This is the headline for this month’s The Word, a mainstay newspaper for the Indianapolis LGBTQ for 25+ years. This is from my frame of reference. I moved to Indy for the first time in July 1990 to take an entry level position at Eli Lilly. It was the era of Brother’s (now Ollie’s), OP’s (now Greg’s), the Metro and Jimmy’s (now the home of the Indiana Arts Council). I was barely 22 years old – the world was my oyster (literally, with my business travel) – and I was out and proud…slowly…everywhere…but work.
As I reflect upon my own journey from those first sometimes terrifying years in my career, worried what would happen at this “conservative, midwestern-values based career-oriented Fortune 100 Company” if they ever found out one of their top recruits was a “known homosexual?” I shuttered to find out…the stress at times was unbearable, wearing a mask and hiding who I was.
In those early years of coming out, I experience the Garage Party, the Grand Masquerade,Bill McKinley and Terry Woods at Jimmy’s Nightclub, the move/expansion of IYG into their current location, the Damien Center, the Bag Ladies, the Horny Hole / Unicorn, the 501, various other clubs that came and went, early Pride (without Corporate tables and national sponsors) and more… (Well, in my version of the past, they were all there then…)
Let’s take a “TBT” walk down memory lane – from then to now. We’ve come a LONG way baby!
Fast forward, and I’ll be back to Indy Pride tomorrow – riding with the Indiana Men’s Motorcycle Club – also known as bear-backs – I mean, the gay men’s motorcycle club. Here I am, 25+ years later, ready to be out and about again (ah, there’s another fond memory – Bruce Seybert and Out & About!)
I love my church…I love the way I’m challenged, encouraged, supported, and inspired.
For this gay man, that’s a pretty powerful statement to make. Like many LGBTQ folks, my history with “organized religion” has led me into some uncomfortable places, as I’ve blogged about before. I’ve belonged to a conservative “Christian cult,” (in my terms…), attended Homosexuals Anonymous (yep! there is actually a 12-step program to “make you straight), and skirted with Exodus Ministries and Sy Rogers, hosting him at the University of Michigan at a “launch event” for an ex-gay outreach I started my Senior year.
With that history, it’s no wonder it took a LONG time before I felt comfortable setting foot in a church, let alone one with strong ties to its middle-of-the-road-but-slightly-conservative mainstream denomination. But, growing up going to church, attending Sunday school and a high school youth group, I always knew that deep inside, some (healthier) spiritual life was important to me. I’ve always believed we are physical, emotional, intellectual and yes – spiritual beings. It’s just taken some grieving and courage to face the “demons” from my past that caused me to avoid church altogether.
Probably the single wisest move I made “taking that on” for Lent was from a suggestion from someone I consider to be my “BFF” / friend much more than I do my “Pastor.” Mike Mather has been an important part of my life journey in community. His coaching was to go in and talk with the owners first, before I showed up to picket their bakery.
So, I’ll close this piece with some recent follow-up articles that explain how this all has come full circle. I thank Randy McGrath for his courage to be honest and authentic; I appreciate Will Higgins ability to see deeper into the story being told between Randy and me over the course of weeks and months; and I will use the experience to look for more ways to engage in personal dialogue and curiosity.
As my one friend Stewart Huff says, “we are all scared, curious poets.” It’s powerful to admit “I don’t know” to certain questions, leading to the possibility of being “Flipped” — of seeing the world through a new pair of glasses. So, I’ll also close this piece with some cross-references to some other “scared, curious poets” who Flipped! my worldview…
Will Higgin’s follow-up article in the Indy Star, updating the community on the reasons behind their decision to close shop. Having exchanged emails with Randy, the owner, I’m grateful for the perspective Will took with the story — capturing the true essences of how things played out for them and between us.
The Detroit Free Press’ reprint of the Indy Star’s update. They included references to other articles and events around their State and the country on the subject…
My original post on New Year’s Day has “percolated” into the following – my 2.105 personal Brand and Intentions. Thank you to Scott Collins – friend and life coach, who taught me some new tools for living before he left us. Your spirit lives on. I think of you whenever I see the “eternal flame” candle at Broadway, and for that I’m grateful. I still use a “Scott Collins Plan” template regularly to coach the best out of life…
Todd Fuqua, Community Connector & Reflector
Living into visible, intentional, compassionate community thru conversations, faith, meals & action
The building out of my “personal brand”
Baking – which is really about sharing generously with others; showing hospitality; eating meals together and building community
Tech Geek(digital photos, websites, social media, remixing) – which is really about creating or using tools to enhance but not dominate life and having fun
Travel– which is really about seeing more of our world and nature; connecting with people; and having fun… whenever possible with my soul mate, friends or family and on a motorcycle
Photography – which is really about telling stories; connecting with others through empathy and creativity; and building community
Blogging – which is really about telling stories; connecting with others through empathy and creativity; and building community
Being with Loved Ones(my soul mate, family, friends & pets) – which is really about finding shelter and being home; naming, connecting & sharing one another’s gifts on a level playing field; and unconditional love
My perceived gifts that support my “personal brand”
2.015 intentions for taking action
“Be Mindful, Authentic & in Community” (knowing my Higher Power will bless my actions with Her desired outcomes)
Social Justice & Inclusion personal passion for re-entry, recovery, mental health, homelessness, poverty, LGBTQ, HIV/AIDS
Plan to be spontaneous. Live in the present.
Choose the healthier option. Listen. Observe. Ask questions.
Be comfortable with “good enough” and “I don’t know.” Practice serenity.
Admit when wrong. Forgive first. Love always.