Wednesday, February 28, 2024

Pittsburgh gets new LGBTQ charity

A new non-profit organization has been established to address needs in the local regional LGBTQ community.

Finding charities that serve the under-served LGBTQ communities in rural and regional areas is like trying to find a unicorn in a haystack. But nationally-awarded LGBTQ blogger Sue Kerr has done something about the needs of her hometown community.

She’s a pivotal part of Pittsburgh LGBTQ Charities (PLC), whose mission is to raise community awareness and promote grassroots engagement for neighborhood quality of life, animal welfare, anti-poverty, and LGBTQ+ issues in Western Pennsylvania.

Board President Kerr runs or Pittsburgh Lesbian Correspondents, a blog exploring the LGBTQ experience from a Western Pennsylvania perspective.  She is also currently serving her second-term as co-chair of Pittsburgh’s first Commission on LGBTQIA+ Affairs. 

“I’ve been involved in countless service and art projects over the past two decades and almost all have required me to find a nonprofit fiscal sponsor to fully participate – that was exhausting,” explains Kerr. “Finally, I decided to simply create the nonprofit to meet the needs I’ve identified as gaps in regional services. It was time to build it myself.” 

Kerr has recruited a powerful board to PLC including local attorney and businessman F. Dok Harris; Anne E. Lynch, Executive Director of Three Rivers Community Foundation; and Sarah Hartman, Finance Director at Hillel Academy. Kerr also brought in nationally renowned philanthropic consultant Andrew Lane and worked with attorney Robert Disney to handle the establishment process. Former Roots Pride organizer and current healer and teacher through Tabernacle Life, Joy KMT, will join the board in January.

“Sue iss the most reluctant nonprofit founder I’ve known,” laughs Anne E. Lynch. “We’ve had countless conversations about the gaps in services and I’m proud she’s once again created something to fill a gap, rather than just talk about it. Pittsburgh doesn’t necessarily need another LGBTQIA+ nonprofit, but this work is already being done through her creative problem solving. We are better off moving in this direction.” 

The nonprofit is registered with the Commonwealth and has applied for IRS authorization, operating provisionally in the interim. PLC is separate from the blog, Pittsburgh Lesbian Correspondents, which is owned and published by Kerr. 

Their first project is a gift card drive to support neighbors who feed and manage cat colonies throughout the region.The organization plans to support other LGBTQ initiatives with sponsorships and growing existing projects the blog had previously launched with other 501c3 fiscal sponsors such as the AMPLIFY archive and an upcoming political blogging art residency. 

“I’ve known Sue for over a decade now. She has been an amazing teacher and leader – I know we are all excited to help her on this next journey,” says F. Dok Harris, member of the Board of Directors. “The cat food community is lucky to have such a hardworking champion!”

Over the years, multiple people have established organizations or foundations purporting to focus on the LGBTQ community. Kerr has often decried these efforts as vanity projects and plans to work with existing efforts to serve the community, not to reinvent the wheel. Including that sentence in a press release is a good example of how she is not launching your typical nonprofit. 

“This is not about me,” says Kerr. “I want to ensure that the blog, related content, and other queer materials are archived properly – that’s what pushed me to take this leap back into the 501c3 world. I want to lift up the great work people are doing and bring my privilege, experience, and resources to their tables if they’ll have me.” 

Kerr is a native Pittsburgh resident who grew up in West Mifflin and now lives in Manchester on Pittsburgh’s Northside with her wife. She has a BA in political science from Marymount University and a MSW with a focus on Community Orgnanizing from the University of Pittsburgh. She’s received numerous awards, including being named outstanding blog in 2019 by the GLAAD Media Awards and most recently, Best Local Blog and Best Lesbian Activist by the People’s Pride and SisTersPgh awards in 2020. 

Kerr is especially pleased to make PLC provisionally official during December, a month that also honors the 16th year of the blog and the 30th anniversary of her infamous internship photo with then-Congressman Rick Santorum (see attached media). It is also the month she was re-elected as co-chair of the City of Pittsburgh’s Commission on LGBTQIA+ Affairs established under the Administration of Mayor Bill Peduto. 

The organization will seek donations from the LGBTQ community and others who have benefitted or supported Kerr’s previous work through the blog and beyond.

PLC will be hosting virtual ‘house parties’ to introduce neighbors to the project. A little more information can be found at Donations to PLC can be made via the website.

Donations of gift cards and items for the cat food drive can be delivered to Kerr’s home in Manchester.

Queer Forty Staff

Queer Forty writing staff work hard to bring you all the latest articles to help inspire and inform.

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