You May Remember

Our Lives turns 10 years old this July, and we’re celebrating with our own year-long retrospective. We take a look back at some of the people, stories, and changes that have marked the past decade of the LGBTQ community here in Madison, the state, and beyond.

May 2008

Before the food and dining theme, we centered the first May/June issue around the intersection of faith and sexuality, with a moving cover story by Rev. Eldonna Hazen. In it, she explored the challenge of her decision to go into ministry, and the journey to finding a denomination and congregation that was not only tolerant of her identity, but that celebrated it.

We also featured the excellent reporting of Patrick Erwin, who compiled a list of open and affirming congregations in the Madison area. Attorney Tamara Packard penned a legal column exploring where the line falls between our First Amendment rights and our faiths. On a more personal note, Our Lives Publisher Patrick Farabaugh’s mother, Brenda, wrote an incredibly moving and difficult piece about her struggles on the way to accepting her son’s sexuality. It’s a journey that still rings true for many parents, even in light of the enormous social progress since made.

May 2009

We turned our eyes to the Madison music scene, and were honored to have legendary folk musician Tret Fure grace the cover. She talked about the challenges of finding music industry success as an out performer, and the fascinating journey from piano lessons to Billboard charts. The issue also included the first contribution from now-editor Emily Mills, who did a survey of the out queer musicians then gracing stages around the city.

Rico Sabitini and Corey Gresen made their first appearances in our pages, as we introduced the new Plan B nightclub. Tamara Packard wrote about the marriage equality victory in Iowa, breaking down the state Supreme Court’s unanimous decision.

In the history column, Dick Wagner told the story of George Segal’s iconic “Gay Liberation” art piece and how it was first installed at Orton Park long before making its way to New York City—largely because, socially, New York was not yet ready for its presence there. Notably, the 1989 photo accompanying the piece featured all of Madison’s out local politicians from that time, including a young Dane County Supervisor by the name of Tammy Baldwin.

May 2010

We made the pivot to food as the theme, and kicked things off with an excellent piece by Robert Von Rutenberg, who found support and purpose after serious personal struggles with the help of his brothers and the family business. Dick Wagner told us about the Ten Dollar House in Mineral Point, Wisconsin’s nationally recognized LGBTQ historical site that was the home of Edgar Hellum and Bob Neal. Their story inspired a play by the same name.

Marty Fox spelled out the ABCs of ERGs (Employee Resource Groups), laying the groundwork for how to grow such an organization within area businesses as a means of doing workplace LGBTQ advocacy. We also saw the first reporting on the new Fruit Fest event at Plan B, as the club kicked off their still-running Pride community festival.

May 2011

The intersection of personal life and work life was painted into a vivid picture by Old Fashioned manager Jen DeBolt, who wrote about running a business that evokes classic Wisconsin roots and has helped shape the Madison dining scene since its inception. Therapist Sue Gill tackled the tricky and sadly timeless topic of coping with the constant, low-level stress of being a member of a marginalized community, offering methods of finding joy and purpose even when the world would otherwise wear you down.

May 2012

We wouldn’t be a Wisconsin-based magazine without at least one cover featuring a huge pile of cheese! Fromagination’s Ken Monteleone gave that to us, as well as the engaging story of growing up in Colorado (in a town once known as the “sex change capitol of the world,” interestingly enough), his background in the shoe business, and how he ended up finding his passion in artisan foods and cheese.

Linda Balisle gave us rare access to then candidate for governor Kathleen Falk, and the Rev. Scott D. Anderson penned a compelling story about becoming the world’s first out ordained Presbyterian clergy.

This was around the time the national conversation around and awareness of transgender people really began, but the LGBTQ community had been talking about it more intently for a few years already. Nyle Biondi wrote to that, specifically addressing the issue of outing trans people without asking for permission, and how it causes harm even when that’s not the intent.

On a fun note, our Future Leader was Colton Bocher, a U.W. student at the time who made a highly choreographed music video to Lady Gaga’s “Hair” that went viral after the pop singer commented on and shared it with her audience.

May 2013

It’s fair to say that Tami Lax has had a big influence on the Madison restaurant scene, with both Harvest and the Old Fashioned helping set the tone and trend for locally sourced ingredients and quality. She shared the story of her family’s relationship with food and how it shaped her own outlook and life and led her to a career in the industry. Meanwhile, we addressed a small controversy that arose when the magazine was removed from racks at the new HyVee store, something that was brought to our attention by diligent readers and that we were eventually able to get an apology and correction from the store for.

We took a slightly different tack with the Pets column, with Dino Maniaci writing a lovely tribute to his partner, Jason Hoke, for becoming a Westminster level dog show judge. The issue also represented the second time ever that we published a piece entirely in Spanish, with Christian Merino’s Future Leaders column about struggles coming out and his work with Alianza Latina.

May 2014

Local frozen custard crusader Michael Dix graced our cover that year, and opened his heart and his life to readers with an incredibly raw, powerful narrative about his relationship trials, personal struggles, and his hard work to build a life and a business that is more whole. We reported on OutReach assuming ownership of Madison’s Pride parade, and it’s been a pleasure to see the event thrive under that organization’s leadership the past few years.

Alex Einsman dove into the turbulent waters of digital relationship apps and used the Issues column to talk about how to handle hook-ups and heartaches in the Grindr era, something that’s still relevant. Once again, Tamara Packard continued to track the progress (and setbacks) toward marriage equality in the U.S., with a look at all of the cases nationally that were then wending their way toward the Supreme Court, including the then-recently filed Wisconsin ACLU suit that eventually helped bring equality to the state.

May 2015

We sat down with local purveyor of sweets and cafe owner Leanne Cordisco of Chocolaterian and interviewed her about her life and work. Readers were treated to a story of caretaking, travel, health scares, and unexpected business connections and success. This issue also first introduced the Connect Opener feature, as we highlighted the campaign to save Five Nightclub. We’ve since continued to use this space to address more time-sensitive community news deserving of a bit more space than a mention, and hope it’s been something of value to our readers.

The issue featured Rev. Everett Mitchell for his work as an ally and advocate, specifically within the Black church, and it’s been gratifying to see the work he’s continued to do both in that realm and now as an elected Dane County Judge. Molly Herrmann interviewed e. shor salkas on the importance of the Trans Community Health Assessment, a pioneering data collection effort that helped spur the creation of the Wisconsin Transgender Health Coalition.

T. Banks of Young, Gifted and Black (and of Freedom Inc) wrote about the importance of queer solidarity with the racial justice and Black Lives Matter movement, where many of the leaders are also LGBTQ identified.

Well after the issue went to press, jubilation spread quickly as marriage equality won nationally after two landmark Supreme Court cases were decided in June.

May 2016

Visitors to the Dane County Farmers’ Market surely recognized our cover person by her purple shirt alone, as we were pleased to feature Tricia Bross of Luna Circle Farm (which sports a purple awning at its market booth). She wrote about her decades of experience in organic farming and it was fascinating to note the changes that have happened within that community over time, as well as her own journey that involved following girlfriends, broken-down cars, women-only and off-the-grid farming.

Ja’Mel Ware invited us to learn about his new social networking group, Intellectual Ratchet, which is centered around people of color living in the Madison area. Cargo Coffee owner and east side community stalwart Lynn Lee shared his moving story of loving and loss, unexpected single parenthood, and being a mentor to young queer kids who come to work at his businesses. Related, attorney Emily Dudak Taylor wrote a piece looking at the legal implications of cross-state recognition of LGBT adoptions. Rep. Mark Pocan contributed a detailed look back at the progress and work that went toward LGBTQ equality in the past 10 years alone, especially in terms of how much people in Wisconsin’s attitudes had changed since even the 2006 vote to ban same-sex marriage.

May 2017

The issue you now hold in your hands represents further adaptation and expansion of the food and dining theme, as we look for new and better ways to more fully represent the LGBTQ community experience. If there’s another sub-theme to this issue, it’s the immigrant experience, something that feels especially pertinent in today’s atmosphere.

Mediterranean Hookah Lounge & Café owner Tommy Hanna gets the cover with his fascinating tale of the gay immigrant experience, Akshat Woodhouse Sharma opens up about his own journey from India to Dubai to Madison, Shiva Bidar talks about the immigrant chosen family she’s built in Madison, and Anna Alberici paints a vivid picture of the old Italian immigrant community in the Greenbush neighborhood of Madison. It seems food is and always has been something that roots us to our forebears, helps us build community, and opens doors to new connections.

There is also plenty of news, updates, and insights in the issue, as we continue to strive toward being a platform for the many and varied voices and experiences of the LGBTQ community not just in Madison, but more and more throughout the entire state of Wisconsin. Look for a special 10th anniversary edition of the magazine in July, full of our colorful stories, important information, retrospectives on progress and challenges that remain, and a whole lot more.