Out With Clout

In corporations and churches, in classrooms and capital corridors, these 100 Queers have contributed to the "Good Life" in Minnesota.

Hanks, meanwhile, has cemented her reputation as an out grassroots organizer. "She's a solid thinker," says Ann DeGroot, executive director of OutFront Minnesota (formerly CLV/GLCAC). "Judy's always there when you need her."

Chris Hewitt

"It's my dream job," says Chris Hewitt of his work reviewing films for the Pioneer Press. As the paper's resident critic, he sits through five to 15 screenings per week. It's a position he's been prepping for since childhood: "My dad was always a big film fan," he says. "We'd go to four movies in a day, racing from theater to theater, eating a bologna sandwich in the car on the way."

But it was at age 12, while flipping through a New Yorker at the orthodontist's office, that Hewitt settled on a career as a reviewer: "I started reading Pauline Kael," he recalls. "And suddenly I knew why I liked films or hated films." Since 1993, he's been panning and praising pics at the PiPress. Thumbs up: Boogie Nights, Pulp Fiction, Hitchcock, and anything with Judy Davis. Thumbs down: Bruce Willis ("He's just a pig," Hewitt opines).

Gay-themed cinema has exploded in recent years, but Hewitt hasn't been wild about Wilde or enamored with In & Out. He cites The Celluloid Closet and The Life and Times of Harvey Milk as well-made gay flicks, but quickly adds: "I don't think the great one has been done yet." Kael would likely agree.

Dale Johnson

Dale Johnson just flew in from a whirlwind American talent search, jetting from Chicago to San Francisco to Austin without blinking. This is the agitato tempo of the Minnesota Opera's artistic director, an ideal job for the Libra who balances aesthetic inventions and economic realities with panache. During Johnson's 13-year tenure, the opera has experienced a nylon-jacket-to-mink-coat transformation. Opera is hot. No surprise, Johnson appreciates virtuoso flair from Bette Davis movies to single malt scotches. Still, his productions veer toward Calvin Klein simple rather than Gianni Versace grand. Besides the endless quest of scoring the perfect tenor, Johnson is helping craft the company's five-year strategic plan, which aims to boost its budget from $5 million to $8 million and hopes to make our civic champion a household name. True enough, Johnson's career hits the high notes. He names the opera's first production of Carmen and its recent staging of Transatlantic as hallucinogenic professional experiences. Even so, the farm boy from Canfield, Ohio, savors quiet times in the backyard, recollecting bygone days of baking communion bread with his grandmother, and playing around with Howard, his beloved pooch.

Mary Jo Kane

Growing up in Illinois, rough-n-tumble Mary Jo Kane often beat the boys at their own games. A self-described tomboy, Kane never shied from joining neighborhood pickup rounds of baseball, basketball, or football. She played it all -- until high school. "Suddenly, I wasn't supposed to play sports anymore," Kane recalls. "I was supposed to be a cheerleader."

Kane's long since packed away her pom-poms, though. In 1992, appropriately on the 20th anniversary of Title IX, that landmark federal legislation which began to level the playing field in female athletics, Kane helped launch the Tucker Center for Research on Girls and Women in Sports at the University of Minnesota. As the center's director, she's a media darling when it comes to the latest academic data on women's sports psychology, physiology, and policy. And Kane doesn't shy away from using the "L" word when talking to ESPN reporters or the Washington Post. "We look at the impact of sports in the lives of all women," Kane says. "Lesbian athletes, for example, might experience things differently."

Walking loops around Lake Nokomis helps keep Kane fit, but the sports sociologist says it's the non-physical aspects of recreation that most intrigue her: "The thing I love about sports is that it's so much more than people hitting a ball."

Kate Lehmann
Sara Moore

Teaming up a former circus clown and a public television producer to make a film may sound more like the plot of a Mel Brooks farce than a real-life situation, but for director-screenwriter Sara Moore and producer Kate Lehmann, it's a perfect match that resulted in the Minnesota-made Homo Heights. Now that the satiric film on gay life is making the rounds at film festivals in Seattle, San Francisco, and Australia, the two can't wait to start on their next project. "You learn so much the first time, it seems like a waste if you don't do it again," says Lehmann. So, Moore, who once clowned around in the circus and wrote for Merv Griffin in Atlantic City, is working on a second screenplay. Lehmann, who marshaled the national publicity campaign for the PBS broadcast of Hoop Dreams, will produce. In the meantime, Moore has put her creative talents towards the Drag Kings show at Bryant Lake Bowl and Foxy Tann Unplugged at the Gay '90s. Asked if she would ever write something without a gay or lesbian character, Moore says, "It would be hard for me to avoid!"

Nick Metcalf

In Native American history, "two spirit" people (those possessing both masculine and feminine spirits) were recognized as healers and leaders by their tribe. Nick Metcalf is no exception. Metcalf is assistant director of the American Indian AIDS Task Force, an 11-year old AIDS service organization serving Minnesota's Native American population. Drawn by the lure of gay political action, Metcalf moved from South Dakota to the Twin Cities after his college graduation. The 25-year-old has endeavored to make a difference in people's lives ever since. Actively involved in Minnesota Men of Color, an organization supporting gay men of diverse cultures, Metcalf's goal is to see gay, bi, and transgender men embrace who they are across cultural lines. This summer, Metcalf and his partner Dave are preparing for the ceremony in which Metcalf will receive his "Indian name" (or purpose in life). Metcalf will share his grandfather's name, "One Who People Aspire To." Not bad for a queer guy of the '90s.

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