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Sunday, June 25, 2017

Twin Cities Pride to drop police contingent in 2017 Ashley Rukes GLBT Pride Parade


Twin Cities Pride announced on Tuesday that a planned contingent of police officers and law enforcement officials would not be marching at the head of the 2017 Ashley Rukes GLBT Pride Parade. The decision was made in response to a groundswell of opposition both before and after the not-guilty verdict in the police killing of Philando Castile.

Twin Cities Pride executive director Dot Belstler wrote in a Facebook post that a lone police car would be clearing the parade route prior to the parade as is required by Minneapolis statute.

“With the recent verdict in the Philando Castile case Twin Cities Pride has decided to forgo this part of the police participation in the parade for this year and respect the pain the community is feeling right now,” Belstler wrote. “There will just be one lone unmarked police car starting off the parade and there will limited police participation in the parade itself.”

Community members had been organizing a resistance to the planned police presence in the parade similar to an action in Washington, DC, earlier this month. Those concerned about a police presence at Twin Cities Pride have cited the historic and current violence and humiliation Black Minnesotans have suffered at the hands of law enforcement, as well as the historic use of law enforcement to harass and intimidate LGBTQ people in the state.

Here’s the full statement from Twin Cities Pride:

Queertopia 2017 brings queer underground to light


It’s a beautiful thing to enter an era when queer art has seemingly gone mainstream. Every single weekend without fail you can catch drag queens, queer burlesque artists, and music for LGBTQ+ people pulsing through at at least one of the major venues in the Twin Cities. This is progress beyond a shadow of a doubt. Young or newly out artists and audiences alike don’t have the trouble finding community in the cities now the way they used to. When any subculture or movement goes mainstream though, it can and does water down the intentions and artistry of the movement. To the non-discerning eye it would seem that we are in a time where the truly groundbreaking art that questions everything we think we know about sexuality and gender has gone missing. It would appear that the dirty, revolutionary acts so popular in the ’80s and ’90s are but faint memories in our minds, or perhaps rumors of how things used to be before this moment LGBTQ+ art is having.

Those appearances are, of course, false. Patrick’s Cabaret regularly pushes the status quo as far as it can go. Small theatre companies regularly change character genders and identities or seek out only work that is as intimate as it is shocking. Rumors of a ball culture and avant garde art spaces run rampant in Minneapolis, in short, because those things do exist. Then there’s Queertopia, Intermedia Arts’ answer to rebelling against the corporatization and washing clean of queer arts culture. Queertopia defines itself as “A cabaret celebration of queer love,” and that short statement says as much about the event’s goal as the list of well-known radical artists like Hector Chavarria, Holo Lue Choy, and A.P. Looze does. Queertopia blatantly provides a place for the wild, the radical and the revolutionary — but it creates that space for love and celebration. This is a place for rebels and artists to speak their mind and do their work, but it is definitively meant to celebrate their identity and shower love on the most marginalized in our community. It is necessary, it is beautiful, and it is one of my favorite events I’ve witnessed in any state or community I’ve lived in.

This year’s Queertopia theme and subtitle are Revolting Bodies * Beyond Flesh and the line-up itself includes: A.P. Looze, Dana Ainra Njonjo, Hector Chavarria, Holo Lue Choy, Namir Fearce, Sami Pfeffer and Free Black Dirt with Duah Saleh and Katie Robinson creating performance art and films like you’ve never seen before. Visual artists this year are Akiko Ostlund, Blaire Moore, Chandler Daily, Jaffa Aharonov and Solomon Fletcher. This event is curated by Daily as well, alongside Rica de la Concha. MikeQueenz, Nastalie Bogira, Johnnay Leenay and Erin Sharkey. As you go through that list you’ll see names you recognize from acclaimed self-produced work, work that has been put on by renowned venues like Intermedia Arts and the Southern Theater, and names that just closed performances and displays at Northern Spark. You’ll also see names you’ve never heard of, even if you follow the queer art circuit pretty closely. This is another piece of genius about Queertopia: the vetting and curating process is one of a kind and offers opportunities to queer people in all stages of their career.

As the event gets closer, I was interested in what audiences could expect to see in more specific terms this year. Hector Chavarria (also known as “The Big Gay Mexican”) was kind enough to chat with me about his piece. “I will be performing a three part dance representing my journey of accepting who I am. I focus on accepting my femininity and accepting my body. For a very long time I was not comfortable in my own skin because I was raised and taught to think who I was was wrong. This dance celebrates my choice to live my life the way I was meant to live it, being free to be me.”

Playwright and filmmaker Sami Pfeffer was also willing to divulge some info about the film they’re screening at Queertopia 2017. “This film, like most of my solo film projects, features me! I make films about myself and my body to foster a better sense of self-empathy. I want to learn to love myself more. As a person both dysphoric and disassociative, I struggle to recognize myself as myself. Add to that the compounding traumas of a transphobic world, and I sometimes struggle to even believe myself cognizant enough to engage in recognition in the first place.” They go on to say “This film explores an act of recognition as well as the confluence of agency and consent I’ve experienced in the medical-industrial complex, specifically in the context of gender-confirming treatments. It features blood, nudity, and gloves.”

Because Queertopia welcomes artists at all stages, work doesn’t have to be totally new. The event embraces experimental and brand new work, but living pieces going through revisions are also seen. One of my favorite things to watch is a piece of art that changes over time and is performed at various intervals. Movement and performance artist Holo Lue Choy, fresh off of their Northern Spark performance of 3600 Cuts, is revising a well-received piece she’s been working on. “I am revising a solo exploring the expectations of femininity set upon trans femme bodies, and the exploitation of trans women in the sex work industry. This solo took form in a previous iteration at Minnesota Free Space last December, and has made a vast shift in aesthetic.” As Choy grows and as the queer community grows, so do several of their pieces and this latest iteration is sure to excite audiences.

Artists are attracted to events for all kinds of reasons, but Queertopia stands out even further to LGBTQ+ artists as a beacon of celebration and welcoming. Says Pfeffer, “I want more queerness always, and more expansive understandings of that word. I want to continue to move away from queer as something strictly defined by desire or attraction and move towards a queerness of place, energy, and openness. I think Queertopia approaches queerness in radically expansive ways.”

Chavarria adds “What I love about Queertopia is the simple fact that this is a show for the queer community performed by queer artists. I am very grateful for Queertopia because it is giving me and other amazing people, a voice, a presence, and a chance to express their art for the world to see.” He goes on to say “Queertopia is the best way to celebrate PRIDE, performing a piece of my queer history to a loving and welcoming audience.”

Queertopia feels reaffirming as a queer artist, that there is place where art exploring identity and the intersections of queerness are valued, and there is a chance to engage with an audience who will appreciate the work which you are doing.” finishes Choy, summing up Queertopia 2017: Revolting Bodies * Beyond Flash in a succinct statement. Audience engagment, queer identity, and expansive art will be taking center stage starting June 21st at Intermedia Arts. You can find out more or snag your own tickets here.

Around the Region: Pride gets underway in Wisconsin, Iowa

Pridefest in Des Moines occurred last week, the Iowa State Daily reports:

The East Village was filled with pride and positivity this weekend as people flocked to the capitol to celebrate pride, love and acceptance.
The Capital City Pridefest 2017 took place in Des Moines from June 9-11 and was filled with live music, dancing, drag shows and a parade. Pridefest, often called “Pride,” is an annual event put on by Capital City Pride, an LGBT group based out of Des Moines.

The Des Moines Register reports that local LGBTQ leaders are looking at how to add marginalized voices to Pridefest:

At a rally at Des Moines’ PrideFest on Sunday, local leaders and activists celebrated Iowa’s LGBTQ community, but they said they must continue to fight for equality.
“Things have become a lot tougher” since President Donald Trump was elected, said Sophia Stone, president of Transformations Iowa, a local support group for transgender people.
“The movement was set up to really address and focus in on those who are most marginalized in our community,” Daniel Hoffman-Zinnel, executive director of One Iowa, an LGBTQ rights advocacy group, said after a rally that followed the Capital City Pride parade in Des Moines’ East Village.
Hoffman-Zinnel listed racism, sexism, ableism, xenophobia and transphobia as issues that continue to affect society. Stone specifically noted trans women of color as one facet of the LGBTQ community that may face a higher risk of harassment or violence.
“It’s more important than ever that we come together and work with each other,” Stone said.

Madison held its pride event last weekend, the Capital Times reports:

Tarik Akbik met Jerald Wright while working at Disney World in Orlando, Florida. The two would talk about dogs, drink sangria and go to clubs, Akbik said. A year ago, on June 12, Akbik heard about the mass shooting at the Pulse nightclub and found himself constantly refreshing web pages to see if anyone he knew was killed.
He found Wright’s name.
“What’s terrible about tragedies like this is there’s 48 other people with a bunch of friends who are never going to have those moments with their friends again,” he said.
Akbik spoke in front of a crowd on the Wisconsin Capitol steps on Sunday afternoon as Madison’s LGBT+ community congregated for the “Equality March for Unity and Pride.” One purpose of the event was to remember the Pulse victims, and the other to call the community to action to prevent future tragedies. Speakers said that the transgender community is a population particularly in danger of victimization.
“For the LGBT community, the ‘T’ often gets left behind,” said U.S. Rep. Mark Pocan, an openly gay Democrat from Madison.

The small northern Wisconsin town of Arbor Vitae held its first ever pride event last weekend, WXPR reports:

The first Northwoods LGBT Pride event is being held Saturday(6/10) in Arbor Vitae.
The secretary of the Rainbow Hodags, Don Schindhelm says the first Gay Pride rally was held 47 years ago in New York City. Schindhelm says since that time, the term “gay” has been replaced by Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual or Transgender sexual orientation.
Schindhelm says they’re holding a picnic event Saturday…
“….in Arbor Vitae we have a community Pride event, the Northwoods Pride picnic. It’s being held Saturday, June 10 from noon to 3 p.m. at the Arbor Vitae Fireman’s Park at 10672 Big Arbor Vitae Drive next to the firehouse there. The public is invited. It will involve some speakers, some music…”

Winnipeg’s LGBTQ community installed a rainbow crosswalk last week, the CBC reports:

A bright, colourful new crosswalk had been painted at The Forks to celebrate Pride Winnipeg and the city’s diverse community.
Spanning Israel Asper Way near the Canadian Museum for Human Rights, the crosswalk was painted by members of the Winnipeg Frontrunners, an LGBT running group, for the Pride Run that takes place on Saturday.
It’s the first time a rainbow crosswalk has been painted in Winnipeg, following the lead of several other Canadian cities, said Andrew McLaren, organizer of the Winnipeg Frontrunners Pride Run.

Twin Cities Queer Arts Must-Sees Pride Edition, June 16th -30th


Welcome back to the Queer Arts Calendar, our awesome round up of great Twin Cities arts events being produced, performed, or otherwise directly created by or of interest to LGBTQ+ artists and audiences in the Twin Cities. For our special Pride edition, I have chosen to exclude official Pride events with a few blaring exceptions (mostly fundraisers). Why? Because their own website is super easily accessible here, and because I wanted to make room for the plethora of other non-official Twin Cities Pride events going on. So, without further ado, here’s how to jam pack your Pride schedule with radical art this latter half of June.

Still running after last month’s Must Sees are two events that are hilarious, queer, and feminist: the One Act Festival by Gadfly Theatre Productions I’m producing and Raw Sugar’s The Funny. Click the links for more.

Coming in from out of town via the always hilarious Actor’s Theater at Camp Bar is The Final Final Farewell Tour of Dick and Delores Rubio. From their press statements: Dick and Delores share their stories of celebrity, love, life and entertaining. From competing with Liz Taylor, wedding Elvis, bedding Donald Trump and performing in burlesque, Dick and Delores will literally charm the pants right off of you! Tickets are here.

Visual  & Literary Arts
The Stone Arch Bridge Festival is one of my favorite events of festival season, and always has tons of great LGBTQ+ musicians and artists. This year the kickoff concert happens on Friday, the 16th and the festival runs the following Saturday and Sunday. Event is free, but you can purchase lots of beautiful art and artisan work to support the local arts community.

The Dirty Queer Show is one of the best kept secrets of the Twin Cities’ Queer Arts Scene, and they are prepping their fifth and possibly final installment for June 24th starting at Noon and running all day at the A-Mill Artist’s Lofts. There’s art, dancing, and other performances and while the roster is still largely TBD their Facebook event gives us lots of reasons to wait in heavy anticipation.

Music & Comedy

The incomparable Twin Cities Gay Men’s Chorus is going to be lulling us into a fun but serene calm with their concerts on the 16th-18th which are tributes to The Beatles’ best love songs. Appropriately, the concert is titles All You Need Is Love. Like most TCGMC shows, this one goes down at Ted Mann Concert Hall. Tickets are here.  

If you love Venus DeMars even a fraction as much as I do, you’re probably pretty excited about how much more frequently she’s been performing around the Twin Cities lately. You’ll get to see her again as part of the Queerfolk Tour Kickoff which also features Sama, Elliott Sharpe, Noel Griffin, Speedweed, and the Ungrateful Little String Band. The show is FREE at the Hexagon Bar on Tuesday, June 20th at 9:00 P.M. More about the tour here.

More great classical vocal music: the One Voice Mixed Chorus is promising tons of gender bending including a lesbian pirate king (be still my heart) and the classically trained daughters as drag kings in their FREE performances of the music from Pirates of Penzance at the Schubert Club Bandshell on Raspberry Island in St. Paul. This kicks off on Thursday the 22nd at 7:30 P.M. And runs thrice more—Saturday June 24th at 3:30 and Sunday June 25th at 2:00 P.M. And 5:30 P.M. Tickets and info at their website.

Right before Pride weekend kicks into high gear we’re getting a visit from internationally recognized lesbian comedians Tig Notaro and Fortune Feimster. That statement speaks for itself—grab your tickets for this show on Thursday, June 22nd quick because they are likely to sell out.

If you can’t quite come down from your rainbow high after Pride, 7th Street Entry has some great queer indie pop music in the form of Adult Mom, free cake for every creature, Strange Relations and 4th Curtis. Tickets available here.

For a slightly different, more mellow vibe, you can catch a blues influences show of Fierce Femme Feelings—a show by Emily Dussault and Leslie Vincent. They’ll be crooning pop, folk, jazz, and Americana, getting in some duets, and each getting their own space to shine. That’s Monday, June 26th at Troubador Wine Bar at 8:00 P.M.

Drag, Burlesque, and Cabaret

If you’re looking for great kickoff to Pride week, Lush has a killer Kickoff show on the 20th featuring Elektra Cute, Esme Rodriguez, and Kamaree Williams to name just a few of my personal favorites. Money benefits OutFront and the show starts at 7:00 P.M. Tickets are available here.

Also at Lush on the Wednesday of Pride week (June 21st) is something totally fun and funky—the Aliveness Project is raising money with a lip sync battle being judged by burlesque superstar Sweetpea among others. More information is best found here, while tickets are here.

In from out of town: RuPaul’s Drag Race superstar Latrice Royale is featuring at Flip Phone’s Pride Kickoff at Hell’s Kitchen. This one’s also got Genevee Love and Cee Cee Russell on the bill so do not miss out. Tickets here.

It feels weird to list Intermedia’s annual, collectively run masterpiece Queertopia strictly under one medium when it is in fact so much more than “just” a cabaret. It’s visual art, it’s spoken word, it’s rebellion, it’s resistance. This year catch Hector Chavarria, Sami Pfeffer, Free Black Dirt and many other performing artists creating provocative and thrilling new work while radical, boundary-smashing visual art fills the intermedia lobby. This annual festival starts on June 21st at Intermedia. Tickets and more info are slowly being released here.

What would Pride even be without the Grown & Sexy kickoff that Grown & Sexy Productions gives us every year. Sweetpea and DJ Shannon Blowtorch are back as producers and features for this event. You can also catch Deviance, Dyke.s Do Drag, and the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence! June 23rd, 9:00 P.M. And First Ave are the crucial 411 for this party and performance. Tickets are over at First Ave’s website.

The Saloon is hosting a weekend long bash over Pride weekend starting on Friday, June 23rd with musical guests Wilson Phillips. Deborah Cox will be stopping by, and there’s an old school drag show going on. More information is available here, and snag those tickets quick—the Saloon’s Pride events almost always sell out.

Grrrl Scout, the montly dance party for queer WTFs that is usually the only event in the city that can get me on the dance floor is stepping up their game this pride season. In addition to the games, dancing, and comraderie you’ve come to expect you can also see performances from Queenie Von Curves and Troop 612 among other all stars, and is hosted by Scarlette Revolver. This event, Summer Camp is on June 24th at the Cabooze. More about the event is available here.

If you’re looking to end Pride month with as much gusto as we came in with, a new variety show is moving into Icehouse MPLS on Nicollet. “Daddy” will be a recurring event but starts on June 29th with Marcel Michelle Obama, Catherine Charles, and Jenna Cis performing. Described as “Queer, subversive, weird, and full of love” this is going to be a marvelous kickoff. Grab tickets now and pack the Icehouse for this unique night of art and dancing.

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.

OutSpoken is a queer open mic that takes place the second Wednesday of every month at the Fox Egg Gallery, and always has a rad featured artist. Past features have included burlesque star Sweetpea, noted comedian Maggie Farris, and jaw-dropping rapper Kaoz. Show is at 7:30 P.M. Seats are $5-10 sliding scale.

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!

New Sh!t Show happens every third Friday night at the Tatterwood Gallery at 1219 W 31st St. This is all kinds of storytellers, poets, and occasional musicians premiering never-before-seen work. Event is queer run and usually features at least one queer feature if not more. There’s also an open mic component, so YOU could be an LGBTQ+ artist featuring!

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 The Column’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.

Scenes from the Maple Grove protest against Westboro Baptist Church


Last Wednesday in Maple Grove, several members of the Westboro Baptist Church waved anti-LGBTQ signs and shouted anti-LGBTQ slurs in front of the high school and two health clinics. Members of the Maple Grove community staged their own demonstration of support for LGBTQ students.

Photos by Larry Barthel. Learn more about his work at Triquetra Productions.

Sidewalk lined with chalk messages in support of LGBTQ students:

The Westboro Baptist Church is protesting outside Maple Grove Senior High School in Minnesota today to harass and intimidate LGBTQIA+ students. In response, @womensmarchmn collaborated with Indivisible Minnesota, the school's SAGE group, and Stand Up Minnesota to write messages of love and support to queer youth in chalk outside the school. 40-50 people came together to write these messages yesterday. When the students arrived this morning, they were greeted with words of love. #PrideMonth #Pride2017 • IMAGE DESCRIPTION: A slideshow of 9 photos of chalk drawings on concrete. The messages include drawings of rainbows and notes like "Pride," "Everyone is welcome here, everyone belongs," "you r loved," "each and every part of who you are is a gift to the whole wide world," "share kindness," "the world is more beautiful because you are in it," "be awesome, be different, be special, be brave, be beautiful, be you," "we got your back," "you r enough," and "you are awesome exactly how you are."

A post shared by Women's March (@womensmarch) on

The Civic Observer, which has additional photos from the protest, notes that Westboro’s appearance was ahead of schedule and that the group was absent when classes let out. After school, students rallied with counter-protesters.

Quick Country 96.5 captured video of the counter-protest:

Around the region: WI lawmakers introduce bill to ban anti-transgender discrimination


Democrats in Wisconsin have introduced a bill to add gender identity to the state’s anti-discrimination laws, the Associated Press reports:

Democratic lawmakers want to protect transgender people in Wisconsin from being discriminated against when they look for housing or apply for a job.
Reps. Mark Spreitzer and JoCasta Zamarripa and Sen. Tim Carpenter on Thursday introduced a measure that would make Wisconsin the 20th state to prohibit discrimination based on gender identity or gender expression.
“Some people face discrimination because they’re perceived as not fitting into a narrow norm of how someone else thinks that a man or a woman should look, dress or act,” Spreitzer said. “This bill rests on the simple concept that members of the transgender community are people.”
State law already protects people from discrimination in employment, housing and the use of public places based on sex and sexual orientation. Spreitzer said recent legal battles — including a 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruling this week in favor of a transgender Kenosha high school student who wanted the right to use the boys’ bathroom — highlight the need for explicit protections in the law for gender identity.
John and Annette Grunseth said they were shocked when their adult daughter came out a few years ago as transgender. But they say she’s a much happier person since deciding to live as a woman. Now they worry about her safety and whether she’ll be fired from a job simply for being herself.

The Wisconsin Gazette profiled a trans pioneer:

From an early age, Lou Sullivan was drawn to masculine activities and clothing, despite being born female. His parents supported their “tomboy.” For his fourth birthday, they got him a coveted Davy Crockett hat.
But by his teenage years, Sullivan knew his boyishness was more than a phase. He began dressing as a male and felt a growing disconnect between his innermost self and the female body in which he lived. He wrote: “I hate being a girl, really. I have to be sheltered, I can’t walk in the dark, I have to be meek and humble. I hate that. I wish I were a boy. … They can walk down a dark street like they were its king. … They have freedom and know what life is really like.”
This seems like the beginning of a female-to-male trans story, which was shocking enough in 1950s Wauwatosa, where Sullivan was born into a Catholic family. But his story has a twist that challenged — and ultimately shattered — long-held beliefs about the intersection of gender and sexual orientation.
Sullivan’s masculine ideal was not a brawny guy’s guy, but rather an androgynous gay male. He was attracted to men, which led “experts” to dismiss him as heterosexual because of his female body. But he was not attracted to men in the same way that cisgender women are. His earliest sexual fantasies were of having sex with men as a man.
By 1975, Sullivan began to understand that “she” was actually a gay “he.”
In the newly released biography Lou Sullivan: Daring to be a Man Among Men (Transgress Press), Milwaukee author and scholar Brice D. Smith chronicles Sullivan’s struggle for acceptance at a time when trans men were not only missing from the radar of the world at large but largely shunned by the gay community that he longed to join.

A Kenosha student has won a lawsuit against his school after the school engaged in anti-transgender discrimination, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports:

A 17-year-old transgender Kenosha high school student can continue using the boys’ restroom, a federal appeals court ruled Tuesday, rejecting school district arguments against the practice.
In September, U.S. District Judge Pamela Pepper granted Ashton Whitaker, a senior at Kenosha Tremper, permission to use the boys’ bathroom. Kenosha Unified School District appealed the ruling, arguing that the harm to other students, particularly boys using the bathroom, outweighs any harm to Whitaker.
A unanimous three-judge panel of the 7th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals disagreed with the district. Judge Ann Claire Williams wrote, “The harms identified by the school district are all speculative and based upon conjecture, whereas the harms to Ash are well‐documented and supported by the record. As a consequence, we affirm the grant of preliminary injunctive relief.”
The 7th Circuit covers Wisconsin, Illinois and Indiana.
“I am thrilled that the Seventh Circuit recognized my right to be treated as the boy that I am at school,” Whitaker said in a statement released by the Transgender Law Center, which helped bring his case.

Winnipeg’s Pride organization is contemplating law enforcement’s place at LGBTQ events, the CBC reports:

The president of Pride Winnipeg says the organization is looking towards education to help build more bridges between police and the LGBT community.
Pride president Jonathan Niemczak said a new policy announced in May, asking police officers marching in the parade not to wear their uniforms, wasn’t universally popular but it made vulnerable members of the LGBT community feel safer.
The move came after 10 months of consultation with LGBT community members and groups about police participation in the Pride festival, including an online survey that found a third of the 600 respondents had had negative experiences with police.
A similar conversation has been happening in Pride organizations across the country, with parades in Toronto and Vancouver bringing in the same uniform ban as Winnipeg.
Police welcome in Pride Winnipeg parade, asked not to wear uniforms
“I would say the majority of the community was accepting of our statement, of our position on police involvement in Pride,” Niemczak said.
“Obviously the folks that were impacted the most did appreciate the fact that we did listen and we did follow through with making Pride a safer space for them.”

There was one arrest at Winnipeg Pride, the CBC reports:

A 22-year-old Winnipegger who identifies as transgender was arrested after filming police during a clash between opposing protest groups ahead of the city’s first march in support of transgender people.
The arrest happened around noon across the street from the legislative grounds, where the Trans March was set to begin at 2 p.m. as part of Winnipeg’s Pride festival. A video circulating on social media captured the arrest, and shows a police officer forcing an activist onto the hood of a police cruiser in the process.
At the time, around a dozen people not aligned with the Trans March were at the grounds protesting Motion 103, a federal motion condemning Islamophobia and religious discrimination.
The group was opposed by members of several Winnipeg anti-fascism groups who went to the grounds to counter-protest and support the Trans March, including Fascist-Free Treaty One, the American Indian Movement, the Urban Warrior Alliance and the Crazy Indian Brotherhood. Among them was the 22-year-old activist who got arrested.

Queering the Tarot: The Two Through Four of Swords


Before the Suit of Wands came in and swept me up for this Queering the Tarot series, we discussed the Swords as a Suit: this is a group of cards that are concerned with balance, mental clarity, and logic. They can be a suit that indicates mental illness. Concerns over sobriety and addiction show up most often in this suit, (and in the Major Arcana’s Devil). This is a much more logical, cool-headed suit than some of the others, and certainly more straightforward than the Major Arcana. Bigger issues of Justice prevail in the Sword cards—right and wrong, moving forward or staying stuck, what our spiritual self wants versus our Earthbound selves. Because the word and concept of Justice is such a tense topic in the LGBTQ+ (and really any marginalized) community, and because by nature the Swords suit is more negative, many of the cards represent hard decisions where we lose no matter what we choose and often show events or people that are negative or hurtful. However, the Swords suit often calls you to pick up the sword and fight for your version of justice. This often means with actual fighting, though that’s often best left to the Wands suit we just dropped off, but it frequently means with words and cunning instead. The Swords represent intellect and writing as well, and even my least spiritual clients often connect well to this suit’s straightforward news and insights.

Today we’re looking at a group of Swords. Often the Minor Arcana have cards that are so similarly themed or tell such an accessible story together that it makes the most sense to Queer them as a group. The Two, Three, and Four of Swords fall in the latter category. While thematically opposed, there’s a clear message of mental clarity, heartbreak, and fallout in these three cards. We start with the Two of Swords, a card that most often shows up in times of indecision due to the gravity of the choice at hand or for situations where we’ve exhausted our options and are at a stalemate. In either case, our judgment becomes clouded and we feel blind to options and ways out. I have a deck that has colored how I see this card where the Two regularly indicates that you know exactly what you’re meant to do now, but doing so requires a leap of faith and insists you don’t use that famous Swords logic to it’s full extent. This card interestingly gives way to the Three of Swords, one of the most feared but important cards in the deck. It’s most commonly used keyword is simply heartbreak. It’s up to the rest of the reading whether that means a heartbreak is coming, whether you should leave space for emotions in any mental or intellectual pursuits, or whether you’re just struggling to move on from previous heartbreak. As this card follows the Two, I often see it as the result of what happens when you take a leap of faith. Either you’re called to take the leap and it doesn’t work out, or taking the leap requires sacrifices and emotional processing you didn’t expect. Alternatively, if the Two means we’re at a stalemate in a relationship or business situation, the Three sees us leaving that in a way that is devastating and not the outcome we were looking for. This leads us to the Four of Swords, a card of rest, meditation, and recuperation. After an action-packed time that the Two leads us to and the emotional exhaustion of the Three, the Four calls us to take care of ourselves, putting our bodies at rest and clearing our minds for a bit.

As an LGBT+ person, this mini-suit in the Swords suit often tells a very frank coming out story. First if we’re looking at purely coming out as something that is not straight and cisgender, we start with feeling trapped in the decision of whether to do so or not. At some point your own logic and perspective becomes cloudy like it does in that Two. Eventually though, most of us have to make the decision to do so. Which can, unfortunately, also lead to the sadness and despair of the Three. There are many cards that you can throw down and see the coming out process in, but the Three of Swords is one of the only cards that straightforwardly reminds us that sometimes you lose family and friends in that process.

This same line of narrative can be applied to transgender people who are contemplating or beginning transitioning. There’s the Two indecision and lack of clarity—although in this case, that lack of clarity is often rooted in actual lack of knowledge on where to go for hormones, surgery, or undergarments. Frequently for querents though it does come from not being sure when the right time to transition is, or wondering if the time will ever feel right. When the Two is coming up though, that third party insight is likely meant to urge the querent forward in their transition. Once the trans querent has worked through the Two, we come to the Three. In this case though, the Swords can be a metaphor for gender affirming surgery or “going under the knife” for trans people too. I’ve had a couple of clients that when faced with a lot of Swords cards have made jokes like “Guess surgery’s looking good?” and that is often the case with the Three. Heartbreak can be a metaphor for anything that’s removed from our lives, and certainly surgical transition is not without it’s heartbreaks and sadnesses along the way. In both of these examples of how to Queer this suit, the Four shows up to remind us that our bodies and our minds are incredibly important, even when we’re more concerned with our hearts. So after all of that pain, get some sleep! Take introvert time, or hot showers, or whatever you need to feel rested up. For those who are spiritually inclined, meditation is key here. If you’re not spiritually inclined, finding a way to clear your mind instead of letting that negative fallout fester is crucial.

As the Swords can indicate concerns with mental health and the LGBTQ+ community deals with disproportionate amounts of mental illness, I would be remiss to not explore the Two through Four of Swords from a mental health standpoint. The Two of Swords indicates a time where we can’t find our way back to center or to balance. It indicates not being able to make decisions or see clearly in a way that rings very true for those of us who struggle with anxiety. In this case, getting someone else’s perspective or taking time to clear one’s mind may not be all that helpful as pieces of advice for a querent. Furthermore, though this card often requires leaping first and looking later, if it’s showing up in a placement or a way that screams “behavior” and not “advice,” you’re likely looking at someone who struggles with manic episodes common in Bipolar Disorder. In those situations, the guidance you’d see from a tarot reader should be very different, and should caution one away from actually taking leaps of faith right now. The Three of Swords however, is frequently a clear indication of severe depression cycling back to a very dark state. You can look at the Two and Three of Swords cards together and see a Bipolar querent. You can look at them separately and see anxiety in the Two and depression in the Three. In either case, it’s critical to remember that the seeker can not control those cycles or those highs and lows. The cards can serve as very effective warnings to the seeker to look out for relapses, and they can provide the reader more information about the very real obstacles facing the seeker. However, tarot readers are not therapists, and the advice that comes with these cards should include traditional approaches like therapy and medication to deal with these swings. The Four of Swords largely encourages the querent to get back to resting and making time for themselves, though can indicate the exhaustion and burnout that living with mental illness can bring. That advice doesn’t change though: Rest. Clear your mind. Trust yourself.

Once we see how the Two, Three, and Four of Swords work together to take us from decision to heartbreak to rest, we can apply them to a number of other situations in a queer person’s life. I’ve talked before about how LGBTQ+ relationships are a little bit more intense emotionally because our dating pool is a little bit thinner, and because we spend so long in the closet NOT honoring our emotions that there’s a very real, valid need to pamper them a little extra when out. As such, this narrative applies to starting new queer relationships, ending those relationships, or joining social groups (officially or not). The Two pushes us to do so, and then we’re left more than a little hurt and surprised when it leads to that Three. It’s important to remember that the heartbreak of the Three of Swords does not always come like we think it will. Sometimes relationships don’t work out—but very often in the LGBTQ+ community they do yet it’s a whole new level of hurt and oppression from other people that starts facing us once we’re dating someone (or a couple of someones). While this is primarily true for those who’s sexual identity is queer, for transgender people it is still not uncommon for a close friend or family member to be accepting until they see you dating someone they don’t expect.

A specialty of mine is reading Tarot for healing purposes, particularly for those dealing with the aftermath of trauma. This line of work, like my identity based tarot readings, attracts primarily LGBTQ+ querents. There’s a number of reasons for this, starting with the societal trauma of being othered in the first place and reaching into the deeply personal. There’s often a lack of resources specific or related to queer people who have been traumatized, and there’s very often a concern about what society at large will think if word of abusive or otherwise awful LGBTQ+ people gets out. In these cases, pulling any one of these cards tells me more about where the querent is in terms of their own healing. Often with the Two, they are contemplating treatment, speaking out, or debating other common methods of healing. Their vision is compromised because of societal pressure, and because they have, quite frankly, probably not seen representation of lesbians being sexually assaulted, trans people being attacked, or dominant BDSM partners being abusive which means they have no idea what to do or where to go for help, if speaking out will do any good, or what they’re next move should be. Healing is personal, just like everything else and the advice with the Two is that whatever you are scared of doing is probably the right decision for you right now. That could mean telling people what happened. That could mean pressing charges. It could also mean going to therapy to heal from the situation. The three, alternatively, encourages those who have been traumatized to take a much gentler approach. “Let yourself be hurt, sad, angry,” urges this card. Live in that misery. Stew in it. Be incredibly self-indulgent. Life is about cycles, and there is a time for everything, and that includes a time to sink down into the reality of what’s happened and allow it to surround you. It is only in that encampment that you can use your logical mind to start cutting through all of the pain. The Four tells me the querent has already done quite a bit of healing work. Healing work however, has the word work attached to it on purpose. It’s exhausting to sit with your emotions and focus on your healing 24/7. At some point, you still need to rest. At some point the only thing that’s going to further your healing is taking time to recuperate. At some point pain turns into straight up exhaustion, and that too is a feeling you should honor.

In any case, the Four rounds out this mini-narrative for a reason. After experiencing new or deepened pain or trauma, you need some “you” time, whatever that looks like to you. This is so often the message of the Swords overall. We get hurt, yet life goes on, but if you don’t take the time to recuperate from the pain, it’s going to keep bringing you back to a cycle of uncertainty and heartbreak over and over again. That’s true for any querent, but in the LGBTQ+ community, we are more likely to be working with additional disadvantages, dealing with mental health concerns, or finding ways unique to our queer experience that this plays out such as coming out or starting a new relationship. Therefore it’s extra important to understand the way these three cards are interpreted when we’re learning suits at a time—if we don’t know about the potential for heartbreak, we could stay stuck in the Two of Swords’ place of confusion indefinitely. If we don’t know about the importance of rest, that Three of Swords can be crushing. As such, my final piece of advice for getting one of these cards in a reading is this: pull just one more card asking “what’s the best way for me to rest or take care of myself right now?” Like anything else, that answer can look wildly different per person, but that final card can ease the concern of anyone facing big, scary choices, staring down heartbreak, or feeling completely wiped out.

Be sure to check out the full Queering the Tarot series.

Westboro Baptist plans protest at three Maple Grove locations this week


Westboro Baptist Church, an anti-LGBTQ conservative Christian group from Topeka, Kans. comprised largely of the extended family of the late-Fred Phelps, has promised to protest at three locations in Maple Grove on June 7.

The purpose for Westboro’s threatened protest of Maple Grove High School isn’t clear from the group’s transphobic press release, nor is the purpose for the protest of two health clinics: North Memorial Health-Maple Grove Medical Center and University of Minnesota Health Maple Grove Clinics.

School officials and law enforcement are planning for the disruption. Maple Grove Senior High School Princial Bart Becker alerted parents to the possibility of a Westboro protest in an email on Sunday night:

Dear Maple Grove Senior High Families:

I’m writing to let you know that an out-of-state group plans to demonstrate on the sidewalk near our school and at two other sites in the city of Maple Grove on Wednesday, June 7. I want you to be aware of what we have learned about this activity and our response plan.

We understand that a small group from Westboro Baptist Church, based in Kansas, will stand on the public sidewalk at the Fernbrook Lane driveway entrance from 1:30 p.m. to 2:00 p.m. During these demonstrations, members typically hold signage and shout at passersby.

We have collaborated with the Maple Grove Police Department and representatives of the other affected local organizations on a response plan that aims to minimize any attention to the demonstrators while providing a smooth end to the school day.

You can help ensure that the protestors come and go without receiving the publicity they seek. We are encouraging students and families to refrain from gathering or engaging with group members in any way, including on social media.

We are committed to ensuring that all students have a successful end to the school year. You can help us achieve that goal by denying the demonstrators the spotlight they seek.

Yours very respectfully and sincerely,

Bart Becker, Principal

The group has a history of threatening to protest locations but either doesn’t show or sends one or two protesters. For example, the group threatened to picket the funerals of those who died in the Interstate 35W bridge collapse in 2007 but did not show. Also, the group planned a protest of Hastings High School in 2011 over that school’s production of the Laramie Project. Westboro failed to show. The group did, however, show up to protest at the Minnesota State Capitol in 2013 the day after marriage equality became legal in the state.

Update: The advisors for Maple Grove Senior High’s SAGE group are encouraging students not to engage with Westboro:


East Central MN Pride nabs Kat Perkins, Mark Joseph for 2017 Pride in Pine City


Every first Sunday in June, Pine City plays host to one of the few rural LGBTQ Pride festivals in America, and each year it gets a little bigger.

For 2017, the festival has booked Kat Perkins, a semifinalist on NBC’s The Voice. Perkins will be performing a Sia tribute. Joining her will be Mark Joseph and The American Soul, a regional blues and soul favorite. Twin Cities Public Television’s Val Mondor will serve as emcee.

East Central Minnesota Pride will celebrate 13 years in 2017, and has thrived despite protests and an opposing “pro-family picnic” in 2009. In indeed, the theme for 2017 will be “Pride Persists.”

According to organizers, the event will be an alcohol and tobacco free event with music, food, and art activities for children.

“Our goal has always been to provide support and friendship for LGBT and other diverse people living in the rural areas of Minnesota,” said Don Quaintance, a founding Pride board member, said in a statement. “This event brings people from all walks of life together in friendship, community and progress in understanding. It truly exemplifies the statement: ‘All are welcome here’.”

East Central Minnesota Pride happens with the help of volunteers and groups like East Central MN Men’s Circle, East Central MN Purple Circle, East Central MN chapter of PFLAG, Rural Aids Action Network, Rainbow Health Initiative and OutFront Minnesota.

East Central Minnesota Pride is on Sunday, June 4 from noon to 5pm at Robinson Park in the heart of Pine City.

Minneapolis City Council declares June 2017 “Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Pride Month”

Source: Essygie

In mid-April, the Minneapolis City Council and Mayor Betsy Hodges unanimously enacted a declaration naming June 2017 to be “Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Pride Month” in the City of Minneapolis.

The city has recognized Pride, either as the month of June or the last weekend of June, for several decades. The first such declaration came in 1975, but for a few years after, conservative factions on the council blocked such declarations. In fact, in 1981, the council fought to prevent a one-hour closure of Hennepin Avenue for a Pride Block Party. The council lost that legal battle (full story here), and the council has since been among the most progressive on LGBTQ issues in the country.

This year, each of the 13 members of the council signed on to the proclamation. The declaration boasts Minneapolis’ role as a LGBTQ equity leader:

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