Out to Make A Difference

The activist working to better our city, and the mayor who has made it possible

Politics. Wait! Don’t turn the page. This is about the good side of politics. Yes, it exists. There are those in the political world that use their powers for the benefit of mankind and, in this case, man-on-mankind. People like the out and proud hero of our story, Jim Sheppard. Sheppard is Special Assistant to the Mayor of Pittsburgh, Luke Ravenstahl, a position he has enjoyed for four years now. In that role, he is charged with community outreach, not only to the southern portion of the city of Pittsburgh, but also to the LGBT community. Sheppard also heads the mayor’s LGBT advisory council, started in 2007 by Ravenstahl as a way to ensure that Pittsburgh earns its title as the most livable city in the US for all residents.

Along with his community outreach duties, Jim Sheppard is the President of the Steel City Stonewall Democrats (the largest, most active LGBT political organization in western Pennsylvania), and he is involved with Pittsburgh’s Commission on Human Relations (CHR). The CHR is there to deal with issues of discrimination in the areas of housing, employment and public accommodations. In case you weren’t aware, sexual orientation is a protected status in the city of Pittsburgh. So, when a member of the Equal Magazine team was asked to leave a restaurant over a simple public display of affection, Sheppard flew in to save the day. Technically he didn’t fly, but he did offer sound advice on the proper legal actions one should take after such an offense. And that’s just as nifty.

Given that Sheppard attended a Catholic high school, he found it rather difficult to find acceptance. “I never would have envisioned such a change in just ten years’ time.” The refreshing lack of adversity that Sheppard has encountered in regards to his sexual orientation is certainly indicative of the marvelous changes taking place in the city of Pittsburgh. Sheppard mentioned just how proud he was to be working for Luke Ravenstahl who is “not only a great leader for our city but also incredibly supportive of me, as a person,” not to mention the entire LGBT community. Add to that the fact that our mayor just “came out” in support of marriage equality, I am inclined to agree with Sheppard.

So, should you encounter discrimination or injustice here in the city of Pittsburgh, fear not. Simply flash the Sheppard signal into the night sky. Or call his office. Jim Sheppard will be glad to help.

Roy Gloeckl resides in the southern hills of Pittsburgh, performing communications specialties for a local university. He is a lifelong gaymer who has yet to “catch ‘em all.” He is an actor who wants to be a cartoon. And yeah, he totally has a favorite dinosaur. Follow him on Instagram and tell him yours.