Articles by Melanie Shubitowski

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January, 2018

2017 Lake Erie Gala Recap

The 2017 Lake Erie Gala was held at the Clarion Hotel, 2800 W 8th St, Erie PA. The annual event, sponsored by the Lake Erie Group and Erie Sisters and Brothers (ES&B), began Wed. November 15th with the opening of registration, a pool and pizza party at the hotel, and optional bowling at Eastway Lane

February, 2017

Erie Sisters and Brothers Transgender Support Group Cabin Fever Weekend Feb 24-26

Erie Sisters & Brothers Transgender Support Group’s Cabin Fever Weekend will be held February 24th through the 26th at the Bel-Aire Clarion Hotel, 2800 W 8th Street in Erie. The event coincides with the annual Bar Stool Open in Erie. For more info or to register a team to participate in the Bar Stool Open, visit For reservations at the Clarion, call (814) 833-1116.

December, 2015

Another Great Gala

The annual Lake Erie Gala, moved up this year from its traditional date, was held at the Avalon Hotel Wednesday Oct. 28 through Sunday Nov. 1 with 78 attendees. Events began Wednesday evening with dinner at Molly Brannigan's, followed by a night of bowling at Green Garden Lanes. Tours began Thursday morning. First stop on the tour was Fuhrman's Cider Mill. After leaving Fuhrman's, the tour proceeded to The Brewerie, where we had lunch and a guided tour of the spooky catacombs beneath Union Station. We were the very first group several years back on a Gala tour to be able to see what was under Union Station, and it's every bit as spooky now as it was then. Among other things, still in storage there from the Cold War era were canisters of crackers from when the building was designated as a fallout shelter. Paranormal investigators have frequented the site over the years, and it doesn't disappoint. We then continued the tours with stops at Arundel Cellars & Brewing, and Arrowhead Winery before returning to the Avalon. Thursday Evening saw our only scheduled entertainer at the Avalon, Cliff Hopkins, who amazed the audience with his talents.

October, 2015

Lake Erie Gala Oct 28-Nov 1

The 2015 Lake Erie Gala, sponsored by the Erie Sisters and Brothers, will be held at the Avalon Hotel Oct. 28-Nov. 1 The event is moved up from our traditional week before Thanksgiving this year, to lessen the possibility of the kind of severe weather we had last year that blocked members from Buffalo and Canada. This year, being centered around the week of Halloween, the Gala will naturally be Halloween themed. Registration will open Wednesday morning, and our first event will be cocktail hour and dinner at Molly Branigan's, followed by bowling. Tours kick off Thursday morning, and will include a tour of the catacombs below Union Station, aka BrewErie. Our group had the first tour of the underbelly of the terminal years ago as part of a Gala tour after several years of begging to see it. If you've never seen it, it could fit right into one of those "paranormal experience" shows. Other legs of the Thursday tour include Fuhrman's Cider Mill, Arundel Cellars, and Penn Shore Winery. Thursday evening will welcome back illusionist Cliff Hopkins, who performed for us in 2011 and gave a terrific show.

August, 2015

New name: Erie Sisters is now Erie Sisters and Brothers

The Erie Sisters Transgender Support Group, established in 1991, has undergone a formal change of name. Recognizing the need to welcome and serve the entire transgender community, the name has been changed to the Erie Sisters and Brothers.

January, 2015

2014 Gala glitters

The 2014 Gala took place Nov 19-23 at the Avalon Hotel in Erie. The event is sponsored by Erie Sisters.

Founding of the Erie Sisters in September of 1991

Editor's note: This was originally posted to the Erie Sisters web site. We are including it here as part of our efforts to preserve and inform about local LGBT history. Erie is a small city in northwest Pennsylvania located halfway between Buffalo and Cleveland on the south shore of Lake Erie. With a population of 250,000 [including suburbs], Erie had, in 1990, most of the social amenities one would expect of a city that size, except one: a crossdressers' club. Vivian Allen, the editor-in-chief of Tapestry, asked me to write a few words about the formation of the Erie Sisters to be included with articles by other Erie Sisters members concerning personal impressions of our club and its activities. The idea for founding a CD club began with my first issue of Tapestry, which I read several times from cover to cover in absolute awe to find that there were several thousands of people just like me. I also found, in the organization listings, there was a crossdressing club in Cleveland, about 100 miles west of Erie.

November, 2014

Lake Erie Gala Nov 19-23

The annual Lake Erie Gala will be held Nov 19- Nov 23 at the Avalon Hotel in Erie.

September, 2014

Erie Transgender Community Included in Trans Across America Documentary

Erie Sisters President, Melanie Shubitowski, and Erie Sisters member, Chelsea Jones, were recently honored to be selected for an upcoming documentary entitled "Trans Across America".  Trans Family of Erie founder, Caitlyn Strohmeyer, and Melanie's fiancé, Julie Flagella, were also appearing in this segment of the upcoming film which was filmed at Melanie's home in Conneaut, Ohio. The documentary is headed by Chloe Prince, founder of the PinkEssence Transgender network, and her friend, April Wilks, and is to include multiple stops across America showing selected transgenders throughout the country. The film is being produced by Hollywood producer, T. Smith III, and should be out for viewing in film festivals around the country in late Summer or early Fall. At each filming location along the journey, Chloe and April are doing a bigger, better trade up with participants, where the participants are trading an item acquired for something bigger, better and of more value. At the end of the tour, Chloe and April will donate the final item collected to charity. Look for "Trans Across America" later this year in your area.

January, 2014

14th Annual Lake Erie Gala

The 14th annual Lake Erie Gala, sponsored by the Erie Sisters Transgender Support Group, was held from November 20-24 at the Avalon Hotel in downtown Erie.

Erie's First Transgender Day of Remembrance Candlelight Vigil

On Sunday, November 24, Erie Sisters, TransFamily of Erie Support Group and Persad Center held Erie's first official Transgender Day of Remembrance candle light vigil at the gazebo in Perry Square in Erie PA. Special thanks to Ted Hoover at Persad Center for getting the ball rolling! We had 11 people brave the cold and snow to commemorate the 238+ transgender people who lost thier lives over the past year in brutal attacks the world over. This year, we are also saddened that for the first time, an alarming number of deaths occurred in those 20 years and younger. In the first 10 months of the year, there were 22 kids ranging in age from 13 to 20 who were viciously murdered for being who they are. And there are only the ones that were reported. Please pray that these numbers are much smaller next year. Photos are by Deb Spilko, layout editor for Erie Gay News.

September, 2013

Erie Sisters Car Wash Aug 23

The Erie Sisters Transgender Support group will be holding a car wash to benefit the Erie Humane Society, 2407 Zimmerly Rd. on Friday Aug. 23 from 1 to 4 pm. The benefit is also an opportunity for the Erie Sisters to raise awareness about the transgender community. For more information, browse to http:// or contact Erie Sisters president, Melanie Shubitowski at 440-265-8191.

January, 2013

Lake Erie Gala

The 2012 Lake Erie Gala was held at the Avalon Hotel November 14th through November 18th. The Gala kicked off Wednesday with the opening of registration, dinner at the BrewErie and a private shopping experience at the Sassy Peacock. The annual event this year included tours of the Dunkirk lighthouse and the Erie Brewing Company with lunch at the Kelley Hotel on Thursday. The lighthouse and Kelley Hotel are both reported to be haunted, and the hotel has been a frequent stop for ghost hunters, as well as a paranormal studies class from the University of Buffalo. Friday's tours included the Tom Ridge Environmental Center, Arrowhead Winery and lunch at the Colony Pub and Grill. Themed dinners were also held with prizes for best themed dress. The event is organized by the Erie Sisters Transgender Support Group.

January, 2012

12th Annual Lake Erie Gala

The 12th annual Lake Erie Gala, sponsored by the Erie Sisters Transgender Support Group, was held Nov.16-20 at the Avalon Hotel in Erie. Registration opened Wednesday, and the attendees present then had dinner together at the Plymouth on State Street.

January, 2011

Lake Erie Gala

The 2010 Lake Erie Gala was held the week of November 14 at the Avalon Hotel.  The event is organized by the Erie Sisters. Events began Wednesday the 17th with registration opening and dinner and game night at Calimari's.  Tours began the following day, featuring excursions to Arrowhead winery, Peak n Peek resort for lunch, a tour of the Environmental center and a winery in Findlay Lake New York.  A first time out to an such an event can be an ordeal for girls not having ventured out before, so first timer's to the Lake Erie Gala were welcomed each day with a meeting to help answer their questions and ensure their comfort.  Thursday night saw a Moroccan themed dinner at the Avalon to coincide with Belly Dancing and instructions from the Fleming School of Dance.

January, 2009

10th Annual Lake Erie Gala

On the weekend of November 22, 2008, the Erie Sisters, a CD/TV support group in Erie held their 10th Annual Lake Erie Gala at the Avalon Hotel. For more information about the Erie Sisters, check Photos by James von Loewe, Bethany and others.

September, 2007

Erie Sisters 2007 Gala

The Erie Sisters/LEG Management Team is in the process of finalizing plans for the 2007 Lake Erie Gala to be held Nov. 12-17. The annual fashion show held during the Gala has become the highlight of the year.

November, 2006

Lake Erie Gala

The Erie Sisters again held their annual Lake Erie Gala Nov 15-19, 2006. Local TV news interviewed attendees, which is the first time local transgender indviduals are believed to have spoken on camera.

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