On June 28 - 29, 2014, bisexual, queer, unlabeled, fluid, pansexual, transgender, intersex, lesbian, and gay people will gather with our friends, family, and allies in Loring Park in Minneapolis for one of the largest Pride celebrations in the United States. Between 300,000 - 400,000 people attend the free Twin Cities Pride Festival and Ashley Rukes GLBT Pride Parade each year. Bisexual folks have been part of local Pride celebration for decades, as is only appropriate since the first Pride march was organized to commemorate the Stonewall riots by Brenda Howard, a bisexual woman and activist (read more about Brenda Howard at The Advocate).
Bisexual Organizing Project (BOP) Board Member Martha Hardy got together with Board Chair Camille Holthaus and Co-Chair Lou Hoffman to chat about Twin Cities Prides, past and present.
Martha Hardy: What are your favorite things to do to celebrate Pride in the Twin Cities? Do you have a favorite memory of Prides past?
Camille Holthaus: I love walking through the vendors in the park and watching all the people! There are so many special outfits and accessories that people wear. It seems like Pride gives people permission to show things that are important to them. It’s like the opposite of Halloween, they get to be more themselves. And I get to explain to my 10-year-old why people get to walk around the park in their underwear once a year!
Lou Hoffman: I love the parade! I have so many good memories of it. My favorite is the first time bis had a marching unit, 1992. We started off with only a dozen people, but people kept jumping off the sidewalks to join us. When we turned the last corner (the parade did a different route back then) Gary Lingen and I looked behind us and realized we were leading a group of about 50 or 60 bis!
Martha: I hear BOP has big plans for the Ashley Rukes Pride Parade this year. What should people expect? And how can they participate?
Lou: We’ve got a nice big 45-foot-long bi flag that people can help carry, and we are giving marchers free t-shirts with our new BOP logo.
Martha: You are going to need lots of people to carry a 45-foot-long flag!
Camille: Yes, we will! With the flag we are encouraging people to come line up with us on 3rd Street South between Marquette and 2nd Avenue at 10:00 am on Sunday so we can get started off right; however, we always welcome people to jump in with us when we get to where they are watching the parade and jump out when they get tired! We’ll have people working the crowd, inviting people to join us. The t-shirts are in a wagon we bring along so we’ll be handing them out all the way down the parade route.
Martha: The Pride Festival in Loring Park in Minneapolis runs all day Saturday and Sunday. What will be going on at the BOP booth, where is it, and how can people help?
Lou: We will give out lots and lots of free stickers. You can pick up a Bi Pride button, a copy of BOP’s new brochure, or a new BOP t-shirt, as well as some great new bi bling. Please come talk to us to learn all about the Bisexual Organizing Project.
We’re also excited to kick off our brand new Bi+ Story Project. Bi+ Story Project aims to collect and share the stories bisexual, pansexual, fluid, unlabeled, and queer (bi+) people in order to increase our visibility, contribute to greater understanding of our resiliency, and communicate the specific needs of our communities. We invite you to come visit the booth to share your stories with trained volunteers and to learn more about this exciting project.
Camille: Besides picking up information on BOP and bi pride stickers and buttons, our booths also serve as an informal gathering place for people to hang out. It’s a big part of Pride for a lot of us. Our booth numbers are B53 & B55 on the south side of the lake (towards Dunn Brothers). We are also still looking for volunteers to help at the booth, which is a great way to meet folks. You can sign up for a volunteer shift at: http://vols.pt/YVb6Mo.
Martha: For people who live far away, have a schedule conflict, or simply don’t enjoy big, public events, how can they support BOP’s Pride celebrations?
Lou: Folks can tweet to BOP @biorgproj about how you are Bi+ and proud. And post about BOP and Pride on Facebook!
Martha: I also hope folks will post their Bi+ Pride pictures on our Facebook page or tweet them to us! For Twitter, the hashtag is #biprideMN.
Camille: On Facebook, you can forward our BOP @ TC Pride and March with BOP in the Pride Parade events to people you think might be interested. Using Pride as an opportunity to talk to people about BOP is great, too. You can pass the information along about BOP “just in case they know someone who should meet us.”
Martha: If folks have questions about Twin Cities Pride or about BOP, how can they get more information?
Lou: People can check out our website, Facebook page, or Twitter account, or email us at BOP@bisexualorganizingproject.org.
Camille: We have events posted on Facebook and Meetup. We’ll also be tweeting and posting FB updates about parade lineup information, so keep an eye on that.
Martha: Anything else you would like to say about Pride?
Lou: It’s a great time! If you don’t like crowds, come see us when the festival opens on Saturday. It’s less crowded then.
My favorite tip for seeing the parade with children is to find a spot near the beginning of the route, watch the parade until we get there, jump in and walk with us for a few blocks, then jump back on the sidewalk to watch the rest of it. That way the kids get to see the parade AND get the fun of being in it as well.
Camille: I agree with Lou, if you don’t like the crushing crowds or parades, come first thing Saturday or Sunday morning. Sunday morning especially is very quiet but all the booths are staffed. I think Pride is a great time to see all the representations of our LGBTQIA community. It’s a time to celebrate what we’ve gained and get energized for the next year of activism and community building!
Martha: Lou and Camille, thanks for chatting with me! I’ll see you both at the park on Saturday!
October 2-4, 2020
Location Wellstone Center, St. Paul, MN
Build, serve and advocate for an empowered bisexual, pansexual, fluid, queer, and unlabeled (bi+) community to promote social justice.
Within the next five years grow Bisexual Organizing Project (BOP) into a successfully-run Upper Midwest nonprofit organization with annual funding of $100,000 that provides community building, education, and advocacy for the bisexual, pansexual, fluid, queer, and unlabeled (bi+) community and our allies.