I’m Harvey Milk and I’m Here to Recruit You!

San Francisco City Supervisor Harvey Milk

1960s San Francisco became well known as a mecca for the “counterculture,” hippies, musicians, artists, and those of the LGBT community and for a time it worked. As the years rolled on and the 1970’s arrived a much more conservative attitude took over. Gay men coming from around the nation that wanted to make a home in the city’s Castro District found themselves being discriminated against by not only the the city of San Francisco but by the police who were sworn to serve and protect everyone living in the city by the bay. Gay men often times were subjected to brutal police violence. Yet, as the decade wore on gay men kept moving to The Castro. One of those men was a New Yorker named Harvey Milk. In his 40s equipped nothing but a bull horn Harvey brought together the gay community living not only in the Castro, but in the city itself. Harvey would bring along change that is still felt today.

Harvey used not only his voice to unite the LGBT Community, he used their economic power as well. It was not easy for Harvey to bring about change, he ran three unsuccessful campaigns for city supervisor, finally in 1977 he won. He won by shifting peoples perceptions, he won by becoming a leader and uniting the LGBT community of that time. He won by standing up for the abused and disenfranchised. In a time before social media and instant communication news trickeled out to the mid-west of the gay man who won political office in a major city. The news of Harvey’s success reached those living in the closet afraid of their sexuality afraid that there might be something wrong with them. Harvey Milk gave gay people all over this nation the one thing that was very scarce in the 1970’s, he would give them hope.

Harvey Milk at a rally in San Francisco

“MY NAME IS HARVEY MILK AND I AM HERE TO RECRUIT YOU!” was the rallying cry he used to get not only the attention of the city government. It also got the attention of anti-LGBT conservatives by turning their own false rhetoric against them. Conservative Christians would often claim, and some still do that gays and lesbians recruit children and “confused” adults into becoming gay. Harvey took their lies and propaganda and made it his own and by doing so he united a city. The only thing Harvey and his followers were trying to recruit was equality. Harvey Milk served only 11 months in office until he was assassinated by Dan White a fellow city supervisor. Anne Kronenberg, Harvey’s campaign manager said of him, “What set Harvey apart from you or me was that he was a visionary. He Imagined a righteous world inside his head and then he set about to create it for real, for all of us.”

Harvey Milk: photo by Jerry Pritikin

I’d like to think if Harvey were alive today he would be amazed of how far we’ve came in such a short time. I also think that in today’s uncertain political climate Harvey would continue to rally our community. He would want us to not give up or get too comfortable in our own skin because despite our successes we still have a long way to go, we still have a fight on our hands.

And that my friends is my view from the other side of the lake, Harvey Milk Day 2017.

‘Liberal Outrage’ and Knowing When to Pick Your Battles

Stephen Colbert, Photo: Rolling Stone Magazine.

On Monday May 1st, 2017 “Late Show” host Stephen Colbert’s monologue  was a well thought out continuous ‘take down’ of President Donald Trump. The Late Show with Stephen Colbert May 1, 2017, It was laugh out loud funny and on point. Mr. Colbert called out the President’s (bad) behavior on the Sunday Morning Program “Face the Nation” and how during the interview with host John Dickerson Mr. Trump not only insulted Mr. Dickerson but the show as well calling it “Deface the Nation.” The President abruptly and rudely ended the interview when asked about his false wire tapping claims against former President Barack Obama. In his monologue Mr. Colbert referred to Mr. Trump’s mouth as Vladimir Putin’s “Cock Holster.”

Obviously conservatives are ‘out raged’ and are demanding that CBS fire Mr. Colbert over these comments. That’s to be expected. Most conservatives I know do not have a sense of humor about anything or more typically they can dish it out but can’t take it. I mean it’s apparently within acceptable social norms for radio host and sleaze bag at large Alex Jones to claim that the former President Barack Obama was gay and former First Lady Michelle Obama was transgendered and in an attempt to look ‘normal’ kidnapped the Obama children since they could not reproduce naturally. Really? Real people believe this, real dumb people.

What is surprising is the some in the LGBT community and some liberals are “outraged.” Some are even calling Mr. Colbert’s monologue homophobic.  Seriously people? You are outraged by a liberal, straight, late night talk show host whose always been an alley to our community calling him homophobe, just because he used the term “cock holster.” I say this with love in my my big queer heart, GET OVER YOURSELVES.

Speaking as a practicing homosexual I’ll just say this, when Mr. Colbert said that I laughed my ass off. To quote Karen Walker from “Will & Grace,” “It’s funny because it’s true.” There is nothing wrong with using that term, it was funny. Just so you know I’m not a self loathing homosexual, I don’t hate myself, I’m not a cutter. In fact I’m into being gay so much so that on National Coming OUT Day I posted on Facebook that “I love the cock.” As you can imagine my mother was very proud. What I am is a humorist which means I have a sense of humor and if we are going to survive the next 4 years of this administration may I suggest that the rest of you bitches get a sense of humor too. If we do not learn to laugh, especially at our self’s then people like Donald Trump and Mike Pence have won already.

May I suggest that the”fake liberal outrage” or any other outrage that you are harboring, you channel into doing everything you can to resist, educate others, and fight this administration all the way to the polls in 2018 and 2020. Hold on the your anger because you are going to need it. If we get pissed off at every little thing that we think harms us we not only run the risk of burning ourselves out but we leave ourselves open to ridicule from the right. As members of the LGBT community we don’t need it. It’s not easy being gay we’ve already proved that we’re tough, we are not ‘snowflakes,’ so let’s stop acting like it. We need to pick our battles and those battles need to be important ones like the one we will be facing on May 4 when President Trump, using his mouth to holster Vice-President Mike Pence’s penis as he signs the “religious freedom” executive order that will basically give anyone the right to discriminate against our community so long as they invoke the mighty ‘right’ of religious freedom. Or how about being angry and horrified for the gay men in Chechnya that are being murdered in concentration camps by their own families. As a gay man and a Jew this not only outrages me but scares me to my very core. Or let’s get pissed about the lawsuit going on right now against the Picayune Funeral Home in Picayune Mississippi that refused to cremate the remains of 86 year old Robert Huskey when they found out he was gay and married to his partner of 52 years.

I’m just saying that there is a lot to be pissed off at folks, but Stephen Colbert ain’t it. We need to stay focused on the big picture and not get mad at the people who are in our corner because of some imagined slight.

And that my friends is my view from the other side of the lake this 3rd day of May 2017.

The More You Drink, the Prettier I Get, Reflections on 5 Years of ‘Welcome to the Other Side’

Wilma Fingerdo and her partner in crime Jayda Pill, Photo by Christopher M. Voorhees

I recall distinctly placing a bet with the other WTTOS cast members shortly before our first show regarding the projected longevity of our shows. I believe the estimates averaged about a year, at that time. The local gay bars were in a slump, and Encompass had just closed. We weren’t sure that there was a market for drag shows. Regardless, EJ Marx had been approached by the owners of the Warehouse in Portage about putting together a show, and performing at their venue. I was initially hesitant about the idea, but thought we could give it a try. I had always blamed the recent onset of gay dating apps, like Grindr, for the closure of our local hangouts. There’s no reason to “go out”, I would say, when a “blow job is just a click away”. Looking back, I was short sighted, and didn’t take into account the camaraderie that was such a huge part of meeting at those gay establishments.

Dena Richards, Photo: Facebook

I was absolutely amazed that our reception for our first show! There were hundreds of attendees, and, of course, Welcome to the Other Side was born. We decided at the time, that we would host shows every other month, and we did that for the next few months, eventually working other venues into our schedule. Please understand that then, and now, I love a lazy weekend, without heels, eyelashes, wigs and girdles, and there was no way that I would strap my ass in a dress every weekend. We decided to take offers from what we considered to be the best venues. I still believe that we work with the best venues. There are many things that are important to me when we work with a partner, now, and into the future. First, and foremost, don’t screw

E. J. Marx, Photo by Christopher M. Voorhees

our patrons. I expect reasonable drink and food prices. Second, a reasonable level of service. Third, their acceptance of the gay and trans community. When Indiana proposed their religious freedom amendment, and gays weren’t able to buy pizzas in Shit hole, Indiana, I called each of our partners, and personally confirmed that they were open for everyone.

Kane Richards, Photo by Christopher M. Voorhees

My goal, now and into the future is to provide entertainment and a welcome environment for our gay, straight, trans, and questioning guest. I love an environment where everyone can feel comfortable in their own skin, and I sincerely hope that we have provided this for you. We have the best job in the world. We can to meet up with our friends, have some drinks and some laughs, and provide a little refuge from society’s judgement. Will you see us in 5 more years? I don’t know, but I can speak for all of us at Welcome to the Other Side…. We appreciate you, and thank you for the fun that we’ve had thus far. Hope to see you Friday.

XOXO
Wilma

Wilma Fingerdo and the entire cast of ‘Welcome to the Other Side’ will be performing at the Uptown Center for Performing Arts in Michigan City’s historic Uptown Arts District for their 5 years anniversary show Friday May 5th, 2017. 

Is a Nationwide ‘R. F. R. A.’ Coming on May 4, 2017?

Then Candidate Donald Trump at a rally in Denver

The ‘religious liberty’ executive order that has been championed by Vice-President Mike Pence and and other religious conservatives will allegedly be signed by President Donald Trump on Thursday May 4, 2017. According to “Politico,”  http://www.politico.com/story/2017/05/02/donald-trump-religious-liberty-executive-order-237888 two senior administration officials confirmed the plan that is set to coincide with the “National Day of Prayer.” Conservative leaders have been pressuring the President to fulfill the campaign promise that he made to protect so called religious freedom. Some experts claim that the order is to broad and will let any business, employer, landlord, or health care provider discriminate against the LGBT community for any reason as long as they claim it goes against their religious liberty.

In March of 2015 then governor Mike Pence signed Indiana’s “Religious Freedom Restoration Act” into law which caused outrage in Indiana’s LGBT community. The law also caused outrage among Indiana based companies like Salesforce and Angie’s List, as well as the NCAA, also based in Indiana. Opponents of the law claimed that it cast the Hoosier state as unwelcoming and discriminatory towards the LGBT community. Religious leaders such as Eric Miller from Advance America, a right wing lobbying group, said at the time, “It is vitally important to protect religious freedom in Indiana, it was therefore important to pass Senate Bill 101 in 2015 in order to help protect churches, Christian businesses and individuals from those who want to punish them because of their Biblical beliefs!” The bill was signed by Governor Pence behind closed doors and ended up costing the State of Indiana over 60 million dollars in revenue.

During his campaign, then candidate Trump touted himself to be a friend and champion to the LGBT community by Tweeting on June 14, 2016, “Thank you to the LGBT community!  I will fight for you while Hillary brings in more people that will threaten your freedoms and beliefs.” Yet during his short time in office President Trump has continuously rolled back former President Obama’s executive orders protecting LGBT rights.