Iowa
A Des Moines business has created t-shirts for America’s lesbian farmers after incendiary statements by Rush Limbaugh, the Des Moines Register reports:

Around noon today, RAYGUN released its latest topical shirt design on its Facebook page. The “America needs lesbian farmers” shirt is meant to respond to Rush Limbaugh’s comments on The Iowa LGBT Rural Summit held in Des Moines on Aug. 18.
Last week, the conservative radio host warned listeners that the Obama administration was plotting to pay LGBT people to become farmers and invade red state electorates. He explained: “Rural America happens to be largely conservative. Rural America is made up of self-reliant, rugged individualist types. They happen to be big believers in the Second Amendment. So here comes the Obama regime with a bunch of federal money, and they’re waving it around, and all you gotta do to get it is be a lesbian and want to be a farmer, and they’ll set you up. I’m like you; I never before in my life knew that lesbians wanted to be farmers.”
The U.S. Department of Agriculture, along with Drake Law School, One Iowa, the National Center for Lesbian Rights and True Colors Fund organized The Iowa LGBT Rural Summit.

The Des Moines Register interviewed a gay Republican running for the Iowa Senate:

On paper, state Senate candidate Mike Pryor doesn’t look like someone who’s trying to break new ground in Iowa politics. He’s a Des Moines east-sider and a manager at the Price Chopper fuel station on Ingersoll Avenue.
He’s nearly 50 years old, unmarried and living with his mom, who needs a little help around the house. He was nominated last weekend by district delegates at a meeting of the Polk County Republican central committee to fill a vacant spot on the ballot in Senate District 16. He’s the underdog in a Democrat-dominated district.
He’s also believed to be the first openly gay candidate for the Iowa Legislature to be nominated by the Republican Party.
“Yes, I am gay and I’m known in the gay community,” he said in an interview. “That’s just part of who I am.”
This isn’t entirely new territory in Iowa Republican politics. Rich Eychaner, a Des Moines businessman, was the first openly gay candidate of either party in Iowa to run Congress in 1984. Eychaner unsuccessfully sought the GOP nomination for House District 4. Pryor, if elected, would follow Des Moines Democrat Matt McCoy, who came out as gay in 2003, while serving in the state Senate.

Iowa’s prisons are increasing efforts to become more inclusive of transgender prisoners, the Des Moines Register reports:

The Iowa Department of Corrections is implementing a new gender dysphoria policy that requires prison staffers to use an inmate’s preferred first name in communications and preferred pronoun, including “he, she or ‘ze’.”

The word ze is a gender-neutral pronoun seen as an alternative to traditional pronouns such as she, he, him and hers.

The policy also requires individual plans for gender dysphoria medical care that will include an assessment of the need for cross-hormonal therapy. However, the prison system will not pay for “aesthetic or cosmetic surgical devices.”

Wisconsin
A Wisconsin mom is speaking out about suicide of her transgender son, and about anti-transgender discrimination, according to an article by Freedom for All Americans:

When Joanne Lee thinks about her son Skylar, she remembers a loving child, a passionate young person committed to so many things – from racial justice to LGBT equality to fundamental rights for students in his Wisconsin high school. She remembers an artistic person – someone who loved the ballet, who loved to draw, who bought wildflowers from the farmer’s market and brought them to classmates who needed support.
“That’s who he was,” Joanne said. “He was love and compassion.”
Joanne and her family are in mourning, remembering Skylar nearly a year after September 28, 2015, when Skylar took his own life near his home in Madison, Wisconsin, explaining in a note that he was depressed and in pain.
He emphasized in his note that the fact that he was a transgender boy – transitioning from female to male more than a year prior – was not a factor in his death.
His mother Joanne has worked for the past year to carry the torch that Skylar left behind, still lit, still working to illuminate injustice and share the reality of what it means to be transgender – and why there is no reason for transgender people to face discrimination because of who they are.

WUWM takes a look at the hidden history of LGBTQ Milwaukee:

For decades, LGBT culture was – out of necessity – hidden and unspoken of in daylight. But three-quarters of a century has brought a lot of social change in America.
For a smaller industrial city with German roots, you may not have expected Milwaukee to be a spot for gay and lesbian culture to thrive; but it did.
During the 1960s, more than 35 gay bars and gathering places existed in Milwaukee, even before the Stonewall Riots put the gay community and culture in the national spotlight.
These Milwaukee spots ranged from hidden hotel spaces, to back rooms of the sixties, to classic taverns and clubs that still exist today. Only New York and San Francisco had comparable numbers of gay bars in their cities.
Milwaukee has always been a tavern town, where bars function as a community center and gathering place. However, bars for the LGBT community served a purpose far beyond a place to get drinks, according to Michail Takach. He’s the author of LGBT Milwaukee: Images of Modern America.

The Wausau Daily Herald profiles a theater troupe for LGBTQ youth:

Stories of inspiration and triumph coat the testimonial pages of Proud Theater’s website, but that should come as no surprise. For the last 16 years, the nonprofit community theater has served hundreds of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender youth across the state. For the city of Wausau, it has become one of the few spaces that teens questioning their sexual orientation and gender identity can turn to.
“Proud Theater has (given) me more than just a voice,” one youth participant writes. “It has given me a sense of my own character, shaped my beliefs or strengthened them.”
“It’s cathartic for my child to be able to process feelings and experiences through this group,” a parent writes. “I can’t even explain how empowering it has been.”
But within the thicket of praise and appreciation lies another, more troubling thread.
“At Proud Theater I got a sense of community and safety that I never got anywhere else,” one teen wrote. “When I came in I was homeless… I’ve been through a lot and I didn’t belong anywhere but I did here.”

North Dakota

Vox takes a look at what happened to a proposed LGBTQ bar in Williston:

Aside from the problem of geography, Heartbreakers faced a conflict. Depending on whom you ask, it might not be a gay bar at all. In an op-ed published in the Williston Herald, Matt Hickman noted that owner Holbrook’s announcement was “little more than a bluff, a publicity stunt to try to get his way in a last-ditch effort of ironic defiance.”
The theory went that Holbrook claimed Heartbreakers would open as a gay club as a gambit to get his erotic dancer license back. After all, what’s the only thing worse than a strip club in small-town North Dakota?
The bar itself did little to dispel that speculation. On May 29, Heartbreakers posted a photo to its Facebook page inviting patrons to “get [your] corn hole on.” One follower commented, “I heard this was a gay bar now,” to which Heartbreakers responded, “Heard wrong, it’s a bar with entertainment for everyone.”
“WHEN YOU’RE A QUEER CLUB IN [NORTH DAKOTA], YOU HAVE THE ONLY GAME IN TOWN”
Holbrook declined to comment to Vox, but manager Jeff Dick said that after the bar closed as a strip club, he was told that Heartbreakers would be going in a different direction than what was announced to the public. Dick said he believes the announcement that Heartbreakers would reopen as a gay bar was intended to “screw over the town a little bit.”
He added, however, that going gay would be a good business decision. “When you’re a queer club in [North Dakota], you have the only game in town,” Dick said.
Holbrook perhaps underestimated that a gay bar would be not only championed by his own staff but also supported by a town that simply needed something different, especially during an economic downturn. Opening a gay bar gives the town something no other city in North Dakota has — it puts Williston back on the map.

Fargo Moorhead Pride was held last weekend. The Fargo Forum gave it some coverage:

Thousands of people lined downtown’s north Broadway for the community’s annual Pride Parade on Sunday, Aug. 21.
The celebration by the LGBTQ community and family, friends and supporters.featured lots of smiles and laughter under bright, sunny skies.
“Happy Pride!” yelled a man in a purple body stocking, as he wove through the crowd sprinkling glitter over bystanders.
Brandon Elverud of Fargo was taking in his first Pride Parade.
“Being a gay man, I can celebrate who I am without any worries, just to be proud of who I am,” Eleverud said.

The Dicksinson Press interviewed on of the few same-sex couples that have married in the area since the 2015 Supreme Court decision that legalized same-sex marriage:

A milestone in the LGBT community was reached in June 2015 when the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that gay marriage should be recognized in all 50 states.
While gay couples have been able to marry their significant others legally, there have only been three same-sex marriages issued in Stark County in the past year. The LGBT couples married in Stark County include a female couple from Dickinson and a male couple who no longer live in the area.
The third couple is Kyle and Julian Gengler, of Dickinson.
The happily married couple will celebrate their one-year anniversary in December.
While Julian, 20, said he was always open about his sexuality, Kyle, 31, didn’t come out to friends and family on Facebook until after gay marriage was declared legal.
“I just called my mom and told her, ‘There’s something on Facebook that you should go read,'” he said. “It was actually right after the gay marriage because I had some family members that were voicing their opinion on it, and so I kind of had to. It worked really well. I got a lot of ‘I’m sorry.'”
While there has been progress in western North Dakota, there is still room for more acceptance.

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