W. Earle Smith has spent a lifetime on a path toward the most rewarding part of his career: as artistic director of the Madison Ballet.
Interest group: Coming Out
Relying on reason to rationalize his own journey, Kevin Romero discovers how life doesn’t always follow a simple science.
Getting a later start on building your own life creates some unique challenges. Dale Decker offers a few ways to handle a delayed adolescence
Answering the call for the Reverend Eldonna Hazen first meant reconciling her sexuality with her faith. In her own words, First Congregational United Church of Christ’s Associate Minister talks about why she’s returned to the church.
Over the past two decades, Steve Starkey has built a professional career in community service. In 2006 he began using that experience to steer OutReach as it’s Executive Director.
Brenda Farabaugh opens up about how she first reacted when her son Patrick came out to her, and where she is at with it now.
UW-Madison student Charlie Martin found his unexpected confidence after given a kick out of the closet
Division I Badger hockey player Ilana Friedman started a You Can Play chapter to help LGBT athletes at the UW and around Madison come out and participate in sport.
Psychotherapist Alex Einsman explains why exploring the hidden layers of ourselves is essential to the process of being out in the world
In her own words, StageQ Artistic Director Tara Ayres describes how her search for culture and social change lead her across America and to a Madison theater community whose mission shines a spotlight on our queer experiences.
For Daun Johnston, the road less traveled leads through Madison and ultimately to her own personal truth.
Embracing her sexual identity later in life, an Anonymous Reader shares the discovery that helped her feel love.
Years before Harvey Milk was elected in San Francisco, the Upper Midwest had out women and men serving in—and being elected to—office. Richard Wagner tallies our political scorecard.
In his own words, David Waugh talks about how he has come full circle from being raised on a farm to coming out and owning his own.
John Quinlan talks with author Will Fellows about the timeless relevance that helped inspire Brokeback Mountain—the collection of narratives in Fellows’ Farm Boys.
Dennis Yadon tells the story of his family and the times when going back into the closet became necessary for professional and emotional survival
Judge Rhonda Lanford found her true self through the love of families, both blood and chosen, and a lot of hard work
Dr. Sue Gill explores the ways in which some queer-identified people end up ostracized or unseen even within the LGBTQ community.
In spite of struggles at home and at school, Tara Gregorich found the support she needed to come out and drop the mask she’d been living behind.
Making the choice to come out let Adam Nelson live openly. 10 years later he looks back at how he did it.
Crisis by Mitchell Gold and Mindy Drucker
And sometimes, love also makes the man. Tyler Driscoll, Michele Burton-Driscoll, and their son, Johnny, show us how.
Every gay person I met told me they had recognized it at a very young age—I hadn’t…
Michael Bruno shares his theatrical journey with Tara Ayres.
Our Lives Publisher Patrick Farabaugh recounts his first.
Jimmy Owen reflects on the coming out, coming together journey that he and his parents have traveled.
Out and proud Jake Aebly is hopeful for all those who will come out to a more open-minded society.
A fierce advocate for her rights and those of the people who come after, Ret. Col. Sheri A. Swokowski tells the story of how she came from conservative Wisconsin roots to become one of the highest ranking out transgender officers in the world.
Caroline Werner talks to a motivating force behind OutReach LGBT Community Center, board president Roger Hansen.
Tamara Dinkel chronicles the physical and emotional challenges of battling an aggressive cancer, all while
coming out to her family and making several other major life and career changes.
Margaret Kucera was on track to be one of the greats of women’s basketball before extreme homophobia derailed her career and forced her to find new ways to become a role model to others.
Dalton Ray took the bold step of coming out as gay to his high school football team, but found himself back in the closet when he went off to college. It was the unexpected support he got from many of his old teammates, friends, and family—even in the often hyper-competitive and hyper-heterosexual culture of men’s sports—plus the ‘It Gets Better’ movement, that finally inspired Ray to take the final plunge to come out fully and finally.
Cardinal Bar’s founder and longtime owner Ricardo Gonzalez recounts his experiences with revolutionary Cuba during his childhood, and his journey toward self-sufficiency and acceptance throughout some of the most tumultuous decades of the LGBT movement in the U.S.
Music has always been a major part of UW Director of Jazz Studies Johannes Wallmann’s life, and he is determined to see wider LGBT representation within his genre.
A new historical preservation group aims to protect and share Madison’s LGBTQ past through oral histories and other collected materials. Dick Wagner relays one woman’s story of early lesbian life in the city.
Haruka Yukioka didn’t see faer truth reflected in faer childhood in Fond du Lac, but a trip to GSAFE’s leadership camp motivated faer to build a more inclusive community at home.
Angie Alcorta follows her lifelong dream of becoming a counselor with a little help from her experiences with Outreach.
When a wedding invitation arrives in his mailbox, Patrick Farabaugh is left pondering about homecomings and bridesmaids
Felicia Melton-Smyth talks candidly to Our Lives about transitioning, her AIDS philanthropy work and the most important thing she’s ever done.
The road to self-acceptance is full of speed bumps and landmarks along the way. Dale Decker helps you steer clear of wrong turns.
UW Press Executive Editor Raphael Kadushin reflects on a life of good fortune and world travel, from his first generation immigrant roots in New York to finding the love of his life and “settling” in Madison—and the work yet to be done.
Through struggles with identity, death, dyslexia, and homophobia, author Bridget Birdsall found a way to reclaim her self, her memory, and her life through the power of the written word.
Madison Gay Hockey Association’s annual essay contest winner Logan Kirwin talks about transition, acceptance, and the queer athletic community.
2016 GSAFE Youth Scholarship winner Keiana James talks about what motivated her to join her school’s GSA and work toward creating a safer environment for all students..
Dr. Shannon Andrews tells her own story of self-discovery and how it helped lead her to fighting to ensure that transgender people have equitable access to the care they need.
Amy DeGraff-Castro found ways to reconcile and embrace all the diverse parts of themselves through LGBTQ activism and outreach.
Our Lives turns 10 years old this July, and this issue marks the start of our 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.
Sandy Eichel followed the road laid out for her by others, until she found her calling—and her own path—in a new place and a new career.
Joey Jadryev looks back on coming to terms with his sexuality, and how dance and drag both helped him fully embrace his whole identity—and what he would tell his high school self now.
From New Dehli to Dubai to Madison, Akshat Woodhouse Sharma grapples with what it means to live an authentic life when family and cultures clash.
Alaura Seidl reflects on using art as a means to seek answers—or better yet, start new conversations—around everything from gender to sexuality to chronic pain and memory.
Nayeli Portillo reflects on living at multiple identity intersections and learning to navigate different spaces without burying her truth.
Tommy Hanna, owner of the Mediterranean Hookah Lounge & Café, recalls his journey through family kitchens, civil wars, coming out, and becoming whole
Madison Gay Hockey Association’s annual essay gave Ashleigh Baldwin a chance to reflect on rediscovering her life’s passion and finding a place to call home in the league
Kevin Colelli used Madison Gay Hockey Association’s annual essay to talk about falling in love with a sport that didn’t seem to love him back, and how the MGHA helped him bring his whole self to the table.
Ehren Hasz took a leap of faith when she came out as transgender to her partner, Becky Peterson. Through diving, dogs, and love, they’ve navigated the bumpy waters into smoother sailing.
East High student Daniel Gengenbach discovered a new self-confidence and a community of support through the world of slam poetry, Proud Theater, and an accepting environment.
Diverse & Resilient’s Kathy Flores examines the ways in which religion is still used to harm LGBTQ+ people, and offers methods for undoing the damage.
Madison Planning Division’s new director, Heather Stouder, found a passion for building more equitable and sustainable cities through travel, starting a family of her own, and Madison’s unique needs and opportunities.
Local stand-up comic Shawna Lutzow found her voice and a comedy cause after coming out.
Our Lives contributor Charles Wetzel talks coming out as a home-schooled kid in an Evangelical church, and finding a passion for both photography and politics.
Cedric Johnson explores experiences of being the “token Black kid,” fighting his own internalized bias and the assumptions made by those around him about who
he ought to be.
Oscar Villarreal and Jordan Wegner of Fuegos restaurant talk family, loss, and finding and sharing love through a delicious alliance between innovative and traditional foods.
Madison Gay Hockey player Tim Tender shares his experience learning to expand his worldview—and his own sense of self—through his time in the league.
U.W. Gender & Women’s Studies Professor Dr. Sami Schalk on the many twists and turns in her life as a bisexual, polyamorous, black woman, and creating the queer life her younger self didn’t know was possible.
It’s been a long and often fraught journey, but Dane County Circuit Court Commissioner Mario White is living his authentic life, fighting for justice, and pushing for better representation in the law.
Incoming StageQ President Zak Stowe was bullied and shunned by his conservative, evangelical community for attempting to stage a play they felt was heretical. Now he’s finding his voice, and living life on his own terms, through the LGBTQ theater scene.
Creative writing helped Rachel L. reclaim the voice she’d lost after childhood sexual assault and trauma went unheard and disbelieved.