BY REV. JAMIE GRACE
What is all the hoopla about WIG? And what is WIG anyway? These are two of the most common questions people ask me about “WIG’s Wednesday Night Experience.” If you’re expecting some religious, gay dogma speech you’re in the wrong place. We’re totally “entertainment,” with lots of spirituality thrown in. Plus, I’m Jewish, so you’d only get matzo ball soup anyway.
WIG (“Wild Inspirational Gatherings”) revivals are held at The Manor Complex, in their big disco room. The ambiance is full of colorful lights, and the before show music is jazzy and upbeat. There’s quite a diverse crowd of women, young adults, couples and a lots of charming, Wilton Manors men. When you enter, the ushers are really friendly and sometimes wear plastic wigs, like cartoon characters. This is to make sure people think of WIG as fun right off the bat. WIG is serious about making a difference in our gay community, especially with the next generation, but we don’t take ourselves too seriously. We’re celebrating life, not contemplating it. One man told me he likes to bring his son. “We get to do something fun together,” he said. “There’s nothing really for us to do together in Wilton Manors besides WIG. And my son loves it.”
The night opens with the “WIG GaYngsta Choir,” garbed in multi-rainbow-colored robes. Last week, they opened with Kelly Clarkson’s, “What Doesn’t Kill You Makes You Stronger,” and the rest of the show was like that, featuring gay, positive, upbeat musical numbers, much more like a cabaret show than anything else. We do a meditation, an affirmation, and an initiation during which everyone clicks their heels three times and says, “There’s no place like WIG.” The performance lineup last week included Teri Catlin, a folk singer who brought down the house, Extravaganza—who performed as Jennifer Hudson, and did a flip off the stage that drove the crowd crazy—and Berry Davis, a talented young New York City-based actor.
I also get asked, “Why does WIG have the word ministry in its name?” The answer is simple: “We want to be taken seriously.” Many folks don’t understand that LGBTQ people are spiritual. As a culture, we have been leaders in spirituality for thousands of years. WIG wants to remind, reeducate, and make folks remember that we’re fabulous, in a big Off Broadway, spiritual-cabaret sort of way. WIG loves being gay, and doesn’t apologize for it. At WIG, the word gay also means “Fabulous!”
Wilton Manors is an energy vortex for gay folks, and we make sure that affirming, gay positive energy gets created here. Although I love Bear Busts and Drag Shows and drink specials—oh, my!—I don’t find my spirituality there. Greater Fort Lauderdale must have a place so that all of us, including the next generation, can feel uplifted and empowered just for being part of our community—just for being who we are. Is Wilton Manors ready for WIG? That answer seems to be a big “yes.” The room is more crowded every week, people have a really great time and, get this—you can enjoy drinks and food during WIG. (Some call WIG, “Comedy-Cabaret Church,” or “Church and Cocktails.”) We hope WIG is here for a long time. This island could use some gay spirituality, empowerment, theater, and cabaret.«
Rev. Jamie Grace is the founder and pastor at WIG: Wild Inspirational Gatherings. The WIG revivals are held on Wednesdays from 8 to 9:30 p.m., at The Manor Complex, 2345 Wilton Drive, Wilton Manors.
For more information, visit wigministries.org.