Three people unfurl a large rainbow flag at the Twin Cities Pride festival

14 Ways to Support and Celebrate the LGBTQ+ Community in Minnesota

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Twin Cities Pride 2022 / James Perovich, Courtesy of Meet Minneapolis
LGBTQ+ // Things to Do // Article

14 Ways to Support and Celebrate the LGBTQ+ Community in Minnesota

By Ever Meister

While Forbes ranked Minnesota among the top three states in America for gay travelers recently, the Star of the North has long been a leader for gay, lesbian, bisexual and trans equality.

Pride Beer Dabbler 2023

Pride Beer Dabbler 2023 / James Perovich, courtesy of Meet Minneapolis

A gay couple in Minneapolis filed the country’s first same-sex marriage suit in 1970, and the city passed the first non-discrimination ordinance in 1975. Minnesota was also one of the first states to allow trans and non-binary residents to use an “X” as a gender marker on driver’s licenses in 2018, and in 2023, Governor Tim Walz signed a bill establishing Minnesota as a refuge state for transgender people who face legal persecution for seeking gender-affirming medical care.

In terms of major events, the annual Twin Cities Pride parade — and related events like the annual Pride Beer Dabbler — is a joyous celebration that draws nearly 400,000 people, making it the second-largest festival in the state. Savvy ‘sotans know you don’t have to wait until June to be out and proud (or to support as an ally), though. Here are 14 of our favorite ways to celebrate the Twin Cities’ LGBTQ+ community.

  1. Grab a drink on game day
    Megan Rapinoe at Black Hart of Saint Paul

    Megan Rapinoe at Black Hart of Saint Paul

    Grab a drink on game day

    Queer footie bar The Black Hart often sees crowds of United fans pour in for a post-game pint and stay for a drag show or karaoke. (U.S. Women's National Team star Megan Rapinoe even stopped by while she was in town for a friendly match against South Korea.)

    While not necessarily LGBTQ+ centric, A Bar of Their Own is the Cities’ first bar that shows exclusively women’s sports and draws a diverse, family-friendly crowd.

    Not the sporty type? There are plenty of watering holes of all stripes: Find your crowd at EagleBolt, The Saloon, Camp Bar and Cabaret, The Brass Rail and Gay 90s.

  2. Watch a Team Trans game
    Team Trans Twin Cities

    Team Trans Twin Cities

    Watch a Team Trans game

    More than 100 players hit the ice every year in Minnesota’s chapter of Team Trans, an international hockey organization for athletes with trans and nonbinary identities. The local team features an intergenerational lineup from 18-year-olds to quinquagenarians whose scrimmages are determined by skill level. Fill our your own new player registration form here.

    If hockey’s not your thing, try kickball with Stonewall Sports Twin Cities, flag football with the Minnesota Gay Flag Football League, or get bucking with the North Star Gay Rodeo Association.

  3. Catch an iconic drag show
    Pride Pokemon drag brunch Union rooftop Minneapolis

    A Pokemon-themed drag brunch at Union Restaurant / Darin Kamnetz for Flip Phone Events

    Catch an iconic drag show

    Grab a table (and bottomless mimosas) at LUSH on Saturday mornings to watch one of Minneapolis’ most beloved drag performances. The weekly event is all-ages, too, so the whole family can watch in awe. Flip Phone Events also hosts brunch shows at a variety of venues, as well as nighttime parties and performances around town.

    If brunch isn’t your bag, try Drag Bingo at Nicollet Diner (and raise funds for local orgs in the process) or attend a drag story hour hosted by Viva La Pepa.

  4. Join the (queer) circus
    Queer Circus MN

    Queer Circus MN / Kayla Hammell

    Join the (queer) circus

    What could be better than a night of magic, flying fairies, and belly dancing? Well, it helps when the cast is as gay as a party. Every third Saturday, Queer Circus MN's marvelous motley crew graces the stage at Can Can Wonderland.

  5. Bask in nature’s beauty
    Urban Bird Collective

    Urban Bird Collective

    Bask in nature’s beauty

    The Urban Bird Collective was founded in 2018 to create inclusive opportunities for birding amongst the Black, Indigenous, people of color and LGBTQ+ communities. All while exploring nature, learning about conservation, and building strong bonds in the great outdoors.

  6. Support LGBTQ+ youth
    QUEERSPACE Collective

    QUEERSPACE Collective

    Support LGBTQ+ youth

    Studies show that fewer than 1 in 3 nonbinary and/or transgender youth feel gender-affirmed at home. The Minneapolis-based QUEERSPACE Collective pairs queer, nonbinary and trans young people between the ages of 12 and 17 with queer elders (25+) to offer friendship, allyship, role models, and peer socialization that can help them navigate coming of age. Mentor/mentee pairs get together monthly for group hangouts or 1-on-1 quality time over the course of a year.

  7. Bust a move
    Grrrl Scout dance party

    Grrrl Scout

    Bust a move

    Grrrl Scout is a queer, trans-owned event production company that's been helping LGBTQ+ folks stay up too late with its pop-up dance party since 2013. DJs, dancers and other special events make these some of the local scene’s favorite hangs.

  1. Celebrate Indigenous culture
    Celebrate Indigenous culture

    For many Native people, “two spirit” identity describes not simply someone who is LGBTQ+, but it can also mean folks who fill gender-variant, and often spiritual, roles in the tribal community. This year’s Two Spirit (2S) Pow Wow is presented by New Native Theatre on July 13. Open to the public, it will showcase the dance, music, culture, history and vibrant influence two-spirit folks have in the Indigenous community.

  2. Meet your new favorite writer
    Christopher Straub's Albert the Confused Manatee book and plush toys

    Christopher Straub's "Albert the Confused Manatee" book and plush toys

    Meet your new favorite writer

    A free annual event hosted by Twin Cities Pride, the Queer Writes Book Fair showcases LGBTQ+ authors, publishers, booksellers, zine makers, artists and more. Browse new and used books, buy stickers and original art, and support local writers all across the queer spectrum, including special guests like "Project Runway" contestant-turned-children's book author Christopher Straub. 

  3. Visit or volunteer at Quatrefoil
    Quatrefoil Library welcomes members of East Side Freedom Library

    Quatrefoil welcomes members of East Side Freedom Library 

    Visit or volunteer at Quatrefoil

    This incredible collection of queer media started in a closet — and the irony there isn’t lost on the local LGBTQ+ community. Patrons can now browse more than 15,000 books, magazines and DVDs. Can’t get to the archive in person? Quatrefoil members can access the Q Digital collection via the Libby app.

  4. Support the underground scene
    A pile of indie publications from Twin Cities Zine Fest

    A pile of indie publications from Twin Cities Zine Fest  / Walker Art Center

    Support the underground scene

    Twin Cities Zine Fest — now in its 20th year — isn’t specifically queer, but it is definitely queer. Zines are intentionally DIY, scrappy, noncommercial and independently made (like many of our queer community members), and they are a beautiful, raw form of artistic self-expression. Personal stories, educational materials, calls to activism and local guides abound at the annual gathering, which the Walker Center recently discussed in its Design Lecture Series

  5. Get inked
    BlackEnd Tattoo Atelier

    BlackEnd Tattoo Ateliér

    Get inked

    BlackEnd Tattoo Ateliér is a queer-owned shop in south Minneapolis that features a diverse group of artists whose styles range from colorful cartoons to delicate line work to realistic portraiture. Whether you’re looking to make a custom design permanent, get a lover’s name inscribed (or covered up), or have another meaningful idea for body art, BlackEnd is the place.

  6. Take an open tango lesson
    Miriam Lea tango dancing

    Following the lead of Miriam Lea 

    Take an open tango lesson

    They say it takes two, and isn’t it better to know you can dance with whomever you like? Minneapolis dance instructor Miriam Lea provides bootcamp-style lessons in this classic Argentine dance form while upending the traditional gender-based roles (who leads, who follows).

  7. Keep it cultured
    "4Play With Threshold Theater" at Bryant Lake Bowl

    "4Play With Threshold Theater" at Bryant Lake Bowl

    Keep it cultured

    Threshold Theater gives a microphone (or at least a black-box theater like Bryant Lake Bowl) to writers, actors and artists who are creating live stage shows with a fresh take on queer life. The LGBTQ+ production company's ongoing play-reading series offers an intimate look at some of the artistic processes involved in creating theater.

    Find out more about Minnesota's theater scene

Ever Meister

Ever Meister is a writer and editor who lives in St. Paul. They have written extensively about coffee as well as outdoor recreation, food and cooking, music, film, culture and more. Their favorite lake in the Cities is Cedar.