I attended my first Pride celebration in Minneapolis in 1992 just before starting law school at the University of Minnesota. Then, I thought of it more as an act of defiance than a celebration. I had just come out to my friends from college and my immediate family members in Ohio before moving to Minneapolis to start a new life with the intention that I would not hide my identity from anyone anymore. I marched in the Pride parade that year to be seen and to be counted. The event drew people from all over the Midwest. The City’s official crowd count was approximately 50,000 people, only a tenth the size of what it draws today, but still one of the largest in the nation at the time.
I rushed downstairs the next morning to see how it had been covered by the local paper. After flipping through page after page of large colorful photographs of the Swedish festival that had taken place that weekend (with only a small fraction of the number of people), I finally found it – a one-paragraph description next to a 2”x3” black & white photo captioned, “A drag queen hands out condoms at Pride.” I was furious. Yes, drag queens are absolutely an important part of our community and are in fact often credited with having ignited the LGBTQ+ movement itself, and yes, HIV awareness was even more important to our community in 1992 than perhaps it is today. But that small black & white photo at the very back of the cultural events section of the paper was the single representation the local paper chose to include? To say the least, the paper’s coverage of our enormously colorful and diverse community that had come together that weekend to show not just Minneapolis, but the entire nation that we exist, that we are your family members, your co-workers, your friends and your neighbors was woefully inadequate. I did not feel seen or counted. Continue reading “Something To Be Proud Of”