From the Editor: Bespoke Community

Photo by Seagull J/

Wedding style and weddings. For those of us who aren’t looking at walking down any aisle other than the cereal aisle—whether we’re not dating, not interested, or no longer unmarried—the topic could be less than interesting. Some people have strong emotions about focusing on marriage, both positive and negative. Out of our 26 issues that we put out per year, we do gear at least four of them toward marriage. And it’s important that we do. Because who else is? For free? With resources close to you? With vendors in this community as well as those who support this community? All of that is just plain positive, and we need to spread as much positivity around as we can these days.

In this community, we’ve got people who will be marrying as same-sex couples, as well as those who may be marrying as opposite-sex couples if they include someone who is bisexual or trans. And there’s no saying you have to identify as any gender, either, to make sure we acknowledge that queer and non-binary/enby members of this community may not want to be classified as same or opposite or any. So this issue and wedding style covers a florist and a bartender in our community, killer catering that supports our community, and bespoke clothing that is for any type of couples and bodies that want to find clothing for their special day…or to attend a wedding of someone special in their lives.

As the internet has reshaped how we access what we need in life, I appreciate how it’s opened up my access to clothing. Any of us plus-size people know that the stores only carry so many sizes. Same for tall. Same for petite. I remember when I got my first order of custom-made clothing from eShakti after plugging in my measurements and sending them to India (let me know if any companies here in the U.S. do this for a reasonable price)…I put on clothing that was made to fit me and it was sheer euphoria. My body does not conform to the norm, but I was able to find clothing for it. I felt as invincible as pieces of fabric can possibly make a person feel. And, while all of that works for my everyday clothing, if I needed a special occasion outfit, I’d definitely look for someone close by and in real life to help me. It’s that important to me.

When we get into the gender binary and looking at whether or not stores out there have what people in this community need, what do we find? It depends. It depends on the person, the body, the retailer, the goals for the clothing…and what about weddings? That narrows the search even more. So what do we offer here in this issue? Resources for people who want to feel invincible on their wedding day. Or as a wedding attendant or guest. Or for a great date. Or even a job interview. Bespoke clothing will help you find what you want for your day, wherever you identify in terms of clothing. Two suits? Two dresses? A suit and a dress? Any and all of the above.

Bespoke. It means that something is made to fit a particular person. And I can’t think of any better term for this community.

With you and with thanks,

A Day in the Life: John Sugimura


Photo by Asha Belk

Name: John Sugimura

Age: Older…but young enough not to be bitter.

Where did you grow up? I grew up in the north metro and migrated to the city of Minneapolis early on in my life.

Where do you live? I live downtown and thoroughly enjoy high-rise living, especially when it is snowing and freezing out and I don’t have to shovel or scrape off my car.

Who do you live with? I live with my SO of nearly 22 years and our dog Rudy.

What is your occupation? Currently, I am the executive chef, concept-brand director, and partner for the fine-casual restaurant brand PinKU Japanese Street Food.

When did you come out? I have never been in, unless other people weren’t ready.

How’d that go? Personally, my memories are positive. I had parents that loved me and wanted me to be me. Everyday I received thoughtful messages that I am okay just the way I am.

When do you wake up? My sleeping schedule is driven by morning restaurant shopping starting at 7:00.

Phone alarm or old school alarm? My phone alarm wakes me 50 percent of the time and the other 50 percent of the time is my hungry four-legged BFF Rudy.

What’s the first thing you do in the morning? Turn on the hot water for tea and feed Rudy.

Breakfast? My SO will prepare breakfast for me including a bagel with half-cream cheese/half-peanut butter with sliced bananas…I share with Rudy.

Coffee? I’ve never been a coffee drinker. My morning drink is Earl Grey Tea.

Cream or no? No.

How do you spend your commute: During my six-minute commute, I typically consume Red Bull.

If your job were like a yearbook, what would you be voted? I think I would be voted most creative.

What inspires you? Happy people who make me laugh inspire me…a lot! At this point in my life the one thing I can offer is kindness without expecting anything in return. When I reflect each day and when I feel I have given more than taken, I call it a good day, and feel inspired to do it all over again tomorrow.

Do you eat your lunch while working or take a break? I like to take a lunch break to recharge.

Is your work space tidy or a hot mess? Tidy — ’nuff said!

What’s been your favorite job? Obviously opening PinKU Japanese Street Food and getting to know my customers who have been so complimentary of our restaurant, food, and hospitality. Their authentic generosity has blown me away. People and service is my passions.

For many years I enjoyed public service for the City of Minneapolis Mayor’s Office, PICA Head Start, and Autism Works. Every day I worked aggressively to improve the lives of children and their families.

Who are your heroes? Alyce Dillon, the executive director for PICA Head Start since 1969, is my hero. She has been making a difference in the lives of the poorest families in our community for decades…very inspirational. I adore her!

People who are battling/winning/loosing chronic diseases are my hero. I hate fucking cancer!

Favorite weeknight meal: Go out, take out, or cook in? Eat in and enjoy Aglio Et Olio (traditional Italian pasta dish coming from Naples) made with capelli d’angelo pasta, roasted tomatoes, garlic, basil, and really expensive Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese.

Most embarrassing moment: My second grade teacher hung a sign around my neck that read “I Talk Too Much” and made me walk the school halls and successfully humiliated me.

On a usual weeknight, you are doing what? Working at the restaurant, designing the next restaurant location, creating new menu items for our fabulous guests, walking Rudy and, on occasion, I have been known to sneak off to a movie to get in a treat and down time.

Bedtime: After 9:00 p.m. and before 3:00 a.m.

Favorite weekend activity: I love afternoon movies.

Words of wisdom to share: “I’ve learned that people will forgot what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forgot how you made them feel.”  —Maya Angelou

The They/Them Project: An Interview with Brent Dundore


What is the “They/Them Project”?
The “They/Them Project” was created for individuals who currently or formally use they/them/theirs and other non-binary pronouns, offering a platform for them to tell their stories and give personal insight to those wanting to better understand how pronouns (and other words and actions) affect transgender and non-binary individuals.

How were you inspired to make this project come to fruition?
I realized I had my own ignorance and lack of acceptance of non-binary gender and wanted to change that for myself. It stemmed from my own coming out story, not with gender, but sexuality (two completely separate things, for anyone who is new to understanding these subjects).

When I came out people didn’t ask me the questions which would have enabled them to better understand me and my non-binary sexuality. Telling family and friends of my attraction to men was confusing to some, as my partner at the time was a woman. She knew I was also attracted to men from the beginning of our relationship. Sooner or later I felt the need to share that part of myself with everyone else as well.

After that relationship came to an end most people found it easiest to label my sexuality “gay,” and at times even define me as such. “This is my gay _____ (insert relationship), Brent,” or at best, “This is Brent, he is gay.” Thus, I experienced firsthand that it is human nature to want to label people, and how certain labels can affect people.

Today I am married to a man, but gay is still a label I don’t feel describes me, and one that shows a lack of understanding of who I am. Over the years labels have not only affected me, but have also hurt me.

This all relates to starting the project, because when I first heard of people who use they/them/theirs pronouns, I had a lack of understanding, ignorance, and sometimes judgement regarding the subject. When asked what I felt about people wanting to use such pronouns, my response was “people can be whatever they want, but you can’t make up a new gender, or pronouns.”

My husband knew my coming out story, and how labels affected me over the years. After he heard my initial opinion on non-binary pronouns, he immediately stopped me and asked if I was joking. He then stated, “After all you’ve dealt with regarding labels, how would you have the right to tell someone else what they can and can’t be?” Right that second, I decided my opinion needed to change.

About three months ago I was shooting for one of my fine art projects and learned that my subject preferred they/them/theirs pronouns. I asked if I could ask some personal questions about that. I learned a lot about their journey and use of pronouns. After the photo shoot I was looking through all the photos and saw one that spoke to me. It was there that the “They/Them Project” was born.

I asked another person who uses they/them/theirs pronouns to come in for the project. I again asked various questions to personally better understand their story, and how they came to use their pronouns. After working with them for the fine art shoot, I was looking through the images, and thought to myself, “These images do make me think about this person, they are everything I want visually, but they don’t answer the questions I had about gender.” It was then that I realized I needed to document those questions I myself had been asking, if I wanted to really make a difference for anyone else who might have the same lack of understanding I had.

Since the second shoot, I ask those questions to every person I photograph, making the interviews the focus of the project. I would have been grateful if people had asked me questions about my sexuality in order to better understand me. This is now the mindset I bring to all the interviews.

What other projects have you done or are you currently doing? How does this project differ from those?
Previously, my “Marry Us Campaign” was a photo booth style project which helped individuals share the message of marriage equality. The goal was to use the image to start a conversation about how it would affect them personally. Currently, I have two other endeavors in addition to the “They/Them Project.” “Broadway Legacy” celebrates African American Broadway artists, who many times are overlooked in the industry, some of whom happen to be Tony Award winners. Lastly my “Why I Ride Project” stems from my past position working for the Red Ribbon Ride (a nonprofit bike ride that raises money for several AIDS service organizations in Minnesota). This project gives individuals participating in the ride the chance to show why they do it and ask for donations for the cause.

The “They/Them Project” differs from the other projects in the overall look, video interviews, and targeted audience. I feel it also differs in the way it is personal to each subject, and how it is shared through social media.

What have been some surprising moments along the way?
I have yet to finish an interview without learning something new about gender, and how every person has a uniquely different story and description of their gender. I was surprised to learn that some use several sets of pronouns, and how truly fluid gender is. No one is an expert on someone else’s gender, or what gender means to someone else. Everyone is also always growing and changing.

What have been some humbling moments in the process?
The first time I watched someone who was non-binary watch one of the interviews, I saw how they kept nodding their head, and, at times, smiling wholeheartedly, showing how much they related to parts of what they were watching. I realized then, that in the least, this project could speak to non-binary individuals, letting them know there are others out there who are looking at and discovering some of the same types of things they are.

I also recently had a humbling experience when asked to be interviewed for Twin Cities Pride Podcast. The host wanted to ask me questions about myself and the project, but I suggested we keep it as much about the individuals as possible. We gathered six people from the project to speak. It was a truly unique experience, and I highly recommend that everyone listen to the TC Pride podcast!

Who is the audience for this project?
I hope this project speaks to everyone. Youth questioning their gender can look to this project to see that they are not alone, and how others have gone through their journey and are now flourishing. Some from older generations might know about gender, but in many cases, they still have questions they are afraid to ask non-binary individuals. This projects gives answers to those questions. Finally, others might view this project and for the first time see that non-binary people are real. They are as much non-binary as others are male or female. Watching these interviews gives everyone the chance to better understand that.

How do you imagine the audience will experience the people you’re introducing them to?
Some will nod in appreciation. For those people, I imagine they are feeling acknowledged, accepted, respected, and loved. Others who are watching the interviews may say, “I did not know that!” They likely felt they never had the opportunity to ask the questions to individuals themselves. Some will shake their head “No.” I hope these people continue watching, as they will see how people are describing simply who they are, giving us more reason to accept and love everyone.

Where do you see this project going?
I have had conversations and meetings with several different organizations about how this project could be brought to the masses. I’m very excited about the energy of the project and where it is going.

What do you need from the community?
Share the project every time you see it! Especially if you watch an interview, share it through social media with a message about something you personally learned, asking others to watch and do the same. It’s so easy, and you’ll be surprised by the comments people leave, as they are grateful for what they learned from the interview as well.

I’m hoping to include more youth, more people of color, more people who are 40 and older. Please share the project with these people and have them contact me through the website.

Where can we find this project?

You can also see all my industry and personal projects at:

Decorate Your Roost at Cockadoodledoo

A store like Mary Poppins’ carpetbag. Or Hermione Granger’s purse in the final Harry Potter installment. Or what you’d find when you go through the looking glass or down a rabbit hole. Where it seems like the inventory would end, there’s something more to encounter. Something even more delightful or whimsical to behold. Something more to put on my wish list. Something to crow about. Perhaps like Peter Pan.

Gerry Seiler has a store in the Bryn Mawr neighborhood of Minneapolis that reminds me of all sorts of literary wonderlands and magical accessories. But would the actual moniker of Peter Pan apply to him as the owner and proprietor of Cockadoodledoo? Is he the boy who never grew up? Hardly. He’s the man who grew up, followed a career path to one of our Fortune 100 companies in Minnesota, and then symbolically chose to go to the second star to the right and then straight on till morning. No, it didn’t lead to Neverland, but where he first opened his shop on Main Street in Stillwater.

Years later and having relocated to Bryn Mawr, he presents his neighborhood and customers with a curated inventory of goods that span from vintage furniture and collectors items to brand new gifts and decor pieces. A broad array of tastes for any of us who grew up, but still enjoy plenty of the playfulness that humor, irony, and history can give us. There is a menagerie of animal heads to hang on the wall, including stone pig heads and a mosaic cow head. Coasters shaped like toast. Makeup bags with curse words. T-shirts advertising Twin Cities throwbacks like Dayton’s, Moby Dick’s, and Porky’s. Signs and lawn chairs for the backyard or lake, a congratulatory dishtowel for the brides (or one for the grooms), or even a dishtowel that says “You can’t say ‘happiness’ without ‘penis.'” Mugs, candles, lotions, jewelry, art, lawn ornaments, and enough irreverence to make some folks blush. Perhaps this is also a good first-date destination; head to Cuppa Java for some coffee then stroll over to Cockadoodledoo…if your date doesn’t laugh, then skip the second one.

People come through the door, greet Gerry (who seems to know all of them), and ask or look around for what’s new. I imagine that’s one of the signs of a well-executed curiosity shop. The goods stay fresh to keep people coming back. With vintage items, particularly, there’s a good chance to see something from your childhood that will strike with exactly the same pang of nostalgia as hits when referring to Cockadoodledoo with so many storybook references from my own childhood (and before).

With a hug when I met him and a kiss on the cheek from him as I left, it’s a place I’ll want to return to so I can see what else he’s managed to fit into his shop. I’m certain I will be as entertained as I will be compelled to buy things for both myself as well as pretty much each and every person I know.

403 Cedar Lake Rd. S, Minneapolis

A Day In The Life: Robyn Dochterman

Name: Robyn Dochterman

Age: 54

Where did you grow up? Near Mt. Vernon, Iowa (east central part [aka not the flat part of Iowa]).

Where do you live? For the last dozen years, I’ve lived near Scandia, which is about 40 miles northeast of the Cities. Before that I was a South Minneapolis gal.

Who do you live with? My partner for 30 years, Deidre Pope. We also have a cattledog, four cats, 20 chickens, and honeybees.

What is your occupation? I own my own business, St. Croix Chocolate Company, and I’m the chocolatier, which means I make all the chocolate.

When did you come out? I was 19 when I first fell in love with a woman.

How’d that go? Well, the interior part, where I understood how I was different, was wonderful. The romance was wonderful. The family part was like a horror movie. It started with my parents arguing over whose fault it was that I was gay, and ended with me being forced to leave college and taking a Greyhound to California to live with my aunt and uncle. It got better, though.

When do you wake up? Around 9:00, usually.

Phone alarm or old school alarm? The birds outside or the cats inside usually instigate awakening.

What’s the first thing you do in the morning? Feed the animal circus.

Breakfast? Always. Cap’n Crunch peanut butter or Honey Nut Cheerios. Dry. With a glass of organic milk.

Coffee? Cream or no? I like my caffeine cold, so…Mountain Dew. Cream in Mountain Dew would be kinda gross, I think.

How do you spend your commute: I used to listen to a lot of music when I drove into the Cities, but now it’s only four miles, so I mostly watch for deer.

If your job were like a yearbook, what would you be voted? Most likely to do what everyone envies. Is that a category?

What inspires you? People who are really good at what they do; and people who aren’t, but put themselves out there anyway and learn from each experience. Also, fresh-squeezed tangerine juice is so good, it always reminds me to be grateful for the experience of being on Earth.

Do you eat your lunch while working or take a break? I usually take short breaks while chocolate cools to the right temp, so I’ll sort of graze my way through the day. Unless I’ve been very organized and brought leftovers.

Is your work space tidy or a hot mess? The kitchen is clean and calm. My office is a disaster to everyone who sees it, but it works for me. I call it a visual, horizontal filing system (meaning, everything is on a horizontal surface where I can see it).

What’s been your favorite job? I love working with chocolate and being my own boss, but I’ve loved every job I’ve had, including being a web editor at the Star Tribune and being editor of Equal Time (GL newspaper) back in the ’90s. Each has its own rewards and challenges.

Who are your heroes? My first hero was Joe Torre (who played for the St. Louis Cardinals when I was a kid). Also, Amelia Earhart, Melissa Etheridge, Chris Kluwe, and everyone who works to protect the environment.

Favorite weeknight meal: Go out, take out, or cook in? I love to cook and grill, which is good, because there aren’t that many restaurants within 10 miles.

Most embarrassing moment: While I was still in college, I did an internship in San Francisco with the Women’s Sports Foundation. I’d read somewhere that tennis champion Martina Navratilova liked to play the horses, and I knew she was in town. So on behalf of the WSF interns (and on WSF letterhead), I sent her an invitation to spend an afternoon at the track with us. Apparently, that wasn’t even close to appropriate and I got in a lot of trouble for using the organization’s name, and not going through proper channels (which would have derailed my plan, of course). A year later, though, my boss made sure I got a chance to meet Martina in person, though we never did get to hang out at the track.

On a usual weeknight, you are doing what? I often work until 8:00 or later (the later, the better because no one can see me boogie out to ‘70s music), but I love to walk, watch reruns of Friends and read cookbooks. Lately, I’ve become obsessed with Forrest Fenn, a guy who hid a million-dollar treasure chest somewhere in the Rocky Mountains and then wrote a poem to direct people to it. Five years later, we’re all still trying to make sense of the clues and find the treasure. So I like to pore over his memoirs, looking for some little tidbit that others might have missed. No luck so far.

Bedtime: Sometime between 10:00 and 1:00, unless it’s a “chocolate holiday” like Christmas, Valentine’s Day, or Easter. Then, much later.

Favorite weekend activity: I like to hop on the garden tractor and mow the lawn. It makes me feel organized, visually calm, and industrious. Plus, I get to visit everything I planted (before I started the business, back when I had a real life) and see how it’s doing. Add some grilling to that, maybe a bonfire and a Bloody Mary, and I’m good.

Words of wisdom to share: First, be a decent human being. Then, do what you want to do.

A Day in the Life: Paul Bigot

Name: Paul Bigot

Age: Is this necessary? Okay, fine. 30ish.

Where did you grow up? The Redneck Riviera: a small beach town in Florida called Fort Walton Beach.

Where do you live? I’m an Uptown girl…Minneapolis.

Who do you live with? This hook-up from four years ago that won’t leave. Plus two dogs. And a Fox.

What is your occupation? Hair and makeup designer at the Chanhassen Dinner Theatres, wig technician at the Guthrie Theater, and an independent hair and makeup designer at various theaters.

When did you come out? At the age of 16.

How’d that go? My mother was fairly accepting. I told my father that it took me 16 years to deal with it, so he had 16 years to get over it. Then I never wanted to hear another word after that. And…he did.

When do you wake up? In a perfect world: noon. In reality: 8:00 a.m.

Phone alarm or alarm clock? Phone alarm…five alarms with an hour of snoozing.

What’s the first thing you do in the morning? Take the dogs out, question why I live where it’s cold, and tip-toe around my partner who really gets to sleep until noon.

Breakfast? Sure…you buying?

Coffee? I start every morning with a wonderful cup of coffee at Twin Cities Leather (shameless plug for my partner who sleeps until noon).

Cream or no? Cream and honey.

How do you spend your commute: Not sure, I just zone out…then wake up and I’m there.

If your job were like a yearbook, what would you be voted? I really was voted “most likely to succeed” in high school. Today, “most likely to break out in song and dance.”

What inspires you? Talent. I admire people who pursue their craft…there is no small role in theater.

Do you eat your lunch while working or take a break? While working. Who has time for a break? Especially after all my songs and dance numbers.

Is your work space tidy or a hot mess? Please. “Hot mess” is an understatement. I literally have things scattered all over the metro and in my car.

What’s been your favorite job? I toured the country with numerous national tours of Broadway shows for almost eight years. Of that, La Cage Aux Folles was my favorite. Gay men, drag queens, and 1970s hair — what more could you want?

Who are your heroes? Anyone who pursues their dream in the arts when they were told their whole life it was only a hobby.

Favorite weeknight meal: Go out, take out, or cook in? Cook in. The only reason I let my partner sleep in is because he’s a fabulous cook and I come home to great meals.

Most embarrassing moment: When female actresses realize I get embarrassed by boobies while changing their wigs and costumes. It then becomes a teasing free-for-all.

On a usual weeknight, you are doing what? Getting everyone ready for a show. Taking on and off sweaty wigs. Making sure everyone looks good going on stage.

Bedtime: Usually between 1:00 and 3:00 a.m., after winding down from work.

Favorite weekend activity: Haha, what’s a weekend? I work when everyone else is having fun…and am free while you’re in a cubicle.

Words of wisdom to share: I started out in this business as a dancer and was badly injured very young. I thought my career in this industry was over. I was later given the chance to go backstage and work. I found a new way to be involved in this industry that I love. I’ve achieved more success this way and feed my passions. My advice is not to become so focused on a single path that you miss opportunities to still achieve your goals, and then fail to realize your dreams.