Of Death and Passing On

Meghan Buell founder of T.R.E.E.S. and columnist for OUT in Michigan City Photo: Facebook

I think of my own death often. I wonder how it will be received by those still alive. How will they mourn? How will they react? Will they react at all? Who of my friends will still be around when I take my last breath? I wonder.

I have lost 2 friends and colleagues in the last 3 days. Thinking about passing on is at the forefront of my mind these days. These losses affect me personally and professionally. The personal loss is selfish. I won’t have the chance to enjoy a 55+ Traveler at Perkins with my friend Evelyn. We had been waiting 5 years for me to “qualify”. Then, when I finally made it to 55 earlier this year, Covid hit and we never made it back to Perkins together. I will stop by and order eggs, scrambled, what toast, no butter and bacon, extra crispy to honor my friend. However, I will skip the coffee, ya know, because I’m a tea girl.

Last evening, Covid took another friend. Lynn was a powerful, two-spirit identified agent of change. The impact that Lynn has had on, not only me, but a wide reaching network cannot be told in just my blog. Google Lynn Young and read for yourself. I first met them through Indiana University’s South Bend campus. We had many chats about trans inclusion and LGBTQ advocacy. When I began TREES, Inc., Lynn told me they thought our mission was spot on. Several times she mentioned how impressed they were with the impact TREES was having. Lynn was instrumental in the annual Trans Day of Remembrance in South Bend. We worked together each Fall on planning the event. Lynn began the process this year but fell ill and has not made it to the event they helped make possible. I will miss our chats immensely. Though their body does not, Lynn’s spirit lives on in all who knew them.

Nov. 20 is Trans Day of Remembrance. This years has had the largest lose of transgender lives, 31, in the United States. We must remember that these are not just names we read once, they are people who have families, friends, colleagues and communities who are hurting, as I am with the loss of Evelyn and Lynn. Please take a moment to reflect and remember.

Meghan
she, her

RIP, Monica

On National Coming OUT Day Trans activist Meghan Buell pays a heartfelt tribute activist Monica Roberts.

Monica Roberts

Hello Everyone

You know when you meet someone for the first time and you get a vibe from them, right? Well, the first time I met Monica Roberts earlier this year at the annual Creating Change Conference in Dallas, Texas, I could feel the passion for black trans advocacy she emitted. I was entranced in her words and awed in her presence.

I had known of Monica for years. You could not be in trans advocacy and activism without knowing her. She wrote the blog TransGriot and was a fierce and powerful voice for trans people of color across the United States of America. She was a warrior and fought hard for trans inclusion everywhere. She had a national audience, yet, seemed to be very community minded. She is someone all of us should have had a chance to meet. Unfortunately, this is not possible any longer. This past Wednesday (Oct. 7) we lost her. Stories are not fully confirmed so no official cause of death has been released. Regardless, it was breaking news that shocked and saddened me greatly.

Monica’s passing has sparked some deep thinking for me. I wonder how many people outside of my immediate social circle would the news of my passing reach. What would be the reaction? I pondered when that comes, will my work with TREES, Inc. (Transgender Resource, Education & Enrichment Services) be over? Will I still be an elementary teacher? If so, how would the kids react? Would the schools even notice? As I thought more on this I came to the realization that what I was in a deep mental focus about was my legacy. What will that be?

Folks have been nagging me about writing a book. They think my life is book worthy. I always push back with the “I’m not memoir worthy”. I hope to be someday, but I don’t see it now. People disagree with me. I guess this is the difference between watching from the roadside and being in the race. I don’t see my life as anything spectacular yet others remind me of how I am changing lives and helping trans people. Yes, the work I do is good but I don’t feel that I am the only trans person capable of doing it. Some mention me being a teacher as something special. Yes, teachers are special and I am grateful for the opportunity to do that work. But, to me, it’s my job, nothing bigger from a socially transformative perspective. Me being out and proud as trans has never been, for me, a act of activism or rebellion. It has been an act of survival. Not coming out would have cost me my life. Being out of the closet has saved my life. The work I do is related to me being alive more so than because I am trans. My connection to the trans community gives me an audience and I am glad to help. I feel that I am living a good life.

I hope that Monica was living her best life up until the end. I will miss her voice in the fight for trans inclusion. My wish is that I will also still be living a good life up until the end. RIP Monica

https://transgriot.blogspot.com/
www.webebtrees.org

COVID-19 Came In Like a Wrecking Ball.

PRIDE Month became an after thought this June as COVID-19 took over our lives

It was sometime after June 5th. I don’t know how we got it and at this point it doesn’t really matter to us, speculating on it is a waste of energy. All I know is that my husband started developing symptoms first, then I followed shortly thereafter. He knew in his gut it was COVID-19. I tried to hold on to the hope that is was the usual summer cold that we’ve both been known to come down with. Then the tests came back, I couldn’t have been more wrong, we both had it. The next three and a half weeks were going to be long and scary, we were going to find out the hard way just how badly our bodies could betray us. 

My husband will get a fever even if he develops a mild cold. When he came home from work complaining that he didn’t feel good I took it in stride. This happens almost every summer. He took his temperature later that night and it was slightly elevated, nothing to write home about. Also, he’s been known to be somewhat of a hypochondriac over the years, so I didn’t rush right out and contact the CDC. The next day I started feeling “off.” My eye sockets started burning and my energy level was non-existent. Unlike my husband I am not prone to fevers. I’ve been known to be sick with the flu, sinus infections, or what have you. Rarely do I run a temp. When I saw that I was running a 102 fever I knew it could not be good. Unfortunately that was only the tip of the iceberg. 

I’m 50 years old and to say that I’ve never been this sick in my entire life is telling. At one point I wanted to board our dogs and voluntarily go to the hospital, only to be told that they don’t want us. You only go to the hospital when you cannot breath and your turning blue. You basically only go there to get on a ventilator or die. The only other time in my life when I was so scared that actually being dead was a possibility was when I was the manager at a video store in the early 2000’s and two men came and put a gun to my head in a robbery. 

We were so sick that nothing mattered anymore. Not my social media projects. Not the podcast that I produce and co-host. Not PRIDE month. Not my beloved video games. Not being at the beach on Sunday with our friends. Nothing. I didn’t talk to anyone other than my mother. I didn’t want my friends to know or anyone else to know what had happened to us. I didn’t want people stigmatizing us. I talk to my friend Cory as least every other day, finally after not hearing from me for three weeks I got a text asking if I were alive. Writing this blog is hard and uncomfortable for me. I wasn’t going to do it, but I’m trying to reach people. I’m trying to show you that this is not a hoax, stunt, or just some government conspiracy to try to take away your rights by making you wear a mask. I can’t believe I need to even say this, but if the government wanted to control you, they would NOT do it by trying to make you wear a surgical or any other kind of mask. First of all facial recognition software doesn’t work if your picked up on camera and you have a mask on. Isn’t facial recognition just one of the ways the government is trying to control us? The government would try to control us with microchip under our skin, tattooed bar codes or soldiers on every street corner brandishing a gun. NOT surgical masks. You might as just admit it, you don’t want to wear a mask simply because you don’t want to wear a mask. I mean I get it no one wants to wear one but on the other hand what happened to the times when we pulled together as a country in crisis? What happened to the times we all did something none of us wanted to do for the greater good of our community?

People who really know me know that I’m not an alarmist, I don’t panic and I’m not being overly dramatic for no reason. So many people, especially on social media say that they should not have to wear a mask just because other people are scared. Rightly so, I’m scared. I am not scared for me though, I’m scared for you. I’m scared for your kids. I’m scared for your family. I’m scared for your pets. If you go to the hospital and never come back they won’t know why. I’m no longer scared for me, I survived the most painful body aches I’ve ever had. The shortness of breath and the pain I felt in my kidneys and the fever. The intestinal pain. I even had swollen and bleeding gums. I’ve lost 30LBS because of lack of appetite. If anyone tells you that COVID-19 is just a bad flu they are dead wrong.

My husband has made a full and complete recovery, he’s back to work and we are trying to navigate the financial hardships that this has caused for us. For me though there are lingering effects. As a child I was prone to bouts of pneumonia and ended up in an oxygen tent more then once, so my lungs are already damaged. I continue to have a cough. It can be mild or it can be so violent that I hack to hard and dry heave and gag for minutes on end. Minutes do not sound like a long time, but they are when your coughing and can’t breath. I use an inhaler now because I’m short of breath. My appetite still hasn’t fully recovered and neither has my energy level. Cognitively my recall has suffered, sometimes it takes me a minute to think of a name or access the right words to describe a memory. Writing is something that usually comes easily to me, that’s now somewhat of a challenge. Since COVID I find myself to be irritable. The least little thing will set me off. I kind of got into an argument with my friends on social media over something stupid. These were not acquaintances or people I do not interact with on a regular basis, these are people we see and hang out with, people I consider friends. Needless to say I have not been myself. 

I was scared that my life would not be back to normal, but I found an article by English journalist Richard Quest who also suffered from COVID. It turns out that he is still suffering from long and short term side effects of the disease as are a lot of people. For some people when the test comes back with a negative life goes on and gets back to normal, whatever that is. For other people COVID leaves side effects and scars. Those scars can be a lingering cough, cognitive issues, or financial stress from not being able to pay your bills or your rent. We found out the hard way that COVID-19 is no joke and it’s something that I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy. 

I’m putting myself “out there” by writing this, even more then I usually do. I have no doubt that I’ll be ridiculed by my more conservative friends. Like everyone else I wish this would just go away, but how can it when half of us are fighting to end it and the other half of us are enabling the disease and living with the illusion that we’re the ones in control.

*Update:

Since this article was originally published I personally know someone who has died of COVID related complications and a friend has been hospitalized because of the disease.

Five Years In, Thanks for Following

It’s a milestone anniversary, but we’re only just beginning.

I missed our anniversary. On April 12, 2020 OUT in Michigan City turned five years old. COVID-19 has us all distracted. I was aware that the anniversary was coming up and I wanted to throw a huge party with our logo on everything. I had hopes of raising money for Michigan City PRIDE Fest 2020 by making our anniversary party a fundraiser. Yet here we are, like for so many people life is on hold. It’s like we’re fly’s stuck in amber watching the world go by without us. PRIDE events all over the nation are being cancelled including the iconic San Francisco and New York PRIDE events. I haven’t heard what’s going to happen in our hometown but I don’t have high hopes.

John M. Livelsberger interviews LGBTQ rights activists Steven & Joshua Snyder-Hill. Photo Jack Foos-Gordan

I started OUT in Michigan City five years ago after a visit to Indianapolis. My husband and I traveled to Indy so I could get an interview with LGBTQ rights activists Steven Snyder-Hill and his husband Joshua for an LGBTQ online news magazine based out of Chicago and we participated in a protest march during the weekend of the NCAA playoffs. The march was in protest of the newly signed Religious Freedom Restoration Act. I had never marched in protest before, but what I found in Indianapolis was a community that pulled together. The energy and love in the air moved me and was so palpable you could almost reach out and touch it. By the end of the day I got my interview with the Snyder-Hills but I brought back to Michigan City so much more.

We have a large LGBTQ community here in Michigan City and in the surrounding communities, yet why weren’t we organized? So I started OUT in Michigan City. I wanted our community informed on what law makers in Indianapolis were doing. I wanted us to have a sense of community and I wanted us to support and love one another. Lot’s of city’s have a “gayborhood,” Michigan City is one big gayborhood and it was long past time that we pulled together as a community and showed our PRIDE in our city and each other.

From Left, Jayda Pill, Wilma Fingerdo, and Dena Richards. Photo: Facebook

In the five years since we went live others in our community have had the same idea. Michigan City’s LGBTQ community has arrived and we’ve become an oasis in Northwest Indiana where we can live and love openly and I could not be anymore prouder of my adopted hometown. We now have LGBTQ friendly business’s, those businesses are suffering because of the social distancing restrictions, yet there’s hope. Drag queens Wilma Fingerdo, Jayda Pill, and Dena Richards are helping support Fiddlehead Restaurant and it’s employees by running take out orders to waiting cars on Saturday afternoon. Because of them giving a few hours of their time Fiddlehead sold out of food they last two Saturdays and can remain open and pay their employees. There’s the love and sense of community I was looking for five years ago, as I figured it was right in our backyard this whole time.

Protesting RFRA in Indianapolis. Photo: John M. Livelsberger

Despite what’s going on in the world OUT in Michigan City is going to keep growing along with our LGBTQ community. We we first started we were just a Facebook page. Now you’re reading this on our website outinmichigancity.com. We’ve also started a podcast called The Bent Edge. It’s the Region’s first unapologetically gay podcast. Where as OUT in Michigan City is news oriented and serious The Bent Edge is irreverent and witty where no subject is off limits. So, to the over 1,655 people that ‘like’ or ‘follow’ us on social media, thank you, we hope you stick with us for the long haul, our story is just beginning.

Please give OUT in Michigan City a like on Facebook as well as The Bent Edge Michigan City only unapologetically gay podcast with new episodes weekly. The Bent Edge can be heard on Apple Podcast, Spotify and other platforms.

It’s Alright to Talk About It

Activist Meghan Buell is back and in this tough time she wants everyone know it’s okay to be alone with your thoughts and it’s okay to reach out.

Quarantine? Lockdown? Stay at Home order? Whatever you call it, it can be frightening. I used to be more afraid of being alone than I am today. I’m not saying I don’t recognize it and understand why I would be afraid of it. I mean, feeling alone almost cost me my life.

Long before I “came out”, I always felt that I was alone with my thoughts. These thoughts always were directly related to my feeling that I was different but was unaware of why I felt this way. I had no words to express it. The thought of being alone with my thoughts always scared me most because I knew it would either lead to binge drinking or anger. I have spent more hours in my life trying to avoid being left alone with my thoughts as I have enjoying being less afraid of these moments. What is different now then before?

When I began the process of “coming out” I felt a huge weight being lifted off of my shoulders. After awhile, I could see that this weight was made up of a lot of emotions related to my frustration with my identity unknowns. The sames things that made me afraid of my thoughts. The emotional release was freeing and liberating. It was also making me feel more secure with my thoughts, mainly, because they started to make more sense. But, I will tell you, the weight almost caused me to end my life. For me, the not-knowing and all of the emotions connected to this was such a burden and after living a life that was being negatively affected by this battle, a 24/7/365.24 slugfest, that I had made the decision that not waking up tomorrow was a better option that another day in battle. I had succumbed to the hopelessness. I was about to become a part of a very daunting statistic of transgender suicides.

Obviously, since I am here today writing this I didn’t not follow through with this plan of committing suicide. What changed? When I was in high school I would get into verbal skirmishes with my mom. The topic was irrelevant but the spat always ended up with her saying “You think you have an answer for everything?” and my reply “That’s because there is an answer for everything. You just need to find it.” First, I highly discourage saying this to a parent, especially while in your teen years. Secondly, my response may have been the thing that pulled me back from the edge. I may have mumbled this to myself at the eleventh hours. To be honest, I am not sure. Lastly, whatever it was, I am forever grateful.

I have discussed my brush with suicide with only a few people over the years. At first I was embarrassed but then grew to share as a way to show that even I was not immune to the power of hopelessness. I share it today to a wider audience to make sure folks know that even on the grimmest day, there is something better awaiting you on a day in the future. To quote college basketball coach, Jim Valvano, “Don’t give up. Don’t ever give up.”

If you need to talk, reach out to a friend. It is not a sign of weakness. It is a sign of hope. You can also contact one of these groups:
Trans Lifeline 877-565-8860
Trevor Project 866-488-7386

On September 26, 2020, I will be sponsoring a walking team at the Out of the Darkness Walk in Goshen, Indiana. This is a walk sponsored by the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. My team will be walking to save transgender lives. You can walk and/or support by donation at https://afsp.donordrive.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=donorDrive.participant&participantID=2293886#donate

Thank you in advance.

Peace Out and Be Well

Meghan
She, Her Pronouns

Coronavirus, The New New Normal.

A health crisis that could have been handled in a competent way at it’s onset, instead President Trump is carrying on the Reagan legacy.

I’m having a hard time finding balance. I want to be there for my community in a positive way during this health crisis but the other part of me is very angry. OUT in Michigan City has over 1600 followers on our Facebook page. People from all over the world have visited our website and we just launched our podcast “The Bent Edge.” I want readers and listers to be informed and entertained. I would like nothing more than to make people laugh or give someone something thoughtful to think about. I want to make people feel good no matter who they are. We would like to be a positive voice in the darkness. Yet, I can’t seem to get over my own anger right now and I don’t want it to bleed into other peoples lives and bring someone down even further. So, I’m going to get it out. I’m going to do what I always do, exercise the angry demon that invades my soul from time to time by writing it out.

President Trump addresses concerns about the Coronavirus pandemic.

One of the reasons I’m angry is because I just got into a war of words with a Trump supporter, which is not unusual. This particular Trump supporter did not like it that I called the president a “low life con-artist,” referring to his handling of the pandemic in which we find ourselves. This man was offended by my opinion of the president. He claimed, “That low life con artist has done more for this country since I have been voting than any of the other idiot presidents.” My knee jerk was to tell this person to fuck off which I kind of did, but my other reaction was this. I calmly explained that two years ago President Trump dismantled The National Security Council’s Pandemic Response Team. I then pointed out had the President not taken this action we may have been able to avoid the pandemic. He’s response was; “I am sure he thought it was just another worthless government agency collecting paychecks.” Really? That’s your defense of President Trump? I have no doubt that the government has overspent for agencies that we don’t or didn’t need in the past, but an agency that is in place to protect the health of the American people from a global pandemic is not one of them. The Pandemic Response Team is like your home or car insurance, you pay the fucking bill every month and hope you don’t need it. You don’t cancel it because your house has not burned down yet.

AIDS Activists protesting then President Ronald Reagan’s handling of the AIDS crisis in the 1980’s

I’m also angry because this is taking me back to the 1980’s during the onset of the AIDS epidemic. You notice that you don’t see a lot of gay men especially the older generation freaking out over this. I was a teenager in the 80’s and in my early twenties in the 90’s when AIDS was still a death sentence. Coming out of the closet can be scary, but in those days if certain people found out you were gay there was a good chance you would be made out to be a villain because of your sexuality. All the sudden people who didn’t understand what being gay meant thought that all gay men had AIDS. Lot’s of these men were beaten in violent confrontations or ostracized from there families. After being diagnosed many of these gay men were disowned and left alone to die. Can you imagine, alone in the hospital or worse in a back alley somewhere homeless and abandoned dying of a disease that no one understood and that had no cure. At the time this was “new normal” for the gay community. This new normal was all encompassing. Our government didn’t care that gay men were dying. 

President Ronald Reagan and his administration did everything thing they could to ignore AIDS. The government did NOTHING to help the sick. 39 million people have died of AIDS since the onset of the epidemic in the early 1980’s. Right now at this very moment everyone now knows what it’s like to be living with a virus that has no cure and coping with incompetent government leaders, and a current president that claimed during it’s onset that this pandemic was a hoax conjured up by political enemies. As I write this Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb announced that the state has had it’s first death because of COVID-19. Had the Reagan Administration did the right thing during the AIDS crisis, which was to protect Americans that just happen to be gay, whole communities may not have been wiped out. President Trump is taking us all down the same road that the Reagan Administration took the gay community down. I had hoped that road was closed forever. 

I can’t speak for the entire gay community I can only speak for myself. As a proud gay man, I don’t wish the gross incompetence, neglect and fear that our community experienced on anyone. COVID-19 IS NOT AIDS and some people will recover others may not. As with the AIDS crisis I blame the mishandling of this crisis on an incompetent president with no understanding or compassion for the people he’s supposed to be serving. No one deserves to live through this uncertainty once. Some of us are living through it twice, first with AIDS and now COVID-19. 

We will not get through this as a LGBTQ community or a straight community, we will get through this as a human community and when the dust settles and it’s all over we will hold those elected officials responsible. 

Be safe and be kind to each other and remember we will come out on the other side of this, hopefully as a better and kinder community.

Peace, Acceptance, and PRIDE

We arrived at the bar Saturday night and the first thing that hit me was the crowd. There was really no one there that we knew, DJ Mark was setting up but that was about it. I had expected to see some friends or people I recognized hanging out having a cocktail or two while they waited for the show to start. Then I got a really good look at the crowd. There was a group of guys in their twenties, one of whom was wearing a pro-gun rights hoodie. I gave my husband a sideways glance as DJ Mark came up and sat at our table to chat. “I’m a little concerned with the crowd,” I said, “Do they know there’s a drag show tonight?” Mark nodded in agreement, but what was there to do? 

Welcome to the Other Sides Kane Richards. Photo: John M. Livelsberger

Soon Jayda Pill, that evenings drag queen and Kane Richards that evenings drag king arrived in full face and started working the crowd. Selfies were being taken and the mood in the pub quickly turned up a notch. Welcome to the Other Side, our local drag troupe were doing a spotlight show that night. Since we have no local gay bars anymore when the “straight” bars really want a amazing weekend turn out they go to the group and ask them to perform. About every other month they have a “spot light” show where two of their six members will perform small sets and in between numbers DJ Mark keeps the crowd pumped as he spins music that everyone can dance to. 

By 10pm when Jayda hit the stage for her first number the bar was packed and our friends had arrived. I took a minute to take a look around, there was no tension or animosity, gay people and straight people were interacting and dancing together peace and love where in the air, a far cry from a few short decades ago. Michigan City had come along way in the 16 years that I moved here. This was originally supposed to be a two year layover as I worked at the local casino and saved my money to move to Chicago. I had no intention of staying here, then when I least expected it as often happens to people, I fell in love. First with this city then with the guy I would end up marrying.

Jayda Pill performing at Creekside Bar & Grill. Photo John M. Livelsberger

Over the last couple years Michigan City PRIDE Fest has helped bring the whole community tougher and bridge a lot of gaps. No matter who you are Gay, straight, bi, questioning, you’re welcome at PRIDE and the sense of belonging is just paid forward through out the rest of the year. 

Michigan City PRIDE Fest is going into it’s third year and we’d like to invite you everyone one to come out and celebrate your lives and celebrate living your truth, no matter what it is.

Michigan City PRIDE Fest is June 20th, 2020 from 1pm to 9pm at the Guy Foreman Amphitheater in Washington Park, Michigan City Indiana.

Welcome to the Other Side can be seen at RG’s Bar & Grill, 9954 West, US-6, Westville, IN 46391, Saturday March 7th, 2020

Welcome to the Other Side will be performing a all ages drag brunch at Fiddlehead Restaurant Sunday, March 22, 2020 at 11:00 am and 2:00 pm. Click here for reservations.

“First Name Mayor, Last Name Pete”…Why Running for President Mattered.

On Sunday Mayor Pete suspended his presidential campaign, but in running for president he changed perceptions and started a conversation.

On June 26, 2015 Mayor Pete Buttigieg of South Bend Indiana published in op-ed in The South Bend Tribune called “Why Coming Out Matters,” effectively letting all his constituents know that their mayor was a proud gay man. Since coming out Mayor Pete and his husband Chasten have lived openly and proudly sharing their lives with the City of South Bend and the rest of the state of Indiana. Last year he announced that he was a candidate for President of the United States. Building a grass roots momentum as the only gay man to ever run for president he was able to out raise campaign funds of other more established candidates that have been on the national stage for years. After winning the Iowa Caucus but showing a poor performance in the South Carolina primary the New York Times and other media outlets reported on Sunday that Mr. Buttigieg has suspended his race for president. Stating in a speech given in South Bend Sunday night, “The truth is that the path has narrowed to a close, for our candidacy if not for our cause.” Mayor Pete’s popularity and visibility comes on the heels of the damage that now Vice-President Mike Pence tried to do to Indiana’s LGBTQ community by signing into law the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA)

Governor Mike Pence signing RFRA

On March 26, 2015 the state of Indiana gained national attention when then Governor Mike Pence signed RFRA into law behind closed doors and surrounded by local religious “leaders” thus sparking national outrage and drawing protests to Indianapolis. A year before that the LGBTQ community were fighting HJR-3, a proposed law that would change Indiana’s state constitution stating that legal marriage was only between one man and one woman. The LGBTQ people of Indiana were not just fighting for the freedom to have our relationships legally recognized we were fighting for respect. We were fighting to show all law makers both Democrat and Republican that our lives and relationships mattered, they mattered just as much as the cis gendered straight couple getting married in that small town church on any given Saturday. 

Over the years so many of this states LGBTQ youth have left to make their way in Chicago, New York, or other “big” cities, leaving their home towns because they were either disowned by their own families or they felt like more accepted more in a strange city. How many amazing and talented people have we lost because they felt unaccepted?

In the 1980’s and early 1990’s so many gay men were vilified by the HIV/AIDS crisis. Gay men were portrayed in the media and television and effeminate or as joke, never to be taken seriously. In Mayor Pete we have an example of what could be accomplished. Mayor Pete’s political agenda aside, in running for president and proudly embracing his home town of South Bend, Mr. Buttigieg has set an example for not just the LGBTQ youth of Indiana but to the entire LGBTQ community. As a solider in the military he showed the world that a gay man could be brave. When he was still Mayor of South Bend he was deployed for active duty. In the time he was gone he did not take his mayoral salary, in this he showed the world that a gay man could be honorable. While running for president he talked about his Christian faith and how proud he was of it. He showed the world that you could be a gay man of faith. 

Pete Buttigieg in Arlington, Virginia. Photo: CNN

Mayor Pete will not be the president elected in 2020 and that’s okay. What he did do though was change the playing field. When he stood shoulder to shoulder with the rest on the candidates during debates or in interviews, when you saw him on television or in your news feed unashamed to embrace his husband it started the conversation, it set an example. Pete Buttigieg showed that whoever you are, however you identify and no matter where you’re from it’s not the bigots or the homophobes that define who you are or where you choose to live, it’s you. Pete Buttigieg showed us all that it’s okay to be exactly who you are and that is not something the Donald Trump’s or Rush Limbaugh’s or the Franklin Graham’s of the world can ever take away from us.

Thank you Mayor Pete, job well done.

Feeling the Love, at Michigan City PRIDE Fest

Michigan City PRIDE Fest isn’t just a party, it’s where you find your tribe.

The inspiration to start OUT in Michigan City came from a Religious Freedom Restoration Act protest march that I attended in Indianapolis in the spring of 2015. When I arrived I experienced first hand what a close nit LGBTQ community Indy had. The love and support in the air was so palpable you could almost touch it. I started to wonder why we could not have that kind of love and support in Michigan City and the rest of the Region.

Fast forward to January, 2018 when a group of people came together to form the committee for what would be the first annual Michigan City PRIDE Festival. It was my honor and privilege to serve on this committee. They say that nothing worth doing is ever easy. They were right, we worked hard and making this event happen took over my life as well as the lives of the other committee members. PFLAG, the host of the event, this publication, and drag entertainers Welcome to the Other Side, volunteers, and local businesses would all come together to make Michigan City PRIDE Fest a success. What a success it was. The committee expected maybe 400 people to attend and 2000 showed up.

As is turned out we filled a need, the community was hungry for a PRIDE festival and it was an amazing day. For the first time the LGBTQ community and our allies came together in Michigan City and in the region the love and support in the air was just as palpable as it was that day in Indianapolis. We made people happy and it was worth the blood, sweat, and tears we all poured into the event. 2019 festival saw 3000 people and now we are gearing up to do in again for 2020.

OUT in Michigan City was asked to help with the social media campaign this year and of course we jumped at the chance. This year is a little different though and I blame the toxic political climate and the up coming election. I’ve gotten messages on how straight people need a PRIDE event or why even have PRIDE in this day and age. Someone said that PRIDE should be reserved for the accomplishments in ones life not celebrating who they choose to have sex with, which is NOT what PRIDE is about. Despite the progress that the LGBTQ community has made in the last 10 years, coming out can be hard and in some cases life treating. Sometimes someone has to hide who they are to protect themselves both mentally and physically. Michigan City PRIDE Fest isn’t just an all ages drag show, food, entertainment, and vendors. Michigan City PRIDE Fest is a safe space you can come, let your hair down, or maybe put it up. It’s a place you can be yourself, even if it’s for just one day. It’s a place where you can find the resources you need for support, in a safe environment. It’s a place where you can find your tribe. Please join us on June 20, 2020 at the Guy Forman Amphitheater in Washington Park and feel the love.

If you need a safe space before June 20th then you as well as everyone is welcome to attend PFLAG monthly meeting the first Wednesday of every month at the Holdcraft Performing Arts Center, 1200 Spring Street, Michigan City starting at 6:30 pm.

A Time To Honor, Educate, and Love.

As violence against the Transgender community is at an all time high, it’s more important now then ever to love one another for who we are.

This year, Transgender Awareness Week takes place Nov. 13 through 19. The week culminates with Transgender Day of Remembrance, a deeply important observance to honor the memory of those whose lives have been lost to anti-trans violence, on Wednesday, Nov. 20, 2019.

Transgender Awareness Week serves as both a reflective and celebratory time to raise the visibility of transgender and gender non-conforming people, and to shed light on issues our community faces.

Observance to honor those who have lost their lives or experienced violence because of their gender identity or gender expression. We honor those who continue to experience violence and recommit to changing hearts and minds in order that all people are free from discrimination, hatred, and violence including transgender people.

Transgender Day of Remembrance is set aside to memorialize those who were killed due to anti-transgender hatred, prejudice, and violence. Transgender Day of Remembrance serves to raise public awareness of hate crimes against transgender people, as well as to publicly mourn and honor the lives of our community members who might otherwise be forgotten.

Societies that forced many of them into working in occupations and participating in activities that society has deemed illegal in order to survive. So many died in a way that confirms society’s uncaring attitude: shot multiple times, stabbed, mutilated, burned, drowned, left to bleed to death, and ultimately dumped like trash, the ultimate and unfortunate metaphor of a society that considers trans people, especially those on the trans feminine spectrum, to be nothing but trash.

Who knows how many trans people have truly been killed? I’m sure so many crimes haven’t even been reported and who knows the exact number of how many trans people have committed suicide thanks to suffering these injustices?

These injustices persist because of the images of trans people that pervade the media. Jokes and slurs are made with the typical jokes about “tranny hookers” and “spotting the tranny.” These jokes and images are conflicting by if a trans person does not blend in to society’s satisfaction, they will be treated like trash and maybe given a death sentence just walking down the street.

During this time, lets stand TOGETHER! The transgender community and its allies, in sadness for the too many that have died (Do not forget for they are all somebody’s child), and in hope, that the future for our young generation will bring with it greater compassion, understanding and acceptance.

We are NO different from you! We deserve to be here just as much as you do!

Angelique Munro Miss Trans USA Indiana 2020