Out With Clout
If you needed one more reason to be proud of the Twin Cities GLBT community this month, here's 100. As journalists, public officials, artists, playwrights, restaurateurs, and business types, the 100 individuals here have shaped life in the local gay community and life in the wider world. All of them can claim success of some sort: Some measure it in money made, others measure it in battles won. Still others measure it in the number of people whose lives they touch. But all of them have had an impact on the world -- an impact that's only strengthened by being honest and being out.
What can't this woman do? Multi-talented Kim Hines is a playwright, actress, and director. The 42-year-old Renaissance woman works days as an associate artist at Minneapolis' Illusion Theater, but Hines' commissions have ranged from a piece for the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., to a meditation on Nat King Cole's life and music for the Minnesota Orchestra's upcoming pop series.
But kids too have always occupied a soft spot in Hines' heart: She's collaborated with metro-area youngsters to create "To Know the Heart of a Stranger," a show that dealt with issues of race in the African-American and Jewish communities. The recipient of a prestigious 1997-98 Bush Fellowship, Hines has also reached out to queer youngsters -- mentoring a young lesbian writer and an aspiring lesbian filmmaker. Her play "We're Here, Get Used to It," about homophobia and adolescent coming-out issues, was developed with District 202 in 1995 and eventually taken to area schools.
In the early '70s, the sins of Spiro Agnew prompted Dick Senise to pen a letter to the Weekly Reader calling for the vice president's resignation. In the sixth grade, the precocious resident of tiny Buhl, Minn., passed around a petition in his class, urging city officials to tear down an abandoned house because it was "really scary." In high school, he joined the student council. "I've always been the sort of person who gets involved," Senise says. "I think politics has a lot to do with people's lives."
Politics certainly plays a role in Senise's life. Since January 1997, the longtime Democrat has served as the head of the Minnesota DFL, a post he hopes to retain during elections at the party's June convention. But Senise, who worked for Sen. Paul Wellstone in Washington before coming out as gay and getting involved with the 1993 It's Time Minnesota campaign, also spends time plumbing the less public depths of human nature. He's a practicing psychologist and an instructor of psychology at St. Olaf College in Northfield. "It's always fascinated me to learn how to understand myself and help other people understand themselves," he says.
Gays and lesbians have always been active within local DFL leadership, Senise notes, but the party still has to work to reach out to all types of constituents: "We want to make sure people understand the issues," he says, "and most important, that they vote."
Twenty years ago, Val Ulstad met the love of her life. It was her first day of medical school, and the Edina native fell head over heels for her fellow classmate, Kathy Ogle. Romance, however, quickly gave way to panic. "We thought we were the only two lesbians on earth," Ulstad recalls.
Ten years ago Ulstad, a cardiologist, and Ogle, an oncologist, came out of the closet. "It was basically just 'not editing,'" says Ulstad. "We left pictures on our desk. We crossed that threshold when you suddenly don't know how many people know you're out." Ulstad, 43, has taken "out" one step further, however: She sits on the board of the 1,000-member Gay Lesbian Medical Association and delivers annual lectures on homophobia as a health hazard at the University of Minnesota medical school, where she holds a part-time appointment in the dean's office. Even as a private practitioner, Ulstad sometimes finds good reason to talk about being gay: "I certainly see gay and lesbian patients with heart disease," the doctor says. "I'm careful to ask 'who's important to you?' instead of 'are you married?'"
Medicine remains a largely conservative -- and closeted -- profession, Ulstad says, but Minnesota physicians are, in some sense, leading the way: There's still a lot that needs to change. But we've also come a long way."
Edd Lee sees things differently -- and it's not just those specs. The gay son of second-generation Korean immigrants, he's been aware of the challenges queer men of color face in the Twin Cities since he first came out and moved to Minneapolis from the suburbs at 17. A year ago, munching Green Mill pizza, Lee and a friend cooked up a plan to create a social group for guys like themselves: The result was Minnesota Men of Color.
That ability to change abstract vision into concrete reality also serves Lee well at his day job as a health educator for the Council on Asian Pacific Minnesotans. Since May 1997, he's been developing a plan to research the effects of HIV/AIDS on Asian and Pacific Islander populations in the state -- no easy task, given the diversity (and sometimes homophobia) that exists amid those cultures. But Lee, who once marched with the Queer Street Patrol and has served on the youth board of directors for District 202, says organizing, fundraising, and recruiting have always come easily to him: "My work came naturally with the path of my life," the 23-year-old says. Godspeed, godspeed.
The recently appointed chair of Minneapolis' Civil Rights Commission is a woman of multiple talents. "My main initiative," says Lisa Albrecht about her work on the Commission, "is to do grass-roots education and outreach to marginalized communities." But Albrecht has already begun this work outside the commission. As an associate professor at the University of Minnesota, Albrecht teaches women's studies, as well as writing, to students in the General College. She also helped found two local GLBT institutions: the GLBT Programs Office at the U and the literary journal, Evergreen Chronicles. When she's not teaching and organizing, she's apparently traveling or writing: Before the Gulf War broke out, this self-identified "American Jew" traveled to Palestine as part of a peace brigade, then came home and taught classes on women in the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. She also published a book, Bridges of Power: Women's Multicultural Alliances, with co-editor Rose Brewer. As for all her work and her previous nine years serving on the civil-rights commission, Albrecht says, "I am really committed as a white lesbian to do anti-racism work and that's why I am involved in the commission." Whew! Does this woman do anything for just plain fun? "I am the 'Mistress of Ceremonies' and percussion player for the Jewish Klezmer band, Tatskelehs," Albrecht adds with a laugh.
Your hosts for this year's mega-fundraiser, the Human Rights Campaign dinner, have both been part of HRC for the last five years. Working their way up from table captains to vice chairs, and now co-chairs, Laura D'Ambrosio and Chris Andersen are proud to be a part of this growing and sophisticated organization. "HRC has begun to make more of an impact nationally in the last three years," says D'Ambrosio, "and that is due to the gay community." Outside of her HRC duties, the Chicago native, who moved here in 1989, says she runs her own 3-year-old business, D'Ambrosio, Inc., a technology consulting firm for mid- to large-size companies. Andersen has been the executive director of the Lutheran Community Foundation since its inception in 1995. During his tenure, Andersen has raised $100 million in gifts to the foundation, which supports Lutheran charities throughout the country. "I'm proud of the success of the foundation," Andersen says with true Minnesota modesty. When he's not busy traveling for work, Andersen sings with the Minnesota Chorale and swims as a member of Team Minnesota, which will compete in Amsterdam's Gay Games in August.
Robert J. Booker
The buck doesn't stop here. Robert J. Booker, Executive Director of the Minnesota State Arts Board, makes sure financial funding for artists keeps going and going and going. Financing art in all its aspects has been Booker's professional aim ever since he graduated from Augustana College in Sioux Falls, S.D., with an arts-administration degree. "I'm one of the few people I know who is doing exactly what I wanted to do since college," says fortysomething Booker. The Virginia native has not only spent the last 13 years with the State Arts Board in various roles, he's also served on a number of boards for arts organizations and was instrumental in the early development of Arts over AIDS. "I'm a relatively conservative guy who has a deep-seated love of the arts," says Booker, "When it comes to art, I look at quality first, background second." Though he once dabbled in visual art and theater, Booker says his interest in the arts covers a wide variety of fields -- including auto design, which he supports by driving an '87 red Porsche 911.
Karen Louise Boothe
The reporting life began early for Karen Louise Boothe, who started penning a neighborhood newsletter at age 11. A self-confessed news geek, Minnesota Public Radio's government-affairs reporter spent her childhood watching the Watergate hearings and names Barbara Walters as her first role model. After college, Boothe spent 11 "and counting" months in Marshall, Minn., where she broke a national news story detailing the 1983 farm-crisis murder of two bankers by father and son, James and Steven Jenkins. Next came a stint at KSTP and the Minnesota News Network before becoming a public-radio fixture. Here in the river cities, Boothe enjoys such metropolitan vices as Cosmopolitans and Bloomingdales. Yet, the salt-of-the-earth Taurus possesses a passion for justice, which underscores her work as board president of the National Gay and Lesbian Journalist Association. Her declarative Andrea Marcovicci-style voice, lighter and kinder than most, clips upward and many ask, "Are your Canadian?" No, Boothe hails from St. Cloud and Minneapolis, where her fourth grade teacher endowed her with a passion for research. Catch her top-notch stories on 91.1 FM.
"Pat Buchanan inspired me," says Monica Bryand, the employee-involvement manager of community affairs for The St. Paul Companies. Watching the Republican National Convention in 1992, Bryand experienced a life-changing moment: "Buchanan was spewing hate, and I thought, 'He's talking about me!'" she remembers. "I realized I had to stop bitching until I did something." So in 1993, Bryand, who had always thought of herself as out, decided to be more out, and spearheaded The St. Paul Companies Gay/Lesbian & Friends Network, a support network for gay/lesbian employees of the insurance-services behemoth. The results were more than satisfying. "It changed my life," Bryand admits. And the lives of others as well, for the Network helped establish domestic-partnership benefits, awareness of GLBT issues in the workplace, and a social outlet for company employees. In 1996, Business Ethics magazine ranked The St. Paul Companies seventh among the nation's employers in terms of its work environment for gays and lesbians. Bryand, however, has moved beyond the limits of her own workplace: She currently serves as the co-chair of the Workplace Alliance Network, a group she helped establish in 1994.
Local queer publications brim with ads for gay and lesbian accountants, attorneys, insurance agents, and other professionals that cater to our community. But few of those folks have stayed in business longer than Realtor Julia Classen. Ten years of easing lesbians and gay men into high-end penthouses and low-budget bungalows have earned Classen a reputation as the Twin Cities leading queer real-estate agent.
Classen laughs when quoted that description. She recalls the early days of her career, when the market wasn't as receptive to queer would-be home buyers, "I'd meet with loan officers ahead of time to weed out discrimination problems," she recalls. "I wanted to be sure my lesbian and gay clients would be treated fairly and wouldn't be asked stupid and inappropriate questions. I did a lot of educating."
Today, Classen, who she says her clientele is half gay men and half lesbians, focuses on making the home-buying process "as hassle-free as possible." Not an easy job. But Classen has proven she knows a thing or two about gay neighborhoods: She lives with her partner of six years in Bryn Mawr -- currently one of Minneapolis' up-and-coming areas.
C. Scott Cooper
Our man on the hill these days, C. Scott Cooper, is no doubt the envy of every political wonk at the capitol as he works his "Jungle Red" cell phone. A hired gun for the GLCAC (now OutFront Minnesota) during the annual legislative session, Cooper bears the burden of safeguarding our inalienable rights while guiding us into the next millennium. The other half of the year, Cooper hits the well-traveled campaign trail, most recently as special-projects coordinator for Skip Humphrey's run for governor. Including his own bid for the House of Representatives in '94, Cooper has spun his way to the U.S. Senate and back as a key player in Sen. Paul Wellstone's two campaigns and in the office during the professor's freshman term on the Hill. Cooper has also stumped for Jesse Jackson, Ann Wynia, Jim Niland, Tom Harken, and the GLBT civil-rights campaign It's Time Minnesota. No "lefty wacko" influence by friends or family are to blame for his detour from Soviet and Eastern European studies into the political arena, though: "It was the social-justice thing," according to Cooper. That and the chance to yak on a sporty red cell phone (with shoes to match).
"I'm a transgender woman and proud to be able to identify as a transgender woman," says Debra Davis, director of the Gender Education Center. Last month, Davis, previously known to colleagues and students at Southwest High School in Minneapolis as David Nielsen, opened one more closet door and introduced herself to the school community as Debra Davis. Her workplace coming out received national media attention, and according to Barbara Satin, an active member of the local transgender community, has inspired other transgender people: "Debra's action gives courage to a lot of us, and a feeling of hopefulness that this could be an opportunity for people to learn what being transgender means." As director of the Gender Education Center, a transgender support, advocacy, and education organization, Debra has spoken widely about being transgender. Now, she's educating her school community, helping transgender students realize they're not "the only one," and giving all of us the opportunity to move beyond stereotypes and ignorance.
As a consumer-insights manager for General Mills, Maggie George compiles market-research data from sources near and far. But after coming out seven years ago, George didn't need to conduct tests or surveys to figure out that her company wasn't queer-friendly. The openly gay folks she knew were few: "Four of us were standing in the hallway one day and somebody said, 'We should start supporting one another,'" George recalls. Then five years ago, George and a coworker helped found the company's gay and lesbian employee network, Betty's Family.
"I don't think the world will change and become more accepting of gay and lesbian people until more people are out," George says. "And people who are out give other people courage to come out." The South Dakota native syas her involvement with Spirit of the Lakes, a Twin Cities congregation comprised largely of gays and lesbians, gave her the pluck to come out in her workplace. In addition to serving as a co-moderator at church, she's also done work with District 202, the Minneapolis YWCA, and the Workplace Alliance.
The official mailing list for Betty's Family remains small, with just 30 members. But George remains proud of her group's accomplishments: "I have a vision for a world that's more inclusive," she says.
Finding a room of one's own is never easy. Just ask Judy Hanks, a 43-year-old mother of two, who has spearheaded the Women of Color Building Project for the past three years in the hopes of creating a space for "queer women of color and their allies" to develop cultural and educational events. The fundraising efforts continue, but Hanks says she wouldn't be against a donated facility: Anyone got a building to spare?
To date, the project has raised $15,000, in part by curating Vulva Riot shows twice a year. Hanks and her compatriots continue to bring down the house with a roster of talented performers -- Felicia Washington and April Andrews wowed us during the March show -- but Building Project organizers have also tried dances and parties to raise awareness and dollars for their cause. This year's Dyke Ball, scheduled for June 26 at Metamorphos Day Spa in Minneapolis, will not only benefit the Women of Color Building Project, it's also likely to be the most multi-culti lesbian extravaganza of Pride.
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."
"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 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."
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!"
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.
Vanessa Opperman is proud of her papa's financial support of gay and lesbian causes. "Even before it was trendy to go to HRC dinners and be good on gay issues, he was interested in those things," she says of her father, former West Publishing exec Vance Opperman. "But my being out and a lesbian has increased his generosity perhaps."
The younger Opperman, in turn, has proven she also has much to offer the queer-rights cause. At 24, she's already worked as an HRC organizer and as a consultant with the Gay and Lesbian Victory Fund, boosting the prospects of openly gay political candidates in races around the country. Her passion for politics began early: In the eighth grade, Opperman went door-knocking to bolster her mother's bid for a county commissioner's seat. Coming-out added an activist bent to Opperman's political interests: "If we don't have people in office who are good on our issues, we're not going to make any changes," she says.
After graduating from Georgetown and honing her skills in the nation's capital, Opperman recently returned to Minnesota with her girlfriend of one-and-a-half years. (The two met on the Clinton-Gore re-election campaign and spent their first dozen dates at political functions.) She's currently serving as finance director for Skip Humphrey's gubernatorial campaign, but we're betting that someday soon Opperman will be the one stumping for office.
Nirvana, says Minnesota Public Radio host John Rabe, would be a two-hour interview with the Dalai Lama. Or maybe Oprah Winfrey. Perhaps even Howard Stern. The current host of MidMorning on KNOW 91.1 FM, Rabe gets to lob tough questions at his guests, then opens the phone lines for an all-out discussion. "I'm naturally argumentative," Rabe says. "That helps."
The son of a college administrator and a homemaker, Rabe grew up on the U.S.-Canadian border, where he spun rock and big-band records for a small radio station in Sault Sainte Marie. While attending college at Michigan State, he worked as a reporter at WKAR, then moved on to radio jobs in Florida and Philadelphia -- where he met consummate inquisitor Terry Gross. "She can ask extremely basic questions that would sound stupid if anyone else asked them," Rabe says of Gross, his voice tinged with admiration.
MidMorning's daily dose of topics can range from food irradiation to Middle Eastern peace talks to gays in the military, but Rabe says his being gay is as inconsequential as his political preferences when it comes to interviews. "Listeners don't know how I vote or what religion I am," Rabe says. "I don't treat gay issues any differently. I try to be as objective as I can. Perhaps more than being objective, I try to see as many sides of an issue as possible."
"We're the Holstein family," says Eleanor Savage with a chuckle. She and her partner, modern dancer Morgan Thorson, are the proud parents of two black and white American Staffordshire terriers and two equally dichromatic cats.
Fortunately, the rest of Savage's life is more vibrant. She's the 34-year-old producer and originator of the Vulva Riot Cabaret, that staple of the local dyke performance-art diet. A transplanted Southerner, Savage came to Minnesota in 1990 to immerse herself in a job at Theatre de la Jeune Lune (she's since moved on to the Walker Art Center), but birthed Vulva Riot three years later: "It was an alternative to the bar scene," Savage says, "the kind of event that would bring people together to work on issues."
Vulva Riot remains today a prominent venue for fun, frolic, and performance among queer girls of all stripes -- with the emphasis on "all," according to Savage. "The underlying value is that it's a creative space, accessible to everyone in the community, regardless of race, creed, or color." And we've seen enough shows to know that most nights, when the stars are in alignment, Savage's vision comes to fruition.
If you've frolicked on the beaches at Key West recently, chances are you may have seen Dan Spencer's work. The 44-year-old architect and his colleagues at the Minneapolis firm of Perkins & Will designed the Key West AIDS Memorial, a palm-tree-lined, granite-slabbed structure that descends into the surf, commemorating individuals lost to HIV/AIDS. "The memorial," Spencer says, "is about providing a place for people to grieve and celebrate."
A principal at Perkins & Will, Spencer has an eye for design detail that's also evident more close to home. He's drafted plans for District 202's new site and for Park House, a day facility for people with HIV/AIDS. He's tinkered with metaphorical blueprints while serving on the boards of the Twin Cities Gay Men's Chorus and the now-defunct Lambda Justice Center. His current schemes include working on a committee that hopes to finance and erect an AIDS memorial in Loring Park, and Spencer's firm will likely enter a design in the final competition. Hmm, do we see swaying palms on the shores of Loring's lakes?
In addition to electricity, Northern States Power also generates queer energy in the form of Kerry Severson. After coming out publicly while acting as emcee at NSP's June GLBT diversity event three years ago, Severson, an information-technology financial-accounting manager, was pulled aside by the utility's new chief operating officer, who told him the GLBT event had been "the most worthwhile diversity event he'd ever been to." Today Severson chairs NSP's GLBT employee group S.A.G.E. (Supportive Association of GLBT Employees) and serves as co-chair (with Monica Bryand) of Minnesota's nationally recognized Workplace Alliance, a business organization offering executive-management forums, leadership-development seminars, and "how to" information on starting GLBT employee groups. Severson hopes to broaden the educational reach of SAGE to more NSP employees in Greater Minnesota and plans to build more alliances between the Workplace Alliance and other diversity groups. With his remaining energy, Severson, 41, raises award-winning Arabians at his home in Cottage Grove.
To Mary Tinucci's mind, the raison d'être behind GLBT support services in public schools is a no-brainer: "It's about making schools safe for students, staff, and families," she says. "Kids are never too young to learn respect and tolerance."
An enthusiastic social worker, Tinucci helped create and implement Out For Equity, the St. Paul School District's only program designed specifically to meet the needs of GLBT students, staff, and families, in 1994. The program remains just one of a handful of K-12 school-based programs in the country (including Out 4 Good in Minneapolis).
Tinucci's devotion to the program shows as she talks about Out For Equity's multifold mission, which includes training for educators regarding sexual-orientation issues, support for GLBT school professionals, support groups for queer high-school students, and outreach to families that include GLBT parents or youth. There are also Safe Staff Teams in every high school in St. Paul, working to eliminate harassment and violence and to create a climate of safety, respect, and support for queers in the hallways and classrooms.
Both the Catholic Defense League and the Minnesota Family Council have targeted Out for Equity since its inception, but Tinucci is quick to point out that school-board officials have stuck to their guns: The program continues to receive support -- and full funding -- from the district.
Next fall, Minneapolis Board of Taxation and Estimate member Wally Swan hopes to take his political career to a higher level -- the rank of state treasurer. Swan's one of only a handful of openly queer candidates running for statewide office around the country this year. A Nebraska native who came to Minnesota to pursue a public-administration career, Swan will also figure prominently in this year's Twin Cities Pride, as one of the parade's grand marshals.
His candidacy for state treasurer has taken Swan and his partner of 13 years, Lyle Rossman, on whirlwind campaign tours of greater Minnesota in recent months. (The two were "married" at the '87 March on Washington and, Swan says, were the first gay-male couple to register as domestic partners at Minneapolis' City Hall in 1991.) The candidate says he's encouraged to see Pride celebrations popping up around Minnesota -- in St. Paul, Duluth, Morris, and Rochester. "It demonstrates that amending the state's Human Rights Act allowed this to happen," he says. "More and more people are coming out across Minnesota."
Law & Politics
Rob Allen Out at the Minneapolis Police Department, Allen heads up the force's crime-stopping CODEFOR initiative.
Beverly Balos A University of Minnesota law professor, Balos helped shape the same-sex marriage bill introduced this winter in the Legislature (the bill died, but the message carried) and worked to amend the state Human Rights Act in 1993.
Karen Clark After 18 years in the Legislature, Clark remains the most visible -- and only -- out lesbian in state politics.
D. Scott Dibble The aide to Minneapolis Council Member Doré Mead and longtime politico may have his eye on a Senate seat.
Mary Louise Fellows A nationally recognized expert on estate planning, Fellows recently found Minnesotans overwhelmingly support inheritance rights for same-sex partners.
Erin Ferguson & Nikki Kubista Lesbians x 2 now head up the U's Minnesota Student Association.
Allan Johnson A financial force in politics and consultant to billionaire businessman Vance Opperman.
Amy Johnson A cofounder of Johnson Gulling Heltzer & Burg, the largest firm comprised of queer attorneys in Minnesota -- if not the entire Midwest.
Paul Kaminski Partner at the firm of Best & Flanagan. MAP board member. Helps channel the Headwaters Fund.
Michael Krause The Green Institute's executive director expects his eco-friendly business incubator will help rejuvenate Minneapolis' Phillips neighborhood after the project breaks ground in July.
Sharon Krmpotich & Lisa Thornquist Members of the "founding mothers" group that began agitating for domestic-partner benefits in Minneapolis in the late '80s, these research hounds saw the battle lost in a lawsuit -- but have since watched domestic-partners rights bubble into the private sector.
Dennis Miller The vice president of AFSCME Local 34 in Hennepin County and the first openly gay person to serve on the Minneapolis Charter Commission.
Jim Quinn His lawyering skills and analytical savvy have won the Larkin Hoffman Daly & Lindgren partner a seat on the boards of MAP, Philanthrofund, HRC, and GLCAC.
Allan Spear A statesman respected by his peers, the University of Minnesota professor has spoken eloquently on behalf of our community since he was first elected to the Senate in 1972.
C. Hope Artichoker Already fired up about Native American and women's issues, this 22-year-old came out and added queer liberation to her portfolio. In April, she organized the OutFront conference.
Craig Carnahan More than 100 tuxedoed men stand at attention when the Twin Cities Gay Men's Chorus maestro waves his wand.
Ann DeGroot For 11 years, the executive director of the Twin Cities' most visible queer-advocacy organization has had an up-close perspective on gay politics in Minnesota.
Mark French Co-chairing the Human Rights Campaign's board of governors, this assistant principal's Rolodex has grown and grown.
Aaron Lichtov At 29, he's accessibility director for Twin Cities Pride and the organizing force behind the first-ever Midwest Trans Institute.
Scott Mayer Activities director extraordinaire for the gay Twin Cities. Nobody throws a better party.
Barb Wieser Iowa City's Women's Press founder. Woodswomen guide. Amazon Bookstore beacon.
Beth Zemsky The director of the U of M's GLBT Programs Office has transformed her fledgling post into a respected position that serves as a nerve center on all matters queer for administrators and students alike.
Nancy "Rusty" Barcelo She helped found the University of Iowa's LesBiGay Faculty and Staff Association before taking a job as associate vice president for multicultural affairs at the U of M.
Geoffery Blanton School's not only out, it's also safe for queer kids and teachers with Blanton heading up the Minneapolis schools' Out 4 Good program.
Marjorie Cowmeadow After helping establish the GLBT programs office at the U of M, the associate dean of the General College continues to be a self-professed "stickler in the side of the U."
Susan Curry The Philanthrofund director helps pump nearly $25,000 annually into projects that benefit the GLBT community.
Marilyn Deppe The out vice president for student affairs oversees the lives of 2,800 students at Hamline University.
Ava Walker A major with Minnesota Army National Guard, Walker doesn't shy away from taking her partner, Marilyn Deppe, to the unit's social functions.
Rod Metzger As local cochair of the Gay, Lesbian, Straight Education Network, Metzger educates educators on coming out.
Anthony Winer The professor's course on "Law and Sexuality" at William Mitchell College of Law doesn't hedge when it comes to discussions of homosexuality. And he's out on campus.
Arts & Entertainment
Christine Benkert Queer women once flocked to the HRC cocktail parties held at this commercial photographer's studio.
Bain Boehlke The Jungle Theatre director's work space hangs on the verge of expansion.
Danny Buraczeski The Kennedy Center. The Joyce in NYC. What next? What more? Next season, the choreographer and his nine-member Jazzdance start their largest tour ever.
Robert Byrd As a Jerome Foundation associate, Byrd helps dole out more than a quarter-million cool ones to filmmakers, videographers, and organizations in Minnesota and New York.
Richard Cook & Stephen Lockwood Their behind-the-scenes gamble on Love! Valour! Compassion! brought in mucho dollars and season subscribers at Park Square Theatre.
Joan Drury The Spinsters Ink publisher has earned a Minnesota Book Award and an Edgar nomination for fiction she penned herself.
Ellen Hart Professional chef turned mystery author. Her opus now tops a dozen nailbiters.
Richard Iglewski & Tim Lee Twice the talent or double trouble? Director Lee founded Outward Spiral Theatre Company; actor Iglewski recently got tapped to play Oscar Wilde in Gross Indecency, due this winter at the Guthrie Lab.
Myron Johnson Mingling camp, classics, and rock-the-house music mixes, Ballet of the Dolls founder Johnson rarely disappoints.
Suzy Messerole She graduated from college with a specialty in lesbian drama and feminist-theater theory. Lucky for us all, the 26-year-old director found Outward Spiral Theatre Company.
Miss Richfield 1981 The queen of wash-and-wear has saved the local drag scene from stale self-indulgence and gallows humor. She can call our bingo number anytime.
Gary Schiff The survival of a landmark playhouse may lie in the hands of this "Save Our Shubert" activist.
Deborah Serafini The Minnesota Orchestra's fortissimo voice on (still ungranted) domestic partner benefits.
Kim Carlson As the out CEO of Cities Management, Carlson oversees property management for 6,500 residential units across the Midwest.
Lois Carlson An investment executive at PaineWebber in Minneapolis, Carlson boosted local participation in HRC's Federal Club from 40 to 100.
Daniel Duty The trademark counsel at General Mills defends Yoplait and Wheaties and our right to be out at work.
Jeanne Graham Involved in the recent hate-crimes conference, this federal prosecutor handles everything from bank robberies to violence against women.
Jeff Hoke As director of retail marketing at the Mall of America, Hoke hopes to sell retailers on the virtues and values of marketing to gays and lesbians.
Charlie Rounds The president of RSVP Travel Productions is plotting to make Minnesota the destination of choice for the International Gay and Lesbian Travel Association conference next spring.
Elizabeth Scholl After starting the Honeywell Pride Council, Scholl took a job as community-relations director at Allina three years ago. An active member of the company's GLBT group, she looked on with pride when Allina added domestic-partner benefits for queer employees.
Sports & Leisure
Roger Gregg The official Mr. Minnesota Leather heads up SoberLeather, a chem-free social club for leatherfolk.
Barry Leavitt The perennial Twin Cities Goodtimes Softball League organizer plans to bring 1,200 sluggers to town in early July for the Northstar Classic tourney.
Chris Paddock This bistro owner's brainchild, Bobino Cafe & Wine Bar, is one of the few Hennepin Avenue venues where straights and queers mingle, dine, and chat in harmony.
Deborah Talen Her yeoman's job as organizer of the 1998 Rainbow Families conference gave 500 adults and 200 kids a new perspective on the meaning of family.
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