Minnesota Pride celebrates and continues the momentum of the Stonewall Riots
Fifty years ago the LGBTQIA movement pushed forward with the Stonewall Riots. On June 28, 1969, the riots began when patrons of a gay bar revolted against a police raid at the Stonewall Inn in New York. The police persecuted patrons for non-gender conforming attire and homosexual behavior. It is considered the start of liberation. This year, we celebrate the heroes of Stonewall and recognize that the liberation is not complete and we need to keep fighting to ensure progress, especially in today’s political climate.
More than 300,000 people came out to the Pride event, which included two days of events at Loring Park - booths, live music, drag shows, music lessons and lots of basking in the sun. And a Friday night of music and more drag at the Bryant Lake Bowl block party concert and various connected events across the Twin Cities.
So many rainbows and people from all walks of life – all colors, genders, ages coming from near and far. Gorgeous drag queens, close to seven feet tall with heels and bouffant hairdos. Furies walking around under the hot midday sun. Families with small children and plenty of moms and dads offering “free mom/dad hugs” according to their t-shirts. The booths ranged widely too: one church handing out “not all Christians are assholes” stickers, a huge photo opportunity from Target, a random karaoke opportunity from the Gay Men’s Chorus and a range of things for sale. Some mentionable, some not.
There was music all around the park - punk, Americana, R&B, and everything in between. The Bryant Lake Bowl featured Venus DeMars, Genital Panic (led by Tina Schlieske) and Static Panic, an emerging electronic dance band and Dykes Do Drag, which featured some of the most Minnesotan drag you will ever see.
Attendees spoke about feeling at home, feeling supported and feeling like the harsher world of today’s conservative politics were drowned out – for a weekend. Older generations could look with pride at younger generations who have more choices and opportunities to be themselves because of the work done at Stonewall and at home.
Amidst the revelry, there were reminders that our job is not done. The parade on Sunday opened with a 30 foot banner that read – Stonewall. People marched for Black lives, Trans lives, immigrants and others left behind. They carried posters for loved ones (known and unknown) who had been killed for simply being themselves. Friday night Venus DeMars remembered Stonewall and the efforts of her community. Tina Schlieske reminded us to mobilize for 2020 to keep and extend human rights.
It was a good time, an important event and a reason to get folks fired up for more action!