This is aspect of WUWM’s “Fixing Stuff” series, in which reporter Lina Tran brings tales of folks who fix matters.
In an airy studio stuffed with light and ceramics, Monthly bill Walker met the artist Janelle Gramling. The space was warm with the heat of a cooling kiln. Gramling pointed to a bare table she required a new just one for educating workshops. She had requested Walker — who operates under the moniker Lonesome Bill — to meet up with her to go over generating just one for her.
“I’m just improvising with this folding table suitable now,” Gramling stated.
The Milwaukee handyman, who is queer and trans, explained obtaining points repaired and fabricated usually means acquiring a stranger in your residence or individual house, which can be uncomfortable for some queer people today. An artist himself, Walker is hoping to change that by providing products and services for artists, queer renters and house owners, and men and women with disabilities.
Surveying the room, Walker began to feel out loud. “I like getting standing stuff to be capable to accommodate distinctive people’s needs,” he said. “Also, with this height, I can place casters on them. That’s a thing that you can move out of the way or use otherwise when you’re not carrying out workshops.”
Gramling nodded. “I like that,” she reported.
Walker took measurements and brainstormed what resources he could supply in purchase to maintain charges down.
Landscaping, painting, repairs, woodwork — Walker does it all. If he doesn’t know how, he’ll discover. He has a deep perception of self-sufficiency, some thing he characteristics in section to his father, who’s a contractor, and his uncle, whose home furnishings store Walker beforehand labored at.
“I grew up being aware of that you could do items on your possess,” Walker mentioned. “I grew up understanding that attaining specified techniques would make it more exciting and make it less complicated.”
Previous summer season, some close friends of Walker’s had a tree crash down on their fence. They were being new householders and they have been stressed.
“They named me and reported, ‘We’ve been hoping to talk to this handyman for months, and he keeps offering us the runaround. He keeps inquiring for far more and far more funds,’” he said. His good friends had a chainsaw. Could they pay back Walker to do the occupation?
Walker recognized to check with for enable is to be vulnerable. He required to honor that.
“Asking me to consider on that purpose for the reason that they knew they ended up relaxed all over me and that I could get the job finished nicely — that to me, was the challenge that produced me come to feel like not only can I do this, but that I truly want to do this,” he stated.
So Walker began working as Lonesome Invoice Handyman, being active so much with jobs he’s gotten by means of phrase of mouth. He will come to operate with a feeling of support, experience that it’s crucial to provide queer and trans people today and people with disabilities, communities to which he belongs.
“I’ve experienced men and women appear into my home. Even if it is anything as simple as correcting a sink or a light-weight — sensation like I had to disguise myself in my individual property,” he claimed. “Suddenly being compelled to cover when you are doing the job so difficult to be visible and thriving outdoors of your possess household — there is a sensation of regressing when you have to do that. I just hardly ever needed to truly feel like that ever again. And I didn’t want anybody else to sense like that possibly.”
Walker also cited a earlier professor and mentor, who is a wheelchair person, as an influence on the eyesight for his small business. He “circumstantially wanted assistance and viewing how tiny treatment he received from persons who didn’t know him,” Walker reported. “[I was] honored and enthusiastic to be a person who could pick up the slack.”
Servicing get the job done has lengthy been a straight, cis male-dominated room. Some of Walker’s consumers admitted they have not experienced items in their home fixed for a long time because they had preferred to have one thing damaged than any person who can make them uncomfortable in their home.
Now, that narrative is transforming, as queer people claim area in the field. Queer-run routine maintenance and maintenance companies can significantly be identified nationwide. And, contemplate Mercury Stardust, who runs a viral TikTok account from Madison as the “Trans Helpful Ma’am.”
In her videos, and an impending ebook, Stardust presents accessible dwelling improvement strategies and limitless encouragement — ”you’re value the time it usually takes to learn a new ability,” she normally suggests — with a concentration on renters. That arrives from the idea that to increase existence for a community, 1 need to uplift all those who are most vulnerable.
“We frequently discuss about the Black trans neighborhood remaining a community we want to assistance the most,” Stardust informed WUWM’s Lake Impact in June. “Take that identical form of logic, and you place that into the homeowner house, you place that into a Diy space — what that ends up [becoming], it will become renters.”
Madison-based mostly TikTok star Mercury Stardust posted a movie encouraging someone use ratchet straps. Now, she’s the “Trans Handy Ma’am” and an creator.
Like Stardust, Walker frequently teaches consumers how to do things on the position. Through his get the job done, he wishes to construct a community of individuals who can develop points, make repairs, and aid every other. He’s not bothered by the notion that as a handyman, his get the job done could just one working day turn out to be “obsolete,” if it means other folks can tackle matters on their very own. He mentioned he’s adhering to in the queer custom of sharing.
“That is inherently what remaining queer and trans is,” Walker claimed. “We have generally been here. We have constantly been encouraging each individual other. We have often been talent-sharing. We have generally been pros. And, we have constantly located each other.”
Walker operates his company from the volunteer-run collaborative Milwaukee Makerspace in St. Francis, where by he has entry to storage room, assets, applications, and protection devices. Digging by a wooden bin, he considered he could come across a thing for that desk challenge. He turned a plank of wood in his arms, imagining all its choices. He was developing a thing new.
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