Friday, March 23, 2018
Home Blog

Around the Region: Campaign to support LGBTQ youth launches in Milwaukee


A campaign to change the way LGBTQ youth view themselves launches in Milwaukee, Madison 365 reports:

To that end, Milwaukee-based artist Lex Allen helped Diverse and Resilient create a campaign to help youth realize they are beautiful.
Lex Allen wrote a song called “Colors in Bloom” and a music video to coincide with it to help youth know that the complexities of their identity are perfect the way they are. The goal is that LGBTQ youth would see it and see people who are like them and look like them surviving.
Colors in Bloom is also a statewide awareness campaign. Lex Allen Productions has utilized a graphic artist to make billboards that will be going up around Wisconsin later this Spring imploring LGBTQ youth to recognize that they are loved and beautiful.
Flores said at least one of these billboards will be placed adjacent to a Conversion Therapy school so the youth there can see it.
“We have billboards going up in the Fox Valley and Milwaukee and one to go up by a Conversion Therapy school,” she said. “We are trying to bring up some funds to put up billboards in all these Conversion Therapy places. We want youth to see this and see hope and be able to hold on because it will get better, but it will only get better if we can work with youth and people supporting youth. In Milwaukee, the City Council is trying to ban these conversion therapy practices. We’re losing lives because of this damaging therapy. Some of the people who have survived these places have been able to find loving places and churches. But the fact that so many youth are exposed to this is so heartbreaking and dangerous.”
One of the billboards goes up in two weeks. The others will most likely go up around the end of May and into June during Pridefest. One of the locations will be along Highway 151.
“This has been a good campaign to work on,” Flores said. “It has given me hope. Just reminding people that they’re beautiful, worthy and acceptable the way they are.”

A measure to ban conversion therapy in Milwaukee passed a key committee, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports:

A Milwaukee council committee approved a measure Thursday to ban a controversial therapy practice that tries to change a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity, sending it on to the full Common Council.
Ald. Cavalier Johnson introduced the ordinance to ban the practice, commonly known as “conversion therapy” or “reparative therapy,” for anyone under 18.
He called it a “proactive piece of legislation” to address the practice that is commonly tied to religious values.
Last year, state lawmakers proposed a bill to penalize mental health providers or counselors who performed conversion therapy, but it did not get a hearing or committee vote. Several other states and cities have passed similar bans.
RELATED: Legislator seeks LGBT conversion therapy ban
Major medical and mental health organizations have condemned conversion therapy, said Tony Snell, a member of the city’s Equal Rights Commission.

The University of Wisconsin-Madison is making it easier for folks to get transition-related care, WPR reports:

If a transgender student at the University of Wisconsin-Madison wanted to start hormone therapy, they’d have to do more than talk with their doctor. They’re also required to get written consent from a therapist or mental health counselor.
But now, the university is working to change that.
University Health Services is switching to an informed consent model for transgender, gender non-conforming, and non-binary students. That means students won’t have to get written consent or go through the campus’ Gender Identity Consultation to receive hormones. Instead, they’ll be able to work directly with their doctor.

Wisconsin has its first group home for LGBTQ youth, TMJ-4 reports:

“We started Courage in December of 2015 so in two years the community has supported us enough to allow us to pay cash for this house,” Schlaikowski said.
The property on South 6th Street in Walkers Point and the home behind it cost a total $50,000. One of the three bedroom homes will be used to house eight teens. The other will be used for counseling or just a hangout spot for the teens.
Both houses serve as a safe haven for young people ages 10 to 17, who have been living on the street. This group home is first of its kind in the state.
“The fact that we have this house already and that in less than a year we can open the doors and put eight children in it and get them off of the streets is phenomenal.” Schlaikowski said.
He says when renovations wrap up, the properties will be called “The Courage House.” So why Walkers Point? Schlaikowski said he wanted to have a group home here because there aren’t many shelters on the south side.

A “religious liberty” bill did not make a committee deadline in Iowa and appears dead. The bill would allow campus student groups to deny membership to LGBTQ students, the Des Moines Register reports:

A contentious bill appears dead in the Iowa Legislature amid strong opposition from Iowa’s business community and civil liberties groups who believe it could allow businesses to refuse services based on religious beliefs.

Senate File 2338, which was described by supporters as Iowa’s “Religious Freedom Restoration Act,” was referred Thursday from the Senate debate calendar back to a Senate committee by Senate Majority Leader Jack Whitver, R-Ankeny. The move effectively kills the bill for the 2018 session because Friday is a key legislative deadline for policy bills to advance or be declared dead this year.

The bill’s proponents said the legislation would have protected their ability to exercise their religious beliefs. Critics contended it could have resulted in discrimination against people based on their sexual orientation, disabilities, and race and ethnicity.

The measure’s apparent death in Iowa means, at least for now, the Iowa Legislature will retreat from a national battle already fought in Indiana, North Carolina, Mississippi and other states. Similar “religious freedom” measures have led to boycotts and demonstrations elsewhere.

Lightning Rod is Back At Patrick’s Cabaret This March Only


Last year Patrick’s Cabaret took their already radical mission and added a unique spin on flash theatre to their mix, creating a night of pressing and important theater. Lightning Rod was a magical night as several different one act plays took stage, each with its own viewpoint, aesthetic, and agenda. As an audience member I sat riveted for the duration of all four innovative plays, each totally different from the next yet completely in line with the Cabaret’s general tone.

Lightning Rod is created completely in one week. Everyone meets early in the week to talk about what’s important to everyone regarding messaging and creation right now. After that meeting, writers punch out plays as quickly as they can. Directors have just a couple of days to get the play on its feet, and that weekend, the curtain opens and the magic is revealed.

Freelance director and theatre artist Kat Purcell led the charge last year, producing, curating and organizing this huge project. Some of the biggest names in the local arts scene joined them for the night, alongside people with no experience but plenty of talent. Most art that we cover here at The Column is unique, progressive, and exciting but Lightning Rod pushed both Patrick’s Cabaret and flash theater to new heights. Round Two of Lightning Rod is following a lot of the same format but Patrick’s never settles for the same show twice. Purcell is being joined by emerging arts leader Marcel Michelle-Mobama. The two will co-produce this year, with Michelle-Mobama adding a thrilling new voice to this important work.

This year’s line-up includes writers Seth Matz, Nina Medvedeva, Yoni Tamang, Zeam Porter, Malakai Greiner and Diana Siegel-Garcia. Their original plays will be directed by Dua, Keila Anali Saucedo, Adrienne Kleinman, Xochi de la Luna, Rica de la Concha and Christie Dove.

Performers come from all mediums and include Nikki Abramson, Mike C: Dancer on Wheels, Deep Roots Jessica, Ari Newman, caspian wirth-petrik, Mike Curran, Zealotron, Kallie Melvin, Jessica Eckerstorfer, Ogechi Egonu, Lucas Scheelk, Wolf Valencia, sente, Kenny Ngo, Ricardo Beaird, Erika Dani, Kevin Kaoz, Julia Gay, Seng Xiong, Lelis Brito, Lizzette Chapa, Sophea Ek, Amy Salloway, Kassia Lisinski and Camille Mitchell. It’s an all-star line-up for sure, with enough newbies to keep us in anticipation until the big event.

As Patrick’s continues its season of sunsetting (by which we mean closing its doors forever), it’s more important than ever to come out and see exciting art. It’s more important than ever to support queer-led art but please remember that the art being created in our community is worth seeing for your own benefit. It’s not just about showing up and supporting, though it’s about that too. It’s about taking an evening to experience something completely new and mind-blowing. It’s about recognizing the wealth of art and entertainment happening here and deciding to better your own life by participating. It’s about enjoying innovative audience experiences, and soaking them up before they disappear. Lightning Rod is offering something of true value. Don’t miss your chance to see it.

Lightning Rod is happening March 30th and 31st at Phoenix Theater at 7:30 p.m. More information including tickets are available at Patrick’s website. You can see sneak peeks at their Facebook event here, or buy tickets immediately here.

“Indecent” Brings Issues of Censorship and Anti-Semitism Center Stage

Paula Vogel’s Indecent is a very good play, and the Guthrie’s production is top notch. This Pulitzer Prize winning play is based on a true story about censorship and brilliantly ties together the way censorship leads to further fascist action. The play centers around the real life writer Sholem Asch, and his play God of Vengeance that came under fire for “indecency” and “obscenity” leading up and during the events of the Holocaust and World War II. The show features a small cast playing multiple characters, a band that sits right on the stage the whole time, and a couple of theatre tricks that tickled even me, as cynical as I am about spectacle on stage.

I frequently feel like acting ensembles at the Guthrie mix performance styles in ways that make a play harder to stay pulled into, and often highlight one Very Big Talent to the detriment of the rest of the cast. Indecent does not do any of that in spite of having a number of Very Big Talents in the cast, most notably Sally Wingert blending beautifully into her ensemble role. I am also not someone who is impressed by Big Impressive Sets alone, but Indecent uses the thrust beautifully, creating a singular set that is believable as several different stages, an attic, a living room, and more. The set contributes a lot to the show thematically as the carefully planned look of ruin and debris highlights the despair that the world is sinking into. Paula Vogel is obviously an immensely talented writer, and has long been one of my favorite playwrights. For the most part, she outdoes herself with Indecent. The conception and delivery of this piece from Director Wendy C. Goldberg is nothing short of exceptional too. There is an “X” factor missing from a lot of plays: love and care of the piece and the craft itself. Goldberg and the cast exhibit that tenfold, and create a really stunning and marvelous night at the Guthrie.

All of that being said, Indecent is not a perfect play. Culturally, I am frustrated that we don’t get to hear more from Jewish culture and artists beyond the Holocaust at mainstream arts venues. The events of this time period are undeniably heinous, and still we have people who deny them or even want to go through this again. That’s atrocious. Yet the Holocaust and the events leading up to it are not the only times Jewish people have been discriminated against, silenced, and oppressed. While Indecent is an exceptional piece of theatre, there are other exceptional plays about anti-Semitism and Jewish oppression too that do not take place prior to and during World War II. This is not a critique of this specific institution and it certainly is not a critique of Indecent, but I am concerned about a culture that struggles to find parallels and humanity in stories that we don’t know yet. What’s most uncomfortable about Indecent is that there are a couple of scenes where both the open queerness of pre-Hitler Germany and some of the Jewish stereotypes are played for laughs to an audience full of people who are likely not those things. It’s a really good play, but a couple of scenes seem really out of place as they inspire little but laughter at marginalized character’s expenses.  

I spoke with a local Jewish queer actor, who not only clarified some of her own thoughts around the aforementioned concerns we both had of the show, but brought up that for a show marketed largely to the queer community, the actual queer characters are fairly sidelined. God of Vengeance features two lesbian leads, and there are LGBTQ+ characters in Indecent beyond that, but they aren’t the main focus of the play. That’s definitely not wrong, and there is a lot The Column readers will still get out of the show. Many of the performers and crew, and certainly Vogel herself are LGBTQ+, and their talent is immense. That fact leaves me wanting even more from the queer storylines in the play that do get buried though, and I do want the play to dig even deeper than it does to tie these various forms of oppression together.

Even so, what Vogel does with this source material is great. I have a personal unpopular opinion about plays about plays which is, basically, that I don’t like them. Nonetheless, Indecent plays with this convention in a way that subverts it, creating instead a beautiful story about love, hope, and heartbreak in a time of censorship that leads to unspeakable terror. The show is not about a play, it centers around a play. Non-standard theatre audiences will still find this show accessible, and because the play features music as well the show is enjoyable and palatable to most, even as it starts hitting on harder topics. This script is incredibly smart in ways I am still mulling over. It really refreshes and reinvents a lot of standard theatrical format, and it’s a play I am still thinking about a week later.

We don’t talk nearly enough about how censorship is often the first step towards total fascism and tyranny, and this show covers that topic expertly with this based-on-a-true-story rooted in that very subject. We also see America’s complacency in the horrors that happen in the rest of the world, as it’s the USA where the actors in God of Vengeance are tried in court. This is a very unusual and necessary look at world history, as our history books like to paint us as the heroes in this particular series of events. In Indecent we see the cast of characters go from eager and excited about a show to victims of actual genocide in roughly ninety minutes, and it is a powerful and important message about how quickly things spiral out of control and who’s to blame when they do. While I would like to see more from the plethora of Jewish stories available to us, this show’s focus on what leads to things like the Holocaust and its original point of view regarding those events is still refreshing. While not perfect, this show leaves us with plenty to chew on and mull over for weeks after the fact. That’s art, warts and all, and I’m grateful to see The Guthrie taking on such powerful work.

If you’d like to see Indecent, it is running daily at The Guthrie through March 24th, with the exception of Mondays. Tickets are available at the Guthrie’s website here.

Mother Goose’s Bedtime Stories: A Taste of What’s to Come


Queer artists in the Twin Cities are all too familiar with the critical dearth of affordable, accessible space to develop and showcase the radical work that is our trademark. As we are pushed to the margins, we affirm with greater conviction that our place is actually in the vanguard. We do this by entrenching ourselves again in the DIY. We see this as a phase in a cycle that we will not simply outlast, but rather are prepared to instigate and ride whatever the next wave may be as culture makers and prophets.

One place to catch a taste of what is to come is in the work of Xochi de la Luna: independent producer, musician, emcee, comic and performance artist. Xochi is currently best known as the creator and curator of Mother Goose’s Bedtime Stories, a monthly show with a mission to push art in new directions, while giving under-represented and new artists a platform to be seen and heard in a fantastical environment. Part showcase, part variety show and part theatrical production, the event is hosted by the interdimensional being known as “The Real Mother Goose”, who interviews each act for the audiences’ entertainment and education. Mother Goose also provides updates on the ongoing narrative arc of her travels though the universe’s infinite dimensions, her ongoing conflict with the Skeleton Witch and other parables.

Xochi also hosts Vector 9 at least monthly at Dead Media–as nemself, also known as the earthly conduit of The Real Mother Goose–and fronts a newly formed band called La Curandera & The Ritual. When asked what it’s like to be to be an independent producer right now, ne of course lists the challenges of finding resources and exposure, but also: “It is very comforting and healing to see an audience that seems to include so many different components of the community. I hope that audience keeps growing and everyone continues to feel that they belong. For everyone to be exposed to each other’s light, and be laughing with one another. That is what feels good.”

Vector 9 shows can be found at Dead Media, and costs a $5 suggested donation. All revenue is paid directly to the artists. Mother Goose’s Bedtime Stories is currently hosted by LUSH, and costs $5 pre-sale or $10 at the door. To stay up to date on shows, you can like Mother Goose’s Bedtime Stories Facebook page here. Catch La Curandera & The Ritual on March 21st at Moon Palace Books (Facebook event page here). The next Mother Goose’s Bedtime Stories installment (The Spirit of the Chimera) will be at LUSH on April 8th. To view the line up and purchase tickets, check out the Facebook event page here. The next Vector 9 at Dead Media will be April 6th featuring Idle Empress, Kate McCarthy, Midas Bison and Perfume.

Queering the Tarot: Two of Pentacles


This card of balance and fluctuation is a necessary evil in our Earthly journey. If the Ace promises news and growth, the Two reminds us that life is still life. That brilliant business adventure will hit some snags and potentially even lose money to start. Our dream home will see a pipe burst. Our family, chosen or otherwise, will still fight because it is comprised of other human beings who each have their own trauma and emotional needs. We will start that valuable resource for our community, and then we will see it run dry at times. That’s okay; yes, that’s fluctuation and it’s hard. It’s also absolutely critical for us as we learn to grow and thrive. We do not know who we are based solely on the best of times; we know who we are when we have suffered and handled it. That is balance, taking the bad with the good and learning to find the funny story or the warm hug in the middle of it all.

A card of balance in a suit about career, money, home, and family also reminds us that there are other things in life. There’s our spiritual journey, our friendships, the fact that we like sitting on our couch and binge-watching The Gilmore Girls. There’s a million aspects of life and this card reminds us that they all need our attention right now. I get this card a lot as a multipassionate (that is, someone with careers and goals in multiple fields), telling me that now is not the time to slow down anywhere and I just have to handle it and keep going. Yet it also shows up to remind me that I have a sick body and a traumatized heart, and sometimes I just really need that Netflix binge. It’s not contradictory at all, rather every message of this card reminds us to nurture all parts of ourselves.

As a bonafide queer person who is disabled and has struggled forever with poverty, I sometimes feel like my whole life has been about learning to navigate the Two of Pentacles. That’s not at all unusual for ANY LGBTQ+ person, but especially those who are wading through multiple intersections of marginalization. In our activist lives we see it daily. As soon as we gain a cool piece of legislation, we lose another one we were counting on. In the personal, it so very often seems like one step forward and two steps back to create a safer art space, food shelf, or youth program for our community. I have a day where I feel out and proud and great, and then a day when I feel scared and small. Some of this imbalance is important for learning. Do I still create space when a physical space is lost, and how? Do I still behave bravely on days I feel scared and small? Sometimes though, I have learned all of these lessons, and what I needed was another good day for queer people, and receiving something different is jarring. Unfortunately the Universe (or any divine you believe in) and the world around us don’t always behave specifically according to what I as one person needs. Sometimes someone else needed that win more, and sometimes someone else fought harder to get their idea through. That’s life, and that’s balance.

So where does the Two of Pentacles take us queer kids in those darker times then? The more important keyword in this card is balance. Our whole lives we have striven to find ourselves and live our lives as those selves no matter what was going on in the world around us. That is unequivocally a lesson in balance. When you can find yourself, your voice and your heart at the center of the whirlwind, you have found true balance. That’s what the Two of Pentacles urges the marginalized to do when it shows up. This card wants you to think through what makes you feel calm, centered, and focused no matter what is falling down around you. You need that center in the worst of times, sure. You also need it in the best of times when everything is happening quickly and unapologetically. You want to retain your place in your community, your home, your body, and so you must quickly learn to find that inner peace. That is the biggest and most important lesson in the Two of Pentacles, and something every queer person needs to have tucked away in their self-care toolkit. The world will continue to be cruel and kind to us in turn, and as survivors of this floating ball in the sky, we’ve got to find a way to make it work.

Around the Region: Iowa Senate votes to allow anti-LGBTQ discrimination in higher ed student groups


Iowa senators pass a bill that would prevent higher education institutions from sanctioning student groups that discriminate based on sexual orientation, LGBTQ Nation reports:

The Iowa senate passed a bill that could ban universities from enforcing anti-discrimination policies in student clubs late last night.
All 29 Republicans voted in favor of it and all 19 Democrats and one Independent voted against it.
Proponents of Senate Bill 3120 say it’s about free speech on campus. The bill saysthat universities “shall not deny benefits of privileges available to student organizations based on the viewpoint of a student organization” or “the student organization’s requirement that the leaders of the student organization affirm or agree to the student organization’s beliefs or standards of conduct.”
An amendment just before the bill passed struck a section that said, “A public institution of higher education may prohibit student organizations from discriminating against members or prospective members on the basis of any protected status recognized by federal or state law.” The state of Iowa bans discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.

At Iowa State University, the student government passed a resolution calling on the administration to prioritize the needs of transgender and gender nonconforming students, Iowa State Daily reports:

Student Government passed a resolution Wednesday evening in support of transgender and gender non-conforming students, asking administration to prioritize gender inclusive restrooms on campus.
Approved by unanimous consent, the resolution also calls for Iowa State to “require gender-inclusive restrooms in any requests for proposals for new facilities or building expansions on or off campus.
According to a map provided by the Center for LGBTQIA+ Student Success, there are 30 gender-inclusive restrooms on campus.
The Center defines a gender-inclusive restroom as “a single stall, lockable restroom, open to the public, with signage that indicates that anyone may use that restroom, regardless of gender.”
The resolution was introduced by Sen. Lilian Juma, Sen. Kylee Cox, Vice President Cody Smith and Senior Director of Academic Affairs Kara Masteller.
“We recognize that there are several students on our campus that do not identify as cisgender (binary) and may not feel comfortable using restrooms labeled male or female,” according to the resolution. “We believe Iowa State University should work to make our campus more inclusive to these students.”

The Des Moines Register gave a thumbs down to the efforts of Orange City residents to ban books with LGBTQ themes:

A thistle to Sioux County Conservatives and others who are pushing to ban or segregate books related to homosexual and transgender content.
A flier was distributed throughout Orange City that denounced the young-adult and children’s books and cited health concerns — including higher rates of suicide, depression, substance abuse and other problems — among the LGBTQ population.
Hmmm, do you wonder why that might be? And how our society might address those issues? And whether shame, stigma and prejudice might just play a role?
But to the group opposed to these books, it’s about fighting an “agenda.”
We all should be able to agree on an agenda of intellectual freedom and equitable service and access. Public libraries must serve everyone: black and white, rich and poor, religious and atheist. And yes, gay and straight.
And these materials shouldn’t be stuck on their own shelf, as some in Orange City are arguing. Patrons — particularly questioning teens — should have their privacy protected and should be able to check out materials without judgment.
Out of 64,000 materials, the Orange City Public Library has 168 books — less than three-tenths of 1 percent — that feature LGBTQ content. That cannot be representative of Orange City, or of any community in the state.
The library’s Board of Trustees should send a message that these patrons — and everyone — are welcome.

The City of De Pere hosted a public session on the city’s recent nondiscrimination ordinance, WSAW reports:

On Tuesday night the city hosted a public information session featuring Stacie Christian, Ph.D. Christian is the director of Inclusive Excellence and Pride Center at UW-Green Bay.
Christian said, “It will definitely expand the opportunity for students to have housing in this area, employment. Individuals will be more interested in working here and coming here to shop, in fact. Right now at this point people often go to Appleton because it’s already considered to be an inclusive community. Knowing about this ordinance and how people really are inclusive in De Pere will be very positive.”
However, not everyone at this meeting was in favor of the ordinance.
Pastor Matt Baye represents one of the De Pere churches backing the lawsuit against the city. .
Baye is asking that religious organizations be exempt.
“We’re specifically looking for the exemption that would allow us to have freedom specifically in how we hire and retain employees and also in terms of the ways that we promote our specific message in accordance with the Bible,” said Baye, who serves as pastor at Hope Lutheran Church.
City council member Casey Nelson is among those who voted in favor of the ordinance but said he’s not able to speak about the lawsuit.
Nelson said, “A lot of other states have done it already. Other municipalities in Wisconsin have done it, so we’re just kind of catching up to the rest.”
The city has 20 days to respond to the lawsuit from the day it was filed.
So far no court hearings have been set.

This March Don’t Miss Female Warriors & Writers (Among Countless Others!)


The ice is melting, and though it is Minnesota and it may come again, everyone is starting to feel hopeful that Spring is in the air and we are moving into warmer times. Helping us feel all warm and fuzzy this March is the return to a full calendar of arts and community. I’m really excited to report all the exciting stuff going on this month, and tried to show a nice variety for our March Must Sees so there’s something for everyone.

Theatre & Film

Gadfly Theatre Productions opens The Children’s Play by Sami Pfeffer, a weird little long one-act play about trans identity and mental illness starring an entirely trans and non-binary cast, playwright, and director TONIGHT (March 2nd and running through March 11th). Tickets and more info are available here.

Paula Vogel’s Indecent is running at The Guthrie through March 24th. Head over to the Guthrie’s website to grab tickets and learn more. I have a review on this one coming by early next week at the latest.

Also at The Guthrie through March 9th is A.P. Looze’s highly anticipated Foray Softly, a solo show examining exploration and self. This event is one of three that are part of The Guthrie’s Solo Emerging Artist’s Celebration. All the shows look great and you can find out more here.

The Uptown Theater is running the cult drag classic To Wong Foo, Thanks for everything Julie Newmar as part of their Midnight Madness series. March 9th-11th. Ticket info right on their website.

Uprising Theatre who we LOVE here at are having themselves a birthday bash/fundraiser on March 26th where you can get a sneak peek of their April show, Twisted Deaths. Support this company and see some rad actors doing their thing by securing tickets here.

Visual  & Literary Arts

Another highly anticipated event opening tonight is a photography exhibit about women who have survived sexual assault, aptly titled Female Warriors: Stories of Sexual Assault Survival. The big kickoff starts tonight at 6:00 PM. Check the Facebook event to learn more about this powerful gallery.

Lots of queer artists are participating in the first ever Weird SH*T Art Show! Kicking off Sunday, March 4th at the A-Mill Artist’s Lofts. This includes a lot of new and emerging artists and at a time when we’re concerned about losing weird art in the city, it’s one you’ll want to check out for sure. Visit their Facebook event to see more.

Indoor night market and lots of queer representation are hitting the Grain Belt Bottling House on March 8th from 5:00-10:00 P.M. Check out their Facebook event as well–the vendors are listed in the discussion if you want to find out specifics.

The They/Them project which has been featured here at and has done amazing work raising visibility for our amazing community of genderqueer people here in the Twin Cities is getting a gallery show at Lush starting March 9th. You can meet some of the models and see some really beautiful photography of some of our cities’ most important activists. More info here.

Lisa Vecoli, curator of the Tretter Collection in GLBT Studies at the University of Minnesota since 2012, will share stories about her career, her life and her passion for books on March 12 at Quatrefoil for An Evening with Lisa Vecoli. Find out more here.

The Women Who Write series welcomes Catherine Friend, Rachel Gold, and Stephanie Maari Booker among other LGBTQ+ women this year on March 18th at Quatrefoil. I have this one marked on my personal calendar as well as there are a lot of really amazing writers featuring. Their Facebook event is the best place to learn more.

On March 25th Sonya Renee Taylor presents The Body is Not an Apology at Magers & Quinn and if you aren’t following and loving Taylor yet, you will be. Learn more at Magers & Quinn’s event page.

Drag, Burlesque, Cabaret & Music

Exposed: A Beautiful Exhale features a lot of emerging burlesque stars right alongside some seasoned pros and I’ve been excited to watch this show come together online. It opens March 9th at Minnsky Theater, and more info and tickets are available here.

Sunday March 11th sees the Miss LUSH 2018 pageant, and I know there are some fierce queens competing in this inclusive pageant chock full of talent. You can also still sign up yourself! Head over to Lush’s website for full info.

Daddy becomes Mommy for one night only (at least, to our knowledge now) on March 15th. The event is back at the Icehouse for this show. Kitten Forever have music for us, Nadi A’merena will be doing burlesque among a number of other great acts. Grab your tickets here.

If you’re up for a little bit of a road trip, Monticello has a David Bowie tribute night where the funds go to support the Youth & Schools Program at OutFront. More info (although what else do you need?!) and tickets are available here. This event takes place on March 31st.

March is not going out quietly as LAYNE is joined by Abisha Uhl and some other LGBTQ+ women you might recognize at Amsterdam Bar. It’s going to be a really fun, and you can grab your ticket to rock out here.

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, Marcel Michelle Mobama and Blaze Bordeaux 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’s Arts Calendar. Please submit events to 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: Iowa community wants LGBTQ-themed books banned


Conservative Christians in Orange City are outraged that the public library lends books with LGBTQ themes, the Des Moines Register reports:

More than 300 people have signed a petition to either ban or label and group materials related to homosexual and transgender content in the Orange City Public Library.
Rev. Sacha Walicord of Grace Reformed Presbyterian Church rose before an overflow crowd of more than 100 at the Orange City Public Library Board of Trustees meeting Tuesday and said that LBGTQ books and other library content are “pushing an agenda” that is counter to those in the faith community.
“We won’t roll over,” he said. “We will stand up and we will fight.”
Others defended the selections, saying that a library is a place of diverse ideas and that library patrons are free to choose what to view or ignore.
“No one is putting a gun to anyone’s head,” said Sue Kroesche, former director of Orange City Public Library.
The controversy erupted in one of Iowa’s most conservative Republican counties in northwest Iowa after somebody filed a statement of concern to the library about a book on its shelves that featured LGBTQ content. Library director Amanda Vazquez said the complaint was rescinded after the person discovered it had kindled a firestorm.
But a flier was distributed door to door throughout Orange City last weekend that denounced such materials along with a petition document and call to attend Tuesday’s board meeting. The flier said that the library was distributing “homosexual/transgender promoting materials … some aimed at pre-K kids, using your tax dollars!”

The Globe Gazette has more:

Some Orange City residents are petitioning the public library to separate materials that deal primarily with lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning — or LGBTQ — themes, as well as to halt any new such acquisitions without public input.
Others say they support the library’s integration of such materials, even if they don’t personally endorse the content.
Both sides aired their views during a packed meeting of the Orange City Public Library Board of Trustees meeting this week. Nearly 20 people spoke, with about half supporting the inclusion of the books and nearly as many others sharing reservations.
“As a congregation, I would have to say we are shocked that tax money is being used to push this agenda even further,” said the Rev. Sacha Walicord, pastor of Grace Reformed Presbyterian Church. “As pastors, we have been silent for far too long. We have rolled over for far too long. This ends now.”
Resident Mike Goll said it means volumes to LGBTQ youth in the community to see characters like them in books they read.
“There are gay kids, there are trans kids in this town, and seeing their faces and seeing their lives mirrored in some of the books here means everything,” he said.

Conservative Christians are suing the City of De Pere after that municipality passed a ban on discrimination based on gender identity, Courthouse News reports:

Five churches and a Christian radio station sued a Wisconsin city, claiming its recently passed nondiscrimination ordinance protecting transgender residents should not apply to them.
De Pere, Wisconsin, passed the ordinance last November, prohibiting employers, businesses and landlords from discriminating against people on the basis of gender identity and sexual orientation.
The Green Bay suburb was sued Thursday in Brown County Circuit Court by Hope Lutheran Church, Crosspoint Church, Destiny Church, St. Mark Lutheran Church, Christ the Rock Church and Christian broadcaster Lakeshore Communications Inc. aka Q90fm.
Represented by Wisconsin attorney Heidi Miller and Matthew McReynolds of the California-based Pacific Justice Institute, the churches and radio station argue the ordinance violates their constitutional right to run faith-based ministries and businesses because allowing people who contradict their beliefs to use their facilities goes against the reason the facilities exist.
“Unlike many of its counterparts in other state, local and federal law, the De Pere ordinance does not clearly exempt religious organizations. Nor has the city been willing to assure religious institutions that they will not be subjected to the ordinance when it takes effect March 1, 2018,” the 24-page lawsuit states. “As a result, the ordinance is likely to be imposed on churches and other religious organizations in a manner that would mandate government orthodoxy in core religious functions, communication and conduct.”

A new scholarship has been created to lure more LGBTQ folks into the healthcare industry, Patch reports:

Healthcare organizations such as Aurora, Froedtert, and the Medical College of Wisconsin are making concerted efforts to guarantee appropriate care for people who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, or queer.
Despite advances in culturally-competent care, Wisconsin LGBT Chamber President and Founder Jason Rae says that many people who are LGBTQ have historically been concerned about discrimination in the doctor’s office and spend a lot of time looking for allies in the healthcare industry.
“People really want to find a provider who supports them being themselves, and to be open and honest from the start,” he said. “For example, people who are transsexual are much more likely to face discrimination from their doctor.”
To support more LGBTQ medical health practitioners and staff, Rae’s organization, the Wisconsin LGBT Chamber of Commerce and Herzing University-Brookfield have partnered on a new scholarship for LGBT individuals working in the healthcare industry.
Rae said the Pride in Healthcare scholarship was created to open up new possibilities for members of the Milwaukee area LGBT community to pursue and advance careers in healthcare while supporting members of the LGBT population through routine and critical care.

Madison’s public schools are installing gender inclusive restrooms, the Wisconsin State Journal reports:

Every Madison School District building soon will have at least one easily accessible, single-stall, public bathroom open to students of all genders under a district-wide project now nearing completion, district officials said.
“This is just good to do for all people but it really is going to be essential for some of our kids,” said Sherie Hohs, the district’s social worker for LGBTQ students and project co-coordinator with school operations chef Karen Kepler. “It’s a big deal. It’s something we’re proud of.”
Within a few months, all 48 regular district schools will have a specially designated all-gender bathroom, as will the rented or owned space where alternative education programs are based and district headquarters. Only a “handful” of bathroom projects remain, Kepler said.
The effort, begun about a year ago, also includes staff training and development of a student video. Similar to family or all-access bathrooms at a store, the all-gender bathrooms can be used by any students, visitors or family groups, such as a mother with small children with her.
“We’re just trying to normalize it,” said Hohs, who works with district students who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or questioning. “It’s like going to a coffee shop, but we’re being very intentional with the language around it, that this is for all genders.”

Pawlenty to headline anti-LGBTQ fundraiser


Former Gov. Tim Pawlenty, who has yet to announce a run for governor despite assembling a campaign infrastructure, is slated to headline the annual fundraiser for the anti-LGBTQ Minnesota Family Council. It’s his third appearance at the organization’s annual fundraising event.

Pawlenty will be the headliner at the April 20th annual dinner fundraiser at the Minneapolis Hilton. This will not be Pawlenty’s first time at the Minnesota Family Council’s annual dinner — or even his second. Pawlenty joined Newt Gingrich and Michele Bachmann for a 2011 dinner as the trio of presidential contenders vied for support from conservative Christians. In 2004, Pawlenty sent a video message to the group’s fundraiser praising its anti-LGBTQ activism.

“The Minnesota Family Council is doing a great job working for our families,” Pawlenty said at that event. “I have appreciated working personally with the Family Council both as a legislator and now as governor. Minnesota has many social and family challenges. Right now we need to be especially focused on the effort to protect marriage. I encourage everyone to keep working for our shared values.”

The Minnesota Family Council has a long history of anti-LGBTQ activism dating back to the early 1980s when MFC started as the Berean League, a group of conservative Christians that banded together to advocate for laws that criminalize lesbian, gay, and bisexual Minnesotans. In recent years, the group has come under criticism for publishing information about LGBTQ people that is untruthful including claims that “homosexuals” are more likely to be pedophiles, and are more likely to engage in sex with animals. These statements are not only false, but have been historically used to perpetuate violence against LGBTQ people.

Over the last year, the group has been active in opposing school policies that seek to create an inclusive environment for transgender students.

Past attendees of the Minnesota Family Council annual dinner include Mike Huckabee, the Benham brothers, Gary Bauer, and Ben Carson.

Gadfly Theatre presents the Children’s Play


Gadfly Theatre Productions is bringing the Children’s Play to the Phoenix Theater on Friday, March 2. Created by Sami Pfeffer, the play follows a being called Prince of Oceans and their interactions with the Girl, the Fool, and the Hideous Monster — each of which embody symptoms of mental health.

“These four main characters explore a strange, bleak world on a confusing and ultimately irrelevant quest,” the press package for the play states. It “inspired by eclectic art forms like mime, commedia dell’arte, dance, and puppetry.”

The Children’s Play is “art created for, by, and with queer, trans, and non-binary people,” Gadfly promises. “This important work features a transgender or otherwise non-binary cast of brilliant actors and movement artists ready to take you on an unexpected journey… that explores gender, trauma, mental illness, and identity around a loose and whimsical narrative.”

Included in the production are Director Immanuel Elliott, Stage Manager Dustin Bailey, and features Khadija Siddiqui, Addison Sharpe, Ming Hsu, Ally Van Siclen, Ari Shapiro, and Riley Jay Davis.

Though the shows name evokes a family-friendly atmosphere, the play is not intended exclusively for children.

​The play will be at the Phoenix Theater on March 2-4th and 9-11th. All shows at 7:30 PM except Sunday matinees, which are at 3:00 PM. Tickets to The Children’s Play are $15 in advance and $20 at the door for a regular show, and features two Pay-What-You-Can performances on Sunday matinees. Please e-mail for more ticket information or visit their website or Brown Paper Tickets page.