Why We Need Gay PRIDE Festival

I have it on pretty good authority that Michigan City is going to have its first gay PRIDE festival this summer. Why this summer? Why now and not years ago? Why do it at all? I mean can’t we just go to Chicago for PRIDE? The answer is simple, yes we can but why would we want to or better yet why should we have to?

PRIDE month means different things to different people, just ask the Michigan City PRIDE committee, a haphazard group of people thrown together to make the impossible possible. A group consisting of a reluctant drag queen, a PFLAG mom, a gay husband and father, a straight alley, a politically incorrect smart ass who thinks he can write and his husband the social worker with little patience for things like committees. I’m the politically incorrect smart ass if you were wondering. I can’t say what PRIDE means to the other committee members, I can hazard a guess, but I can only speak to what PRIDE means to me and why the time has come for Michigan City to let its freak flag fly.

For many years I made it a point to go to Chicago for PRIDE. It started with an ex-boyfriend in 2000 and his friend Jeremy who ironically is now my friend. Jeremy and I always had a sort of frenemies type relationship. We could both be back biting and borderline insulting to each other, at first out of general annoyance of each other but now it’s out of love. It was one of Jeremy’s back biting antics that got me on the Channel 9 news my first year of PRIDE after he had heard one of the last things my mom had said to me before we embarked on that particular adventure was “I better NOT see your ass on the news.” Jeremy saw the news crew interviewing bystanders and quickly called them over screaming “OVER HERE, OVER HERE, SHE WANTS TO BE ON THE NEWS!” That was the beginning of many years of fun and debauchery at the Chicago Gay PRIDE Parade. Over the years my life had changed, but the one constant was going to Chicago for PRIDE the last weekend of June.  Oh, and my mom was not pleased that I ended up on Channel 9.

The last Chicago PRIDE that we actually attended was June 24, 2012. Our best friend came home from Florida. That weekend in Chicago was perfect. We partied all weekend and watched the parade from the street in front of our hotel. It was as if the fates knew that this would be our last PRIDE in Chicago, our favorite band Scissor Sisters played at the Vic (it was to be their final tour) right there in Boystown after the parade. It was the perfect PRIDE at least for me and then I was done, there would never be another PRIDE weekend like that one.

For many years gay PRIDE weekend started out as an excuse for me to party. As the years went on it became so much more. Seeing gay soldiers march in uniform for the first time after Don’t Ask Don’t Tell was repealed or LGBT affirming synagogues and churches march along with PFLAG. Gay parents marching with their children or gay children and their supportive parents. That last year was the first year that I actually watched the parade from start to finish from the street, not on live on TV from inside a bar. I found out that the gay PRIDE Parade was more than just half naked GoGo dancers or dykes on bikes (not that there’s anything wrong with that). For the first time I was actually paying attention, PRIDE was about real people with real lives out celebrating their right to love and marry who they wanted.

Michigan City has always had a large LGBT community most likely dating back to 1861 when Harriet Colfax took over as the Michigan City lighthouse keeper. According to digthedunes.com, when Miss Colfax moved into the lighthouse her friend and longtime companion Ann C. Hartwell moved in with her. They lived there together for the rest of their lives. As I’ve reported before in an article I did a couple of years ago featuring local drag troupe Welcome to the Other Side, the Williams Institute ranks Michigan City fourth in Indiana for the highest percentage of same-sex couples. I like to tell people that I can’t swing a stick in this town without hitting a fellow homo. That being said Michigan City’s PRIDE celebration is long past due and with our town right on the lake and all the other amenities we have to offer we can definitely hold our own when it comes to throwing a party. For those people who are undoubtedly going to try to compare our PRIDE to Chicago’s and say things like “It’s not like it is in Chicago,” I’m going to tell you now that it’s not supposed to be. We’re taking this celebration and making it our own so thank you Chi Town for letting us come over and join you for your PRIDE celebration it’s been fun, but this year we got this.

And that my friends is my view from the other side of the lake. Happy PRIDE!

Michigan City PRIDE Fest is June 30th, 2018 from 1-9pm in the historic Uptown Arts District. 

 

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.

Cooking in the Crock Pot of Life & Love Letters from Tampa

Hello everyone, in this weeks column we have some lighthearted  questions, some kind of serious questions, and one question that was so  disturbing I had to take a shower after I read it and swear to myself never to attend another dinner party. Honeys, I’ve been around the block a time or two and have seen some shit, but its like the old saying goes, “You think you’ve seen everything then someone comes along and starts cooking with sperm.” But, more on that question later on in my column. Today we start with a heart felt letter about relationships from of all places Tampa, Florida. Enjoy!

America’s Sweetheart Wilma Fingerdo

And remember I’m here for everyone, it doesn’t matter if you are gay, straight, lesbian, trans or a soccer mom, if you have a question and you think I can help e-mail me at wilma@outinmichigancity.com.

Dear Wilma,

Several years ago I left my home in Michigan City and moved to Florida. In that time I managed to make a friend, ‘Eric’ probably the best friend that I have in Tampa. We have everything in common from the kinds of music and movies that we like to the nights we go out to ‘cut loose,’ you might say that I’ve met my ‘partner in crime.’ We’ve been asked by several people who know us why we haven’t hooked up or taken our relationship to that next level. The truth is we couldn’t be less sexually attracted to each other. We are fine just being friends. A few weeks ago I met ‘Josh,’ and we went out a few times and I of course slept with him. After a conversation with Eric he realized that he had been on two dates with Josh and liked him very much, but the relationship did not go anywhere. Eric made his feelings quite clear to me how he felt about Josh and told me if I continue to date him that we can no longer be friends.

The reality is my track record for relationships since I’ve moved here has been sketchy at best. I fall for a guy, but then a few weeks later I always figure out that there is something that I do not like about him. It can either be that he is too clingy, that I think his nose is to big, that he doesn’t like or know who Morrissey is, or he has a kid from when he thought he was straight. Somehow my relationships always seem to have a shelf life, yet I’ve been dating Josh is secret for the last two weeks. My questions is this, should I take a chance on love knowing that I might find something superficial about Josh that would tempt me to no longer date him, or should I continue to date him and jeopardize my friendship with Eric, keeping in mind that I still might break up with Josh?

Sincerely,

Tempted in Tampa

Dear Tempted,

I’m a firm believer in “Bros before Hoes”, but not in this instance…

I think that Eric is being a tremendous twat for trying to make you choose between your potential relationship and his friendship. Eric doesn’t even know if Josh likes him.

You should enjoy your time with Josh, and set Eric at the curb with the rest of the trash.

XOXO

Dear Wilma,
I was wondering, is there any truth to the old gay adage, ‘two bottoms don’t make a top?’
Regards,
Is the truth out there?

Dear Bottom,

Do two cats make a dog? Do two Fords make an Oldsmobile?

Unless one of you is willing to be more versatile, you better save your money, because those double headed dildos are expensive!

XOXO

Dear Wilma,

All my life I have had one secret desire: to combine my amazing fashion sense with killer dance moves on stage. You are such a star! Any advice for a ‘girl’ wanting to break into the business?

Sincerely,

Diva to be

Dear Diva,

Your words are right on point! I am a star and lovely to boot!

You need to get out there and get yourself a Drag Mama! A Drag Mama (or mother) is an entertainer who will take you under their wing and show you the ropes. They can also help get you started in obtaining a booking once you’re ready to take the stage.

if you’re truly interested, attend some local shows, make friends with the entertainers, and ask for their advice. I think that you’ll find that most entertainers in our area are friendly, fun and willing to help.

Best of luck!

XOXO

Dear Wilma,

One of the things that your fans know about you is your love for cooking. I consider myself an amateur chef who loves to experiment with new and exciting recipes.

Quite by accident I came across a cook book and bartenders handbook by Paul  ‘Fotie’ Photenhauer. The cookbook is called ‘Natural Harvest: A Collection of Seaman Based Recipes.’ The bartenders book is called, ‘Semenolgy-The Semen Bartender’s Handbook.’ The recipes in the book sound exciting and titillating. Recipes like roasted lamb with good gravy, tiramisu surprise, and an almost White Russian.

My question is this, with all the amazing restaurants opening in Michigan City, do you think we are ready for a seamen based restaurant or at the very least a pop up (no pun intended). To show you the the books that I am referring to are indeed real, I’ve attached pictures and you can also find them on Amazon.com.

Sincerely,
Cooking with Cum

Dear Cooking,

Please get to the nearest psychiatrist and have your head examined.

I don’t know a single person who would want to ingest a recipe made from jizz.
Might I add that “production” could be an issue. With the exception of our Editor, who has time to beat off all day?

For the love of God, please get professional help.

XOXO

Wilma Fingerdo and her group Welcome to the Other Side can be seen entertaining the masses through comedy and song at Mug Shots in Michigan City on March 25th, 2017 starting at 10:00 p.m.

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.