The March 18 anti-war march from East Liberty to Oakland has gained a new queer contingent. And the weekend's activities -- which mark the beginning of the Iraq War's fourth year -- has spawned concerts and opened a Greensburg front this year as well.
In addition to the usual groups, headed up by march sponsor The Thomas Merton Center in Garfield, the March 18 demonstration will include the new Steel Queer N'at queer artists collective.
The group was formed in November, says member Cole Lea of Wilkinsburg. "We haven't had as much visibility as straight white men who are good speakers," Lea says. "Political activism is crucial to our survival as queer artists. This is an extension of our day-to-day lives."
Suburban Awakening, a group formed by 22-year-old Ryan Williams of Murrysville, will hold a rally, short march and picnic in Greensburg on Sunday, March 19. Williams is a member of Pittsburgh Organizing Group, which is holding its own rally -- an anti-recruiting protest in front of Oakland's recruiting station on Forbes Ave. on Friday, March 17.
Williams lamented the lack of activism in Westmoreland County: "What do you hear about in Greensburg? I went 21 years without knowing there was a way to make my voice heard." The group's first Greensburg rally, in January, drew about 50 participants to the county courthouse steps.
The weekend's activities conclude Sunday night at the Brillobox in Lawrenceville with the "Iraqle Debacle," a benefit show marking the war's anniversary and featuring anti-war material. The concert, however, will raise funds for the New Orleans Musicians Clinic, an organization that serves uninsured musicians and was nearly wiped out by Hurricane Katrina. Concert organizer Maree Gallagher says it's a way to point up how the war has strained domestic resources so much that social services have taken a hit -- even the federal response to national disasters.
Counter-recruitment rally: Friday, March 17, 5-7 p.m., Forbes Ave. between Atwood St. and Oakland Ave., Oakland; Pittsburgh Anti-war March: 1 p.m., Saturday, March 18, Penn and Highland Avenues. Greensburg March: noon, Sunday, March 19, Westmoreland County Courthouse, with picnic following in St. Claire Park; "Iraqle Debacle," 7 p.m. Sunday, March 19, Brillobox, 4104 Penn Ave., Lawrenceville, featuring Anne Feeney, Jack Erdie, Mark Dignam, HutchSimonProject, John Marsiglio of the Knobs and Duo Prime of Turn, as well as Gene Collier's standup comedy. $10 donation suggested.--