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Welcome to Thecolu.mn!

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column smallTheColu.mn is a new media presence being created by a collaboration of folks who feel that there is a lack of solid, hard-hitting coverage of events that affect lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender communities. TheColu.mn also feels there is a void to be filled with the stories of diverse communities and their continued struggles, biographies of the passionate people dedicating their lives toward a change for the better, and anecdotes from our shared, unique culture.

Right now TheColu.mn is a website, but in the future we hope to offer more.

TheColu.mn is being developed in a social entrepreneurial model of civic journalism. The reader helps drive the content and many times will create the content themselves. Our mission is to remain responsive to the community and to do our best to reflect all of LGBT society in Minnesota. That mission is reflected in our tagline, “LGBT Society Now!”

The Colu.mn is dedicated to covering politics, nightlife, sports, culture and community events. How do you know which candidates support transgender issues? We will ask them. Are you looking for an opportunity to play gay rugby, hockey, soccer or softball? We’ll tell you about it. What’s the best place for queer women to meet other queer women? We’ll have that too. Did you miss the most recent fundraiser your favorite AIDS charity? Don’t worry, we were there.

You are a member from the start just by having an interest in the LGBT community and the people, issues, events, businesses and programs that come together to make our great society. The Colu.mn is for you!  To get involved simply contact us at contact@thecolu.mn.  Let your voices be heard and your events go noticed!

Look for us at Twin Cities Pride in the Quorum Villiage or find our list of featured Pride week events around town.

Pine City Pride endures despite rival ‘family values’ event

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pinecitygaysThe national debate about gay rights hit home in the small community of Pine City, Minn., on Sunday as residents hosted two dueling picnics in the city of 3,000 people. For the fifth year, lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people from east-central Minnesota gathered to celebrate family and community. And for the second year, their neighbors organized a picnic just blocks away opposing gay rights and promoting “family values.”

Several hundred LGBT Minnesotans arrived for food and live music at the VFW hall at Voyageur Park in the north end of town. The theme, “We Are Family,” was a nod to the notion that LGBT people are part of the fabric of the larger Pine City community.

“A family is not only one of inclusion, but of values of hard work, respect for others, love and commitment, along with a sense of belonging to the greater community of East Central Minnesota,” said Don Quaintance one of the picnic organizers.

The event, Pine City Pride, is one of only two known rural LGBT pride events in the country, serving as an important networking and community-building opportunity for LGBT people living in rural Minnesota.

This year same-sex marriage was the hot topic as four states, including Iowa to the south, have made same-sex marriage legal. OutFront Minnesota was at the picnic providing education on — and gathering support for — a campaign to bring marriage equality to Minnesota within the next three years, by which time the state will have a new governor; only days earlier Gov. Tim Pawlenty, who had stymied many efforts to pass LGBT legislation, announced he would not be running again.

“There’s going to be a lot of changes in Minnesota,” said Sen. Rick Olseen, a DFLer who represents the district. “It’s time to be really active and support a governor that supports equality.”

An early-announced candidate to replace Pawlenty on the DFL ticket, Sen. John Marty gave a rousing speech.

Marty said he’s fighting for full marriage rights for same-sex couples, and nothing less — such as civil unions — would be acceptable.

“I don’t care what [Rep.] Michele Bachmann and her ilk like to call it. We call it gay marriage,” said Marty. “I don’t want to tell anyone else what to call their relationship… A same-sex marriage is not hurting anybody else. And that’s one of the reasons I’m running for governor.”

He added that it took “hateful people like Michele Bachmann” to rally Minnesotans against the LGBT community.

Only four blocks away in Robinson Park, a “pro-family picnic” was being held in response to Pine City Pride.

“The GLBT picnic is being brought in by groups from around the state. If you go to their Facebook group, you can find people asking to be bused in from Minneapolis,” said Abe Mach, pro-family picnic organizer and director of the Pine City Republicans. “These aren’t the values of our community, and we want to make that clear. We do not want to this to become the defining event of our city.”

Mach said on a Facebook page for the event that he sees the LGBT picnic as an assault on Pine City families.

“The attack on traditional family values is coming from radical homosexuals desiring to introduce their lifestyle to kids in order present an alternative to the natural heterosexual lifestyles they are born into,” he told critics. “We simply want to be able to protect our children and families from what we believe to be a negative influence.”

Despite the invective, the pro-family picnic was a subdued affair. Children sang gospel songs and at least one politician spoke.

Rudy Takala, a Republican running for the State House district around Pine City, urged attendees to send letters to their elected officials opposing rights for same-sex couples.

“We can make them fear this time of year if we send them letters,” he said.

A lone pro-family activist made his way over to the LGBT event. He wielded a large sign that read, “Where will you spend eternity? With God or Satan?” and shouted Bible verses at the crowd.

Sen. Marty acknowledged the detractors.

“We aren’t going to allow their hate to ruin our day. This is the pro-family picnic, not the one on the other side,” he said. “I’m glad to stand with you on this bitterly cold June day. It’s a cold day, but there are a lot of warm hearts. Thanks you for standing up for your community in Pine City.”

Written by Andy Birkey

Youth Pride!

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I dropped by Youth Pride event in Loring Park last Thursday. Around 100 LGBTA kids — and even a few parents — milled about Loring Park, listening to their peers sing and perform.

After shooting a group of kids from St Louis Park, I fell into a a conversation with one kid’s mother. “That one girl,” she said, point across the crowd. “The one who’s dancing with my daughter. She came all the way from St Paul, without knowing anybody here, and she’s been making a whole bunch of friends.”

“For some kids here, this is one of a few chances where they can really be themselves.”

Wrestling for Everyone

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buttGays in competitive wrestling can be a rather –uh– touchy subject for some men.  One of Jason Lindquist’s friends found this out the hard way when he tried to join a new wrestling league – when the organizer found out that some of the guys trying to join were gay, he canceled the league.  In response, Lindquist said, his friend (who did not want his name used in this story) decided to start a new league, with Lindquist’s help, that would be open to all wrestlers regardless of sexual or gender identity.

So far, no one has made any porn jokes, Lindquist wrote in an email but he and his co-organizer were at pains that the league not appear to be a venue for sexual encounters.  “We tried to make the website and the craigslist posting very clear,” he wrote, “that our goal is to provide a safe space for wrestling with mutual respect between all members.”

Lindquist said he started wrestling in high school, 20 years ago.  “I really love the competition and the struggle,” he wrote. “It’s a game of strategy as well as strength.  I like that competitors are evenly matched, so it’s not a ‘whoever is bigger wins’ kind of situation, and wrestlers of all sizes can participate.”

The league, tentatively called “Minneapolis Wrestlers,” is still in its formative stages, Lindquist said in an email, with the first informal meeting scheduled for June 30th, at 8pm at the 19 Bar in Minneapolis’ Loring Park neighborhood.  But already, Lindquist wrote, there are 23 gay and straight men interested, with a wide range of heights and weights.

James Sanna is a staff writer

ST. CLOUD PRIDE FLAG MISSING, FACEBOOK FANATICS SUSPECTED

It’s GLBT History Month in America, and St. Cloud State University decided to fly a rainbow flag to honor that. Someone thought it was a very, very bad thing and stole it. The AP says it may have been members of a SCSU Facebook group called “Remove the GLBT Flag,” but they don’t have any proof. I looked, the group doesn’t exist anymore.

Meanwhile, readers of the St. Cloud Times reveal why we really do need to be frightened of a Michele Bachmann win in the 6th Congressional District. Here are a few choice examples of “Minnesota Nice” from the comments on this story:

“Gay-Lesbian-Bisexual-Transgendered-and-Allies History and Awareness Month”. I hope this includes the teachings of Leviticus and the story of Sodom and Gomorrah. I am guessing probably not.

*** and why do they feel a need to constantly cram this down my throat? I do not go out of may way to infrom them of my bedroom activity…this is ridiculous!

*** it is not about being close-minded. Be as gay as you want to be, just SHUT UP about it. Who cares whose gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, or an ally of any or all. Do hetrosexuals(sp?) have a flag that states there sexual preference? NO!!! The only flags that should be flown at a STATE university are the U.S. Flag, the STATE flag and the SCHOOL flag(if they have one).

*** [And here’s my favorite..these calculations show some true insight into the minds of these folks…] Which Group is the Minority — GLBTQQA or WMHCC? GLBTQQA calculations: presume ten percent of the population is either Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Questioning, or Allied individuals.

WMHCC calculations based on the following presumptions:

70% white 50% male 90% heterosexual 30% conservative 50% active Christian

.7 x .5 x .9 x .3 x .5 = .04725

So less than five percent of the population are white, male, heterosexual, conservative, Christians.

It seems as if the WMHCC is more of a minority group than the GLBTQQA. When is SCSU going to fund WMHCC and will they hoist a WMHCC flag soon?

[by that logic. 50% vote for Bachmann, 50% are Christian, 50% are conservative, 75% are white, only 9.4% are white christian conservative Bachmann voters. It’s a dream world when we use bigot logic.]

WISCONSIN RESTAURANT BRAWL OVER ANTI-SAME-SEX MARRIAGE AMENDMENT

Diners at a Wauwatosa, Wisconsin restaurant were discussing same-sex marriage on Monday evening when a homophobe got violent and assaulted 3 people.

Then the argument got physical. Surveillance video shows the man, who had just joined the debate. He throws “Jorryn” down to the floor and then punches another customer. The suspect continued yelling, throwing chairs and punching people.

He walked out of the restaurant with some restaurant patrons thinking he was going to get a weapon. He returned to the restaurant, not with a gun, but throwing ketchup bottles and anything else he could get his hands on and then he left.

It’s been five days and noone has yet been arrested in the case, despite video surveillance of the restuarant. Wisconsin LGBT leaders are asking for the case to be identified as a hate crime.

DADT PROTEST

Since ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ was adopted, over 11,000 servicemembers have been discharged as suspected or actual LGBT people. That number includes a number of gay Arabic language experts, the kind of experts that could be valuable in the search for terrorists. As AmericaBlog put it last week, “to the Republicans running our government, finding gays is more important than finding Osama.”

The most recent discharge of a gay Arabic-speaking servicemember seems to have violated the ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ policy:

Anonymous messages about the sergeant’s private life had led to an eight-month investigation. Among other things, he was asked whether he knew any homosexuals – who doesn’t? – and whether he was involved in community theater – which the Army apparently considers a sure-fire sign of deviance, despite the fact that armies of straight guys have joined such groups in search of comely female companionship.

While military service might not be the first choice for many LGBT people, it has important advantages to people who might not have the choice to seek higher education. Or for folks who simply want to serve their country. But when other countries have LGBT people serving openly with success, why doesn’t the United States?

“It’s like what Churchill said about democracy – it’s the worst system possible, except for all the other ones,” said Charles Moskos, a military sociologist at Northwestern University who helped craft the policy and coined the phrase “don’t ask, don’t tell.” But, Moskos said, allowing openly gay service members would hurt the morale of the military rank-and-file and make many recruits uncomfortable.

Our soldiers are comfortable enough to shoot and kill enemy combatants, endure rigorous physical tests during basic training or witness the grotesque scenes of war, but simply can’t stomach having an openly gay or lesbian person serving alongside them? Please, please shut it, Mr. Moskos. That’s bullshit.

What can we do locally to protest DADT and bring an end to the discharges of LGBT troops or enable openly LGBT people to sign up for service? Soulforce’s Jake Reitan invites folks to participate in this event on Wednesday:

“In May, Haven Herrin, Ezekiel Montgomery, Briget Schwarting, and Jacob Reitan tried to sign up for the Minnesota National Guard as openly gay people. After going through the appeal process they were each denied the Right to Serve. On Wednesday August 16th young adults from across Minnesota are going to return to the National Guard recruitment center that denied them to begin a sit-in. I want you to sit-in with us. Help us send a message that openly gay people deserve the right to serve.

You can register for the sit-in here.

Together, we can point out to the people of Minnesota the absurdity of ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.'”

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

11:00am – 5:00pm

Minnesota National Guard Recruitment Center

211 N. McCarron Blvd

St. Paul, MN

TWIN CITIES TAXI CAB HOMOPHOBIA

MNspeak poster, go team!, got kicked out of a cab for making out with his boyfriend, and then again a few minutes later in another cab. And it’shappened to other gays before. Has this happened to anyone you know? Is it time for a “Kiss In” night in Twin Cities cabs?

WHY WAS PRIDE SO BORING?

The Twin Cities Pride Festival was chock full of corporate goodness. Big box retailers, insurance companies, real estate agents, radio stations, etc. I didn’t see the parade, but I can only assume it was hours of advertising for companies who ‘support’ the GLBT community.

The Star Tribune in the past week has printed to articles about Pride and it’s corporatization. In “Gay pride parade an attractive marketplace for businesses”, the Strib interviews some gays to ask what they think of the Pride Parade. Each one seems happy that each year there are fewer drag queens and naked guys in barrels (Naked Minnesota), or less of the ‘silly glitter element’ as Kirby Moore is quoted as saying. Apparently, a boring GLBT Pride is okay for some folks, probably the same type of people that think theCastro, the center of sexual liberation, should be child friendly.

Claude Peck and Rick Nelson banter back and forth in “Withering Glance: The Twin Cities GLBT Pride Festival” about the absolute dullness of Twin Cities Pride suggesting maybe we should call it “Twin Cities GLBT Marketing Opportunity.” Where are the strange, sexy, outrageous, and fabulous elements of our community?

Claude says, “Gays and lesbians kvetch that the news media focus only on drag queens and Dykes on Bikes in covering the parade. But those are what are known as vibrant visuals. A phalanx of 75 people in matching Best Buy T-shirts does not exciting television make. Besides, weren’t drag queens and dykes the ones who got the whole late-June pride thing going in the first place?”

I’m pretty sure they were. But corporate sponsors don’t attach their names to butch, topless womyn on Harley Davidsons, or gaudy contingents of men in hag drag, or buff and tan 20 year olds in hot pants, or aging leather dadddies in harnesses. And the hetero (and gay) families that come down to see the “Gay Parade” would definitely pick up the phone and call to complain if they did.

Nevermind that the ‘glitter element’ might actually serve to educate people coming to our festival with an open mind, wanting to learn more about GLBT people and culture. Instead they get the message that GLBT people are exactly like them, except they spend a lot of money. The ‘glitter element’ is part of our history, and we should stop hiding it in favor of corporate sponsorship. Plus the ‘glitter element’ is fun. Twenty-five people wearing the same t-shirt is boring.

PENTAGON SAYS SORRY OVER CLASSIFYING GAYS AS SICK

Happy Pride Month! If you’re gay, the military no longer considers you mentally ill.

“Homosexuality should not have been characterized as a mental disorder in an appendix of a procedural instruction,” the Pentagon said in a statement on Wednesday. “A clarification will be issued over the next few days.” [365Gay.com]

That’s a great step. Kudos to the Pentagon for doing the right thing, something they don’t seem to be able to do much of lately.