Does Mike Pence Only Care About HIV When the World is Looking?

Vice President Mike Pence & Bono at the Munich Security Conference

On Saturday U2 front man, Bono met with Vice-President Mike Pence, at the Munich Security Conference, to thank him for his efforts in 2008, when Pence was an Indiana Congressman, for supporting then President George W. Bush’s attempt in supporting AIDS relief in Africa. “Twice on the House floor you defended that. That’s how we know you,” said the pop star.

What is not clear from the meeting is if Bono knows that Vice-President Mike Pence efforts to prevent HIV infection back home in Indiana have not been so praise worthy. In 2013, then Governor Pence defunded Planned Parenthood in Scott County which was the only place the 24,000 Hoosiers that live there could get an HIV test. This led to 190 new HIV cases, the worst is state history.

HIV was spreading at an alarming rate due to intravenous drug use and the only way to curtail an epidemic was a needle exchange program, something that Governor Pence was morally opposed to. The first cases of HIV started showing up in January of 2015. Governor Pence waited until April of that same year to finally approve a temporary needle exchange program. In that time Scott County was experiencing approximately 20 new cases of HIV a week.

In the Shadow of HIV Relationships are not Always Black and White

I remember the first time I saw Ed at the bar. It was the weekly “Gay Night”. He was standing at the bar by the dance floor, drinking a mixed drink with his circle of friends. He was, in my mind, the sexiest black man I had ever seen and completely out of my league.

A few months went by and we happened to be at the same New Year’s Eve party and  ended up talking, he even sat on my lap. When college classes started back up he and I started texting and we even went out as friends for a drink at a Mexican restaurant. This happened several times. After a night of going out to eat he invited me back to his place where I sat down on the floor by his bed. I guess I was a little nervous. He went on to explain to me he never makes the first move. That gave me the courage to take that chance and we ended up making out. A relationship grew and I moved out of the college dorms and in with him, my boyfriend.

I was accepted, for the most part, by his friends and even his family. On Thanksgiving and Christmas we would go to his mother’s who cooked true “Southern Home Cook’n.” I was the only “white boy” in the house during our holiday celebration, but it never was a problem and likewise at his family reunions, I was made to feel like part of the family, I even took his sister to her prom. He taught me how to twist his hair and use grease, it’s silly but I liked how his hair was like curly lambs wool. When we would travel 800 miles to the North to see my family they left no doubt in my mind that they accepted him without question. When my little sister was learning to talk, she made it a point to learn to say his name before mine.

I wish everyone would have been as accepting as our families. We would get pulled over by the police, this happened more than once and it happened for little to no reason at least none we could see. The police would make it a point to search the car and pat us down. Love is love despite color, age, or race. Love does not discriminate, but we found out the hard way that people do.

Being in an interracial relationship was just like being in any relationship and just like all couples we had our ups and downs. Sometimes relationships change, people change and circumstances change. We had been together for a year when I found out that I was HIV-Positive. I was tested annually at the college health fair and every year my test came back negative. Then the unthinkable happened and my worst fears were realized. There were so many fears. There was the fear of telling him, there was the fear of the stigma of HIV/AIDS and there was the fear of the unknown. Later on he was tested, and he found out that he too was HIV positive, his CD4 counts were lower than mine and it was determined that he had it first and had transmitted it to me.

After we found out he didn’t want to tell anyone about our HIV status, it became our ‘little’ secret. Maybe his silence came from being a proud black man that just happened to be gay, but it was my burden to bare too. He seemed to have become emotionally shut down. We would go to the doctor together, yet we would not talk about the elephant in the room. We never talked about anything having to do with what it’s like being gay and HIV positive in East Texas. He never wanted to talk about the guilt he felt for infecting me, but I could see it in his eyes. It’s hard to keep a secret like HIV to oneself and not feel like you are perpetuating the stigma. It’s doubly hard to be each other’s support system when we all we do is carry our burdens instead of carrying and supporting each other.

I thought we still loved each other. He was my support system, boyfriend, and lover. I would advise against staying silent keeping your status to yourself even in the face of Stigma or harassment for whatever the reason we are all human we are all individuals which makes us all different we must embrace that.

Cocktails Lipstick and Love, Advice from Wilma Fingerdo

America’s Sweetheart Wilma Fingerdo

Welcome everyone to my first love and advice column. Our fans have been so good to us over the years that I just wanted to give a little something back to the community and this is as little as it gets. As I’m writing this I am poolside in sunny Florida sipping a mojito and dictating my new column to our pool boy Alejandro. I’m doing everything in my power to give this sweet boy an odd job or two to help him work his way through pet grooming school and you know what, it’s harder than you think to shape a poodle tail in to a little ball. Poor Alejandro’s always seems come out phallic shaped, I know he will keep working on it until he gets it right. If you need advice on love, life or how to mix that perfect drink don’t hesitate to write me, wilma_fingerdo@comcast.net.

Dear Wilma, I’m a young gay man in Northwest Indiana area and I’m wondering where I can go to meet other single men that doesn’t involve apps or online dating? Signed, Lonely Homo

Dear Homo, Northwest Indiana has a very open and friendly group of gay men that host events, and there’s no need to go alone! Have you ever heard the phrase, “Don’t go stag, drag the hag?” Get one of your lady friends and head out to Dark Star on Thursdays for Karaoke, Or you can follow the OUT in NWIN’s Facebook page for our local drag shows that are hosted in Michigan City, Portage and Winfield. Good Luck! XOXO

Hi Wilma! Have you ever had a doctor cup your balls and fondle them? Is this normal? What are they checking for? Thanks, Touched and Confused

Dear Touched, Heavens NO! I’m a lady for fucks sake. I’m no Dr. Quinn Medicine Woman, but I believe that this will help to determine if you have a hernia. It’s either that or your doctor thinks you’re cute. XOXO

Dear Wilma, My boyfriends penis is really thick, do you have any tips for me? Sincerely, Ouchy

Dear Ouchy, Have you heard of booze and lube? That’s how I do it. XOXO

Dear Wilma, Valentine’s Day is coming and I was wanting some input, what would you do for a first date on Valentine’s Day? Where would you take your date and how much is appropriate to spend? Thank you, Anonymous Hopeless Romantic

Dear Anonymous, My legs rise according to the dollars spent, and “the sky’s the limit!” Seriously though, I think this is going to depend on the person you’re dating. I’ve spent many Valentine’s Days at home, but we’ve also indulged in $700 dinners in the City. Why don’t you cut to the chase and ask them what they want to do? You could spend as little as $50 for some pizza, a thoughtful card and Netflix, or thousands on a night on the town. I would let your date lead the way. Regardless, I think a nice card and some flowers always do the trick! Good Luck! XOXO

Wilma Fingerdo and Welcome to the Other Side can be seen performing at Shenanigan’s in Portage on February 25th 2017. 

Is Betsy DeVos the Right Choice for the Nations LGBT Students?

Newly confirmed Secretary of Education, Betsy DeVos.

Betsy DeVos was sworn in today as Secretary of Education in a highly contentious confirmation process that split the United States Senate 50/50 down party lines with Vice President Mike Pence casting the deciding vote. DeVos, who has zero experience in education or administration and whose family has given millions of dollars to the Republican Party, was called by the editor of the Detroit Free Press, Stephen Henderson, “…a lobbyist-someone who has used her extraordinary wealth to influence the conversation about education reform, and to bend that conversation to her ideological convictions despite the dearth of evidence supporting them.”Fury 2014 movie streaming

The controversy surrounding DeVos does not stop at her lack of experience, but how her leadership of the U. S. Department of Education will affect the thousands of LGBT students across the county. As a religious conservative DeVos’ family has given thousands of dollars in donations to anti-gay organizations such as Focus on the Family, a group that still supports the wildly denounced practice of conversion therapy for gays. A practice that former Indiana governor and now Vice-President of the United States, Mike Pence still supports. DeVos’ father, Edger Price even donated thousand of dollars to help found the anti-gay Family Research Council. Wanting to focus on education and charter schools it has not been reported that DeVos or her husband Richard have made donations to any anti-LGBT religious organizations, just the DeVos family in general. At one time DeVos called on Dave Agema, a Republican from Michigan, to step down from the Republican National Committee because of disparaging comments made about the LGBT community.

Chad Griffin, president of the Human Rights Campaign expressed his concerns in a statement saying, “The DeVos family has a long, well-documented history of funding organizations dedicated to undermining and restricting the rights of LGBTQ people.” Stephanie White, the executive director of Equality Michigan, DeVos’ home state, believes that Ms. DeVos’ view on LGBT issues has “evolved,” noting, “she’s shown a capacity to grow in her understanding of LGBT issues.”

Voting to confirm DeVos was Indiana Senator Todd Young (R), who has received approximately $48,000 in campaign contributions from the DeVos family last year. In a statement to NUVO, Indianapolis’ alternative newspaper, Senator Young stated, “I voted for Betsy DeVos because she has devoted her life to the field of education. She has an unwavering belief that parents should be in charge of making choices about their child’s education. I look forward to working with Ms. DeVos following her swearing in as Secretary of Education.”

There is no telling which way the new Secretary of Education will handle sensitive subjects such as transgender bathroom or locker room rights, and with a stroke of her pen she could rescind all of President Obama’s executive orders for transgender students. One thing is for sure, the controversy surrounding Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos and the other picks President Trump choose for his Cabinet is sure to continue.

 

 

South Bend, Ind. mayor says ‘coming out matters’

South Bend Mayor Peter Buttigieg. Photo: WNDU.

It is home to the most storied American Catholic institution—the University of Notre Dame. It is the fourth largest city in Indiana. It now also has one of the few out gay mayors in America’s middle and large-sized cities, now that he’s come out.

South Bend, Ind. mayor Pete Buttigieg, 33, decided to make a point that coming out matters. He did so in an essay published by the South Bend Tribune newspaper.

The revelation comes in the wake of Indiana legislating the Religious Freedom Restoration Act.

In the law’s original form, it would have allowed businesses to deny service to certain persons based on their particular religious values. It was seen as targeting lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender persons.

“Experiences with friends or family members coming out have helped millions of Americans to see past stereotypes and better understand what being gay is and is not,” Buttigieg wrote. “For most of our history, most Americans had no idea how many people they knew and cared about were gay.”

Buttigieg wanted to keep his private life private. But the first term mayor expressed that this was an opportunity to set a positive example for LGBT youth, and to an older generation not used to contemporary social norms.

“Putting something this personal on the pages of a newspaper does not come easy. We Midwesterners are instinctively private to begin with, and I’m not used to viewing this as anyone else’s business. But it’s clear to me that at a moment like this, being more open about it could do some good,” the mayor wrote.

“For a local student struggling with her sexuality, it might be helpful for an openly gay mayor to send the message that her community will always have a place for her. And for a conservative resident form a different generation, whose unease with social change is partly rooted in the impression that he doesn’t know anyone gay, perhaps a familiar face can be a reminder that we’re all in this together as a community.”

The young mayor is not new to national attention.

The Washington Post newspaper described Buttigieg as “the most interesting mayor you’ve never heard of.”

Local government innovation organization GovFresh.com named Buttigieg its 2013 Mayor of the Year.

As a lieutenant in the U.S. Navy Reserve, Buttigieg was called to active duty last year from Feb. 28 to Sept. 30. He was sent to Afghanistan—refusing his city salary during his service.

Buttigieg explained that being gay is “a fact of life, like having brown hair.” He said it is “part of who I am.”

To that end, Buttigieg was driven to pass an equal rights amendment for South Bend within 100 days in office.

Heling to get the amendment passes was Richard Sutton, then-president of Indiana Equality.

“He was a leader. It won 6-3,” Sutton said. “He had to fight Notre Dame, where his father taught, and the Catholic bishop. But his calm resolve carried the day.”

Buttgieg is optimistic for LGBT Hoosiers as more cities are expected to follow suit with local non-discrimination ordinances.

“We’re moving closer to a world in which acceptance is the norm. This kind of social change considered old news in some parts of the country, is still often divisive around here,” he said. “But it doesn’t have to be. We’re all finding our way forward, and things will go better if we can manage to do it together.”

Freedom Indiana, currently campaigning for such ordinances, spoke to Chicago Star-Bulletin.

“Mayor Buttigieg has been a strong voice for equality, and it says a lot that we live in a state where Hoosiers feel comfortable and supported being who they are,” the group said.

Holocaust Remembrance Day, Try and Remember Not Let it Happen Again.

For those of you who do not know, today is Holocaust Remembrance Day.
What is there to say? Millions of Jews, men, women, and children died in   the holocaust, but it goes beyond that.

Gay prisoners in concentration camps are made to wear the ‘pink triangle’ so that they are identified as gay. A symbol that the gay community owns now and that’s still in use today as a symbol of freedom and remembrance.

Sharing their fate were homosexuals, gypsies, Jehovah’s Witnesses, anyone who was different. Millions of innocent people who had done nothing wrong except be themselves were murdered. There are just no words and my words will fall short of conveying the scope and the pain of what happened to these people, these families, these friends, brothers, sisters, mothers, fathers….children.

                                                                                                                                     A lot of people are scared that under the current administration we are heading down the same path. It is not an over exaggeration, people are scared and they have good reason to be. Since the election hate crimes are on the rise. We have an administration that would rather give the people of this country ‘alternative facts’ and cut off a government agency’s communication to the people that they are suppose to be serving. We have an administration that is rallying against the free press and is playing ‘slight of hand’ with the truth. Then there is Russia. Russia with a leader so homophobic that you can’t even so much as have a rainbow bumper sticker, because if you do you might be arrested for spreading ‘homosexual propaganda.’ Russian President Vladimir Putin is not a friend to the LGBT Community and he has literally made people ‘disappear’ for criticizing his polices. With unsubstantiated rumors that the Russian Government interfered somehow with the election and the fact that there may indeed be a some information that can be used to blackmail the President of the United States of America, one would think that at this time our nation should keep a respectful distance from Russia until we can sort things out. No, not this administration, both Trump and Putin are supposed to speak over the phone any day now.

Children of the Holocaust

I digress, this was not supposed to be about the political climate of the 21st Century. This was supposed to be about the millions of people who were murdered, NOT died, murdered in the Holocaust. These ‘different’ human beings were murdered, tortured, and some were put through horrific experiments. They were taken from their homes, some in the middle of the night but, most disturbingly in broad daylight. With their ‘friends’ and neighbors, neighbors that Jewish families lived next door to for generations, neighbors that did not lift a finger to help them as German Soldiers shot them and they fell into mass graves one body on top of another, again in broad daylight. No one spoke up. Let that sink in.

Believe it or not Berlin had a thriving gay community in the 1930’s. When Hitler came to power that came to an end. Hitler had to blame someone for the sorry economic state Germany was in and it behooved him to blame the Jews, the gays, or anyone else that was not in the theological Christian norm. It behooved Hitler to view their differences not at diverse or as different people bringing the best of themselves to the table, but to use those very differences as a spring board to hate. He spread hate, misunderstanding and ‘alternative facts’ to achieve a climb to power that the world wold not see again until November 8, 2016. Hitler’s appeal to the disenfranchised common man was a strong and powerful tool, a tool he used to his full advantage. I mean if you think about it, Hitler was so popular that he could shot someone in the middle of Time Square and get away with it. All of this sounds so familiar, I was not alive in the 1930’s when Hitler came to power, yet I’m having the weirdest sense of de’ja’ vu.
 
Do I think that the Holocaust could happen again? Absolutely I do. Yet we have something the people did not have back then, we have better windows into the past. We can look at films, interviews with survivors, and by acknowledging the past we can make sure it does not happen again. Those who ignore the past are doomed to repeat it, that’s a cliche’ I know, but it’s a true cliche’. We also have the internet, a way of communicating with each other and to the world. From our smart phones we can go ‘live’ and share things like the women’s march on Washington. People who actually work for the government can create new tweeter accounts and Facebook pages to let the public know what’s happening when the President orders a ‘media blackout’ of those agencies. We can hold a corrupt government accountable in real time. We can do all of these things, well until Donald J. Trump turns off the internet.
 
To the families, the men, women, and children who died scared and alone in the Holocaust,  you are not forgotten, may your memories be a blessing.
 
And that my friends is my view from the other side of the Lake today, January 27th, 2017.

Has HOPE Left the Building?

Donald Trump’s election has literately torn families apart in a way that hasn’t been seen since the Civil War. Maybe that’s a little extreme, but I certainly have never seen anything like this in my lifetime.
 
My family is no different. My younger brothers support Trump. My mom, my daughter, my husband and I disagree with them on a very fundamental level. There is no easy fix for this, it’s not something I can ‘just get over’ or even forgive, at least not now and maybe not ever. It goes beyond simple politics, it hits at the root of racism, misogyny, gullibility, and common sense. I love my family I especially love my bothers and I have always supported them, they have never done anything to ever make me ashamed or be disappointed in them, until now. Their support of a reality TV star, who is proud of the fact that he feels he can do whatever he wants to women because he is successful not only leaves me disillusioned with my brothers, but with half of this country. I accused one of my brothers of loving his addiction to ‘White Privilege.’ His response was “if working hard to raise a child and paying my bills is white privilege than yes I have white privilege.” After that statement, I simply asked him, “When was the last time you were pulled over for driving while Caucasian?”
 

As a typical Trump supporter he did not ‘get it’ nor will he ever because he and a lot of other Trump supporters, or should I say insecure white guys. Insecure white guys who want to go back in time and live in a world that never really existed. The idyllic world of post World War II 1950s where woman were women and men were men and there was not a person of color in sight and no one had ever heard of a same sex couple. They want a world where Bruce Jenner is still Bruce Jenner, where he’s on the cover of the Wheaties box and pees in the men’s room. They want a world that if a President of the United States visits Japan he would shake hands with Japanese Prime-minister. As is Japanese custom the Prime-minister would bow to a visiting dignitary. President Obama in showing respect to that countries people and culture while visiting Japan bowed to the Prime-minister. Angry white guys didn’t like that, “American’s bow to no one, especially the President!” 

PHOENIX, AZ – JULY 11: Republican Presidential candidate Donald Trump addresses supporters during a political rally at the Phoenix Convention Center on July 11, 2015 in Phoenix, Arizona. Trump spoke about illegal immigration and other topics in front of an estimated crowd of 4,200. (Photo by Charlie Leight/Getty Images)

There is such a thing as ‘healthy fear’ and ‘healthy shame’. Healthy fear protects us and others from engaging in behavior that doesn’t get us or others hurt or killed. Healthy shame keeps us out of jail. You can find both of these qualities in leaders. Mind you I said leaders, NOT bosses. All leaders are bosses but not all bosses are leaders and right now Donald J. Trump is going to be sworn in NOT as America’s 45th President, but as America’s boss and anyone who does not follow the employee hand book is going to be written up, written off, and fired.

Donald Trump has never had to fear anything or feel ashamed of his behavior. I do not think that at his core he is able to feel or understand those concepts. That does not make him a strong leader, that makes him a dangerous leader. When leaders have no fear, shame, humility, and no conscience, people die. Real leaders set examples and earn respect. Bosses give orders and expect unquestioning blind obedience.

I want to believe President Obama with all of my heart when he said at his final press conference, that he believes we will all be okay. ‘It will be okay.’ That sounds suspiciously like something your Dad would say if you had to go to the hospital for surgery as a kid. You KNEW deep down it would be okay, but you also knew that recovery was going to hurt like hell.
 
Eight years ago at this time I felt hope. Eight years later hope has left the building, it left the building  when intolerance and uncertainty showed up.
One of the last things my brother told me was that I was ‘everything that was wrong with this country.’ I’ll own that, and I’ll wear it on my sleeve like I do my heart and my attitude. In the mean time an ‘Amber Alert’ has been issued for ‘HOPE.’ I don’t think it will be missing for long, just long enough for us to miss it. 
And that my friends is my view from the other side of the lake.

Obama Grants Chelsea Manning Early Release.

photo by Mike Kemp/In Pictures via Getty Images

UPDATE: May 17, 2017

Convicted former U. S. Army intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning was released from federal prison today. Manning posted a Tweet commemorating her release.  Chelsea Manning @xychelsea  Manning said in a statement after her release, “I am looking forward to so much! Whatever is ahead of me is far more important than the past. I’m figuring things out right now – which is exciting, awkward, fun, and all new for me.” Manning remains on unpaid active duty with U. S. Army and will retain benefits such as healthcare.

January 18, 2017

As one of his last acts in office, President Barack Obama commuted the sentence of Chelsea Manning. The former Army intelligence analyst was found guilty in 2013 for violating The Espionage Act. Manning came out as transgender after she was sentenced to 35 years in prison without the possibility of parole. Manning had been serving her sentence in a men’s military prison in Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, where she found it difficult to deal with the unique problems that comes with transitioning while incarcerated and has attempted suicide at least twice. After pressure from ACLU she was at least allowed to start hormone therapy and partly transition to life as a woman. A petition from Manning supporters that called for her release was sent to President Obama and had received over 100,000 signatures.

Manning, was convicted of leaking over 750,000 documents to Wikileaks which included diplomatic files from American embassies around the world along with other sensitive information. Included in the leaked files was a video of an American Helicopter attack in Baghdad, in which two journalists and other civilians were killed. Manning felt that if she were to release the documents it would open a “worldwide discussion, debates and reforms.” It was never proven that the information Manning leaked caused the death of any Americans or military personal.

The decision to grant Manning clemency has garnered President Obama both praise and scorn alike. Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (R) Called the decision “Outrageous,” and claimed that the President was setting a “dangerous precedent.” Glenn Greenwood, one of the journalists that Manning leaked documents too praised Obama and said via Twitter, “Beyond the whistle blowing, ponder Manning’s courage: she publicly announced her transition in a military prison.” Fellow whistleblower Edward Snowden tweeted to Manning,“stay strong just a while longer.”

Manning is scheduled to be released from prison on May 17, 2017.

Wife of Pulse Nightclub Killer Taken into Custody

Noor Salman, the wife of Omar Mateen the man who murdered 49 people and injured 53 others at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando in June, 2016 has been arrested. Salman was taken into custody on the charges of obstructing Justice and aiding and abetting by providing material support to a terrorist organization. Charges Salman, and her attorney’s have denied.

Noor Salman has stood by claims that she was an abused wife and mother and that her husband would beat her regularly. Salman also claimed that her husband would use the code word ‘Shar’ in public, which is Arbic for whore, if she acted in a way or said something he did not like. The F.B.I. disagrees and believes that Salman “acted of her own free will and knowingly took steps to obstruct the investigation in the massacre” and she has given conflicting accounts about what she knew of her husbands plans. By her own admission, Salman had went with her husband at least once to buy ammunition at Walmart and ‘feared’ her husband was plotting some sort of attack.

Professor Jacquelyn Campbell, of Johns Hopkins University, who has done studies on domestic violence evaluated Noor Salman’s case at the request of her attorneys. Professor Campbell claims that if she was as severely abused and she claimed, her number one goal would be survival. In trying to survive Noor Salman would be totally oblivious to any clues that Omar Mateen had been planning anything.

Professor Mia Bloom of Georgia State University has conducted studies on the role of women and children in terrorist groups. Professor Bloom has found that in 64% of the cases that involve terrorism relatives and friends are aware of the alleged terrorist intent.

How aware Noor Salman was that her husband was going to murder 49 people and injure 53 others in the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history remains to be seen. Salman is due to be arraigned in court on Tuesday.

CLOSING TIME! WHERE DID THE NEIGHBORHOOD GAY BAR GO?

We seem to be at a cross roads in the gay community, with marriage equality becoming the law of the land and positive roll models, major celebrities, and even athletes coming out, our lives, like it or not, have become main stream. Straight families seem to be moving into our ‘gayborhoods’ and living and working side by side with us. For most of us, but not all, our friends and families have accepted us and some of us are starting our own families. As more and more of us come out that line that divided us seems to be getting thinner and thinner, so thin in fact you almost can’t see it anymore. It seems that when you gain more than what you had, you end up giving up ‘something’ or that ‘something’ becomes less and less relevant. The ‘something’ I’m talking about in this instance is your friendly neighborhood gay bar.

Here in North West Indiana and most specifically in Michigan City, we’ve lost the majority of our gay bars. As we are welcomed into more all inclusive establishments our community is split on whether we even need one. In the past, gay bars were a refuge from the main stream that we were not welcome in. For to many years it was not was not safe for a lot of people to come out, they would risk getting fired from their jobs or endure any number of negative reactions to living a life that was authentic to them. The gay bar was the outlet in which we could be ourselves, talk with other like minded people, see entertainment unique to our community, laugh with our friends or help them through their drama, and maybe find that companion to spend the rest of the evening with or in some cases a life. My memories of these places are bittersweet, I’ve had some good times some not so good times. I’ve had a lot of laughs in these places and yes my share of ‘hook ups.’ I was even introduced to my husband in a gay bar. It seems we’ve been together ever since.

There are a lot of different opinions why we don’t need a gay bar, but the most prevalent one seems to be the most obvious of reasons, we don’t need one because it’s so easy to ‘hook up’ these days. In an age where instant gratification enables us to ‘order’ a companion on-line as easily as you would order a Domino’s Pizza, you can have a (hopefully) hot guy over to your house in 30 minutes or less, and hopefully they are using a current profile pick. Grab your phone and hit the icon for your favorite ‘hook up’ app of choice, GRINDR, SCRUFF, ADAM 4 ADAM or the inevitable PENIS TRACKER app. and you can get that awkward, sexual hook up delivered right to your door, and if you are already having cocktails at home you are exercising good judgment by not driving, you don’t even have to leave the house to lose your self-esteem.

For those of you who don’t think we need gay bars anymore for that reason, I respectfully disagree. When you turn 21 it’s a right of passage to go into a bar for the first time, it seems even more so for that 21 year old gay man, going to see his first drag show, maybe locking eyes with that hot guy across the bar. Wrestling with the dilemma of going home with said hot guy or staying with your best straight girl friend the rest of the evening, I guess it would depend on who drove. Gay bars are needed for that one guy, we all know one. He was in a very long term relationship and managed to get through a bitter break-up. After 3 weeks of self imposed exile his friends drag him out to the bar, maybe on stripper night. He has a few drinks, someone pays for a lap dance and all the sudden he finds the strength to laugh again at least for the moment, he can go back to being depressed tomorrow. When you needed to dance, or wanted to dance. If you couldn’t dance the liquid courage would take over, you find that your body is not only following the rhythm of the music, but the rhythm of the person’s body who is suddenly grinding up against you. The older generation, the guys that were around when Stonewall happened, the start of the modern gay rights movement. Lot’s of these gentlemen are not on line, and that’s okay, but like lot’s of people they still need companionship. Sometimes just a conversation or a ‘how have you been?’ is enough, sometimes its enough because it will help another human being be less lonely for awhile.

The gay bar is and should be still be that place where we go. It should support our community just at the community supports it. To many gay bars took from the community and never gave back. I think in this age of gay centered Television shows, Campbell’s soup commercials, and marriage equality the thing that should not disappear from our collective conscience is THAT place, our place. The place with the pool table, the dart board, the place where your best friend knocked over that flaming shot of rum and almost set the table on fire. That place were the Gay Pride Flag flew proudly. That place were you would meet your friends after work.

“So when you get off later just get there. We’re all going to be there and first drink is on me, oh and I heard from a pretty credible source that guy you like is gonna be there too. Maybe you will finally ask him to dance. Anyway, we are waiting on you.” I know I’ve been waiting for my gay bar to make a come back, I have a feeling I’m waiting in vain.

…and that my friends is my view from the other side of the lake.