiest dog snacks and accessories,” William says. And a treat for William? Honey is the sweetest of them all.


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Getting In the


One of our own heads up the East Suburban Sports League By Ignacio Filippini Photographed by Mara Rago

Meet Jeanna Rayman. She loves sports. She grew up in North Huntingdon, playing everything from softball to tennis. An adorable aside: Jeanna even met her girlfriend, Lacey, playing basketball. “We were playing on opposing teams when I finally realized she was the cute girl from a Lez Liquor Hour, who I was secretly checking out for months,” Jeanna says. “That is when I decided to start letting her score on me — on the court — to make her feel better about her basketball skills.” For a while, Jeanna and her sister, Sheli, and her brother-in-law, Luke, drove into Pittsburgh to play flag football a couple of times a week. “Traffic could be a total nightmare, depending on what else was going on that night,” she remembers. Jeanna and her family saw an opportunity to bring adult intramural sports to Westmoreland County. Soon after that, the East Suburban Sports League (ESSL) was born. ESSL offers dwellers of the eastern suburbs the opportunity to continue to be involved in the sports that they grew up loving and to share in healthy physical activity with friends and family in their neighborhood. “The idea of having the ESSL is to encourage people to become active and have a good time,” Jeanna says. “Adults from all over are encouraged to put together a team and become a part of the ESSL.” Jeanna’s also busy building teams for individuals. “Individual sign-ups are great for people who are new to the area, looking for a way to meet others. We will put together a team for you.” 28

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“ADULTS FROM ALL OVER ARE ENCOURAGED TO PUT TOGETHER A TEAM AND BECOME A PART OF THE ESSL.” Living east of Pittsburgh is not a prerequisite, just a benefit, because the games will be held in “our neck of the woods.” For now, the games will be played at Norwin High School. “At first, we looked into renting a gym. Then, we reached out to the athletic director at the Norwin School District and developed a working relationship there,” Jeanna says. “As we grow and more people become part of ESSL, we will also grow our home courts to incorporate more of the surrounding areas.” 
 The cost of registering a team is $450, and individual registration is $45. The price of registration will get you regular number of season games, at least one play-off game, official referees, and an awesome t-shirt. Anyone over the age of 18 can play. And, Jeanna says: “You don’t have to be a superstar; all ability levels are welcome.” This winter, ESSL will offer basketball. In the spring, Jeanna and her team are looking outside traditional intramural sports to include other options like flag football, ultimate frisbee, kickball, and dogdeball. Registration is open one month before the beginning of each season, and the first nine teams to sign up, or to form out of individual sign-ups, get to play. The ESSL just had their season opener, and the first event was a resounding success. “We have very evenly matched teams this season, which makes the games enjoyable to watch and to play” Jeanna says. “The competitive level was high, making the games very entertaining. We’re so excited to see this project grow.” For more information on the ESSL visit


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Marriage Matters Pittsburgh’s Evan Wolfson Gives a Marriage Equality Pep Talk By Nora Mathews Photographed by Jeff Sheng Have you spent the past month celebrating those history-making election victories for LGBT rights? Then, maybe you should write Squirrel Hill native Evan Wolfson a thank-you note. The founder and president of the Freedom to Marry Coalition was, after all, the primary engineer behind the November 6 coup for marriage rights in Maine, Maryland, Washington, and Minnesota. “It’s really quite exciting,” Wolfson says. “Freedom to Marry set out some very bold and important goals for ourselves this year, and can now celebrate that we’ve been able to deliver on all of them.” The Taylor Allderdice alum’s crusade for equal marriage has been a long one. His résumé reads like a “best of” list for gay rights issues, from his work as co-council in the Hawaii case that kicked off the global marriage movement to arguing before the Supreme Court in Boy Scouts of America vs. Dale. It’s gratifying to know that after all that hard work, Wolfson (who is now a New York resident) can finally sample his own product. A year ago, he married his partner of 10 years, and readily admits that he’s “still glowing.” I got a laugh when I asked if first hand experience has changed his take on the institution. The familiar question must be an occupational hazard. “We are the couple we’ve been, the couple we’ve made ourselves over the last 10 years. But it does feel very different. It’s been a wave of happiness, and it really has felt like a deepening of the commitment to one another.” 3 0

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Wolfson went on to hypothesize that it’s the very language we use to talk about marriage that has made the new phase of his relationship feel so different. “[My husband and I] get to share with so many people who, through the vocabulary of marriage and even the vocabulary of the wedding, want to talk about it and celebrate it.” This argument for the importance of marriage, not just as an institution but also as a word, comes up again when we start to talk about what we can do here in Pennsylvania to help the cause. “You should never start by bargaining against yourself,” he says, referring to the separate-butequal arguments for civil union and domestic partnership. “The key work really needs to be with people in Pennsylvania telling their stories, making the ask, keeping at it, and beginning the conversations by making clear that we do care about this, and we want them to care, too. If we go in and we say things like, ‘Oh, we don’t care what it’s called, you can call it whatever you want, just give us legal protections… ‘ Well… if we don’t care, why should they care?” He went on to praise the strides that Pittsburgh has made for LGBT rights since his high school days, and the conversation closed with a call to action: “Pittsburgh’s done what it can. Now we need to organize the people in Pittsburgh to get Pennsylvania to follow Pittsburgh and Philadelphia’s lead.” For more information, visit



Cross people off your list with these tips for what to give and how to budget By Lauren Uranker Remember that one holiday season when all of the shopping was done in early December, your to-do list was compact, concise, and full of crossed-off items; every person you exchanged gifts with got a little misty-eyed after opening their present, exclaiming, “How did you know?!”; and you still had enough money when it was all said and done for a massage and a head-turning New Year’s Eve outfit? Oh, me neither. We might not have enough page space to talk about making all of the above a reality, but let’s discuss the money thing. Budgeting can be a challenging task anytime, but throw in the pressure of buying presents for family, friends, and the one who makes your heart go pitter-patter (whether they know it or not), and you’ve got yourself a good old-fashioned anxiety attack. Kidding! Here are a few ideas on how to allocate your resources and plan accordingly this December (even while you are watching TV, wondering out loud who actually buys a car as a gift for someone, and where they get those giant bows):

Compose a list of people for whom you’d like to buy a gift, and outline what you’d like to give them and how much it will cost. I know it can sometimes be hard figuring out what other people might want, but it is also hard aimlessly wandering around Ross Park Mall on Black Friday. By compiling a list up front, you can save yourself time and money. Consider experiences instead of things. I’m sure this isn’t a new idea, but I think it’s under-utilized. Instead of a gift exchange with friends, have everyone bring an ingredient for a pan of lasagna to cook together (and if necessary, insert “booze” for “an ingredient,” “cocktail party” for “pan of lasagna,” and “remember forever” for “cook together”). If you are happily paired with the love of your life, just tell them that you ARE the gift! If that doesn’t work, fall on your Plan B, which is great communication. Let’s be honest, talking about finances with your partner is sexy. Discuss spending limits and remember, they fell in love with you before you won that bid on eBay for a signed

original copy of their favorite childhood book (and you can use that idea if you want). Instead of buying each other anything at all, what if you took a trip together after the holiday madness died down? You could start on that home renovation project you’ve been talking about, or pool your funds for a 2013 Arts Festival splurge item. The possibilities are endless! Most importantly, really remember and believe that things don’t really matter when you take a look at the big picture. Christmas commercials and decorated storefronts would like to convince you otherwise, but we are too smart to fall for that old trick. To summarize in one sentence, no one really buys anyone a car for Christmas. And to summarize with one more sentence, budgeting and planning before the holidays can take away a good portion of the stress created by our gift-giving world, affording you the opportunity to truly enjoy this time of year with those around you.

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I Before We, Except After Me

Losing our identities in a relationship By Lauren McKenna What do lesbians bring on a second date? A U-Haul. As self-deprecating as that joke actually is, it’s also a slap in the face of reality. Women certainly share a bond that is untouchable. The empathy, the emotion, and the out-and-out tenderness and love are crucial to successful partnerships. But sometimes, that same love and tenderness breeds something more serious that borders on an obsession. 32

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For anyone who can recall The L Word in such startlingly clear detail as I do (I wish I could say the same for my multiplication tables), you’ll remember when Dana Fairbanks met Tonya at a hotel during Dinah Shore weekend, fell madly in lust, moved in with her, and then got engaged shortly thereafter. All to the chagrin of Alice, Dana’s best friend-cum-lover, who muttered an exasperated, “It’s the lesbian urge to merge.” We’ve all seen it happen, joked about it, and even lived it. What is it about getting into a relationship that makes us forget who we are? We put our best foot forward at first, tucking away our ratty sweatpants into a black hole where we refuse to acknowledge

And sweetly, our sweetie mentions how much Taylor has gotten her through, how she hates football, and how she thinks cardio is overrated. Fast forward six months: Your head won’t stop the broken-record replay of the concert performance of “You Belong With Me”, your fantasy team is 1-5, and you can’t even shimmy into those skinny jeans, let alone run a morning 5k. Instead, you and the girlfriend are sitting on the couch, in matching sweats, jog bras, and Nike head bands, watching reruns of Honey Boo Boo. And remember those people you used to call your friends? You know, the ones who are now alarmed if you a) come out without your significant other or b) come out at all. It’s understandable to want to tone down the booze cruise, sloppy karaoke, and boogie nights, but it’s not right to shelve the people who listen to us cry and support our dorky obsession with Harry Potter. (Or, worse yet: Twilight). So what gives? Why are we like this? Dr. Helen Fisher, out of Rutgers University, explains that serotonin and dopamine in the brain cause this crazy chemical reaction when we’re falling in love. We literally obsess over girls because it changes our chemical balance. Unfortunately for some of us, this also translates into keeping a carbon copy of ourselves in our girlfriend. Ladies, this is not Single White Female, this is love. Let’s keep it cool! Some levels of bonding are adorable and healthy. They’re what make us grow as a couple, and appreciate each other more. It’s sweet that you’ve started knitting or going to yoga class with her, but it’s also okay for her to go by herself, while you have a Deathly Hallows marathon with the BFF. It’s easy to get swept away in the googly-eyed romantic bubble we create in our relationships, but it’s also important to preserve the parts of ourselves that brought us there in the first place. The ones that she fell in love with, and the ones we love most about ourselves. Remember your pals, don’t skimp on the gym routine, and continue to loathe Taylor Swift. If she can’t love you for your individuality, you shouldn’t succumb to a follow-the-leader mentality. You’re not a sheep (though I’m sure you do look cute in a fuzzy wool sweater).


existence. We’re vivacious, and creative; we’re witty and charming, we draw lines in the sand about how much we hate Taylor Swift, love fantasy football, and wouldn’t miss a morning run on the treadmill as if we were training for a triathlon.

A subscription to Equal Magazine would make the perfect holiday gift for you or that special someone. Plus it’s the only way to guarantee that you’ll receive it!


Rates start at just an issue and help defray the cost of postage: $10 = 11 issues ($0.91 an issue) $18 = 22 issues ($0.82 an issue) $24 = 33 issues ($0.73 an issue)

Subscribe today at


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Sweet Life

Pittsburgh’s Willy Wonka talks milkshakes, marriage equality, and what it was like to come out while working for George Bush. By Kara Holsopple Photos courtesy Edward Marc Chocolatier “If you want to view paradise, simply look around and view it,” sings Willy Wonka, the title character in the 1971 classic about an improbable tour through a magical chocolate factory. For a young Chris Edwards, paradise was closer than for most. His family actually owned a chocolate factory, just like in his favorite movie. Only instead of Oompa Loompas, it was operated by his tight-knit Greek family. All grown up, Chris Edwards now serves as vice president for marketing and business development for a new iteration of the family business. He splits his time between


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Pittsburgh and Washington D.C., with a steady stream of travel thrown into the mix. The family’s nearly 100-year-old Pittsburghbased chocolate dynasty has had a few names over the years: Geoffrey Boehm Chocolates, Sherm Edwards Candies, Chocolate Celebrations. It’s been rebranded as Edward Marc Chocolatier, a higher end, affordable luxury version, specializing in distinctive blue boxes of handcrafted truffles and chocolates. There are a couple of stores in Pittsburgh, one at the Pentagon, and their confections are on offer at forty two Saks Fifth Avenue stores and at Dean and Deluca. But beyond a few items which are made on-site at stores, almost all of the treats are still handmade in Trafford, Pennsylvania, on Edward’s grandfather’s equipment.

Chris Edwards knew he’d take over the business one day, and in 2007, he and siblings Dana Manatos and Mark Edwards began to do just that. “The No. 1 thing our family taught us is that family is the most important thing in life,” says Edwards. He says working with his brother and sister, and their close, respectful relationship, is one of the things that makes him most proud. It seems their only problem these days is keeping up with the rapid growth and success that their partnership has created. At the heart of their new enterprise is The Milkshake Factory. Its South Side location, where Edward Marc chocolates are also sold, was once run as a candy store by his

mother, Dona. Edwards lived upstairs while he attended Duquesne University. Now its fire engine red tin ceiling and ice cream parlor counters are a nod to the past, and their new offerings can make even the most serious adult feel like a kid in a candy store. —Like the custom milkshake he and his partner, Albert Fonticiella, created last year: Pumpkin Spice Mocha made with coffee, pumpkin, cinnamon and chocolate sauce. Lines have been out the door for their Wednesday night Milkshake Happy Hours. “It really makes people happy. It’s a fun place to be,” Edwards says. Soon, they’ll be making even more people happy with a Milk Shake Factory location in Washington D.C, and Milk Shake Factory brand products finding their way into grocery stores around the country. While he doesn’t sport the wild hair and dramatic top hat of Willie Wonka, Edwards does share the character’s enthusiasm for possibilities and innovation. And, like the movie, Chris Edwards’ life has a more serious side. Though chocolate is in his blood, as a kid, Edwards was attracted to politics. He watched Ann Compton report from in front of the White House for ABC News, and said, “I want to work there some day.” It was a moment his grandmother reminded him of years later as he was giving her a tour of Air Force One. His dream came true, and he travelled to more than 70 countries on the plane in his role as special assistant to the President and director of press advance in the George W. Bush administration. Later, he served as deputy chief of staff to Governor Sarah Palin during the campaign for John McCain’s bid for the White House. (Check out the portrayal of him in the film Game Change).

When asked about the link between chocolates and politics, Edwards says his time at the White House gave him the best training for running the family store. He specialized in marketing an individual — the President — through images and media. “I understood how important it was

The family’s nearly 100-year-old Pittsburgh-based chocolate dynasty has had a few names over the years: Geoffrey Boehm Chocolates, Sherm Edwards Candies, Chocolate Celebrations. to humanize our brand, and to relate to people,” Edwards says Humanizing the story comes into play in another important area of Edwards’ life: the fight for marriage equality. In 2004, he was one of the first people to come out as a gay man in the Bush administration. “Everybody rallied around me. There wasn’t any discrimination at all,” he says. In fact, he received letters, and was told by others in the administration that he’d helped them feel accepted in that traditionally conservative environment. “It really inspired me and gave me hope that change would occur.”

His interest in marriage equality was a natural progression. Family values and his Greek Orthodox upbringing are central to him. “These principles still pertain to my life. That’s important for me to talk about.” Now he and his partner are very involved in the LGBT community in Washington D.C., and in other charitable causes, like breast cancer prevention. Edwards was part of the host committee for a bipartisan American Foundation for Equal Rights (AFER) fundraiser in New York, which raised $2 million dollars. And Edward Marc Chocolatier has donated many pounds of chocolate to marriage equality events and fundraisers. They’ll even be debuting their own rainbow non-pareil candy in support of the cause. He’s committed to spreading the word that marriage equality is a civil rights issue, not a political one. And he says firmly, “It’s important, as a Republican, to be on the right side of history.” His once apolitical family is also more engaged. Edwards’ brother and sister worked in Washington, and though the family comes to the table from both political parties, they revel in the conversation that results. “We enjoy the dynamics,” he says, of mixing chocolate and politics. “It’s a way for me to give back to the community. I think it’s one of the greatest honors to be able to serve in that capacity.” Though their business is expanding to a national market, Pittsburgh is still home. “The foundation we’ve got here and the people who helped us along the way are things we really hold on to,” he says. And, of course, family. Edwards’ parents are supportive and still hands on: He admits Mom is the boss. While Edwards and his fourth-generation partners are making their own future, they are constantly reminded of


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"...He travelled to more than 70 countries on the plane in his role as special assistant to the President and director of press advance in the George W. Bush administration. Later, he served as deputy chief of staff to Governor Sarah Palin during the campaign for John McCain’s bid for the White House. (Check out the portrayal of him in the film Game Change)." their rich past. “I know how hard the generations before us worked. I think it would be incredible to have seen our grandparents see our chocolates in Saks Fifth Avenue,” he says. Christmas is Edward Marc Chocolatier’s biggest season. Some favorites include Eggnog and Gingerbread Truffles and Caramel Apples. For stocking stuffers, Edwards recommends dark or milk chocolate Pretzel Bites. He says Salted Caramels and Terrapins (their take on gooey caramel and nut confections) are always popular. While Nancy Pelosi and the D.C. set prefer Washington-themed chocolates and chocolate dipped strawberries, Pittsburghers get a sweet tooth for chocolates made into fun shapes, like footballs. James Harrison is a fan. He’s just one of the local and national celebrities who have tweeted about it the South Side store and the Edwards family wares. For more information please visit

Chris Edwards (pictured right) with his siblings Dana and Mark 3 6

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Candi Castleberry-Singleton works for the golden rule By Megan McLachlan Pittsburgh is a state of its own. “California is a large state with lots of individuality,” says transplant Candi Castleberry-Singleton, chief diversity officer at UPMC. “But Pittsburgh is a big extended family, a state on its own.” CastleberrySingleton cites the city’s self-proclaimed “Steeler Nation” as one of the many ways Pittsburgh expands this autonomy. “We are our own nation.”

“Most people think a role like mine [is to have] responsibility for recruitment and training,” says CastleberrySingleton. “Our efforts are focused on employee engagement.”

And it’s a nation that Castleberry-Singleton is striving to make more diverse and culturally aware through her work with the Dignity & Respect campaign, an initiative that strives to follow the golden rule: Treat others the way you would want to be treated. “Most people think a role like mine [is to have] responsibility for recruitment and training,” says Castleberry-Singleton. “Our efforts are focused on employee engagement.” The Dignity & Respect initiative started in 2008, with UPMC employees committing to uphold the golden rule, in addition to providing feedback on respectful behavior in the workplace. Through surveys, employees were asked about the delivery of culturally competent care at all levels. “The primary effort was moving the needle,” she explains. “My work is to enable the employees to do a good job. It has to be the work of every employee.”

By 2009, the initiative had expanded to the Pittsburgh community, with Mayor Luke Ravenstahl proclaiming October to be “Dignity & Respect Month.” “The second initiative [was to] add the element of cultural awareness, moving from dignity and respect to being culturally competent,” CastleberrySingleton says. This part of the initiative helps people to put themselves in someone else’s shoes. “There’s not a consistent job description for people who do this work,” she says. And she doesn’t seem to be slowing down anytime soon, with projects like Healthy Community, Healthy You on the front burner. Officially launched during Pittsburgh Pride Week in 2012, Healthy Community, Healthy You is an initiative that encourages fitness participation where members can earn gift cards for taking part in their physical wellness. Technology is being utilized, too, with mobile apps and online health records impacting many different groups, especially older people and lower-income families. Like the doctors at UPMC, Castleberry-Singleton is also saving lives — not just the lives of Pittsburghers, but, as the campaign spreads, the lives of people across the nation, all the way back to her home state. “I think I have an amazing job,” she says. “To help people, to be respected — somebody pays me to do this.”


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BIG Love


The Season of Oversized Sweaters

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By Rachel Vallozzi Photographed by Sierra Mendoza

was the first fearless, quirky, trendsetting character I ever encountered.

You know that moment when something important from your tweenage years smacks you in the back of the head? We’ve all got parts of our awkward young selves tucked away out of mind, happily forgotten so we can go on with our comparatively dignified lives.

If you’re not familiar (or don’t remember), Claudia Kishi is a fashion-forward character from The Babysitter’s Club, the 100-plusbook cornerstone of the ‘90s tween fiction canon. This series launched a generation of dreams, middle-school business ventures, and — apparently — crushes.

I recently had a moment like this when hashing out specifics of everyone’s favorite book series about babysitters. After some shocking words spilled out of my mouth, I realized a thought that’s been hanging at the back of my brain forever: I had a crush on Claudia. I always thought I wanted to be her. No. I wanted to make out with her. I’ve never been interested in what “girls like me” were “supposed to wear.” Claudia

Exhilarated at unearthing this gem of a memory, I hit the internet to uncover more about why Claudia had affected me. Sure enough, there’s a blog — — all about my favorite babysitter’s fashion. And it’s not the only one!

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Just as I remembered, in book #28, Claudia “was wearing a long, oversized black-and-

Claudia’s style was loud and proud. Think layers, prints, leggings, and plastic accessories. Think Lady Gaga on a calm day in middle school, with long, gorgeous black hair.

white sweater, skin-tight black leggings, pink-and-black socks, and black ballet slippers.” Claudia’s style was loud and proud. Think layers, prints, leggings, and plastic accessories. Think Lady Gaga on a calm day in middle school, with long, gorgeous black hair. Homemade charms, big earrings, and Claudia’s signature: long, baggy sweaters. As a celebration of my long-forgotten muse, who sparked fearless fashion and bold self expression in the middleschoolers of the ‘90s, I’m declaring winter 2012 the season of the baggy sweater.

assets. This inspired me to do what any clothing-designing custom upcycler would do. I made booty-friendly oversized baggy sweaters! They’re as roomy as ever, but with some tweaks to showcase your curves. You’ll stop girls (or guys) in their tracks when you roll up in these statementmaking smocks. They’re super warm, totally comfy, and shamelessly cuddleinspiring. All looks were styled by Rachel Vallozzi, pieced together from her own collection and quick finds. For more information, visit

The only problem with an oversized sweater (when you’re past the age of consent) is that they cover your best

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Gays on TV

Coming to Terms With Not Having a Crush on Kirk Cameron By Tiff Waskowicz Coming of age in the late ‘80s and early ‘90s, I watched such situational comedies as The Facts of Life, Who’s the Boss, Growing Pains, Family Ties, and The Cosby Show. Not surprisingly, none

featured any “openly” gay characters. Although these sitcoms, with their canned laughter, pimpleless faces, predictable conflicts, and tidy resolutions, comforted me, they also reinforced that I was different.

1994: My So-Called Life featured a 15-year old gay teenager, “Rickie,” and chronicled his crush on a straight friend.

1996: Friends celebrated a lesbian wedding, yet the brides did not kiss.

1995: Roseanne aired an on-air kiss between a straight-identifying character, Roseanne Barr, and a “possible lesbian character” played by Mariel Hemingway.



1994: IKEA aired what many consider to be the first “gay television advertisement.” 40

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No, Kirk Cameron did not make me swoon. Michael J. Fox’s Tiger Beat picture was not thumb-tacked to my bulletin board. I failed to understand why my mom wanted the “hunky’’ Tony Danza to vacuum her carpets. I neither “aaaahed” nor “oooohed” with the


1995: Star Trek featured a kiss between two women.

1997: Ellen DeGeneres came out on Oprah. Thereafter, her fictional character, Ellen Morgan, came out to her fictional therapist, who was played by Oprah. Accordingly, Ellen became the first openly lesbian actor to play the lead role as a lesbian in a television sitcom, and in doing so, changed LGBT television forever.


1997: Spin City featured a gay mayoral aide, whom many critics praised for defying gay stereotypes.


audience when Dr. and Mrs. Heathcliff danced cheek-tocheek, and nothing disappointed me more than a Facts of Life episode about the Eastland girl’s boyfriends, or, even worse, the prom. Accordingly, growing up gay during a television era of relative “gay absence” complicated and stunted my acceptance/coming-out process. Without the ability to self- identify with any television actors or characters, my feelings, desires, and crushes — frankly — scared me, disgusted me, and ultimately culminated in me asking one of the most dangerous questions an adolescent can ask: “What is wrong with me?” Then, in 1993, something happened.

1998: Will and Grace debuted. Journalists criticized the show for perpetuating gay stereotypes, yet praised it for not shying away from gay topical issues and for promoting gay visibility.

2001: Six Feet Under’s nuanced portrayal of main character, David Fischer (portrayed by the talented Michael C. Hall), who struggles with reconciling his sexual orientation with his religious and political beliefs, is praised for defying onedimensional gay stereotypes/experiences. Moreover, the misconception that an actor who plays a “gay character” will be typecast is shattered when Michael C. Hall goes on to portray the heterosexual, serial killer character, Dexter Morgan, in the acclaimed series, Dexter.

1997: ER featured a doctor, who just happened to be a lesbian. No big deal.

1998 1997: The ABC drama, Relativity (which, sadly, has faded into obscurity), aired an intimate, openmouth kiss between two women, both of whom identified as lesbians.

2001: Buffy the Vampire Slayer portrayed an evolving lesbian relationship, which many critics commend as the first accurate depiction of a same-sex relationship on television between two continuing, main characters.



2001 2001: On Friends, Jennifer Aniston’s character, Rachel, kisses an old friend from college, Melissa, played by Winona Ryder. After the kiss, Melissa confesses her love for Rachel.

2000: Queer as Folk first debuted in the United States and followed the lives of five gay men in Pittsburgh (woohoo).


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My dad and I were walking together, and, seemingly out-of-the blue, he told me that Amanda Bearse, the woman who played Marcy, the quintessential pesky next door neighbor on the hit sitcom, Married with Children, had publicly come out as a lesbian. My initial reaction was pure panic and embarrassment. Why was he telling me

this? Did he know about me? Had he read my journals and decoded my topsecret language to decipher that I was hopelessly in love with my best friend? As if sensing my discomfort, my dad proceed to tell me how brave he thought Amanda Bearse was, how the cast of Married with Children fully supported her, and how it made no difference to him

2004: Desperate Housewives, created by an openly gay writer Marc Cherry, included not only a gay couple who moved to the conservative, suburban Wisteria Lane, but also, a “gay son” who struggled with coming out to his conservative family.

2007: Barbara Walters airs a powerful 20/20 Special regarding transgender youth. 2007: Private Practice and The Closer deliver unequivocal messages of embracing and protecting gay youths.

2004: On The Simpsons, Marge Simpson’s sister revealed her intent to enter a same-sex marriage.



2002: The Wire introduced the first regular Asian-American lesbian, Detective “Kima” Greggs, on television. Notably, Detective Greggs’ “lesbianism” is incorporated throughout the series rather than being dropped on the viewer from the get-go.


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I barely responded to my dad’s comments. I shrugged them off with a teenager’s “that’s cool” or its equivalent. But, two major things resulted from that conversation:

2006: Actor Neil Patrick Harris, who plays the lady’s man on the hit show, How I Met Your Mother, confirms he is gay, saying, “I am happy to dispel any rumors or misconceptions and am quite proud to say that I am a very content gay man, living my life to the fullest and feel most fortunate to be working with wonderful people in the business I love.”

2003: Queer Eye for the Straight Guy debuted. Although successful, viewers, including former Congressman Barney Frank, criticized it for perpetuating the stereotype that gay men have a better fashion sense than straight men.


whether she was gay or straight because love is love.

2006 2004: The L Word debuted. Reviewers criticized it for failing to accurately portray lesbian diversity, yet praised it for successfully countering the notion of “lesbian death bed.”

2007 2007: A positive trend began of portraying gay people as part of everyday life rather than part of a storyline. For example, in a Saturday Night Live skit, a gay couple is included at a dinner party not as a part of the joke, but rather, as guests who just happen to be in attendance; in Smallville, one of the characters gives concert tickets to a male colleague, and, in response, the male colleague thanks him and informs him that his boyfriend will enjoy the show; and in How I Met Your Mother, a male couple holds hands in the background of a scene.

One, I routinely started to watch Married with Children, a show I previously disliked. I loved Ed O’Neil, Christina Applegate, and Katie Segal, for supporting my unlikely secret hero, Amanda Bearse, who, it turned out, had impeccable comedic timing, appeared to be just like everyone else on television, and was decisively not “disgusting” — which, in turn, helped me to feel less disgusting.

Since 1993 and Amanda Bearse’s historic coming out (she was the first prime time actress to do so) on television, the proverbial mirror of society, has featured significantly more gay characters, including, but not limited to the timeline below. I hope it inspires you to keep turning on your TV.

Disney Studios Motion Pictures, NBC, Bright/ Kauffman/Crane Productions, in association with Warner Bros. Television, Showtime Entertainment by Cowlip Productions, Tony Jonas Productions, Temple Street Productions in association with Channel 4 Television, WB TElevision Network, HBO, Bravo, Fox, and Time Warner.

Images are courtesy of (listed in no order): ABC, Paramount Pictures, Touchstone Television/

Two, when I did come out years later, my dad was the first person I told.

Courtesy Everett Collection, Paramount Domestic Television, Disney-ABC Domestic Television, Walt

2011: Transgender Chaz Bono dances on Dancing with the Stars.

2009: Glee debuted and features LGBT high school characters, who deal with adolescent issues such as relationships, fitting in, break-ups, etc.

2007: Ugly Betty delivers the crucial messages of acceptance of gay or questioning youth.

2012: The New Normal debuts and is criticized for perpetuating stereotypes. It is said to feature “more gay jokes per minute than even a car of teenage boys could conjure up.”

2009: Modern Family hailed by The New York Times as the “best new half hour of funny television “portrays a gay couple, who has adopted a child.


2009 2008: Brothers and Sisters, a show praised for its equal treatment of gay and straight characters, featured a gay wedding of one of its main characters.


2011: Grey’s Anatomy raises lesbian visibility by airing a wedding between two main characters and, this time, the brides do kiss.



2010: The Real L Word debuted, following the lives of six gay women in Los Angeles, showing the world that lesbians are often just as boring as heterosexuals.


2012: Huffington Post found that 27 percent of television viewers surveyed indicated that the visibility of openly gay characters on such shows as Glee, The New Normal, and Modern Family resulted in a favoring opinion of gay marriage.

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Home Fir the Holidays Green your holiday with a live Christmas tree By Scott Creary Photos by Paul g. Wiegman

When I was a child, my family made a tradition of cutting down our own Christmas tree. On these excursions, I couldn’t help but feel a little sad about taking the life of something so permanent for only a few weeks of delightful aroma and holiday bliss. But once we kids left the nest, and my parents switched to an artificial tree, it quickly proved itself to be a poor replacement. Let me tell you why. While a fake tree may make you feel less guilty at first, that guilt isn’t necessary — especially when it comes to our planet. In fact, the biggest reason for avoiding 44

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them is that they’re made of PVC, which is comprised of two pollutants: petroleum and chlorine. Even during production, PVC produces dioxin (a deadly toxin); it’s also nonrecyclable due to its heavy metal content, and it never breaks down. On the other end of the spectrum, live trees actually help the Earth by absorbing greenhouse gases and releasing oxygen. Yep, that’s right. Every Christmas tree farm acre creates enough oxygen for 18 people and, with 35,000 acres in Pennsylvania alone, we can all breathe a little easier. As an added bonus, these farms tend to prevent the takeover of suburban sprawl and intensive agriculture.

Another benefit of live trees is that they allow us to support local industry. As the largest national producer of Christmas trees, Pennsylvania is the ideal place to find your perfect pick and reduce your carbon footprint at the same time, since 85 percent of fake trees are made in China. Plus, the 100,000 Americans employed by farms like these will thank you for your purchase. Sure, live trees can have their downsides, like dropped needles and post-holiday disposal, but these are easy to turn into positives. First, let’s start with selection. Think again. These varieties (i.e., White, Fraser, Balsam and Canaan) retain their needles much better than spruces or pines, making them a top choice.




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Just make sure yours is freshly cut, and always keep your stand full of water. Follow this advice and no fake will likely ever hold a candle to these fragrant beauties. Fortunately, when it comes to disposal, solutions abound there, too. Have cast-offs from shaping your tree? Try repurposing some to make your own wreaths or garlands and simply compost the rest. Then, after the last of the eggnog is gone, make some fast arrangements to have your tree mulched. While many municipalities offer scheduled curbside pickups for this purpose, Pittsburgh also has four tree-cycling drop-off sites. At the end of the season, it doesnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t get much greener than that.







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Sean Gray 5 p.m. Welcome a few friends at home for a quick, decadent gathering with Trefethen Chardonnay, mixed nuts, and dark chocolatecovered Goji berries. 6 p.m. Head over to Point Brugge in Point Breeze to see Dana and Jay for a light dinner of my custom-designed salad: 1/2 order of the “Chad Chevre Salad” with 1 Crab Cake on the side and (of course) an order of Brugge Frites. A California Chardonnay goes nicely with this meal. 7 p.m. Cab it to Consol to see TransSiberian Orchestra perform their annual holiday concert. (My favorite! The lighting is INSANE!) 10 p.m. Swing by the Attack Theatre Intergalactic Headquarters for a bit of playtime and seven-minute performances at “Game Night Plus” and to support my great friends, Michele and Peter!

11:45 p.m. Dance over to SPIN to see Erich, John, and the boys for a Grey Goose Greyhound (vodka + freshly squeezed grapefruit juice) and to lip sync along to the music videos. 2 a.m. Walk home for a tall glass of ice water and a blood orange and jot down thoughts and must-do’s on a napkin. (It keeps thoughts succinct and on a 5”x5” space and helps me to remember the energy of the moment.)

“ I can’t leave home without...” Chapstick 5 Cobalt gum house keys cell phone ID ATM card $60 cash for tips and cabs

11 p.m. Next stop: 1947 Tavern on Ellsworth Avenue with the crew to have a specialty cocktail, crafted with love for my Bourbon pallet. — Or, Woodford Reserve on the rocks, if I’m feeling conservative.


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Equal Issue 2 Dec 2012  

Equal Magazine, published by the Delta Foundation of Pittsburgh, is a new monthly publication for the Pittsburgh LGBT community and its alli...

Equal Issue 2 Dec 2012  

Equal Magazine, published by the Delta Foundation of Pittsburgh, is a new monthly publication for the Pittsburgh LGBT community and its alli...