In particular, I think Twin Cities Pride highlighted part of why Minnesota is such a great state (and this matters!). Firstly, I got to use part of the Twin Cities fantastic new Green Line lite-rail train throughout Pride. This infrastructure investment is the type of project that is important to build in an economic downturn that will aid people then and throughout its lifespan. The lite-rail seems to connect Minneapolis and St Paul more than any bus did, and it was great to take advantage of it several times throughout Pride.
Pride Festivals everywhere create an interesting environment. Those who have visited know it is one where frequently you have the liberty to dress to express, a very pet-friendly environment, and groupings of people you rarely see. At Prides like the one in the Twin Cities you also see many families and community members. You can tell in a number of ways that the community gets around this celebration of Pride. When our mayors, Senators, executive officers, and governor joins in the parade and then meets people at the festival, you can see part of that. One common complaint (and I felt it myself) is that the Pride parade here is incredibly long, but that length is a sign of the support the community has. People wondered how the new mayor of Minneapolis Betsy Hodges would show her support after the noteworthy signs of RT Rybak, and she did just that by joining on the lead bike with Dykes on Bikes! Oh, and Mayor Emeritus Rybak still joined in the parade! In addition to the giant rainbow flag we also got to see giant leather and bisexual flags. A plethora of businesses came out, as well as marching bands, a three member bluegrass band, advocacy groups, churches, synagoges, community groups, athletic teams, military members, nonprofits, drag performers, et cetera. We even had the ever important snow plow representing the Minnesota Department of Transportation!
This support can also be seen in the progress that Minnesota has made on Queer issues. At the Tretter Collection in GLBT Studies exhibit, for example, we got to see a variety of the history of the Queer movement, including in Minnesota. As another example, Governor Mark Dayton posted this graphic detailing some of Minnesota's major advances:
Sure, there is plenty more to go (you can check out some of the work being done to further Queer rights in the state by checking out groups like OutFront), but in part it is great that this is recognized. When at the festival an Indpendence Party representative made a comment to us about Democrats not listening to us anymore, but I disagree. From everything I've seen, the Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party (DFL) definitely listens to us and has made AMAZING advances by doing just that! I'm excited to vote for our amazing DFL: including candidates that I was already excited for such as Mark Dayton for Governor, Al Franken for Senator, and candidates I got to meet at Pride such as Rebecca Otto for State Auditor and Steven Simon for Secretary of State.
In addition to the support that was seen, how excited about Pride people get here was also very clear. I mean I got to ride a ferris wheel, after seeing a light show and watching a variety of street performers, in downtown Minneapolis!
Pride also illustrated an aspect of the Midwest (even if Minnesota is on the edge of the Midwest and has what I as a Hoosier percieve to be very consistent weather) that I enjoy (even if that means enjoying complainging about it) - the weather. We had wonderfly sunny days, except for thunderstorms Saturday evening. For a while, I was trapped under the HealthEast tent because they were the first ones we could run to during a downpour (I should note Minnesota has the best healthcare in the nation)! Yet even in this rain a number of people still showed up for the concert, and we danced to the rain to/with the only musician that didn't cancel - Steve Grand. The concert was awesome, and I'm very happy Jessie and I stuck it out (I linked to her blog because she often blogs concerts).
There are definitely more reflections on Minnesota I could make from Pride. There are also things that of course annoy me about Minnesota (it's expensive housing, things closing early, blue laws, et cetera), but overall it has been an awesome state to live in and be a part of, and Pride really illustrated that.
And since I feel obligated to leave you with something, and would love to plug another great organization, here is Planned Parenthood's giant condom from the parade: