Lavender Magazine 759

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Show off your true colors in St. Pete-Clearwater. Home to America’s Best Beaches, gayborhoods like the Grand Central District, the super LGBTQ+ friendly town of Gulfport and St. Pete Pride, Florida’s largest Pride festival. Let’s shine.

Volume 30, Issue 759 • June 27-July 10, 2024


Managing Editor Randy Stern 612-461-8723

Editorial Assistant Linda Raines 612-436-4660

Editor Emeritus Ethan Boatner

Contributors Lakey Bridge, Buer Carlie, Natasha DeLion, Alyssa Homeier, Terrance Griep, Elise Maren, Jen PeeblesHampton, Linda Raines, Alexander Reed, Madison Roth, Jamez L. Smith, Susan Swavely, Carla Waldemar, Todd P. Walker, Emma Walytka, Spencer White


Vice President of Sales & Advertising

Barry Leavitt 612-436-4690

Account Executives

Nathan Johnson 612-436-4695

Richard Kranz 612-436-4675

Sales & Event Administration

Linda Raines 612-436-4660

National Sales Representatives Rivendell Media 212-242-6863


Creative/Digital Director Mike Hnida 612-436-4679

Photographer Sophia Hantzes


Publisher Lavender Media, Inc.

President & CEO Stephen Rocheford 612-436-4665

Chief Financial Officer Doug Starkebaum 612-436-4664

Administrative Assistant Michael Winikoff 612-436-4660

Distribution Metro Periodical Partners 612-281-3249

Founders George Holdgrafer, Stephen Rocheford

Inspiration Steven W. Anderson (1954-1994), Timothy J. Lee (1968-2002), Russell Berg (1957-2005), Kathryn Rocheford (1914-2006), Jonathan Halverson (1974-2010), Adam Houghtaling (1984-2012), Walker Pearce (1946-2013), Tim Campbell (1939-2015), John Townsend (1959-2019), George Holdgrafer (1951-2024)




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Time To Get Away!

This weekend is Twin Cities Pride. Next weekend is when we celebrate Independence Day. Somewhere in-between, we will start our vacation cycle.

For those of us who actually plan and go on vacations, I bet you’re ready to hit the road. You are eager to find time to wind down, relax, and soak in the sun somewhere.

Your luggage will be full of items that will go through security. I just hope you did not forget anything while hastily packing for your trip. Not a good look when you’re waiting to get through TSA that you forget to pack the wrong set of beachwear.

Or, your passport. That’s never a good look, folks…

As LGBTQ+ people, we love to travel. For decades, we found that our disposable income has been set aside for plane trips, hotels, transportation, amenities, and that special outfit for your date away from home.

As we have seen in the past year, the travel business has been returning towards prepandemic levels. Some services have either returned or expanded to those levels. Others are being retracted.

For example, Amtrak started running a second daily train between Saint Paul’s Union Station to Milwaukee and Chicago. On the other hand, Sun Country Airlines are cutting routes that are not selling as well as they originally thought. These are just two instances of working through the laws of supply and demand in the travel business.

As I said in previous editorial pieces, I love to travel as much as you. Granted, there had been challenges lately that created some alterations to the way I travel, but the idea of going somewhere else is always a treat to enjoy.

So far this year, it has been the automobile that has been my means to “going somewhere.” I always argued that an automobile gives you the most freedom when traveling. You can stop anytime on the way somewhere…or, go the distance without stopping, Of course, there’s fuel to fill-up or batteries to recharge when you have to. It’s not a perfect mode of going somewhere, but if you do not encounter trouble along the way, you will get there on your own schedule.

One thing I must address is that not everyone travels like some people do. Not everyone can afford a flight across an ocean, a beachfront rental, and a convertible on a summer vacation. We sometimes have to jump in our vehicles just to go somewhere. We will take affordable means of transport to even go to another place. Your mode of travel is valid with me.

Getting there is indeed half the fun, especially these days. If you are going somewhere to vacation or just to get away from the stress of work, home life, and anything else – you are now free to roam the Earth!

Safe travels, folks! 

Photo by Randy Stern

Strangers Say the Darndest Things

You never know when you’ll have one of those eureka! moments; you could be checking out kumquats at Cub, strap-hanging in a subway, or supine on a gurney. The latter vantage point pinged my latest enlightenment.

I’d just been prepped for a pre-op procedure and was chatting with the anesthetist, answering questions when I asked something I’d had on my mind for quite some time: “Why is transgender listed as ‘Problem’? Why gender dysphoria and not euphoria? He was saved by the bell as staff arrived to wheel me into the hands-on procedure room.

I’d just been settled in when one of the three nurse attendants asked, “About that ‘trans’–if you don’t mind, would you say something more, when did you know or…” I replied that back in the ’40s and ’50s, the word wasn’t even in the vocabulary, so there wasn’t much to know, and a kid certainly didn’t ask at the dinner table.

Then, “What was the most important thing you noticed?” “That’s easy: people listened to me now.” All three burst out laughing.

“So you’re familiar with that?” More laughter. “Every time, the car repair guy talks to my hus-

band when it’s my car…” Before the conversation built any greater momentum, the major players entered, injected the anesthesia into my IV port, and the world went dark.

For full disclosure, other’s attention wasn’t the main reason, but it’s certainly a major benefit. The first eureka! moment was the realization that the other and I were having an actual backand-forth conversation; facets of an issue were being considered by all involved, not leaving the y-challenged out of the loop.

Interesting, too, that the focus on the more exotic “trans” was overridden by something that had affected all three of the questioners, and on back through the generations and populations. Not every female everywhere, of course; I doubt Nefertiti and others who could be named suffered fools gladly–or at all.

Googling back to ancient Egypt, it seems that women, at least those of the upper classes, had the right to own property–buying or inheriting–to administer and bequeath that property to whom they chose. They could travel independently, own businesses and represent themselves in court. Edgewise hasn’t the scope to ad-

equately cover this broad and contentious topic, but essentially, in 1974 BCE, many women had rights that American women were still short of attaining in 1974 CE.

Equal pay (often still a chimera) was passed in 1963, and finally, in 1974, the ECOA (Equal Credit Opportunity Act) allowed women to have credit cards in their own names to obtain a mortgage without a male co-signer, and other means of independence.

If one is raised to believe women can’t think or be trusted with autonomy (or that they’re dangerous if they do) one is less likely to heed the female voice. It’s not all about women: In Craig v Boren, 1976, the Supreme Court, ever vigilant, deemed it unconstitutional for 18 to 20 year-old females to be allowed to drink beer while denying men of the same age.

In a few days, I’ll be returning for further medical repair; if I have occasion to resume my earlier conversation, I’ll make sure to add that I find mine a unique vantage point from which to view both sides. 

Kevin Stocks Departs as Executive Director of Twin Cities Gay Men’s Chorus

After four and a half years as the Executive Director of the Twin Cities Gay Men’s Chorus (TCGMC), Kevin Stocks is leaving the organization for sunnier climes. His time at TCGMC began in late 2019, which meant that his work with the chorus was heavily impacted by COVID-19. Stocks was kind enough to take a moment to share what’s on the horizon for him now in addition to discussing the last four years with TCGMC.

When I asked Stocks about his personal highlights from his tenure at TCGMC his response was immediate and two-fold. “The concerts themselves are always highlights, when the performers and audience finally meet after months of work behind the scenes,” says Stocks. “I also consider the relationships I have been able to build with colleagues and counterparts to be a highlight of my 4.5 years in this role.”

TCGMC is a chorus first, but it is also a community builder. “[The] times we have brought people together [are impactful],” muses Stocks. “While I wouldn’t consider myself an extrovert (and I enjoy the behind-the-scenes work) there is an undeniable ‘rush’ when people come together in the same space to share music and to be an advocate for a more equitable community. It’s truly the embodiment of the mission of ‘building community through music!’”

TCGMC does not just build community through concerts. “[I value] the times we bring people together through partnerships with organizations with whom we are aligned such as Clare Housing for our ‘World AIDS Day’ events, or at our annual fundraiser ‘Sing it Forward.’”

Navigating the pandemic as a performing arts organization quickly became Stocks’ primary responsibility after he began at TCGMC. “I’m most proud of…being part of a team to lead our organization through the Covid pandemic,” says Stocks. “I was…immediately in a position where we needed to make some important organizational decisions.”

These decisions were made after carefully exploring questions about the mission of TCGMC in addition to the safety and other needs of chorus and audience members alike. Stocks listed off some of the questions that TCGMC considered: “How do we care for our community of singers and our audiences? Can we still serve our mission when we can’t get together in person? And to add to that, collaborative singing was an activity that was an extremely dangerous activity during that time. What do we do and how do we do it safely?”

Ultimately, TCGMC was able to innovate ways to remain active throughout the pandemic in a manner that reflected its values and prioritized safety. “I was proud of our organization for being nimble and creative as we presented various “virtual” concerts that were recorded from home, or with strict protocols.” TCGMC found ways to connect artists to their communities in spite of the unprecedented challenge of the pandemic.

The pandemic continues to impact arts organizations and TCGMC is no exception. “Ticket sales have still not returned to pre-pandemic levels, so I’ve been working hard to find alternative sources of support through foundations,” says Stocks. “I hope that can be something the next executive director can continue with to diversify how TCGMC is funded.”

Not all of the challenges that Stocks encountered were related to the pandemic. “There are so many obstacles that someone in the role of executive director faces on a day-to-day basis,” Stocks explains. “Limited resources to accomplish ambitious goals and ideas is a challenge most nonprofit leaders face…I was also proud of navigating a complicated and complex process to secure support through programs such as the Payroll Protection Program and the Shuttered Venues Operational Grant!”

As Stocks’ last day approaches, he and his husband are looking forward to visiting and eventually moving to Mexico. “We focused our relocation research on Central Mexico in an area known as the ‘bajío’ which is a high-altitude plateau,” says Stocks. “We will spend the month of August in Santiago de Queretaro (in the state of Queretaro) and will use that home base as a jumping off point for visiting other communities to discover the right fit!”

Stocks is not a native Minnesotan and, as such, he admits that he never got used to our sometimes brutal winters. “It’s always been in the back of my brain to leave for ‘warmer pastures’ and long considered the Pacific NW to be closer to my family,” says Stocks. After much consideration, Mexico felt like a better fit. “I was in a Spanish immersion school growing up and have spent time in Mexico and other Spanish speaking countries.”

At the time of our interview, TCGMC was still looking for their next Executive Director. “I hope to have some time to overlap with the next executive director! In addition to all the important passwords and files,” Stocks chuckles. “I would want to pass along a deep sense of reverence for the legacy and importance of an organization like TCGMC that has been doing its work for over forty years!”

Stocks will be missed at TCGMC. At the time of publication, the final performance of this season (two nights of Popular: A Broadway Cabaret) will have just passed, leaving Stocks one more month to wrap up loose ends and say his goodbyes. We here at Lavender wish him well in his future endeavors and look forward to seeing what is next for TCMGC. 

Photo courtesy of Kevin Stocks

Glitter and Life An Interview With Emily Saliers Of Indigo Girls

The Indigo Girls – Emily Saliers and Amy Ray – are having a moment. Since the release of Greta Gerwig’s Barbie movie in the summer of 2023, in which the queer duo’s “Closer To Fine” was heard repeatedly, to today, when they are prominently featured in Tom Gustafson’s Glitter & Doom and Alexandria Bombach’s doc Indigo Girls: It’s Only Life After All, Indigo Girls are hotter than ever. That’s just the half of it! In addition to a well-received performance on the Today show, Indigo Girls are embarking on a multi-city concert tour, including several dates with Melissa Etheridge. In the midst of their super busy schedule, Emily was generous enough to make time for an interview.

Gregg Shapiro: In the introduction to my favorable review of Alexandria Bombach’s documentary Indigo Girls: It’s Only Life After All, I talk about how since the summer of 2023, when “Closer To Fine” was featured prominently in Greta Gerwig’s Barbie to today when we are speaking, Indigo Girls are having an amazing year. So, I’d like to begin by asking you to say what it meant to you to have “Closer To Fine” heard in Barbie.

Emily Saliers: First of all, it was a huge surprise to be asked. And it was an honor because both Amy and I adore Greta Gerwig’s work. It just kind of fell out of the sky, this massive gift. We knew it was going to be in the trailer, but we didn’t know it was gonna be in the film. We certainly didn’t know that was going to be featured in its own way in terms of its content in the movie. It was so exciting and so gratifying because we love Greta’s work. I loved the movie, too. I thought it was amazing on so many levels. The issues it delved into, the way it looked, how stylized it was, how funny it was, how clever, and the dancing. The whole thing was like this big experience. So, to have “Closer To Fine” included in something that I really loved so much as a piece of art was

fantastic. Then, of course, there was a spike in interest, I think, in the Indigo Girls’ music. What a gift that was to come out of nowhere and take hold. I think we’re still feeling the repercussions of that in a positive way.

GS: As I mentioned, I enjoyed the doc It’s Only Life After All. How did it feel to be the subject of a documentary and have your life and career highlighted that way?

ES: We met Alexandria, the director, through Kathlyn Horan who was one of the producers on the documentary. We had lunch together and she said, “I’d like to make a documentary about y’all. I can see that that’s never been done before.” In our conversations, we were clear with Alexandria that we wanted it to be not so much just about us, but about our community. About a community that has gone through these things together. I think she handled that very deftly and respectfully. Instead of feeling like, “Here’s a movie about y’all,” it feels more like here’s a movie about the power of music and community. Especially for queer folks or people who don’t fit inside a box, for them to have an openness and expression. And for us to go through our hard times in life together. The fact that it landed within the scope of the time of Barbie and Glitter & Doom, was just kind of like, “Wow! What is happening?” This is like the giving season for the Indigo Girls.

GS: I’m glad you mentioned Glitter & Doom. When I interviewed Amy in 2023 about her solo album (“If It All Goes South”), I asked her about the possibility of a stage musical consisting of Indigo Girls songs, and that’s when I learned about Glitter & Doom. The movie not only incorporates many Indigo Girls songs, but you also appear in the movie as the character of The Dream. What was that experience like for you?

ES: We read the script — we get script submissions sometimes — but this one really stood out. We loved the story. Then we heard the music, Michelle Chamuel’s arrangements and production, and how our music was arranged, produced, and performed in a way that we’d never heard before. That was really exciting for us and we loved it. We love Tom (Gustafson) and Cory (Krueckeberg) who co-directed the film (written by Krueckeberg). To be a cameo – Amy, I think, was terrified. Amy will tell you she does not like to act. I think she did an amazing job. For me, it was exciting. I was in high school theater, and I don’t mind that. We had a different experience of actually being in the film. We both love the movie and it just premiered in a theater in New York. It’s so well done. It’s a colorful and well- directed film with the songs. The actors are captivating. I love the story. Again, it was this wonderful piece of art that someone was creating that they invited us to be part of with our music. That feels good. Also, the other thing, Gregg, that’s important to me and Amy, is that when we were coming up, I remember this growing up as a young queer in Atlanta; there was a divide between the gay male world and the lesbian world. There was the complexity of the horror of the AIDS crisis, but beyond that, there was a separation, sort of never the twain shall meet. I feel like this experience with Tom and Cory and the gay male presence, the queer presence in the film, and then bringing in the lesbian artists to contribute was such a great energy and a great confluence of things that historically has not always happened. It’s sort of like bringing all the queers together. That was profoundly moving to me and Amy, as well. I think it was important. I don’t know if you remember that divide.

GS: I do! We’re close in age, and I remember that divide within the community. When I would tell people about Glitter & Doom, about how it features the Indigo Girls’ music, they would ask if it was a movie about a lesbian couple. I’d tell them, no, it’s about a male couple and they’d say, “Wow! Indigo Girls songs in a movie about a gay male couple!” So, yes, you’re right. Glitter & Doom attempts to bridge that gap.

ES: It does. I knew it, intellectually, but sitting in the theater and experiencing it was a whole other thing. It brought to life the way that queer people come together and the power of that, artistically, politically, socially, in every realm. Amy was sitting there in the theater experiencing the same thing and we didn’t realize it until we started answering questions during the Q&A after the film was shown.

GS: Glitter & Doom also includes a song from your 2017 solo album “Murmuration Nation.” What does that inclusion mean to you?

ES: When I heard the way it’s treated in the movie, it was so thrilling. I wrote that song, “Match,” with Kristen Hall, one of the original members of Sugarland. It takes a seed of a song that was written so long ago for fun with a friend, and it makes it become this whole world of its own in the context of

the movie. I love the way it was treated musically. In a way, it’s like sitting outside of something and hearing something beautiful, but then it’s con nected to you because you created it. It’s hard to articulate, but I thought it was really cool that they included a solo song from each of us in the whole body of work for the movie. For me, sitting there as an audience member, I was like, “Oh, who wrote this song? It’s pretty. This is really working [laughs].” It was the experience of being outside and inside at the same time and I don’t get to experience that a lot. It was really cool.

GS: We’re speaking on March 28, and later today Indigo Girls perform at David Geffen Hall in New York, and the concert in cludes a conversation with the brilliant music journalist Ann Pow ers. What are you most looking forward to about that?

ES: Amy and I have the utmost respect for Ann Powers. When we first met her, we were so intimidated, I don’t think we could barely speak [laughs]. Now, our paths have crossed through the years. To sit in an in timate gathering and talk with Ann, it’s always an honor to have anything mediated by Ann. She’s such a stellar journalist, a journalist of incredible pedigree. It’s going to be intimate because Amy and I won’t be standing up at our mic stands and doing a whole show. We’re seated and we’re play ing songs and Ann is asking questions about the process. It’s going to be a much more intimate experience. Of course, to be in New York, it’s one of my very favorite places to play. We’re looking forward to it. Lincoln Center is beautiful. It’s sold out. They’re going to be showing it on big screens outside the theatre, and that will be cool, too. I’m looking forward to the whole experience of it.

GS: Speaking of concerts, Indigo Girls are touring with Melissa Etheridge. How did this amazing combination come to be?

ES: It is so cool! We’ve never done anything like this with Melissa. Of course, we have such respect for her career and her music. She was doing one of those rock cruises and we got invited to be on that, and we couldn’t do it. But the speed was planted. After all these years, there was interest from both parties to play some shows together. Then it turned out to be playing summer sheds together. She’ll have her thing and we’ll have our band, and we’ll do some stuff together. Then it turned into this run of shows. When we first announced to a crowd that we were doing shows with Melissa Etheridge, it was in the Northeast somewhere, peo ple screamed [laughs]! It was like, “Okay, this is a good decision.” We’ve been in touch with each other about doing a song together or whatever the case may be. It’s the first time we’ve done something like this with a storied artist like Melissa and we’re both so excited.

GS: Additionally, on Sept. 1 Indigo Girls are playing Town Hall in Provincetown.

ES: Woo hoo!

GS: This made me wonder if Lea DeLaria, who not only ap pears in Glitter & Doom, but is also a presence in PTOWN might be joining the Indigo Girls for a number.

ES: We haven’t heard from Lea, but we would always welcome Lea with open arms, of course. We love Lea, and if Lea is there, of course we’ll do something together. But we haven’t gone through official lines. Maybe you’re putting the bug in Lea’s ear right now.

GS: I’m sure you don’t need to be reminded, but it’s been four years since the release of the Indigo Girls’ “Look Long” album. Is there a new Indigo Girls album in the works?

ES: It’s kind of floating in the ether. Everything is meeting at this juncture where we have the documentary and Glitter & Doom Barbie happened, and we’re doing a lot of symphony shows and touring. At the same time, Amy has a 10- year-old-daughter and I have an 11-yearold-daughter. We’re feeling the pain of missing life. So, we’re trying to orchestrate how to keep our lives in balance with home life and touring. Then Amy had a super long tour with her solo band. And I’m writing for musical theater. To answer your question, as we’re getting older, we just seem to be getting busier [laughs] with these projects that are all wonder ful. We have talked about the next album, and we started tossing around ideas, but we’re going to take a little bit of a mental break this summer and spend time with our family. Then I’m sure we’ll be refreshed after that and from the tour with Melissa and Amos Lee and start to really focus in on when we can do the next album. There will be a next album, it’s just been such a busy time. 

Shell Ya! Pop.Fizz.Swim Founder and CEO Takes a Deep Dive Into His Brand

Founder and CEO Benjamin Silas fell in love with the fashion of the 1920s when he was just in sixth grade upon being assigned to present a project about the decades. Inevitably, Silas got assigned the ’20s.

The idea of a one piece swimsuit or covering up the top was particularly appealing, Silas said. From dealing with weight-related issues almost his entire life, Silas wanted to build a brand that encouraged and elicited body positivity.

“It was always one of those things that was just like, ‘well that product doesn’t exist,’ so I guess it’s cool,” Silas remarked.

Flash forward to 2020, Silas and his fiancé were watching a film set in the 1920s one night. His partner is non-binary, having chest surgery twice in their life and was struggling with body image issues.

“My fiancé was the one who said ‘I’ve always wanted a swimsuit like that because of my chest issues’,” Silas said. “I thought I was the only one, but they were like ‘no it would actually really help a lot of people feel more comfortable and confident.”

Spending the rest of the evening brainstorming, and the following weeks sketching and researching potential patterns, aesthetics and stylesthe current brand known as Pop.Fizz.Swim, began to emerge.

“There needs to be something that’s an alternative than what’s currently out there, which is just like tiny Speedos,” Silas said. “And, things that were pushing the narrative ‘if you don’t have a six pack or you know or have a perfect body then you are not worthy.”

Making a product that was as inclusive, versatile and stylish with an added modern twist was at the heart of what Silas wanted the brand to be.

“Six packs are welcome, but not required,” Silas said. “You don’t have to look like this to be comfortable and fabulous.”

What was originally designed to be a one piece, became two pieces held together by a belt to resemble how suits were made in the late 1920s, according to Silas. The change would make it easier to go to the bathroom, and the added zipper on the compression top would make it easier to take off.

The suits put modesty at the forefront, accompanied with extra inner lining in the front, a removable belt, and a large back pocket to carry items, Silas said. Each suit is made ethically, with a production company called “Lefty,” which is headquartered in Los Angeles.

“It was very important for me that my suits and products be ethically made and ethically sourced, and not produced in a sweatshop,” Silas said. “Initially, I was looking at manufacturers in China, but there was a lot of issues, one of the main ones being that it’s not easy to hop on a plane and go and check out the factory and check out how things are made.”

Photos courtesy of Benjamin Silas/Pop.Fizz.Swim

The suits fabrics are made with recycled plastic bottles that are then turned into polyester, Silas said. The fabric used is 78% REPREVE and 22% spandex, with 13 plastic bottles going into every yard of the REPREVE fabric.

“I’m taking a personal or a little bit of a cut, even though it’s still on the pricier side,” Silas said. “It’s less expensive than it should be because I want my products to be economically accessible as well.”

The brand creates multiple different collections with an assigned design style, currently selling Mod, Resort, Pride, Classic, Art Deco and Signature, according to Silas. Each of the pieces are deigned to be mixed and matched, with the Pride collection being available all year round.

“I have had the most fun with the resort collection because there’s just a lot of fruity fun,” Silas said. “It has such bright colors and just such a lot of amazing things going on there, such as florals, tropics and birds.”

The “classic” collection uses stripes, solids and nautical themes, while the Signature is based on the company’s otter logo, and the Art Deco draws inspiration from the Great Gatsby and conducting research on historical architecture in the cities, Silas added.

“I often fall into this habit of watching documentaries about how fashion lines rise and fall,” Silas said. “And, more often than not, what causes their destruction is that it’s just been just discovered that they’re using horrible sweatshop labor and their workers are being paid pennies on the dime

to make products that are then being sold for hundreds of dollars, so for me it was never really that difficult because I wanted to always been focused on quality.”

When it comes to the future of the company, Silas said he would ideally want the brand to be like Lacoste or Ralph Lauren, two lifestyle brands. Coordinating robes that match either the tops or bottoms made out of Turkish towel material are expected to be sold soon.

A full accessory line comprised of totes, towels, champagnes and a partnership with brands like Warby Parker on specialty sunglasses is also on the horizon, Silas added.

“I didn’t really start this line to become rich, so making money and profits was never at the top of my priorities,” Silas said. “For me, it was always about having sustainably made products and ethically made products because I’m personally obsessed the business world.” 


Deep In The Heart

Welcome to San Antonio, sizzling with a spicy blend of Mex and Tex, blending and showcasing the union of two cultures over 300 years of shared history—all seasoned by a bit of liberal blue amidst the red state’s mindset at the polls.

Plus, I swear, it’s the darned prettiest (and fastest-growing) enclave in what’s certifiably a darned pretty state. Much of the credit goes to the city’s iconic River Walk, a 15-mile stretch of heaven meandering below street level, bordered by lush greenery, spanned by romantic bridges, with a choral soundtrack provided by arias of birds.

It’s enticing for strolling any time of any day, but especially mesmerizing when seen from a boat ride such as GO Rio offers in its 35-minute narrated tours. The two-mile downtown section of the walk is packed with bars, shops and cafes such as Boudros, where I sipped a prickly pear Margarita as I bit into a plump, yucca fried oyster sweetened with serrano-honey aioli as a prelude to a tasty plate of shrimp & grits.

As twilight deepened, I headed to nearby Cathedral Square for the free nightly sound and light show (9 and 9:30) highlighting the city’s vivid history against its stone façade—a story unfolding as cattle trudged the plains accompanied by a Scott Joplin rag.

Returning by morning light, within the somber cathedral I paid obeisance to the tombs of Davy Crockett and his peers, slain defending the Alamo. Then on to the Alamo itself—small and spare (free admission), where those Texans held out for 13 days against Mexico’s General Santa Anna (audio guides available). Cannonballs’ dents can still be seen from that momentous 1836 collision of the cultures. Guides point out the faint, recently-unearthed murals that gird its walls.

The Alamo is one of several such missions constructed a day’s ride in the saddle apart. I continued on to San Antonio Missions National Historical Park, anchored by Mission San Jose. The enclave, dating back to the 1700s, includes a Visitors Center, where a film explains its history. Park rangers offer free tours at 10 and 11 AM (“before it gets too hot”) of the walled-in fort, erected to offer protection to whites and natives alike against enemy raiders. We peeked into a grist mill, which ground wheat into flour for the 1,000 loaves consumed daily; we peered at the living quarters, and admired the petite church whose interior, clad in white, boasts a blue altar wall from which wide-eyed Spanish-looking saints observe.

Close to the Alamo stands the Spanish Governor’s Palace—if “palace” is the right word to name this intimate abode which began life in 1722 as a one-room house. Three rooms—high ceilings, thick white walls— were added in 1749, and today immerse visitors, via furnishings of the times, in the comfy lifestyle of this one-time VIP.

Leap a century forward to explore the ways of the wild, wild west in the Briscoe Museum. Its intriguing collection of spurs—reflecting the personas of their owners, like your necktie might—indicated where these riders hailed from; their saddles, elegantly displayed, serve as works of art. There’s a splendid Blackfoot ceremonial war shirt, fringed and beaded. A covered wagon, a windmill, a vaquero’s

sombrero and lasso, a Mexican general’s fancy uniform all bring the era to life, as do the hefty pistols and rifles of the times. There’s a special gallery devoted to Women of the West. And a great gift shop!

The Witte Museum (“San Antonio’s most visited”) unfolds Texans’ history, starting with dinosaur bones. Animals of the plains in scenic montages then give way to People of the Pecos— portraits who interactively speak their stories as visitors approach their visages—a German farmer, a Mexican cook. Interactive displays invite visitors to pack a burro for the trek (hey, don’t overload the poor critter: maybe leave the family china behind). Exhibits range from branding irons to a portable jail to themed pinball machines, where I get to try my luck at avoiding an Indian raid, rattlesnakes, lack of water and loco weed. You’ll also spy Davy Crickett’s fiddle and photos of the 1930s Chili queens. Plus—my favorite!—the ultraglittery gowns of former Fiesta royalty.

The San Antonio Museum of Art dives deeper into former cultures, including fascinating finds from Egypt, Greece and Rome. Its European and Texan rooms continue the story, but if you’re rushed for time, speed straight to the Latin American Peoples Art, collected by Nelson Rockefeller, whose eye ranged from Day of the Dead altars to decorated ponchos, plus a photo-ready life-size concrete bear and bull—reason enough to get on at plane and head right here.

Hipsters, a heads-up: Even if most museums give you hives, you’ll bask in this one, called Hopscotch. Debuting in 2020, its 15 exhibits—er, rooms—are “immersive, interactive,” explains Experience Manager Gage, who escorted me through this wonderland, ranging from a color therapy room to an optical illusion room, from a “create your own kaleidoscope” room to a rainbow cave formed from 40,000 plastic bags, on to a room on which to blaze graffiti via lasers. Bonus: a bar at the entrance serves as THE local scene until 10 PM.

Hipsters (and everybody else) invariably head to The Pearl, a lively shopping/entertainment/ dining complex which debuted in 2006 and keeps on growing. Latest addition: the indoor Pullman Market, offering gourmet necessities (wine to ice cream, cooking vessels to exotic spices). Roam the Pearl from bookstore to cantina, a grassy, fountain-splashing pocket park to a brewery, and many-many-many restaurants.

The Alamo, San Fernando Cathedral, Best Quality Daughter, GO Rio: Сruises and River Walk. Photos by Carla Waldemar


River Walk Pride Parade occurs in June.

QFest film festival is held in October



Karaoke and drag.

Sparks Club

No rez; outside food OK.


No-frills, down-home.

Bonhom Exchange

Over 30 years; voted best LGBTQ+ dance club in town.

My fave of the entire food-fantastic trip to the city was Best Quality Daughter, housed in a Barbie-pink bungalow just outside the Pearl. Here, the Chinese-flavored menu ranges from don’t-miss mochi-cheddar hush puppies with Thai dipping sauce to throw-back entrees like creamy coconut tom yum noodles and local mushroom chow mein. I slurped the “Are You There, God? It’s Me, Margarita,” bumped up with lychee liqueur and rosewater.

More irresistible eats: Poblano’s chilaquiles, ramped up with scrambled eggs, cheese, and bacon (great downtown people-watching, too). The avo toast at Box Street Social, anchoring Hemisphere Park, launched to celebrate the 1968 World’s Fair and now home to scads of restaurants, a splash park and garden spaces. La Panaderia’s breakfast benedict saluting spicy fried chicken as well as such necessities as croissants filled with sweet strawberries and whipped cream. Prime people-watching here, too.

Same at Eddie’s Taco House—clearly a locals-only spot, where I was the only tourist, plagued by deciding which of the menu’s 44 varieties of tacos to mix and match. Dinner at Toro Kitchen transported me from Tex and Mex to Spain—a treat list of tapas and paellas, plus fancy Margaritas to savor indoors or, on this balmy evening, in the peaceful backyard patio.

To bite into the food and culture of this intriguing city, check out 

Deadline: December 4, 2024

Published: December 26,

hawk’s eye views of the Mississippi River and Old Fountain City, Wisconsin.

Pride Journeys Lake Tahoe

Bordering California and Nevada is the iconic town of South Lake Tahoe. The destination seamlessly blends natural splendor with vibrant urban life. Surrounded by the majestic Sierra Nevada, this charming city is a year-round haven for outdoor enthusiasts, adventure seekers, and those looking for a retreat into nature’s embrace.

Lake Tahoe enjoys a prime location on the shores of the largest alpine lake in North America. The city is surrounded by towering mountain peaks creating a stunning backdrop for every activity and adding an extra layer of allure to the area. The lake itself, with its crystal-clear waters and breathtaking panoramas, serves as the centerpiece of the region’s natural beauty, making it a great destination to visit year-round.

Boasting a plethora of outdoor activities during the warmer months, the lake becomes a playground for water sports enthusiasts, offering opportunities for kayaking, paddleboarding, jet skiing, and sailing. Miles of hiking and biking trails wind through the surrounding mountains, providing stunning views of the lake and the surrounding wilderness.

Come winter, the city transforms into a winter wonderland, attracting skiers and snowboarders to its world-class ski resorts. The city is in close proximity to popular resorts like Heavenly Mountain Resort and Sierra-at-Tahoe, providing access to pristine slopes and top-notch amenities. The crisp mountain air, snow-covered landscapes, and vibrant après-ski scene make Lake Tahoe a premier destination for winter sports enthusiasts.

Beyond its natural wonders, Lake Tahoe offers a vibrant entertainment and nightlife scene. The city is home to numerous restaurants, bars, and cafes catering to a variety of tastes. The bustling Heavenly Village is a hub for shopping, dining, and entertainment, featuring a range of boutiques, art galleries, and live entertainment venues. One of my favorite venues in Heavenly Village is The Loft, a combination of a restaurant and theater featuring upscale tapas and fabulous cocktails.

On my visit to The Loft, I enjoyed the Ahi Tuna ceviche which was complimented with mango and avocado ceviche as well as the Roasted Tomato Bisque with lump crabmeat. I try to eat healthy when I travel, but I couldn’t resist the White Chocolate bread pudding. I hiked earlier in the day, so I wasn’t that worried about the calories. After dinner, I caught the magic show by Chipper Lowell. With an unusual blend of standup, improvisation, and magic, Chipper has twice been honored with the Merlin award for “Comedy Magician of the Year” by the International Magicians Society. He was also named as one of the “Top Funniest Magicians” performing today by Magic Magazine.

For those feeling lucky, the famed casinos on the Nevada side of the border add a touch of excitement to the Lake Tahoe experience. Try your hand at the tables or enjoy a show, making for a lively evening in town. If gambling isn’t your thing, head to Flatstick Pub for indoor mini-golf and drinks.

Lake Tahoe also boasts cultural and historical attractions that provide insight into the area’s rich past. The Tallac Historic Site offers a glimpse into the region’s pioneer days, with well-preserved estates and museums showcasing the history of the destination. The area’s Native American heritage is celebrated at the Valhalla Tahoe Heritage and Arts Center.

The region places a strong emphasis on environmental conservation and sustainable tourism. Efforts to protect the lake’s clarity and preserve its natural beauty involve community initiatives, responsible development practices, and ongoing partnerships between local businesses and environmental organizations such as the Lake Tahoe Destination Stewardship Council, a lake-wide collaborative effort to protect the lake.

Black Bear Lodge, The Loft Restaurant/Lounge, Lake Tahoe, Joey at Van Sickle Bi-State Park. Photos by Joey Amato

I stayed at two different properties during my visit. The first is Coachman Hotel, which is located within blocks of Heavenly Village. The multi-building property was originally built in 1960 as two separate motels but was combined in the 1980’s. The hotel offers comfortable rooms, complimentary Stumptown coffee and nightly s’mores if your heart desires. The property features a fitness center, pool, hot tub, multiple fire pits and occasionally you may spot a ‘friendly’ black bear. I happened to cross paths with her on the first night of my stay. It was quite dark, and I couldn’t tell if the figure I was seeing was a statue…until it started walking. She walked past me and once my heart started beating again, I slowly made my way to the lobby. Only in Lake Tahoe!

The is a chance of spotting a black bear during your trip to Lake Tahoe. If you do, it is best to keep your distance. Visitors should not approach the bears nor feed them. For more information on what you should do if you encounter a bear, visit Bear League’s website.

After a wonderful night’s sleep, I woke up early the next morning and headed to the lobby for breakfast. The reception desk doubles as a bar where guests can enjoy breakfast in the morning and cocktails later in the day, unless you’d like a mimosa with breakfast. I decided to try the overnight oats with berries. It was so good, I had it on both mornings of my stay at Coachman Hotel. After my healthy breakfast, I had some time to kill, so I took a leisurely walk to Lakeside Beach where I got my first glimpse of the glistening lake.

If you’re looking to keep up with your yoga practice, head to Bliss Experiences and take one of their Sustainable Stability classes. It was exactly what I needed to work out all the stiffness from traveling the day before. During the warmer months, Bliss offers a variety of outdoor yoga experiences, including paddle yoga and beach yoga. I also had the chance to have an oracle reading, which turned out to be fairly accurate and echoed what a psychic told me the following day.

For lunch, head to Sidellis, an LGBTQ-owned restaurant/bar which serves a great selection of pub fare including a delicious French Dip. The owner was slinging drinks on the day I visited and told me about his vision for the establishment. Sidellis offers diners a selection of Barrel Aged beers, seasonal beers as well as ciders.

If you have time, hop on the Sunset Champagne Cruise to Emerald Bay organized by Tahoe Cruises. The two-hour voyage takes guests to picturesque Emerald Bay which is one of the most photographed locations in Lake Tahoe. You’ll come up close to Vikingsholm mansion which was built in 1928 by Lora Knight and is considered one of the grandest homes in the region. Knight built the Scandinavian-inspired home because Emerald Bay reminded her of the fjords of Norway. Be sure to bring a jacket as the temperature drops dramatically as the sun goes down. Luckily, there is a full bar offering a variety of beverages including hot cider and spiked hot chocolate if you decide not to drink the endless champagne.

I spent the last night of my stay at Black Bear Lodge, a beautiful property surrounded by mature trees and a picturesque setting. It is a bit further from the hustle and bustle, but there are still a variety of restaurants within walking distance.

My room at Black Bear Lodge came complete with a gas fireplace, comfortable sitting area, and essential oil diffuser, perfect for a relaxing evening. Guests can also gather at the quaint wine bar located just off the lobby or grab a glass of wine and mingle with other guests in the hot tub.

Getting to and from Lake Tahoe is quite simple. Most people fly into Reno-Tahoe airport and jump on the South Tahoe shuttle which takes a little over an hour. Once in town, the Lake Link is a free shuttle service which guests can use. All you need to do is download the app. Lake Link is a very convenient service and a great substitute for Uber if you are looking to save money but be sure to schedule your trip about 30-minutes in advance. I found that to be the average wait time.

The late fall season was the perfect time to visit. It was busy but not overly crowded and the weather was absolutely perfect. Cool mornings gave way to comfortable afternoons when you only needed a light sweater. The evenings were a bit chilly, but nothing too extreme.

Whether you seek adventure on the slopes, relaxation by the lake, or a taste of the local culture, South Lake Tahoe has something for everyone. This captivating destination invites visitors to immerse themselves in the beauty of nature while enjoying the warmth and hospitality of a mountain town that truly has it all.

Enjoy the Journey! 

Saugatuck Douglas Michigan’s Hidden Gem

With the warm summer air and the desire to relax outside, many are already looking to book a trip to somewhere magical. While many well known places might come to mind, a hidden gem located on the shores of Lake Michigan might just take the cake.

The Saugatuck Douglas area of Michigan might not be an area that people think of when planning summer vacations, but after hearing of the countless joys of the location, it becomes a place one won’t soon forget. From friendly faces, breathtaking natural landscapes, and delicious food and wine, to rainbow crosswalks and festivals, the area is packed with memory making adventures.

Lisa Mize is one of the lucky individuals who can call Saugatuck Douglas home. After moving away from the neighboring city she grew up in, she found herself making her way back to the area. And, when her niece recommended she apply for the interim executive director position for the Saugatuck Douglas Area Convention & Visitors Bureau, she put in her resume. Five years later, Mize is still “tickled”, as she puts it, to share the delights of her home community.

When asked about recommendations, one of the first things Mize spoke of was the area’s beautiful nature.

“There are a lot of natural areas that the town, both Saugatuck and Douglas, have made it a priority to keep natural, and I think that’s part of what keeps this place special. When people come here they feel like there’s a lot of nature and there’s a lot of places to explore,” Mize said.

In addition to Lake Michigan, the area houses the Kalamazoo River, a river that allows boaters and paddle boarders to follow it up stream or into the lake. They have beaches, sand dunes, the Saugatuck Dunes State

Photos provided by Saugatuck Douglas Area Convention & Visitors Bureau

Park, forests, and plenty of neat hiking locations such as Mt. Baldhead, a 302 step walk up that overlooks the downtown area.

In addition to the nature-rich scene, the area has a captivating history the community is more than proud to share. Mize spoke of the early artists that settled into the small-town destination to escape the big city of Chicago and work on their craft. After ditching the big city in 1905, the Chicago Institute of Art students focused on plein air painting to depict the local scenery. Since then, the city has grown into an artistic haven. Multiple studios and galleries, as well as Ox-Bow School of Arts, keep the art community thriving.

“Ox-Bow School of the Arts is now an artist and residence type program where you can take classes there, and they have different buildings where people can actually stay and live in the summer, only in the summer, but yes, Ox-Bow has made it very much an art coast, but we also have a ton of art galleries because of the art influence here,” Mize said.

And, Mize isn’t the only one who loves to talk about the area’s history. The many different recreational activities the area hosts such as the Saugatuck dune buggy rides and the Star of Saugatuck paddle boat offer fun experiences backed with interesting history lessons.

“Do the Saugatuck dune buggy rides. It’s a kind of a cool, fun, wild ride that takes you through the sand dunes, but the drivers all have a fabulous sense of humor, and they’ll tell you a little bit about the history of the area, they’ll tell you about the lost city of Singapore that’s buried beneath the sand, they’ll take you up high on one of the dunes so you can actually see Lake Michigan, you’ll be able to get out and take pictures, it’s just a fun thing to do,” Mize said.

Not only does the area have plentiful activities and beautiful spaces, but the community is also welcoming of everyone. Saugatuck Douglas is proud to represent and host the LGBTQ+ community. Since the 1950s, the area has been known as a safe retreat for the LGBTQ+ community to bask in the sun, swim in the beaches, and just have a wonderful time. Not only does the community host Pride Fest and run many different LGBTQ+ friendly and operated businesses, but they also celebrate pride with their rainbow sidewalk and multiple rainbow crosswalks.

Saugatuck Douglas, Michigan may be an area unfamiliar to you, but after learning a bit about the small town area community, it is a place worth a visit. For more information about the location, visit their website. There, you can learn more about the area’s fascinating history, sweet nature spots, and how to plan the perfect visit. On the website, you can also learn more about their upcoming events, some of which include:

• Jazz in the Vines | June 29 | Michigan Wine Company | Fennville MI

• 4th of July Parade | Butler St. Saugatuck, MI

• 5th of July Fireworks | Anywhere along the Kalamazoo River | Saugatuck Douglas, MI

• Venetian Festival | July 26-27 | Saugatuck, MI

• While Saugatuck Douglas is sure to make a summer special, Mize reminds everyone not to forget to come for the other seasons.

“I would come for the beaches but don’t forget to come for the fall when it’s still beautiful and they can do color tour. Winter is also a really peaceful time to come. The towns are lit up with those little white lights everywhere, it’s magical in the winter,” Mize said.

The hidden gem of Saugatuck Douglas, Michigan can give you something to look forward to year round. 

Saugatuck Douglas

“Ferry Tale” Provincetown, MA Is A Vacation Place Where Queer Friendships May Flower

When it arrived at the future Provincetown in the year of our Lord 1620, the good ship Mayflower had been through hell, or so it must have seemed. There were 102 passengers, all of whom had endured diseases varying from seasickness to scurvy. Only two score of the passengers were separatists, religious extremists who decided the only way to separate from the Church of England was to separate from England. These self-anointed pilgrims referred to themselves as “saints” and the other passengers–adventurers and tradesmen and crew—as “strangers.” The ship’s provisions were all but depleted, and the pilgrims’ below-decks prayers hadn’t restored even one little grain.

Multiple storms had broken their main beam and changed their course, causing Mayflower to land hundreds of miles north of her Virginia destination. Some of the crew recognized it as Cape Cod’s northernmost point. The passengers tarried for five weeks, squeezing out the Mayflower Compact as they did, then weighed anchor in search of more Plymouth-y pastures. Three hundred years later, the locale still receives travelers dedicated to a different sort of pilgrimage–the technical term is “vacation.”

Most modern pilgrims travel to Provincetown via a somewhat similar conveyance: a ferry from Boston (although convoluted land options are also available). The sea ride generally takes an hour-and-a-half. Toward the end of that term, the first thing the modern pilgrim will notice is a slate-colored, 252-foot-high, Heaven-clutching spire whose granite walls seem unmoved by the warm summer sun. This is the Pilgrim Monument, the most conspicuous exhibit in the Provincetown Museum.

Wheeled suitcases float over the wooden planks of MacMillan Piece like sailing ships, delivering the modern pilgrim to the Provincetown Historic District. Lying parallel to the shoreline is Commercial Street, an asphalt-andred-brick dry sea lane where bikes, vans, pedicabs, and pedestrian pass each other like affable ships in an affable night.

The reasoning behind Commercial Street’s name become obvious after a handful of steps: boutiques and bars, cafes and coffee houses, eateries and ice cream shops, souvenir stores and entertainment venues vie like mermaids and sirens for the new pilgrims’ attention. A constant, uneven movement ac-

Photos provided by the Provincetown Office of Tourism

centuates the air above the street, a flattering fluttering nudged by the briny air: from nearly every pole, porch, rail, and windowsill, familiar banners fly, alternating Old Glory and the Pride flag. The preponderance of these polyester rainbows is no coincidence: Provincetown’s ZIP code contains the most samegender couples of any such code in the United States.

In fact, Provincetown is identified time and again as one of the best LGBTQ+ vacation destinations in the world, old or new. Everything shimmers uniquely…but that’s just the light of Provincetown—because it’s surrounded on three side by water, Ptown enjoys “sea light,” a natural illumination unlike any other in the world.

“I believe every day of the year is spectacular in Provincetown, but summertime is when it’s in full glory with events, parties, daily tea dances, themed dances, nightlife and gatherings that are exuberant celebrations of the LGBTQ+ community,” affirms Provincetown’s Director of Tourism, Anthony Fuccillo. “It’s the most exciting, acclaimed time of the year to be here, and people from all walks of life visit and are always welcomed by everyone.”

July 2024 alone offers queer Provincetown pilgrims a wide array of LGBTQ+ cultural options. Bear Week begins on July 13th. Scheduled events include Bear Week’s Watering Hole Welcoming Party and Cigar Social, mixers, noodle nights, game nights, bears boxers and brief parties (with or without dancing), a jazz brunch, and even a pancake pool party where back hair is not required but highly encouraged. Although Bear Week can be experienced in ways that are either stimulating or sanguine, hibernation is obviously never an option.

Girl Splash: A Summer Week For Women will be celebrated between July 24th and July 27th. It’s one of five monthly happenings presented by Provincetown for Women, a local, grrrl-o-centric non-profit. As of press time, the specific events haven’t been settled, but past year’s Splash included the Girl Splash Welcome Meet-Up, Lesbian Beach at Herring Cove, Sunset Dune Tour (followed by a Beach Bonfire), Babes & Bois Provincetown Trolley Tour, Babes & Bois’ Cliterary Book Club, Babes & Bois + Coyote Kayak Adventure, along with live music, live comedy, feminist readings, whale watching, and even a pick-up softball game.

July 27th marks the beginning of Family Week. According to Family Equality, the event’s host, Provincetown’s Family Week is the biggest such gathering of LGBTQ+ families in the world. Says the event’s official website: “From sunrise to sunset, Family Week offers opportunities for LGBTQ+ parents, children, extended families, and friends from across the globe to connect, build community, and get empowered.” Each day teems with kid-friendly fracases, including family kick ball, family beach parties,


family dance parties, family movie nights, family musical matinee, family yoga classes, drag bingo, drag story time, and daily workshops that foster community-building. The whole thing concludes on the night of August 2nd with a Teen Dance. The compact Provincetown has made with its modern pilgrims assures that visitors are always treated as saints and never as strangers. “I would be remiss to not mention our second summer in September and October when it remains lively with more than enough to do, the festivals continue, the beaches sizzle and the water is warmer than July and August, and the room rates are less expensive,” observes Fuccillo. “Just think of Ptown as a kaleidoscope of activities and fun, and we like to say adventures filled with pride!” 


Alaska and the Yukon A Journey Through Nature’s Majesty

Setting off on Holland America Line’s 10-Day Yukon + Denali tour, I anticipated a journey rich with landscapes, history, and wildlife encounters. The recent announcement of Holland America’s Glacier Day and the Glacier Guarantee added extra excitement to this trip. Glacier Day offers an immersive experience with guided commentary and enhanced glacier viewing opportunities, ensuring a deeper understanding of these natural wonders. The Glacier Guarantee promises that if a glacier is not seen during the cruise, guests will receive a future cruise credit, ensuring satisfaction and memorable sightings.

Traveling to Alaska, Denali, and the Yukon during the summer months, from May to September, provides the best conditions. This season offers extended daylight hours, vibrant wildlife activity, and accessible trails, making it the optimal time to explore these breathtaking regions.

The journey begins with two days in Anchorage, where urban life meets wild terrain. From Anchorage, a scenic rail journey takes us to Denali National Park for two days of wildlife sightings and hiking. A bus ride brings us to Fairbanks for a day, known for its Gold Rush history. We then fly to Dawson City, spending a day immersed in its historic charm. Another flight takes us to Whitehorse for a day of exploration. The adventure continues with a scenic rail ride to Skagway, followed by a day at Glacier Bay, enriched by the new Glacier Day experience. The trip concludes with cruising through the Inside Passage and ending in the vibrant city of Vancouver.

For the 10-Day Yukon + Denali tour, prepare for diverse weather and activities. Pack layers, including waterproof jackets and warm clothing, as temperatures can vary greatly. Comfortable hiking boots are essential for exploring trails in Denali and other outdoor activities. Bring binoculars for wildlife viewing and a good camera to capture the stunning landscapes. Don’t forget insect repellent, sunscreen, and sunglasses. For city visits and cultural sites, casual yet presentable attire is suitable. Finally, ensure your travel documents, such as passports and tickets, are easily accessible.

Anchorage, Alaska

Our journey began in Anchorage, where the pulse of the city meets the wild expanse of Alaska. The Anchorage Museum provided a comprehensive view of Alaskan culture and history. Walking through the exhibits, I felt connected to the land’s heritage. Later, biking the Tony Knowles Coastal Trail, I absorbed the stunning vistas of Cook Inlet and the Chugach Mountains. The trail’s blend of urban and natural scenery was the perfect start to our adventure.

Denali National Park

Next, a scenic rail journey transported us to Denali National Park. Spanning six million acres, Denali showcased Alaska’s wilderness. A bus tour through the park revealed grizzly bears, caribou, and moose. Denali, the highest peak in North America, loomed large and impressive. Hiking trails, such as the Horseshoe Lake Trail, offered

deeper insights into the park’s untouched beauty. The serenity of the landscape and the diversity of wildlife made Denali a highlight of the trip.

During a hike on the Horseshoe Lake Trail, I had an unexpected encounter with a family of moose. I stayed at a safe distance, watching them graze and move gracefully through the forest. This close connection to wildlife made me appreciate the untouched beauty of Denali even more.

Fairbanks, Alaska

From Denali, a bus ride took us to Fairbanks. Known as the “Golden Heart City,” Fairbanks has a rich Gold Rush history. The University of Alaska Museum of the North displayed artifacts and exhibits that illuminated the region’s natural and cultural heritage. At Gold Dredge 8, I panned for gold, experiencing a slice of Fairbanks’ storied past. The Riverboat Discovery cruise along the Chena River offered a blend of scenic beauty and cultural education, highlighting local traditions.

Panning for Gold: At Gold Dredge 8, I struck up a conversation with an elderly couple who had been panning for gold for decades. They shared stories of their adventures and even showed me how to find the right spots in the stream. The joy on their faces when they found a tiny gold nugget was infectious, and it added a personal touch to the historical experience.

Dawson City, Yukon

Flying from Fairbanks to Dawson City felt like stepping into a bygone era. The town’s historic buildings and wooden sidewalks retained the charm of the Gold Rush era. Exploring the Klondike National Historic Sites, I could sense the spirit of the gold seekers. The Midnight Dome provided sweeping views of the town and the Yukon River, a reminder of the vastness and history of the area. The blend of history and natural beauty made Dawson City a memorable stop.

While standing atop the Midnight Dome, I met a fellow traveler who was tracing their family’s gold rush history. They shared old photographs and stories passed down through generations. Their personal connection to the place added depth to the view, making it more than just a scenic overlook but a window into the past.

Whitehorse, Yukon

A flight took us next to Whitehorse, the capital of Yukon. The MacBride Museum of Yukon History offered a deep dive into the region’s past. At the Yukon Wildlife Preserve, I saw muskoxen and elk in their natural habitats. Relaxing in the Takhini Hot Springs after a day of exploration was a perfect way to unwind. The combination of educational experiences and natural beauty made Whitehorse a significant part of the journey.

At the Yukon Wildlife Preserve, I joined a small group tour led by a knowledgeable guide who had grown up in the Yukon. His passion for wildlife conservation was evident as he shared stories of rescuing injured animals and the challenges they face. His insights made the visit more meaningful and highlighted the importance of preserving these natural habitats.

Photos by Andy Newman

Skagway, Alaska

Traveling by rail to Skagway, we followed the historic route of the Klondike Gold Rush. The White Pass and Yukon Route Railroad provided stunning views of mountains and glaciers. In Skagway, the historic district’s wooden boardwalks and restored buildings spoke volumes about the past. Hiking to Lower Dewey Lake added a sense of adventure and an opportunity to immerse in the pristine environment. The mix of history and natural splendor made Skagway a highlight.

While walking along Skagway’s historic district, I visited a local café where the owner, a Skagway native, shared stories of the town’s gold rush days. She pointed out historic landmarks and shared her favorite ghost stories from the area. Her tales brought the town’s history to life in a way that no museum exhibit could.

Glacier Bay

Glacier Bay was a standout feature of the tour. The sight of massive glaciers calving into the icy waters was mesmerizing. Holland America’s Glacier Day enhanced this experience with guided commentary and viewing opportunities. Onboard naturalists provided valuable insights into the bay’s geology and wildlife. Watching humpback whales breach added a touch of wonder. The combination of educational and visual experiences made Glacier Bay unforgettable.

Ketchikan, Alaska

Known as the “Salmon Capital of the World,” Ketchikan was our next stop. The Totem Heritage Center showcased a rich collection of totem poles, revealing the stories of the native people. Walking along Creek Street, I glimpsed into the town’s colorful history. A floatplane tour over the Misty Fjords National Monument revealed dramatic cliffs and waterfalls.

Witnessing the salmon run in Ketchikan was an extraordinary experience. I watched as the salmon fought their way upstream, a testament to their resilience. Later, I joined a local fishing expedition and caught my own salmon. That evening, a local chef prepared it fresh, enhancing the experience with stories about the significance of salmon in Alaskan culture.

Scenic Cruising Through the Inside Passage

The journey continued through the scenic Inside Passage. The route’s picturesque islands and coastal rainforests offered a serene backdrop. The calm waters and beautiful landscapes provided moments of reflection and relaxation. The Inside Passage’s tranquility and beauty made this part of the trip special.

Vancouver, B.C.

The trip concluded in Vancouver. This city’s natural beauty and urban sophistication offered a perfect end to our journey. Exploring Stanley Park’s lush forests and scenic seawall provided a final connection to nature. Gastown and Granville Island offered unique shopping and dining experiences. The combination of urban charm and natural splendor made Vancouver a fitting conclusion to our adventure.

This 10-day tour with Holland America Line offered a rich tapestry of landscapes, history, and wildlife. Each destination, from Anchorage to Denali, the Yukon, and the Inside Passage, provided unique experiences and lasting memories. The combination of land and sea adventures, along with the enhanced Glacier Day, created a journey filled with discovery. This trip showcased the beauty and diversity of Alaska and the Yukon, leaving a lasting impression and a desire to return. 

Road Tripping To Kansas City

Ah, Kansas City! Home of good barbeque, baseball history, and great attractions.

Now, there may be some people who say that Kansas City is not exactly a good summer getaway destination because of the weather that the midsection of the country usually encounters. However – and let’s be real for a moment – the entire world is experiencing some sort of climate anomaly.

For now, put that aside and let’s talk about why you should take a road trip down to Kansas City…shall we?

The largest city along the Missouri-Kansas border is a six-and-a-half hour drive down Interstate 35 from the Twin Cities to almost the center of the country. It has plenty to offer an LGBTQ+ traveler, as well as to fulfill many interests. Sports is a huge attraction, along with the primary culinary attraction – Kansas City barbeque.

At its core, Kansas City-style barbeque is defined with its thick, sweet sauce over slowly smoked meat. Across the city, you have over 100 places to enjoy this local delicacy. You could go over to Joe’s (3002 W 47th Ave., Kansas City, KS) – especially the former gas station on the Kansas side. It is worth the wait to get your taste on.

Or, you can venture onto some of the lesser known places on the city’s East Side – east of Troost Avenue. To get an immersive experience, find yourself in the 18th & Vine District where the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum and the American Jazz Museum are located.

Kansas City-style barbeque is not the only culinary game in town. If you venture past the Power & Light and Crossroads Districts along Southwest Boulevard, you can sample around 30 Mexican restaurants for some authentic cuisine in the heart of the city’s primary Latino community.

Further south is where the LGBTQ+ community has its heart – Midtown and Westport.

Obviously, you’ve heard of Hamburger Mary’s (3700 Broadway Bou-

levard, Kansas City, MO). It is the primary place for LGBTQ+ Nightlife. However, there are other places to explore, such as Missie B’s, Woody’s, Sidekicks Saloon, and Fountain Haus. To add to your culinary exploration, Bistro 303 (303 Westport Rd., Kansas City, MO) is an LGBTQ+-owned restaurant and cocktail bar.

There are plenty of places that offer the heart of Kansas City. One is downtown, along with the Power & Light and Crossroads Districts. The second is south along the Kansas City Streetcar down to Crown Center where Union Station and the National World War I Museum and Memorial are located. The park on top of the hill overlooking Union Station makes for a spectacular view of the city.

Photos by Randy Stern

However, one heart of the city that is close to the LGBTQ+ community is Country Club Plaza. Designed in 1922 with a mix of Spanish architecture and European art, this open-air shopping hub offers 70 stores and 20 places to eat – 45 of which are locally owned. One such locally – and LGBTQ+ –owned place to eat is Cafe Trio (4558 Main St., Kansas City, MO) nearby to the Plaza, Westport, and museums. They’re only open for dinners, so plan accordingly.

After a shopping excursion – and possible brunch – at the Plaza or in Westport, take a leisurely drive along Ward Parkway. The lawns, the trees, the homes…there’s no need to rush. Just cruise and enjoy. If you go past the Ward Parkway Shops, you’ve gone too far.

As for a place to stay, there are plenty of accommodations across the city and region that are friendly for LGBTQ+ travelers. However, there is one that is LGBTQ+-owned – the Truitt Hotel (4320 Oak St., Kansas City, MO). This boutique hotel is a walk from the Plaza and nearby museums. After that long drive down, rest assured that there is complimentary parking on the property.

Since some of us are sports-minded, check out the latest team in town –the Kansas City Current. This professional women’s soccer club is owned by Patrick and Brittany Mahomes – one of which happen to be the quarterback of the reigning Super Bowl Champion Kansas City Chiefs. They play at CPKC Stadium near River Market – a brand-new soccer-only facility. If you want to see our Minnesota teams on the road, there’s plenty of choices to the east and west of downtown with the Chiefs and Royals at the Truman Sports Complex and Sporting KC out in Village West on the Kansas side.

After driving down to Kansas City – and all-around town – you may want a break from the hubbub of it all. RideKC operates a Streetcar line connecting River Market with Union Station. The best part is that rides are free. By

2026, the line will be extended to new north to the Berkley Riverfront Park and south along Main Street towards Country Club Plaza. All of this is to link its growing service towards covering more attractions within the city.

These are just a few great ideas to make your road trip to Kansas City a fun one. We’re just scratching the surface here. In putting this altogether, We recalled a couple of journeys we took to the City of Fountains in recent years to piece this altogether.

One was a 24-hour run with a group of automotive enthusiasts back in 2018, that consisted of a Waffle House breakfast in Liberty, Missouri, a car meet out near Olathe, Kansas, a stop at Boulevard Brewing Company, back into Kansas for some good barbeque at Joe’s, and to grab some Krispy Kreme donuts on the way back onto Interstate 35.

Then, we took a solo drive down there in 2020 – a few months into the COVID-19 Pandemic. Things were somewhat open with restrictions, but it was worth the risk. We spent a couple of nights in Kansas City during the Independence Day weekend, tooling around town and hitting some notable stops that we missed that first go-round. Not to mention, a great view of the fireworks going off near Union Station.

Planning any road trip requires a lot of research and planning, along with getting the logistics and budget just right to have as much fun at your destination. Our tip is give yourself some time for your exploration of Kansas City and don’t rush your time while you’re there. You just might miss something.

Pack up the car with your significant other, group of friends, or your emotional support [fill in the blank] – and bring your whole self to Kansas City. It’s just six-plus hours away down Interstate 35. When you get there, just enjoy the City of Fountains and soak it all in! 

Now You Can Exhale A Visionary Oasis of Wellness and Reconnection with Nature Through Klarhet

In a world that often pulls us away from our roots and inner selves, Klarhet stands as a refreshing sanctuary –a place where you can truly let go, breathe deeply, and reconnect with the simple beauty of nature and your own wellbeing. This innovative eco-resort, nestled serenely amid the landscapes of the North Shore, is the inspiring creation of a passionate couple whose personal journey has been one of profound transformation, Kirk & Nicole Leand.

At the heart of Klarhet’s inception lies a vision to redefine the travel experience itself. Born from the founders’ extensive travels over decades as well as their shared devotion to health, sustainability, and living in conscious harmony with the earth, Klarhet invites guests to embark on a journey of self-discovery and rejuvenation. “Our goal is to inspire a new way to vacation focused on three areas my husband and I are passionate about: health/wellness, food, and sustainability,” the Leands share with clear conviction.

Yet, the path that led to Klarhet’s creation was not without its immense challenges and heart-wrenching turmoil. The profound loss of their daughter became a crucible of intense pain, ultimately fueling a period of neces-

Photos courtesy of Nicole Leand/Klarhet

sary healing and personal transformation for the founders. “The last four years have been a whirlwind of pure joy, wild inspiration, and debilitating exhaustion at times,” said the Leands. It was from this alchemy of brokenness and rebirth that Klarhet took form, emerging as a sacred space where guests could experience their own renewal.

Upon arriving at Klarhet, one is immediately struck by the unique accommodations: beautiful geodesic domes that harmoniously blend architectural ingenuity with a deep connection to nature. “We fell in love with the dome after being completely consumed and thrilled by the tiny house and minimalist movement many years ago,” the Leands explain. Large bay windows invite the outside world in, offering stunning vistas of the surrounding wildlife and the vast, starry skies at night. Yet, these windows also serve an ingenious practical purpose as passive solar heat sources, reducing the need for active heating in the winter months.

Sustainability is woven into the very fabric of Klarhet’s ethos and operations. From using ecofriendly bath and paper products to composting food scraps on-site, every effort is made to tread lightly on the earth. “Our main focus is on the cultivation of a regenerative farm and food forest,” the Leands note with evident pride. This commitment to regenerative agriculture ensures that Klarhet can provide for its own basic needs in a truly sustainable, closed-loop fashion. Innovative energy solutions, such as a compost-powered heating unit and power generation from a natural water spring, further exemplify the resort’s unwavering dedication to environmental stewardship.

Yet, Klarhet is far more than just a collection of eco-friendly practices – it is a bold invitation to step out of the relentless rhythms of modern life and into a space of deep connection with nature, oneself, and loved ones.

Through carefully curated experiences that foster an intimate rapport with the natural world, guests often find themselves undergoing a gentle yet powerful transformation. The simple acts of breathing fresh mountain air, walking barefoot on the earth, and savoring farm-fresh, nourishing food can have a life changing impact on one’s overall wellbeing. “We have completely transformed our health through these simple practices,” Nicole attests.

Klarhet’s wellness offerings are designed to nurture this journey of healing and self-discovery. From farm-to-table culinary experiences and cheese-making classes to plans for integrative nursing and naturally minded wellness practices, the resort provides a multifaceted approach to holistic wellbeing. And at the core of it all is a deep reverence for the restorative power of nature itself.

Of course, creating such an ambitious, pioneering venture has not been without its fair share of challenges. As self-proclaimed “novices” in many aspects of the endeavor, the Leands state that “we have been complete novices at every stage of this project’s development, and it often showed.”

The local community, too, has embraced Klarhet with open arms, recognizing the positive impact the resort has on the region. “We received unanimous approval from the county board to bring a source of regenerative agriculture to the area,” said the Leands.

Looking ahead, the Leands have ambitious yet inspiring plans to expand Klarhet’s offerings even further. A new community and event space, classes on natural gardening and cheese-making, and additional off-grid stay options are all on the horizon. “We are adding a farm-to-table food truck featuring food cooked over fire and traditionally prepared bites,” Nicole reveals, her excitement palpable. Above all, the continued development of Klarhet’s regenerative farm and wellness experiences

remains a core priority, reflecting the founders’ commitment to their vision.

Yet, when asked about their favorite aspect of this incredible journey, the answer is simple and divinely intrinsic: the connections formed with their guests. “The support and the incredible conversations we have had with our visitors and the locals who buy our eggs truly inspire us,” the Leands said. These interactions have created a sense of community that transcends the physical boundaries of Klarhet, touching the lives of all who encounter this special place.

Perhaps the most humbling and rewarding feedback, however, has been witnessing the tangible impact of Klarhet’s vision on the lives of its guests. “Guests expressing a clear understanding of our vision and intention, noting the positive impact it had on their personal experience and how it will change their lives moving forward, has humbled us beyond words,” stated the Leands. It is in these moments that the true essence of Klarhet shines through – an example of leading the next generation of inspiration, reminding us all of the beauty that can blossom when we choose to live in harmony with nature and ourselves. Klarhet stands as a shining example of what can be achieved when vision, resilience, and a deep love for the earth converge. 


Let’s Talk About Neurodivergence and Abuse

Ask Elise is an advice column meant for suggestions regarding LGBTQ+ community member dilemmas of any kind. If I am not qualified to answer your question (regarding issues for transgender individuals, people of color, etcetera), I will ask someone who is qualified and cite them. Your question is equally important and may help another community member. If you have a question, please submit it to elise.m.maren@ listing your pronouns and pseudonym if desired. If you need someone to talk to for more urgent or serious matters, please consider using the following hotlines:

The Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender National Hotline: (888) 843-4564

Trans Lifeline: (877) 565-8860: Trans Lifeline is a trans-led organization that connects trans people to the community, support, and resources they need to survive and thrive.

TRIGGER WARNING: This community member’s question has to do with emotional/physical/sexual abuse and other sensitive topics. Although I interview experts, my response should not take the place of working individually with an expert if you or someone you love is experiencing abuse or mental health issues. Please use one of the below hotlines if you or a loved one is experiencing abuse and needs urgent attention.

RAINN hotline (Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network) 1-800-656-4673

Local or regional resources are available in most counties.

Here is information about Serenity’s survivor support group: Our group is for survivors of intimate partner abuse who identify as LGBTQIA+. This group is open to anyone 18+ at any point in their healing journey, and meets weekly on Tuesday nights from 6-7:30p CST via Zoom, and is not limited to WI or MN. Email for more information, and to get added to the email list.

Dear Elise,

I saw that you interviewed an intimate partner violence advocacy specialist. My abuser was neurodivergent (non-binary trans femme who uses they/them pronouns) and I believe that aspect of their identity impacted how I was abused. I have questions for your interviewee and would like to volunteer to speak on my experience if desired.


Sarah (she/her)

Dear Sarah,

I would be honored to interview you and answers to your previous questions with more general information about lesbian abuse can be found in issue 753 of Lavender. The following text is excerpted from our interview and will be followed by the expert opinion of Serenity.

Sarah: “Thank you to my support system for getting me to a point where I can be open about my experience. This relationship started when I started college. My ex was a senior. That was not a great power dynamic, especially for a small school. We dated on and off for about two or three years. I broke up with them twice. It was incredibly messy every time so I have not spoken to them in over six years. That relationship was very confusing for me and it took a long time for me to consider what happened to be abusive because some mainstream narratives of abuse are very heteronormative and rely a lot on that presentation of masculinity. A couple of years ago I read Why Does He Do That? by Lundy Bancroft, which is a helpful book, but I was feeling pretty frustrated because it was so gendered.”

When I last spoke to them, they were identifying with being diagnosed as autistic. In retrospect, their neurodivergence made a lot of sense for both their behavior as a friend and a partner. I want to be clear that our dynamics were not immune to me struggling with my own trauma, conflict avoidance, and the fact that I was nineteen and starting my very first real relationship. There are of course things I could have done better, but when my therapist and I looked at the overarching power structure of the relationship, it was not in my favor. They were a lot more experienced than me and made the relationship all-encompassing in a way. They exhibited hallmarks of abuse like isolating me from family and friends. We were in an open relationship and they used that to stoke tension between me and my best friend by trying to be with her while telling me that I should not be friends with her anymore. I wasn’t seeing stereotypical presentations of behavior that made me think I was being abused. There was some physical stuff regarding consent to both intimate and sexual touch. They would tickle me and not listen to me asking them to stop. They would obtain consent to initiate sex, but would not listen when I revoked consent or was in pain.

Photo courtesy of Bigstock/shisuka

We would have arguments where we would be up very late at night. I got sucked into that dynamic because they are extremely intelligent, super gifted. I just wanted to understand their worldview. They were different from me in many ways (personal interests, BIPOC identity, talents) so I was very interested in getting to know them well. Of course I did not know better at the time so we would have these arguments that were like eight hour allnighters. But they weren’t screaming at me or calling me names.”

I had the honor to interview Serenity (she/her), the Legal Services Coordinator for a community based intimate partner violence survivors’ services agency. She has been involved in abuse advocacy and prevention work for almost a decade starting as a volunteer as a first-year college student. She has worked with anti-violence advocates at the regional or state level and currently works with the St. Croix Valley Sexual Assault Response Team. Serenity eloquently provided me with information and resources while noting that program budgets are getting cut at the federal level. For those doing the work to support and care for others as they heal in various ways, Serenity recommends the book Trauma Stewardship: An Everyday Guide to Caring for Self While Caring for Others by Laura Van Dernoot Lipsky and Connie Burk. Serenity is a survivor herself and leads an international support group for LGBTQIA+ survivors. Information on how to join is in the introduction to the article. For those looking to learn about lesbian abuse, my friend who is a survivor recommends the masterfully written book In the Dream House by Carmen Maria Machado.

Serenity: “Sarah, I am sorry that you experienced abuse in this way. Thank you for sharing your experience so that others may feel less alone. Yes, someone’s neurodivergence can be important to consider when evaluating a potentially abusive situation. Does the person understand the weight of how their behavior impacts you? Do you understand how their neurodivergence may lead you two to have different perspectives on relational things? Check in with them and then check in with a trusted confidant, preferably a licensed counselor if you have access to one. There are plenty of free support groups like mine out there where people would be happy to help anyone in need.”

Sincerely, Elise


Annie LeBlanc Is Not Dead Yet

Molly Morris

Wednesday Books


How many tiny towns draw lots for a deathsacrifice, or, like Lennon, CA, hold once-a-decade contests allowing the winner the choice of one person’s return–for 30 days. Wilson Moss won, choosing her ex-best friend, Annie LeBlanc, who’d ghosted Wil a year before drowning. Ryan, third best friend, isn’t speaking to Wil since they kissed, seems now permanently angry. What deep teen truths stir this plot? Is it true there’s a loophole through which Annie can return permanently? What is “permanent” in the span of a human life, even a young one? What, Wil considers, might Annie herself want? And what, most especially did Wil and Ryan’s kiss portend? Farfetched, assuredly, but Morris’s characters, including Jody, Wil’s mom; former hippie, now soon-to-be-wed-to-DoctorDavid, keep the reader’s attention engaged.

To Die in June

Alan Parks Europa


Harry McCoy’s fifth thriller opens with a Glasgow down-and-outer dead in a pile of rubble. “Govan Jamie…hangs about with my dad sometimes,” McCoy explains to partner Wattie, encapsulating his own past. They’re next transferred over to Possil station, undercover, seeking suspected inside crime; McCoy’s in the know, Wattie’s not. At Possil, a woman reports her 9-year-old son is missing–much hue and cry, then…her preacher husband greets them at the door, asserting there is no son. Never was. But there is, soon after, a hideous bludgeoning execution, blood and gore galore… and, more street people dead–poisoned? Why? Where is McCoy’s father? Parks’s thrillers beg the escalation to higher regions of darkness: “noirer,” perhaps “noirest:”–the un-adorned adjective “noir” is too pale a shade of evil.


Mesha Maren Algonquin


Shae met Cam when she was sixteen, helping her mom with a free lunch program for poor kids in a small town in Greenbriar County, WV. Narrating through Shea’s voice, her ignorance of time of consequences, the reader experiences her reality. Cam is “she,” but Shea is pregnant. Cam is changing pronouns and clothing–Shea is still pregnant. After a nearfatal C-section, daughter Eva is born, leaving Shea dependent on opioids. Shea and Cam make different life decisions, but one must consider whether Cam’s success, however difficult its achievement, might likely have been influenced by her initial immersion– despite bullying–into assumed male competence, almost diametrically opposed to Shea’s isolation within a milieu of feminine acquiescence and passivity, had tipped a balance not yet restored.

Where the Forest Meets the River


Bowering’s characters debuted in The Road to Dalton (2023). In Dalton now, it’s May,1995. Like a river’s waters, Dalton’s citizens have altered. June 3, 1990, Nate Theroux’s wife Bridget took her life; still grief-ridden, he’s being all he can for five-year-old daughter Sophie. Formerly fat kid Greg Fortin has leaned down and is returning–reluctantly–to be best man in his sister’s wedding and to work over summer in his father’s hardware store. He seeks the courage to confess his disinclination to inherit the family business, or to marry. Members of every social rank have changed; some fared well, others are declining, some passed on. Quotidian, yes: boring, no. Bowering weaves them together in their new aspects, giving hints of future possibilities in book three. 

Community Connection brings visibility to local LGBTQ-friendly non-profit organizations. To reserve your listing in Community Connection, email advertising@lavendermagazine. com.


Second Chance Animal Rescue

Dedicated to rescuing, fostering, caring for, and adopting out dogs and cats into forever homes.

P.O. Box 10533 White Bear Lake, MN 55110 (651) 771-5662



Minnesota's LGBTQ+ and Allied Chamber of Commerce working to build, connect, and strengthen for a diverse business community. 2446 University Ave. W., Ste 112 St. Paul, MN 55114 (612) 460-8153


Mystic Lake Casino Hotel

Nonstop gaming excitement with slots, blackjack, bingo and more plus distinctive bars and restaurants. 2400 Mystic Lake Blvd. Prior Lake, MN 55372 (800) 262-7799


The Nature Conservancy

TNC is an environmental nonprofit working to create a world where people and nature thrive. 1101 W. River Pkwy., Ste. 200 Minneapolis, MN 55415-1291 (612) 331-0700


Landmark Center

A classic venue, with a grand cortile and beautiful courtrooms, accommodates celebrations of all sizes. 75 W. 5th St. St. Paul, MN 55102 (651) 292-3228


PFund Foundation

PFund is the LGBTQ+ community foundation that provides grants to students and grants to non-profits. PO Box 3640 Minneapolis, MN 55403 612-870-1806


Aliveness Project

Community Center for individuals living with HIV/AIDS – on-site meals, food shelf, and supportive service. 3808 Nicollet Ave. S. Minneapolis, MN 55102 (612) 824-LIFE (5433)


Family Tree Clinic

We're a sliding fee sexual health clinic and education center, now in Minneapolis. 1919 Nicollet Ave. Minneapolis MN 55403 (612) 473-0800

Keane Sense of Rhythm

Celebrate your true self with Tap dance! 1st week free, Join us now!

2161 University Avenue W., Ste. 117 St. Paul, MN. 55114 (612) 251-4744

NAMI Minnesota

(National Alliance on Mental Illness)

Providing free classes and peer support groups for people affected by mental illnesses.

1919 University Ave. W., Ste. 400 St. Paul, MN 55104 (651) 645-2948

Red Door Clinic

HIV and STI screening, treatment, education, and referrals. Doxy PEP, nPEP, PrEP, and Reproductive Health. 525 Portland Ave., 4th Fl. Minneapolis, MN 55415 (612) 543-5555


Quatrefoil Library

Your LGBTQ+ library and community center. Free membership, events, and e-books/audiobooks. Check us out!

1220 E. Lake St. Minneapolis, MN 55407 (612) 729-2543


Radio K

Radio K is the award-winning studentrun radio station of the University of Minnesota. 330 21st. Ave. S. Minneapolis, MN 55455 (612) 625-3500


Minnesota Historical Society

Create your own adventure at MNHS historic sites and museums around Minnesota.

Walker Art Center

Showcasing the fresh, innovative art of today and tomorrow through exhibitions, performances, and film screenings. 725 Vineland Pl. Minneapolis, MN 55403 (612) 375-7600


Chanhassen Dinner Theaters

The nation's largest professional dinner theater and Minnesota's own entertainment destination. 501 W. 78th St. Chanhassen, MN 55317 (952) 934-1525

Children’s Theatre Company

Children’s Theatre Company excites the imagination with world-class familyfriendly theatre for kids, teens, and adults.

2400 3rd Ave. S. Minneapolis, MN 55404 (612) 874-0400

Guthrie Theater

Open to the public year-round, the Guthrie produces classic and contemporary plays on three stages. 818 S. 2nd St. Minneapolis, MN 55415 (612) 377-2224

Lyric Arts Main Street Stage Theater with character. Comedies, musicals, & dramas in a professional, intimate setting where all are welcomed.

420 E. Main St. Anoka, MN 55303 (763) 422-1838

Minnesota Opera

World-class opera draws you into a synthesis of beauty; breathtaking music, stunning costumes & extraordinary sets. Performances at the Ordway Music Theater - 345 Washington St., St. Paul, MN 55102 (612) 333-6669

Minnesota Orchestra

Led by Music Director Designate Thomas Søndergård, the Minnesota Orchestra, one of America’s leading symphony orchestras. 1111 Nicollet Mall Minneapolis, MN 55403 (612) 371-5656, (800) 292-4141

Ordway Center for the Performing Arts

Leading performing arts center with two stages presenting Broadway musicals, concerts & educational programs that enrich diverse audiences. 345 Washington St. St. Paul, MN 55102 (651) 224-4222

Twin Cities Gay Men’s Chorus

An award-winning chorus building community through music and offers entertainment worth coming out for! 1430 W. 28th St., Ste. B Minneapolis, MN 55408 (612) 339-SONG (7664)



All God’s Children Metropolitan Community Church

A welcoming, inclusive, safe place to explore and discover God’s love for ALL God’s children. 3100 Park Ave. Minneapolis, MN 55407 (612) 824-2673

Hennepin Avenue United Methodist Church

Everyone is welcome at Hennepin Church! Vibrant Worship. Authentic Community. Bold Outreach. 511 Groveland Ave. Minneapolis, MN 55403 (612) 871-5303

Plymouth Congregational Church

Many Hearts, One Song; Many Hands, One Church. Find us on Facebook and Twitter. 1900 Nicollet Ave. Minneapolis, MN 55403 (612) 871-7400

St. Philip's Lutheran Church

We invite and welcome those of every spiritual background, ethnicity, gender orientation, or economic situation. 6180 Hwy 65 Fridley, MN 55432 (763) 571-1500

University Baptist Church

Creating safe and inclusive spaces for 175 years, UBC stands proudly with our LGBTQ+ family. 1219 University Ave. SE Minneapolis, MN 55414 (612) 331-1768

Westminster Presbyterian Church

An open and affirming congregation, welcoming persons of all sexual orientations, gender expressions and identities. 1200 Marquette Ave. Minneapolis, MN 55403 (612) 332-3421


Friends & Co

Fostering meaningful connections for older adults for 50+ years. Offering quick drop-in chat line, phone & visiting companionship services.

2550 University Ave. W., Ste. 260-S St. Paul, MN 55114 (612) 721-1400

Senior Community Services

Providing non-medical services that meet the changing needs of older adults & support their caregivers.

10201 Wayzata Blvd., Ste. 335 Minnetonka, MN 55305 (952) 541-1019


Lutheran Social Service of Minnesota

Serving all Minnesotans with personcentered services that promote full and abundant lives. | (651) 642-5990 | (800) 582-5260 Employment Opportunities | PICS (Partners in Community Supports) |

Pooled Trust | (888) 806-6844

Supported Decision-Making | (888) 806-6844


Discover St. Louis Park

Minnesota’s Sweet Spot! Visit us for exceptional dining, attractions, shopping, hotels and event space.

1660 Hwy 100 S., Ste. 501 St. Louis Park, MN 55416 (952) 426-4047

A Book on Trans Women Deserves Their Place in Car Culture

Our world is a rich and diverse one. One would expect us to be inclusive of all of us.

This is the challenge for the trans community – in particular, trans women and transfeminine people. They are often excluded by society and, even, by some of our own members of this community.

A new book by automotive journalist Victoria Scott introduces us to 21 transfeminine people in the “lookbook” We Deserve This.

The trans women in this book were photographed matched up with vehicles that match their personality, some of which were photographed with their own rides. These vehicles range from supercars to sport compacts, classic machines to motorcycles.

Each of these transfemme people – representing “seven metro areas in four different states” – were photographed fully expressing themselves and their identity through beautifully crafted images.

Scott is one of few members of the automotive media corps who identify as transfeminine. Her inspiration for the book came from a spur of the moment photo shoot with this model and a gold Toyota MR2. “A friend of mine, let me borrow it while he was working on my old van,” explained Scott. “It was my daily driver at the time. He had it in his shop and he was like, ‘Yeah, I’m going to sell this some point soon, but you can take it out.’ I took it out to Dallas. We were hanging out, had a dinner date that evening. And we were like, ‘Oh, let’s go do some pictures for fun.’ I had been doing photography for probably, at this point, 16 years. And we had a cool car. We were both dressed up. We were like, ‘Let’s go take some pictures.’”

The photo set with the model and the MR2 are the first set of photos you will see in the book. “It was one of those nights where everything just came together,” explained Scott. “The lighting was perfect. Our outfits were great. We were both feeling so confident. I was good as a photographer. She was really enjoying herself as a model.”

Scott realized what she had created from that first photo shoot would something extraordinary. “I came back from that night with these amazing photographs,” Scott further explained. “I arranged them into a little collage thing because I was like, this is stronger as a collective than it

is as individual shots. It essentially turned out as a empowering pinup-esque kind of shoot. She was dressed so ’90s, she had her Polaroid camera. We had this strong color theming and cohesive sort of aesthetic through these pictures.”

“I don’t recall ever seeing anything like this,” reflected Scott. “Fashion and automobilia have been intersecting for basically ever, but a trans look at it is basically nonexistent. Trans women have been more or less, as you pointed out earlier, trans women have been more or less excluded from the automotive industry forever. Because you basically, you’re told you have to give that passion up when you come out. I was like, ‘This just feels new to me.’”

Trans women exist in many different places. Scott knew they are also enthusiastic about automobiles and motorcycles. Some of which are indeed enthusiasts with vehicles that reflect their personalities and identities.

This is reflected upon Scott’s motivations to put together the models and their photographs into this book. “Part of the reason that I wanted to make the book was because I wanted something that portrayed a bunch of things, like trans femininity, our interaction with car culture, our pride in our machines, our fashion sense, our diversity of life in a positive light,” explained Scott. “I didn’t see enough works of art like that. But there certainly are more now I think, and they’re becoming more mainstream, but they still haven’t reached the saturation I wanted them to.”

Scott continued, “I was like, ‘I will do my part and I’m going to make this,’ and hopefully it will spur other people to make their own spaces, take their own pride, feel like they have a place to come out, feel like they have a place to carve out space for themselves.”

What sort of outcome does Scott and her subjects in the book would like to see when they pick it up and turn its pages? “I think collectively as a community, we have the ability to create part of the change we want to see,” said Scott. “This book is not going to single-handedly change anything. But I hope that it’s like a seed, it’s a building block in many, many building blocks that many, many people will use to open up all of our communities to all of us.”

When you can, go order this book through the link below. It is truly a celebration of our community and our enthusiasm for our rides. 

We Deserve This. A Transfeminine Automotive Lookbook

Victoria Scott

Carrara Media LLC


Photo courtesy of Victoria Scott

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