Associated Bank residential loan officer Mike Fumelle uses his profession as his form of activism
Mike Fumelle didn’t under-stand why he was chosen to be featured in this column. “I don’t know that you’ll have much to write about,” he confessed on the phone as we scheduled an interview time. But from an outsider’s perspective, it’s blatantly obvious that his contributions as a businessman and a concerned community member are widely felt throughout Madison’s LGBT community.
A native of Wisconsin, Mike grew up in a Catholic family in Sun Prairie. He described himself as the “sensitive one” in his family and spoke of struggling to be himself in a time not as accepting as the one we live in today. He attended the University of Wisconsin–Madison, where he studied geology. A semester shy of graduation, he followed his heart (and a man) to Alaska. While that relationship would last only a few years, it was in the “Last Frontier” where Mike took his first steps into a career that has spanned almost three decades.
For almost 15 years, Mike worked in the home mortgage business in different regions of Alaska. The one-on-one personal relationships he cultivated with his clients during the very personal process of buying and financing a home have always been what fuel his work. His passion is for helping people find a plan that works for them rather than forcing them into whatever happens to be trendy at the moment. His philosophy and work ethic quickly catapulted him up the chain of command, but his ascension led to less direct contact with people. Becoming increasingly discontented with his job and the hardships of living a closeted life in a none-too-gay-friendly community convinced Mike to move back to Wisconsin.
In 1995, he made his way back to Madison. After taking some time off, he reentered the mortgage business, this time back at the “street level,” working once again directly with people. He also started to come out in his professional life. In fact, when he started working with Associated Bank as a residential loan officer a few years ago, it marked the first time that he came out from his first day on the job.
Mike is a member of the LGBT Business Alliance. He also advertises with the New Harvest Foundation, the Madison Gay Hockey Association, and this publication. He sees it as his way to support the community. While he appreciates how well LGBT people are integrated into Madison society, he believes it is important that the community ensures that it is sustaining and making a space for itself. Contributions like his help make certain that LGBT Madisonians have a place to call their own.