June is the one month a year when the spotlight is on LGBTQIA+ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, questioning/queer, intersex, and asexual/aromantic/agender) people. Corporations deck themselves out in rainbows, parades flood the streets of every major city, and folks get together in droves to celebrate their diverse sexualities and genders. Pride month is always a time of celebration, but it’s important to remember Pride’s roots, lest history repeat itself.

Pride celebrations typically take place in June to recognize New York City’s Stonewall riots of 1969, widely considered the tipping point for the modern LGBTQIA+ rights movement. These riots took place at the Stonewall Inn, a gathering place for LGBTQIA+ people and a target of frequent police raids. They began on June 28 and lasted until July 1. Bricks were thrown, dresses were torn, and LGBTQIA+ people decided to stop living in shame and silence.  

Unfortunately, things still aren’t always safe for LGBTQIA+ people. It’s still legal for workplaces, landlords, and businesses to refuse jobs, homes, and services to people because of their sexuality or gender in many states, and people, trans women of color especially, are still being brutally assaulted and murdered throughout the country.  

Home-grown Pride

In short, things are still rough. But if there’s one thing the LGBTQIA+ community does well, it’s resistance, and they’re coming back stronger than ever with a sparkly, sparkly vengeance. Southeast Minnesota Diversity Services (previously the Gay & Lesbian Community Services) had to cancel the 2018 Pridefest due to a lack of volunteers, funding, and a transition in leadership. Many in the community were  disappointed that the annual festival would not be held this year.  

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Fortunately, Rochester Public Library (RPL) stepped up to the plate just as Rochester drag queen Allota Shots stepped up to throw the first pitch at a recent Honkers game. RPL’s "Celebrate Pride" eventwill be held on Saturday, July 21 from 10 a.m. to noon on the patio in front of the library. All are welcome to join in a dance party, check out books either from the BookBike or library, create art, and celebrate LGBTQIA+ identities. There will also be a Pride-themed storytime indoors at 10:30 a.m. Peace United Church of Christ will hold a Pride-themed potluckfrom noon to 3 p.m. on their front lawn, so you can easily travel from one event to the other.  

The other events previously scheduled for Pride will still occur. Dragagonza, the annual Pride drag show, is Friday, July 20 at the Rochester International Events Center. The Rochester Girls, a group of queens from the community, will perform to music by DJ Keez. The event is 18+, and there is a cover charge of $10; doors open at 6:30 but the show doesn’t start until 8 p.m., so there’s plenty of time to mingle and meet some of the queens.

RPL’s Pride Prom, a queer dance, will return for its fourth year with the theme "Rebel With A Cause," described by the planning committee as "the ‘50s, but without the racism." This event on Friday is open to teens in grades 7-12, and a school or state ID is required for proof of age.  

Stay proud, everyone, and celebrate love always!

If your pride weekend starts Thursday, consider attending "Biological Sex and the Pathologization of Transgender People,"a lecture hosted by the LGBTI Mayo Employee Resource Group from 5 to 6 p.m. July 19.  

Queer Dance Partyis returning to Canvas and Chardonnay at 7 p.m. Monday, July 23. There will be a vinyl DJ, go-go boys, gay artists, and a cash bar.  

Rochester Public Library offers many meetups for people in various areas of the LGBTQIA+ community. For teens, there’s q club, a weekly meetup with activities at 4 p.m. on Thursdays. Parents of LGBTQIA+ kids meet at Parents Empower Prideat 7 p.m. the third Tuesday of every month.  

TransForming Families hosts a family picnicon August 4.  

Southern Minnesota Transgender Support also hosts a meetup for genderqueer and non-binary folksat the library at 6:30 p.m. the first Thursday of each month.