Although Pittsburgh is the birthplace of such gay notables as Andy Warhol and Gertrude Stein, they had to leave town to fulfill their destinies. These days, though, there's every reason to stay: Pittsburgh boasts its own established gay community, with affordable housing, welcoming neighborhoods and activities for young and old.
A number of long-running annual events keep the community active. Near the top of the list is the Art for AIDS auction and must-go party, which benefits the Persad Center (see below) and takes place every May. Naturally, June means PrideFest: Pittsburgh's event usually comprises a march, picnic and rootin' for the home team at a Pirates game. Also in June, the local theater community hosts the Pittsburgh Pride Theater Festival (412-288-0358), with short plays on GLBT themes. The 10-day Pittsburgh International Lesbian and Gay Film Festival, now entering its third decade, occurs every October, supplemented by special screenings and events throughout the year (www.pilgff.org).
For ongoing events, grab a copy of Out, the locally published monthly gay news and entertainment paper and available at bars, café and other venues, or stop by the Web site (www.outpub.com) which offers hundreds of links to gay-oriented community and recreational resources -- from support groups for parents to cross-dressers, and hook-ups for square-dancers, church-goers and bowlers.
The Pittsburgh region is noted for its sports fans and its variety of recreational activities. Online, visit Steel City Sports (www.steelcitysports.org) for links to GLBT athletic activities ranging from indoors (darts) to outdoors (skiing, volleyball, running).
And don't forget that sometimes fun is spelled b-i-n-g-o. OUTrageous Bingo (412-422-0114), held monthly on the South Side, is a hot ticket, offering entertainment (keep your ink daubers clear of the drag queens!) and Bingo games ("Top or Bottom") with prizes, in a decidedly festive atmosphere. Proceeds benefit gay service organizations.
The Gay & Lesbian Community Center of Pittsburgh offers resources for GLBT individuals, their supporters and families (412-422-0114, www.glccpgh.org). The center offers meeting rooms, a library of more than 2,000 titles, a newsletter, youth groups, a referral phone line and Pride Direct, a directory to local gay-owned and GLBT-friendly businesses and services.
Pittsburgh's city code prohibits discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation in housing, employment and municipal services. If you suspect discrimination, contact the city's Human Relations Commission (412-255-2600) to lodge a complaint. If your complaint is found to be valid -- and if conciliation efforts fail -- the commission may demand restitution and enforce other sanctions.
You can also agitate for political change through the Steel City Stonewall Democrats, an organization for Dems active in GLBT causes (412-728-5262 or www.steel-city.org). Stonewall also supports Liberty PA PAC, which strives to elect gay-friendly candidates to office across the state. The Gertrude Stein Political Club (412-734-1474 or www.gertrudesteinclub.org) also keeps its eye on the local political scene.
The Persad Center provides counseling and support services for the GLBT community, as well as those living with HIV (412-441-9786, www.persadcenter.org). The Shepherd Wellness Community (412-683-4477, www.swconline.org) is another long-running organization devoted to supporting those with HIV and AIDS.
Bars and clubs run the gamut from leather and go-go boys to dance- and goth-friendly to swanky video cocktail lounge and low-key neighborhood watering hole. You'll find them among the locations listed in City Paper's on-line guide to Pittsburgh bars and clubs.