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Monday, December 18, 2017

Around the Region: Wis. businesses push for trans-inclusive nondiscrimination laws

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Wisconsin
A new group has formed in Wisconsin with the goal of passing transgender-specific nondiscrimination laws, the Wisconsin Gazette reports:

The Wisconsin LGBT Chamber of Commerce and Fair Wisconsin announced the formation of Wisconsin Businesses for Equality, a coalition committed to updating Wisconsin’s non-discrimination law to protect the transgender community. Founding members include Froedtert Health, Kohler Co., ManpowerGroup, Milwaukee Bucks and UW Health.
“We believe it’s time to update and modernize our state laws to add nondiscrimination protections based on gender identity and expression,” said Jason Rae, president and CEO of the Wisconsin LGBT Chamber of Commerce.
“We must embrace diversity by enabling all individuals to cultivate their skillsets and develop successful, sustainable careers,” said Becky Frankiewicz, president of ManpowerGroup North America. “A strong and thriving business community means empowering people to participate in the workplace. ManpowerGroup is honored to actively support the Wisconsin Businesses for Equality campaign. Together, we can put people to work and truly create positive change throughout our community.”

A new poll shows that the majority of Wisconsinites oppose discrimination against LGBTQ people, the Gazette reported:

A new, first of its kind poll commissioned by the Wisconsin LGBT Chamber of Commerce and conducted by Public Policy Polling shows that a strong majority of Wisconsinites are opposed to discrimination among lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender individuals in Wisconsin.
In the survey, conducted earlier this month, 62 percent of Wisconsinites believe that discrimination against transgender individuals is wrong and should be illegal.
“People in Wisconsin believe that everyone should be treated with dignity and respect, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity” said Jason Rae, president and CEO of the Wisconsin LGBT Chamber of Commerce.

The survey also found that 63 percent of people believe Wisconsin’s non-discrimination laws should be updated to protect transgender individuals.

Wisconsin’s governor will speak at a conference that includes anti-transgender groups, the Capitol Times reports:

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker will be a featured speaker at a conservative conference next month aimed at student activists.
Walker is, so far, the only elected official in the lineup, which includes prominent conservative figures including Donald Trump Jr., Anthony Scaramucci, Dinesh D’Souza, James O’Keefe, Tomi Lahren and Sebastian Gorka.
The Student Action Summit is organized by Turning Point USA, a nonprofit organization whose mission is “to identify, educate, train, and organize students to promote the principles of freedom, free markets, and limited government.”
The group has chapters at colleges and high schools throughout the country, and recently made news in Wisconsin when the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point student government initially refused to recognize a local chapter as a campus organization. Opponents of the group had argued it engages in hate speech, directed in particular toward transgender students. The decision was reversed by university administrators.

In a move that surprised no one, the Human Rights Campaign endorsed Sen. Tammy Baldwin. She’s the only LGBTQ person serving in the U.S. Senate.

Human Rights Campaign (HRC), the nation’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) civil rights organization, announced its endorsement of Wisconsin Sen. Tammy Baldwin in her bid for re-election.

“We were proud to stand with Sen. Baldwin when she made history in 2012, and today we are thrilled to enthusiastically endorse her bid for a second term in the U.S. Senate,” said HRC President Chad Griffin. “A true trailblazer, Sen. Baldwin has been at the center of every battle for full equality, fighting tirelessly on behalf of Wisconsin and the American people. Her leadership and voice remain crucial in the effort to advance equality and we look forward to continuing to work with her in the U.S. Senate.”

Iowa
The Des Moines Register previews an annual drag king celebration in Des Moines:

At first Jennifer Carruthers just wanted to throw a party for her female friends where they could feel free to be themselves. After spending years struggling to fit ideals of femininity like keeping her long hair and wearing makeup, Carruthers and her friends were embracing what she calls their true selves, which have a more masculine affect. They were dressing in men’s clothing and performing as “drag kings.” That meant flipping gender roles from the more commonly seen male-to-female drag queens.
Evidently, interest in this is a lot more widespread than just her group of friends, because the event gave way to a ticketed one that drew 100 in its first year. Now in its seventh, Carruthers expects the show known as “Drag King DSM” to bring nearly 600 people to Wooly’s in Des Moines’ East Village Dec. 8. It will bring performers from seven major cities, one of whom — Spikey Van Dykey, aka Jamie Kalman of Orlando — was recently featured in Elle magazine.

Manitoba
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s apology to LGBTQ folks was welcomed by the community in Winnipeg, the CBC reports:

Jim Kane keeps a copy of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms on his wall as a reminder of the fight for human rights in Canada.
He’s spent decades fighting for gay rights and has mixed emotions about the apology Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is set to make to LGBT people on Tuesday.
Trudeau is apologizing to LGBT civil servants: Here’s why
LGBTQ Canadians ‘purged’ from military and public service await apology
“I already know that I’m going to cry, because it’s an important step forward and it’s long overdue,” said Kane, tearing up in his Winnipeg apartment on Monday night.
“We’ll finally be able to say in Canada nobody has the platinum card of charter rights, nobody has the green card of charter rights — everyone has the gold card of charter rights.”

Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis ramps up anti-transgender activity in 2017

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Marketing for the Archdiocese anti-transgender event

On Monday, December 11, the Saint Paul Seminary School of Divinity at the University of St. Thomas will host an anti-transgender symposium for aspiring priests and laypeople. The symposium is part of a larger anti-transgender push within the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis that has been building over the course of 2017.

The December symposium, titled “Man, Woman, and the Order of Creation,” will feature several prominent figures on the anti-LGBTQ speaking circuit.

Michelle Cretella of the American College of Pediatricians will be covering The Science of Sex Differences.” Cretella runs an organization that mimics the name of a well-respected professional organization — the American Academy of Pediatrics — yet is a small group of conservative religious activists. The main thrust of the organization’s work is to push an agenda that is opposed to equity for LGBTQ people, especially youth. Her own writing has been vociferously picked apart by numerous professional organizations.

Also speaking will be Walt Heyer. Heyer has become a darling of the religious right radio and conference circuit as a “former” transgender person, a transition he credits to either a vision from Jesus Christ or a misdiagnosis of gender dysphoria instead of a “dissociative disorder that required talk therapy, not surgery.”

In addition to Cretella and Heyer, the University of St. Thomas’ seminary has invited Ryan Anderson and Bradford Wilcox, two researchers heavily tied to National Organization for Marriage’s Robert George. Indeed, the two have come under controversy for their involvement in “studies” that paint LGBTQ people in a negative light.

Finally, the symposium will include Father Paul Check, who served for 14 years as the director of Courage, the Catholic Church’s ministry committed to convincing LGBTQ Catholics to remain celibate at best — or become former “homosexuals” and “transgenders” at worst.

December’s symposium isn’t the first of its kind for the Archdiocese. On September 20, the Minnesota Catholic Conference — the Archdiocese’s public policy wing — held a conference called “Healthcare in Minnesota: A Symposium Considering Contemporary Challenges” again at the University of St. Thomas.

Sister Renee Mirkes of the Pope Paul VI Institute in Omaha, Nebraska, gave a presentation about “transgender theory” at that symposium.

There are no recordings of the Catholic Conference’s symposium, but quotes from Mirkes talk referenced in the Catholic Spirit, the Archidocese’s official newspaper, match very closely to a talk that Mirkes has given before, a Trump-ishly titled talk called, “Light at the End of the Transgender Tunnel: Making Healthcare Rights of Conscience Great Again.”

Though she doesn’t appear to have any particular expertise on transgender health — her background is in music, moral theology, and theological ethics, Mirkes has been on the Catholic speaking circuit with her anti-transgender program.

In March, she gave the same talk at a Catholic group in New Hampshire, and at another group in Florida. She provided this presentation in July 2017 to the American Academy of Fertilitycare Professionals, a faith-based group closely connected to the Catholic Church and its “natural family planning” method of birth control.

Recordings from that talk — which centered heavily on transgender healthcare — are available online for a fee. Recordings from that talk — and in quotes from the Catholic Spirit — reveal the central argument of Mirkes and ostensibly the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis: Health care professionals should deny health care to transgender people do that they will second guess their identity as transgender.

“By propping up health care rights of conscience, we are in no way limiting rights of transgender patients,” Mirkes said at the conference, according to the Catholic Spirit. “In fact, when a transgender patient is refused by an objecting physician, that patient has one last chance to reconsider a second opinion about what they’re doing and the medical wisdom about pursuing these hormonal and surgical interventions, that in many cases would be irreversible.”

In her earlier speech to the American Academy of Fertilitycare Professionals, Mirkes made a similar statement:

Delimiting a provider who cannot in good conscience render the controversial treatment this could be light for transgender patients. Think about this. Giving them an opportunity to hear a second opinion on the medical wisdom of pursuing these hormonal and surgical interventions that will in many instances be irreversible, this might benevolently influence transgender patients decisions and direct them to treatment that will address the real underlying physical pathology responsible for their gender incongruence. Protecting health care rights of conscience will peacefully coexist with transgender patients access to health care. That’s light at the end of the tunnel for both parties.

But the Archdiocese’s efforts haven’t been limited to anti-transgender conferences. In the Catholic Spirit, the Archdiocesan newspaper featured Emily Zinos, an anti-transgender activist closely aligned with the anti-LGBTQ Minnesota Family Council.

Another article quoted a Catholic chaplain as saying, “Children have the right not to be exposed to a world full of lies, and I do believe it’s a lie to accommodate a person’s perception of themselves [as the opposite sex] in a public manner.” Father Jim Livingston was referring to transgender people living authentically.

Also in that article, the head of the Minnesota Catholic Conference said, “We’re losing souls… People are mutilating themselves, they’re sterilizing themselves, and they’re in despair. They’re cutting off their connection to grace. Wittingly or unwittingly, they’re rejecting God’s plan. Those struggling with gender dysphoria urgently need our prayers.”

The MCC has also recently added opposing what it calls “Gender Theory” to its list of legislative priorities, and has most recently opposed efforts at inclusion for transgender students in schools.

Queering the Tarot: Queen of Swords

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The Queen of Swords is most often depicted sitting on a throne looking regal and proud. This archetypal figure is often seen or understood to be an older, independent woman; often a widow who has done just fine on her own. She wields the Sword calmly and confidently with a look on her face that lets you know she will use this tool when needed. This Queen tells it like it is, values honesty, and is a quick thinker with almost supernatural perception. This means she’s not only concerned with what is fair and just, but she can suss out what’s really going on like none other. She is intelligent and strong, and able to make absolute judgments devoid of emotion. She does not lack compassion or personality though, and usually errs on the side of what is truly just. Traditionally that means this card is read either as a person in the querent’s life that fits that description, or as an energy that the querent is being called to take on. If you’re asking about basic life decisions, this card is telling you to make the most logical decision, or perhaps the one that honors yourself the most. If you’re dealing with problematic or troubling people in an area of your life, the Queen of Swords is telling you to be compassionate but to perhaps wield the sword and sever those ties. This Queen always wants you to be honest with yourself and others when making your decisions, and wants you to do so independently.

The Queen of Swords, to me, brings two images to mind. One of is of my queerplatonic partner’s grandmother, and that is perhaps why I see so much compassion and love in this card despite its seemingly cold appearance. The Queen of Swords isn’t cruel, and is actually a bit of a marshmallow. She’s not going to mince words though, and she’s going to expect you to pull yourself together when it’s time to get things done. What this brings to mind from a queer perspective is the question “What do we owe our community?” Self-care is important, but so is the work we’re doing. No one is telling you not to live in or express your neuroatypicality or to just “get over” any trauma you’ve experienced.

When you’ve committed to a social justice movement or a project that will help your community though, there is, unfortunately, a time where you DO just have to pull yourself together and get stuff done. Whether you haven’t been behaving like your best self or just haven’t been putting your promised energy in, this card shows up to remind you that now is the time to pull it together and get back out there and fight. Alternatively, this card also shows up when you’ve been doing no self-care whatsoever. If you’ve been fighting and working and putting in a ton of emotional labor for other people, the Queen of Swords shows up to remind you that you can pull back and cool off for a bit. However, self-care isn’t always rest and coloring. How clean is your home? How clean are YOU? Have you eaten and drank enough water lately? Have you been sleeping? As the Swords so often do, this card delivers the advice we don’t always want but do need. It might seem contradictory to include both messages, but really this Queen shows up to dish out the advice you need the most when you need it the most. Surrounding cards are important, but so is having a conversation with the seeker, especially if that’s yourself.

The Queen of Swords is often the marker of a queer woman in general for me. I often try to stay away from the gendered assignations in the tarot unless it’s to subvert them, but the other image this card calls to mind for me is the “Virgin” archetype of yesteryear; that is, a woman who is independent, unmarried, a happy “old maid.” After years of scholarly research, we know a great number of these women to be LGBTQ+ without the language or public acceptance to be out as such. Despite being in the closet, the ones we know about regularly spoke out against the society they lived in, using their wits or their pens to create scathing critiques of their times. This is incredibly representative of the Queen of Swords; her own identity sits close to her chest, but she will be damned if she won’t speak out on the injustice others are facing.

The Queen of Swords speaks deeply to the part of our wounded radical souls that still thinks that in the end justice will win out. We want to be this person who so firmly but lovingly commands this sword, using our words for good and allowing that good to win out. It isn’t always a realistic message, but it’s an important one. What is truly just and truly fair can win. We can speak out against oppression in our society and become Queen. We can create the world we want to see through fighting or creation or whatever else we have at our disposal. In my heart, I still believe those things are true even as we lose battle after battle in present day. Yet we keep fighting, and when we want to stop the Queen of Swords shows up to say “No, keep going.” This card is that energy that drives us towards fairness and equality no matter what. This card knows the only way to win is with strength and confidence, and it shows up when the message that those things matter is precisely what we need.

*PSSST! Big news! Queering the Tarot is a series I’ve been running for what seems like forever. Now it’s being compiled, finished, and rewritten as a book by the same title through Red Wheel/Wieser publishing! It’s still way too early even to pre-order, but keep their website on your radar for future purchase options and release date information.

Brave New Workshop brings laughs and respite this holiday season

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The Polarizing Express: Dysfunction Junction running at The Brave New Workshop until January 27th provided exactly the laughter I expected and needed before entering a tough tech week in my own theatre life. This ensemble sketch comedy show featuring the current BNW cast of Taj Ruler, Lauren Anderson, Heather Meyer, Denzel Belin, and Ryan Nelson is loosely framed around the idea that the first characters we see — passengers taking a train home for the holidays. Each “stop” is a sketch about the holiday season. Many the sketches focus on the family dysfunction and distaste for our hometowns that marks so much of the holiday season for so many of us. There’s also a sketch loosely centered on the Whoville world of How the Grinch Stole Christmas and a few other random bits of hilarity.

In a comedy ensemble this strong, it’s hard to stand out. The Brave New Workshop is incredibly judicious in their casting. It’s meant to be the best of the best in the improv and sketch comedy world. The cast devises the show together and all get an ample amount of stage time as various characters. Nonetheless, Belin, Anderson, and Ruler all have moments that shine beyond the rest of the show. Belin gives us two musical numbers that were two of my favorite scenes in the show. The act one break was one such song, in which Belin played a character bringing his boyfriend home to his conservative family and trying to hide the truth while having fun. Belin later became a cowboy dive bar singer lamenting how barren and backwards the small town we go home to for the holidays is. Ruler generally makes me laugh so hard my stomach hurts in anything she does, and this show was no exception as she bitterly laments how effortlessly another character pulls together perfect Christmas décor and presents (among other sketches). Anderson lets her star power shine early in the show as a mom who’s gone from a strict, easily angered parent to “new mom” who’s relaxed and willing to try new things when her adult children come home for Christmas. Meyer and Nelson have great moments too, and together this ensemble provides a wonderful night of comedy. Jon Pumper as Musical Director becomes part of the action too sometimes, providing unexpected charming, funny moments.

As with any sketch show, not every sketch hits for every person. There were a few gentle laughs, characters that fell flat, and groan-worthy puns. That’s almost part of the fun of a Brave New Workshop show though. Comedy when it doesn’t work, still somehow works when in the hands of such gifted artists. Even if you disagree with that sentiment, there are more than enough laugh-out-loud moments to smooth over the parts that don’t hit for you. There is undeniable chemistry among the performers that makes the whole evening feel electric, especially as they come back for a surprise third act of all improvised sketches. The holiday season is so often so stressful, and The Polarizing Express: Dysfunction Junction provides exactly the break from the season you’d hope for.

I was surprised and excited to be contacted about coming to review a show from a queer perspective at The Brave New Workshop, but I was a little bit nervous too. I trust Belin as an artist but have had a lot of bad experiences regarding representation in comedy. The Polarizing Express is definitively not a queer show, but there is a lot of content that is hilarious and relatable to LGBTQ+ audience members. For me the show shined the most not when characters where outright queer, although the aforementioned musical number was a highlight, but when various characters recounting the agony of visiting relatives and cities that don’t see or understand us anymore. I ran screaming from The Bible Belt a decade ago, and every visit back has felt surreal and nightmare-ish despite my deep love for certain people there. I would argue that one of the queerest sentiments there is around the holidays is “Ugh, I don’t want to go back there.” The Dysfunction Junction crew takes us back there, but provides a surprising catharsis absolutely full of laughter along the way.

My only warning to people seeing this show is that there are a lot of jokes and even whole sketches centered around drug use and abuse. This is not a criticism of the show, but it does mean that for LGBTQ+ community members living in sobriety or struggling to do so, this may not be the show for you. Please take care of yourselves if you do choose to go; the show is very good, but there are a lot of potential triggers regarding drug use.
The Polarizing Express: Dysfunction Junction is already on its feet and running through January 27th at The Brave New Workshop Theater right on Hennepin downtown. Something about the holidays makes me want to be right in the middle of the city in spite of myself this time of year (I blame every Christmas romantic comedy set in New York for this), so even the location adds to your holiday cheer. Tickets start at just $20, and are available here.

Your Holiday (and General December) Twin Cities Queer Arts Must-Sees

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Welcome to the Queer Arts Must Sees for December! There is a beautiful amount of LGBTQ+ work leading us into winter, and it should be pretty hard for you to hide at home when the snow starts falling in spite of the Minnesota inclination to do so. All of these events feature our community members doing great and wonderful creative work though, and all of them promise some respite from the busy holiday time. Taking in art is crucial for self-care, and even better when that art actually reflects your own experiences. Without further ado then, our Must Sees for this December include:

Theatre & Film

There are a couple of AMAZING plays kicking off our December right. Starting with my own Gadfly Theatre Productions’ The Crown of the Holly Queen, a winter solstice play with a love story, chosen family, and more. This play is a great queer alternative to standard holiday fare AND a play set around Solstice shakes us out of Christmas overwhelm while keeping us in the winter spirit. The show runs Dec 1st-10th on weekends at the Crane Theater’s new LGM Studio. Details at the Gadfly website.

Also at the Crane Theater with a beautiful queer cast is 20% Theatre Company’s The Terror Fantastic by Nicole Jost. Featuring puppets, fantasy worlds, and a whole lot of queer arts community all-stars, this show also starts on December 1st and runs through the 16th. More information and tickets available here.

Groundbreaking theater artists Jay Owen Eisenberg and Katherine Pardue are teaming up for BIG OLD ROCK at Open Eye Figure Theater December 15th-23rd. This story about a well-caffeinated scientist is “inspired by greater Minnesota’s rich geological history, the formation of transgender identity and community in the Twin Cities, and a little bit of actual science.” Tickets and more details are here.

Visual  & Literary Arts

It’s holiday bazaar and artisan sale season! One of my favorite ways to discover new artists and jump into the thick of the community is by shopping local art for my holiday season. Our first chance to is at Betty Danger’s on December 2nd for Betty Danger’s Bizarre Bazaar, featuring scores of local artists hawking their wares, including a solid number of LGBTQ+ artisans. Details here.

December 2nd also sees Girlpond, a local lesbian podcast and event production company, put their pop-up shop back up just in time for the holidays. They’ll be at Quatrefoil where you can also nab used books and DVDs to fill people’s stockings. The Girlpond Holiday Pop-Up Shop has a Facebook event here.

December 3rd at Living Table United Church of Christ sees a unique fundraiser for Winter Witchcamp in the form of a holiday bazaar. There will be refreshments for sale at this one too, alongside a ton of witchy and creative artists, including many from the queer community. Details available here.

I mentioned it was bazaar season and I wasn’t kidding! One of the most exciting ones this holiday season is Queer Bizarre: Homo for the Holidays on December 7th at Modist Brewing. All of the vendors at this one are queer and proud, and you’re sure to find something for every member of your chosen family. Check the Facebook event for more information.

If you’re looking for somewhere smaller and quieter to support local artists and makers, The Future has you covered for their Future Artist Market + Gathering that includes Fiona Avocado Art among other LGBTQ+ creators. This one is on December 9th. Further details here.

Phoenix Theater on December 15th hosts one of the events I am most excited about this entire December. Women Your Mother Warned You About: Resistance & Resilience is a night of nationally acclaimed trans women writers sharing stories “of the heart and beyond.” It’s going to unbelievable. Tickets available here.

Drag, Burlesque, and Cabaret

Jason Schommer curates a night of hilarity at Strike Theater called Is It Too Late To Be Good? On December 2nd and 9th, both at 10:00 P.M. Tickets are just $10 cash or credit at the door. Details here.

Hardcore Patrick’s Cabaret fans like myself will be elated to know that My Horrifying Holiday is back for round two this year at the Seward Café on December 8th and 9th. Full line-up (which is amazing!) and tickets available here. The Cabaret will also be continuing with it’s Artist Education workshop series on December 7th and 14th. Check their website for more on that.

‘Tis the Season by Naked Girls Reading Twin Cities is up at Camp Bar on December 10th for those looking for something saucy and different to entertain themselves this holiday season. In the Twin Cities this is usually a mostly queer cast, curated by Queenie Von Curves and so far that rings true this December as well. More info and tickets available here.

Tease the Season at The Pourhouse on December 16th promises to be one of the most memorable nights in burlesque in recent history. The Vigilantease Collective brings us this phenomenal cast of dancers, singers, and teasers. Tickets available here.

Symone Smash It, Marcel Michelle-Mobama, and Psymun ALL perform at In the Mix-NYEEE on December 29th at the Nomad. As if that weren’t enough, there’s a queer ‘zine reading corner, tons of art on the walls, and a couple of DJs for a dance party. More info here, including how to get in!

Recurring Events

Huge Theater has an open Queer Improv Jam for queer improv artists to come and laugh and play together on the first Sunday of the month at 5:00 P.M. No need to register, just come to 3037 Lyndale Ave S. to jam with great professional and amateur improv-ers. No cover.

You definitely don’t want to miss OutSpoken, a queer open mic hosted by Paul Canada on the second Wednesday of every month. This great event is now hosted at Lush! More information here.

Every Thursday night Can Can Wonderland puts together a variety show like none other. Six to eight acts share Can Can’s stage. Local LGBTQ+ talent and those known to the community for legitimate allyship often feature. The event is free, 21+, and starts at 9:00 P.M.

The second Thursday of the night is a special time in comedy here in the Twin Cities. Pssy Ctrl is an all female & queer comedy event happening at the Comedy Corner Underground. It’s hosted by Rana May and Shelley Paul and is just $7 unless you’re a student—then it’s free. No reservations, just show up!

Telling Queer History is a story-telling and community building event that happens on the second Sunday of every month and changes locations. Check out their Facebook page for more information and to keep up with their rotating spaces.

Another amazing storytelling event is curated and hosted by the one and only Andrea Jenkins and John Medeiros. It’s called Queer Voices: A Reading Series and takes place monthly with amazing features each month. Intermedia Arts’ website has more.

Lush’s entire nightlife entertainment line-up is incredible. Must sees include:

  • Black Hearts Burlesque every Friday night at 10:00 P.M. featuring Black Hearts Founder Elektra Cute.
  • #DragRevolution every Saturday at 10:00 P.M. hosted by Twin Cities legend Victoria DeVille.
  • Deviance: A Transmasculine Cabaret featuring music, drag, boylesque and more every fourth Saturday at 7:00 P.M.
  • Local lesbian comedy darling Sarah McPeck’s variety show The Big Fat Comedy Hour on the second Sunday of the month at 7:00 P.M.
  • Drag Brunch every Sunday at 11:30 featuring an all-star line-up and always with a theme that guarantees the most fun for your money.

For tickets to events at Lush head over to their website. They’ve got an event space that seats plenty, but it does sell out regularly so grab your tickets in advance.

The Gay ’90s has a rough reputation in the LGBTQ+ community, but they’ve spent the past year or two cleaning up their act and bringing in some great new acts. Fan favorites include:

  • Sweetpea and Mistress Mara hosting Kinky Friday on the first Friday of every month. This 18+ event is part performance, part kinky party, and all around great time.
  • GLAM! Boylesque shows up intermittently at the Ladies of La Femme Lounge. The next one is June 9th. Don’t miss out!
  • Speaking of Ladies of La Femme—there are nightly drag shows at this huge lounge for plenty of you and yours to show up and see some great drag. Many of the queens have been there for years, and those legends alone are worth seeing. The new talent that gets brought in is also absolutely wonderful.

One of the first LGBTQ+ bars I came to regularly when I first came to Minneapolis was The Townhouse in St. Paul. While the entertainment line-ups are obviously completely different now than the were almost a decade ago, they’re still diverse, entertaining, and full of solid artists. Best shows include (but are not limited too):

  • Pumps and Pearls Drag Revue at 9:30 P.M. Every Wednesday night.
  • Dragged Out, a cast of Drag Kings with special guests that fills up the main room on the third Friday of every month.
  • A great trial run for aspiring burlesque performers and other awesome performances happens the second Friday of every month at 10:30 P.M. And the Nudie Nubie’s Show hosted by Red Bone and Foxy Tann.

Please note: we’d love to include YOU and YOUR work at TheColu.mn’s Arts Calendar. Please submit events to snow.cassandra@gmail.com or . As a fun bonus, if your event is super innovative or exciting, we’re likely to reach out for a deeper feature or review.

Around the Region: First ever LGBTQ health survey underway in Iowa

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Iowa
A new LGBTQ health survey is underway in Iowa, Little Village Magazine reports:

A first of its kind health survey of Iowa’s LGBTQ community is now underway. The Iowa Cancer Consortium, in partnership with One Iowa, the University of Iowa College of Public Health and Des Moines University, is sponsoring the survey.
“Basically we saw the need for more data,” Levi Lappin of the Iowa Cancer Consortium explained. “There’s not much health data for the LGBTQ community at the state-level.” But that’s not an issue unique to Iowa, he said.
“Iowa’s about on-par with most states. The Iowa Department of Public Health’s surveys are targeted at the general population,” Lappin said. “But our neighbor Minnesota is really good at doing these sorts of surveys, specifically for the LGBTQ community.”
Much of the health data collected on LGBTQ people is done at the nation-level.

Iowa companies are doing better on the Corporate Equality Index, KCRG reports:

A new report shows some Iowa companies have received high marks for policies and practices that protect lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer/questioning or LGBTQ employees.
The Human Rights Campaign Foundation released its Corporate Equality Index report Thursday. It rates major companies and law firms on things like non-discrimination policies, employment benefits, and public commitment to LGBTQ equality.
Among the Iowa companies it ranked, Rockwell Collins and Transamerica in Cedar Rapids received perfect, 100 percent scores.
That’s an improvement for Transamerica, which scored 90 percent last year, because it didn’t offer transgender- inclusive health insurance coverage then. Rockwell got a 100 percent last year.

Iowa City schools are implementing new policies aimed at supporting LGBTQ students, the Press Citizen reports:

The Public Policy Center at the University of Iowa issued a report in July on LGBTQ student experiences at ICCSD schools in July 2017. The principal investigator of the center’s research-practice partnership with ICCSD is Social and Educational Policy Director Sarah K. Bruch, PhD. Her research focuses on social inequality with emphasis on educational, racial and citizenship inequalities.
Research coordinator Tessa Heeren is interested in community-based research and health policies to inform educational strategies.
ICCSD Superintendent Steve Murley says the center’s researchers “have been invaluable in helping the district better understand student experiences and the school climate impact on them. The university team did an outstanding job gathering the data and sharing it out with our school board, our district administrative body and our staff. Through their analysis of the data, we are better able to hear the voices of our students.”
The collaboration between the PPC and the district has expanded beyond the original survey and will continue through the partnership to involve future projects, Murley says.
The partnership developed a multipronged strategy for addressing disparities in student experiences of school climate.The five-stage process includes preparation, evaluation, forming action plans, implementation and progress evaluation. The strategy “has helped the district dive into the work needed to move forward in a more inclusive and measurable way,” said Kinsley Botchway, the ICCSD’s director of equity and engagement.
“Throughout the last three years, the role of the PPC team has extended beyond the recommendation from the report, and they have provided evaluative structures and regular feedback to ensure we are engaged in research-based practices with fidelity,” he says.

A gay man’s suit against a former Iowa governor for political retaliation will go to trial next year, the Des Moines Register reports:

A former state official who alleges he was pressured by then-Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad to resign because of his sexual orientation plans to take his discrimination lawsuit to trial next year in a case closely watched by government agencies that fear it could open the door to more litigation.
Chris Godfrey’s case is among the first to seek money damages from the state on allegations that a government official infringed on the rights of an individual. The case overcame a hurdle in June, when the Iowa Supreme Court allowed Godfrey to seek damages for alleged political retaliation. The ruling made it easier for Iowa residents to sue government officials who violate their rights.
Godfrey was appointed to a six-year term as the Iowa worker’s compensation commissioner in 2009 by Branstad’s predecessor, Democrat Gov. Chet Culver. The job entailed settling disputes between Iowa employers and workers seeking compensation for on-the-job injuries. Godfrey alleges Branstad, a Republican, began pushing him to resign shortly after being elected governor in 2010.

A transgender eduction summit was held in Iowa for the first time this month, KCCI reports:

More than 300 educators, mental health professionals and parents turned out Friday for a first-of-its-kind Iowa Safe Schools’ Transgender Education Summit.

The organization focuses on LGBTQ education and outreach, and Nate Monson, executive director of Iowa Safe Schools, said this is the first transgender conference in the state.

Attendees gathered at the Embassy Suites in downtown Des Moines to hear from speakers and participate in workshops in an attempt to improve the culture and climate for transgender students.

“Some of the biggest challenges are going to be things like mental health, ensuring that people have access to mental health care or students having their rights recognized at schools,” Monson said.

A transgender member of the College Republicans claims sexual assault allegations against her are politically motivated, Iowa State Daily reports:

The Iowa State College Republicans impeached one of its members, Heather Dunn, on the grounds of sexual assault and harassment during its meeting Wednesday night.
Dunn, however, feels that these sexual harassment and assault allegations are false and instead a guise by the student organization to remove her from College Republicans because she is a transgender woman.

Manitoba
A controversy is brewing at the Pride Winnipeg Festival over date changes for the annual event, the CBC reports:

Organizers of the Pride Winnipeg Festival are reviewing the decision to move the date of next year’s festival after getting backlash from members of the city’s LGBT community about the change and how the decision was made.
Pride Winnipeg announced late last month that next year’s festival would run from July 20 to 29, with the festival at The Forks on July 28 and 29 and the Pride Winnipeg Parade on July 29.
The festival has previously run from late May to early June, but organizers said the change in dates was needed to expand the two-day party at The Forks that caps off the 10-day festival.
But the announcement didn’t go over well with everyone, and after a debate erupted on Pride Winnipeg’s Facebook page, organizers held a public meeting this week to hear the concerns.
Bradley West, a past president of both Pride Winnipeg and Fierté Canada Pride who has worked closely with young people involved in gay-straight alliances, was surprised by the announcement and worries students who attend the festival through school programs might not get the chance if the festival happens during summer vacation.

Wisconsin
A transgender woman is running against Democratic Rep. Ron Kind, the Winona Daily News reports:

A La Crosse woman who describes herself as a “huge advocate” of the LGBTQ community plans a primary election challenge to U.S. Rep. Ron Kind, D-La Crosse, for his seat representing the 3rd Congressional District.
Juliet Germanotta, a 36-year-old native of Texas who has lived in La Crosse since 2012, said she would infuse new blood and fresh ideas to Washington, while insisting that Kind’s representation has become stale since he was elected to the House in 1996 and has been re-elected ever since.
Among her main issues are advocating rights for LGBTQ individuals and health care for people with pre-existing conditions such as HIV/AIDS, said Germanotta, who is transgender and says she is HIV-positive.
“Ron Kind is a Democrat — I give him that — and he is a good man, from what I’ve heard,” Germanotta said. “But people should reinvent themselves” periodically, and he has not done so.”
“Some have called me a Democratic socialist,” she said. “I believe in social justice and equality for all.”

The Rainbow Rave was a big hit at the University of Wisconsin-Platteville, the UW Exponent reports:

Kings and queens invaded the University of Wisconsin-Platteville this past weekend as the Alliance hosted their annual Rainbow Rave conference and drag show. The conference held several workshops dealing with the topics of gender and sexual identity, sex education, HIV in Wisconsin and a question and answer panel with the Alliance members. The goal of the conference every year is to educate attendees about the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and plus community. The Rainbow Rave has been a tradition at UW-Platteville since the early 2000’s.
“Planning Rainbow Rave takes all year. We have to budget and reserve Velzy a year in advance. Next year’s Rainbow Rave will be November 10th and we are already talking about speakers and themes,” junior psychology major and alliance member Alexzander Dietterich said.

South Dakota
A transgender inmate is suing a warden after being denied health care, the Argus Leader reports:

A South Dakota inmate who had a previous sexual encounter with a prison captain is suing the warden of the Mike Durfee State Prison, alleging the warden is withholding hormone therapy for gender dysphoria.
Cody Caskey accuses Warden Bob Dooley of retaliating against Caskey for filing a complaint about the 2013 sexual encounter with a captain of the guard at the prison. The encounter occurred when Caskey was on parole.
In a hand-written complaint to the U.S. District Court in South Dakota, the inmate alleges that denial of estrogen and testosterone blockers is a civil rights violation, and at least partially a retaliation for exposing the sexual encounter.
Caskey, 32, is serving a sentence for ingesting a controlled substance. He has prior convictions for identity theft and forgery. He maintains that the 2013 encounter was sexual assault; the captain’s lawyer called it a consensual tryst. The case settled out of court in 2016, long after the captain quit his job.

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Patrick’s Cabaret pulls together an an artist education workshop series for the rest of us

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If you’re an artist living on the margins, you probably know about Patrick’s Cabaret; this queer-led organization regularly organizes fantastic nights of performance in all mediums with a strong focus on the artists who are most marginalized within the LGBTQ+ community.

If you’re an artist living on the margins, you are probably also well-versed with the gig economy and all of its pitfalls. Things like unsteady work, a stream of short-term gigs, and faulty training on how to “make it” or take care of yourself as an artist team up against us, making it difficult (to say the least) to survive as an artist, let alone prosper creatively or financially. Because Patrick’s Cabaret is so committed to providing space and education to artists, they’ve teamed up with Soo Visual Arts Center and Pangea World Theater to produce a series of five classes for artists and marginalized people to hone their skills and for working artists to share the knowledge they’ve amassed in their careers. The Artist Education Workshop series is in its second year currently.

Mike Curran, Patrick’s Cabaret Programming and Communications Intern (who is deeply involved in creating and producing this year’s series) says, “This workshop series is intended to hold space for knowledge-sharing, for artists to put their many knowledges to work in an open, peer-led environment. It means busting down silos and learning from one another. It means paying attention to knowledges and skills that are rarely shared in these sort of learning environments but that are necessary for many artists’ survival on the edge of culture. Between the overlapping communities of Patrick’s, Pangea, and SooVAC, there’s so much we’re able to gain from just being in a room for two hours together. Those knowledges have always been there, so this series is about creating the space for them to be shared.”

The company is furthermore committed to building resiliency for artists, and each workshop is encouraged to teach skills that allow artists to nurture and celebrate that resiliency in themselves.

Unfortunately, two workshops in this season’s series have already passed us by. Those were Lisa Marie Brimmer’s Maintaining Selfhood: Voice, Choice and Finding Equity in Collaboration and grey doolin’s Self Care for Artists: Identifying Needs, Implementing Practices.

Patrick’s wants workshop leaders to experiment, heal, and learn from this experience as well, so I reached out to Brimmer about her experience leading this critical workshop on Voice, Choice, and Finding Equity.

“It was a healing and an honor to be up in the warm and nurturing walls of Pangea and connect and reflect with folx. People who were also experiencing the urgency of maintaining their selfhood and showing up, or keeping their time.”

Brimmer’s workshop extensively covered boundaries when collaborating with other artists and expressed the importance of expressing your voice in that work. That workshop also allowed for some more open creative time, allowing participants to write and share.

Another incredibly key component to surviving in the alternative economy that artists and marginalized people create and work in is knowing when to step back and take care of yourself — and not your work. I spoke to workshop instructor doolin shortly before Self Care for Artists on November 11th regarding preparation for that class.

“I’m teaching this workshop on self-care because as marginalized folks, we spend a lot of resources on a daily basis on visibility, safety, healing, surviving, and getting our basic needs met. All of that can be really exhausting and doesn’t often leave a lot of room for thriving–for wellness, for our vessels being more full than empty. I wanted to teach a workshop from the perspective of wellness rather than depletion. From the perspective of agency, even if that means someone carving out 15 minutes a day for some mindfulness or writing practice. I want to model us healing ourselves–both individually and within community.”

Both classes so far have met or exceeded the Cabaret’s expectations for success both in attendance and experience. Brimmer sums up said experience as an instructor thus far. “It is so cool that a series by community artists and for community artists exists. What a gift. We really need each other in the deep kindred type sense, and any opportunity for folx to connect and hear and be heard by each other, without a performance or a deadline attached isn’t something we always have time for. This was special time and space.”

As someone who is actually preparing one of these workshops, I was excited to hear about doolin and Brimmer’s experiences. I’m developing a workshop on How to Make a Living as a Freelancer or Solo Entrepreneur, Really for Real that goes through the steps you should take before you start such a career, how to build that career, and how to maintain and succeed in that career from there. I’ve been a professional tarot card reader, theater artist, writer, and teacher/workshop leader exclusively for several years now with varying degrees of success along the way. I’m preparing a workshop that goes through practical skills like creating realistic business plans, managing multiple income streams, and saving enough for taxes. We’ll also talk about following your heart in your business, recovering from failed projects emotionally, and creating some semblance of work life balance. I want people to feel prepared for a career that can be incredibly risky but incredibly fulfilling, but I also want us to be able to vent about capitalism and create careers that allow for days off when we are sick, exhausted, or when our trauma is too much to carry. Hearing what a healing space this is from has been beautiful and affirming, and I’m excited to see what “a-ha!” and healing moments my class inspires for others. You can catch How to Make a Living as a Freelancer or Solo Entrepreneur, Really for Real on December 7th at 6:00 P.M. at Pangea World Theater. More details are available here.

Before my workshop though, Claire Avitabile from 20% Theatre Company is wrapping up the November sessions with Budgeting Your Art. Budgeting Your Art is as straightforward as it sounds, covering budget-building for both grant applications and personal/professional reasons. Avitabile covers everything you need to know to build budgets you can be comfortable with and confident in, including “what you need them for, what you may not realize you could use them for, and how to calculate and estimate and cover all the bases.” Avitabile also plans to provide some tips for maximizing your existing budget and the funds that are available.

Says Avitabile, “As Executive Director of 20% Theatre Company and our primary grant writer, I get asked to sit on a lot of grant panels for local arts funders. Often, these grants are for $5000 or $10000, but in the proposals I’m reading, the applicant artists or groups only ask for a portion of what is available – like $3000, or $7200. The money is there, though, and if they are struggling to think of what else they can add to their project budget in order to ask for the full amount of the grant, I want to help! I want to help artists learn more about what they can ask for, what they should be asking for, and how to understand the details of creating and managing production budgets – whether for big company shows, or small independent works. This is something I think about a lot, and am often helping friends and colleagues within the local arts community. I’ve been day dreaming of a way to share this thought process and information to a broader group, but as an introvert with social/speaking anxiety (which is possibly hard to believe being in theater – but so true), leading a big workshop at a big scary theater/arts conference on this subject is extremely intimidating. When Patrick’s Cabaret posted about this artist education series, for artists-teaching-artists, however, I jumped at the chance to lead this workshop idea with a smaller, more casual group of folks. Patrick’s Cabaret, like 20% Theatre, is so chill, relaxed. It’s also a queer-led and queer-focused organization, like 20% Theatre. So, in essence, this feels safe and cozy, like home.”

When asked for a sneak peek of what this workshop provides, Avitabile said, “My hope is that anyone who comes, even folks who hate this stuff or are intimidated by numbers and budgets, will leave with more appreciation for and understanding of the money side of artistic production. This is not a fundraising workshop, even though we will talk about grant budgets a little bit. I’m simply hoping to share some perspective and help artists understand what they need to be budgeting for regardless of funding, and then what the can and should budget for if there is funding potential!”

Registration for this always-timely workshop is here. The class takes place on November 21st at 6:00 P.M. at Soo Visual Arts Center.

Rounding out this year’s Artist Education Workshop Series is a fun skill-building class on zines from Alanna Stapleton and Zoe Cinel. Zines: A Crash Course walks us through what a zine is, how you can start creating zines, and why you should. I’ve written about zines before here at The Column, and still maintain that they are a crucial mouthpiece for marginalized people to be able to share their work cheaply and easily with the world at large. Stapleton and Cinel will teach some bookmaking techniques so you actually can make your own zine while empowering you to share your story in this way. Says Cinel about their upcoming class, “I think there is a real freedom to experiment or to just share your story with the zine format. As we prepare for this workshop, I’m mostly excited about the outcomes: to see how people respond personally, what kinds of topics they choose to write about, and the ways people will discover they can use zines in their own artistic practices.”

Stapleton adds, “Zines have such a rich history as a communicative and expressive tool utilized by underground movements and marginalized voices. I’m excited about teaching this workshop because I want to remind people that their voice matters, and zines are a powerful way to communicate the ideas you’re passionate about, no permission needed.”

Zines: A Crash Course finishes out this “semester” of workshops at Soo Visual Arts Center on Thursday, December 14th at 6:00 P.M. More information and registration are available here.

One thing that’s consistently frustrating to me as an artist and freelancer is the expense of skill-building and even community-oriented workshops. I vehemently believe that instructors and presenting organizations should be paid, and well, for their time and expertise. I also vehemently believe that if the people who need to see your workshop can’t come, well, that’s a pretty big problem. Patrick’s Cabaret (along with Pangea and SooVAC) want these workshops to be fully accessible, and that includes pricing. You can’t build an alternative economy if no one can afford to learn how to do it. As such, registration is just $5-10 suggested donation that covers some of the costs of providing this series, but there are scholarships available for those who can’t afford to come otherwise. Please reach out to Patrick’s Cabaret if that is the case for any of the remaining workshops. Snacks are available, and all classroom spaces are fully accessible.

Loft Literary Center presents #BlackTransMagick as part of Equilibrium Series

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For several years now, the Loft Literary Center has been using its literary prowess to curate and present a series of events dedicated to spoken word artists and artists of color. Equilibrium — or EQ for short — has worked successfully with acclaimed national acts and local emerging stars to much avail, even winning a Minnesota Nonprofit Award for the Anti-Racism Initiative in 2010.

The Loft themes each season of their shows, regardless of which program the shows falls under. This fall their theme is Vigilance. In The Loft’s own words, the theme of Vigilance is meant to ask questions like “How can poems and stories help us to maintain attention over long periods of time? How does language bear witness?” and explore “the ways in which words help us hold light in the darkness.” This Saturday, November 18th at 8:00 P.M., EQ is welcoming national act #BlackTransMagick to it’s stage, using the theme of Vigilance as a guide.

#BlackTransMagick is a collaborative performance and writing duo comprised of poet/educator J Mase III and poet/priestess/actor/author Dane Figueroa Edidi. As individual artists they have both toured all over the world and been featured on The Root, Buzzfeed, and The New York Times. Together they create “a powerhouse of words, spit, ancestor and pure Black Trans Liberation” according to press materials for this Saturday’s show. Says the duo of their work, “We are a multi-gendered piece of Black Trans, multi-faith, clay seeking to make a world for ourselves and those like us to rebuild in. For the masses we exist as poets and beats, but to those who we call family, call artists, call Black & Brown trans creators, call queer artists of color, call wisdom seekers, we are part of the very real revolution centering Black trans people.”

When Mase III and Figueroa Edidi are not on stage together, they create crucial and unique opportunities for QTPOC (queer and trans people of color) to not only perform, but create sustainable careers in Spoken Word. One way they’re doing that right now is through The Loft’s Spoken Word Immersion Fellowship. The Spoken Word Immersion Fellowship is for artists of color and indigenous artists looking to create and implement community learning and enrichment plans. #BlackTransMagick’s fellowship includes a retreat for black trans artists that culminates in a performance as well as a book centered on Black Trans spirituality and magickal practices.

#BlackTransMagick’s performance on the 18th is guaranteed to be transformative. Their spoken word work regularly shakes audiences to their core, providing unique and often uplifting meditations on the oppression and magick black and trans or queer people face. As if that weren’t enough, DJ Nak Hoon Jung, Jayson Smith, and newly elected city Councilwoman (and Spoken Word star in her own right) Andrea Jenkins join the duo for this night of Magick and performance.

Equilibrium Presents #BlackTransMagick is just $10 in advance, but does have Pay What You Can options at the door. Those tickets will be available thirty minutes before the event starts on a first-come, first-served basis. Seating is general admission. The show takes place at the Loft’s Open Book performance hall. More information and tickets are available here.

Rep. Mary Franson criticized for anti-transgender tweet

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Rep. Mary Franson is taking heat for an anti-transgender tweet she sent out shortly after several transgender candidates won Tuesday night — including the victories of Andrea Jenkins and Philippe Cunningham for the Minneapolis City Council.

The tweet was flagged by City Pages’ Mike Mullin on Thursday afternoon and soon Franson was deluged with negative feedback about her tweet.

By late-Thursday evening, the Minnesota LGBTQ Legislative Caucus had issued a statement condemning Franson’s tweet.

“It is a shame to read on social media a statement by a public official that perpetuates a false and pejorative stereotype about transgender people,” the statement read. “We encourage our colleague, Representative Mary Franson, to get the facts and to get to know transgender people herself. She will quickly learn that, as the American Psychological Association says, being transgender is not a mental illness. Problems arise for transgender people from lack of support and acceptance that creates the path for discrimination, and all too often assault, that almost all transgender people experience at one time or another. When leaders who hold positions of respect casually trade in negative comments about transgender people, some interpret that as an invitation to treat their fellow Minnesotans poorly.”

Franson is one of the more anti-LGBTQ Republicans in the Minnesota House. She signed a letter backing North Carolina’s discriminatory laws, co-sponsored a bill that would bar transgender employees from using the bathroom, called the Safe and Supportive Minnesota Schools Act that protects LGBTQ students “fascism Minnesota style,” rallied against marriage equality, and co-sponsored a marriage amendment.

By Friday morning, Franson had deactivated her personal Twitter feed, but that hasn’t stopped people from criticizing Franson’s assertion that she practices kindness (#practicekindness).

Here’s the full statement from the Minnesota LGBTQ Legislative Caucus: