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.

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. 

Reflections and the Final 12 Hours Before Top Surgery

Photo of Kane Fletcher courtesy of Facebook

It’s 12 hours before my surgery and I’m sitting in front of a camp fire. The very fact that I’m actually having top surgery has not set in yet and I’m thankful for the seven hour drive and the family and friends who are sitting here beside me. Their presence is calming and takes my mind off of my anxiety. I am so happy to all that have helped and I know I would not be here without all the unconditional love and support that I have received over the years.

I will say this, even thought I’m more nervous then I think I have been ever in my life, I am ready to wake up and see myself as the man that I’ve seen within myself all of my adult life. The man I know that I am.

The next few days and weeks after the surgery I will be healing, but when I do heal I’ll be able to share with you what I can’t possibly express right now. My excitement, my hope for the future, and my unapologetic life as the man I’ve become. The next time I talk to you it will be after my surgery, I hope that you all stick around with me for the new adventures yet to come.

Editors note: Kane Fletcher had his top surgery on Wednesday, April 19, 2017 and is currently recovering in Michigan City. Kane will be going back to his surgeon in Ohio for a follow up and you can expect his next column in a week or so.

Kane’s group “Welcome to the Other Side” will be performing at the Uptown Center in Michigan City on May 5th.

T -4 Days and Counting Until the First Day of the Rest of My Life

It’s almost here, the day I’ve been waiting for. The day that I never thought would get here. I’m talking about ‘top surgery.’ How do I describe how I feel? It’s like there is an epic space battle happing in my stomach, ‘Battlestar Glactica’ epic. My palms are constantly sweaty and I feel every emotion under the sun all at once. Like I’m in the cockpit of a Colonial Viper about ready to take out a Cylon Base Star all by myself.

There are so many emotions that I am feeling right now, by far I feel excitement the most, it’s almost like an adrenaline rush. That’s how I can explain my immediate feelings about my surgery. Yet I’ve have never had major surgery before so I’m nervous. What if there are complications? What if something goes wrong? I guess that’s where faith comes in, faith in my doctors, nurses, and hospital staff. Faith in the unconditional love and support of my fiancé. Faith in the love and support of my family and friends. Faith in myself to see this next leg in my journey through.

With any surgery there is a risk and sometimes surgery is so vital that you have to weigh that risk. Is the risk worth it? In my case, yes the risk is worth it, but not for the reason that you might think. Yes I’m going through with this not only because it’s the next step on the journey I started over five years ago. I’m going through with this because sometimes doing something major has to do more with the ‘small’ things in life than it has to do with the big ones. Sometimes it’s the things that no one else thinks about because it’s just a part of everyday life, until it’s not. Sometimes it’s the things that most people take for granted.

For over five years I have been binding my chest. In that time I have not felt a shirt on my skin or the sun on my back. The thought of hitting the beach for the first time this summer with no shirt or the binder to restrain me makes my skin tingle, especially the closer I get to my surgery date.   It’s those little things that I miss most. This summer there will be no ‘over heating’ from wearing the binders. I will never have to buy another new binder again. Breaking in a new binder horrible, it leaves painful ‘rub lines’ that sometimes bleed. I know binders are a necessary part of being a trans man, but at the same time after years of wearing one I no longer look at it as necessary, I look at it as a medieval torture device.

The days of worrying if I look like I have boobs are almost over. So are the days of not standing straight and tall because I might look too chesty. There are places I don’t go because I worry that on that particular day I don’t look ‘man enough.’  I will stand tall and I will no longer be ‘afraid’ of my chest. I will no longer worry about wearing a tank top and hope that my binder is not showing in public.

So back to the question, ‘is it worth the risk?’ The answer is hell yes. This is one of the biggest events of my life and one the best things that I’ve ever done for myself. I can’t wait until I’m standing in front of a mirror and I see myself again for the first time. I’ll make sure I tell you guys all about it.

Kane Fletcher’s Group “Welcome to the Other Side” will be preforming May 5th at the Uptown Center in Michigan City’s Historic Uptown Arts District. 

 

Don’t be Afraid of Who You Are

Kane Fletcher, photo courtesy of Facebook

My name is Kane, and this is my blog.

I’m 27 years old trans man and I have been transitioning for almost three years now. Transitioning is a process. It’s a process to get your body to become who you know you are and how you envision yourself in your mind, mentally I transitioned years ago.

I have been on testosterone for three years. The anniversary of the day I started hormones I call my “maniversary.” For me testosterone is the second part of the process. Three years prior to starting hormone therapy I had been binding and living my life as close to male as I could. On April 19th 2017 I will have top surgery. Taking these steps in becoming the man I know I am is the right choice for me, but it might not be the right choice for everyone.

Just because you don’t take the hormone therapy doesn’t mean that you aren’t transgender. You still are. Some people can’t take it and others don’t need it. Sometimes it’s not safe for transgendered people to take hormones or even live as the gender that they identify with. It’s not safe because they are living in a place that if they embraced who they really a they could be in very real physical danger kicked out of their home or even killed.

Just like there are no two people alike, there are no two transgender people alike and some choices might work for some people and others not so much. Some transgender people are happy with their voices and the way that they look. Some people opt not to get surgeries. Yet, these people are still transgender and “We See You.”

In the next few weeks I start the next stage of my journey. I have so many mixed emotions, from excitement or nervousness yet the one constant emotion is that I’m overjoyed. It’s a new chapter in my life and I can’t wait to take the next step. My family and friends will be taking this journey with me and I hope you will too. I will be blogging about my experiences of being a trans man in the Midwest and things that have happened to me in my life.

If you or someone you love is trans and you have questions need support or just want to say hi you can reach me at kane@outinmichigancity.com

Kane Fletcher can be seen performing with his group “Welcome to the Other Side,” Saturday, April 15, 2017, at Shenanigans Pub & Eatery located at 6121 US 20, Portage, IN 46368.