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Queer Twin Cities

2010
Author:

Twin Cities GLBT Oral History Project
Kevin P. Murphy, Jennifer L. Pierce, and Larry Knopp, editors

Queer Twin Cities

A pioneering look at the queer history, politics, and spaces of the Twin Cities

Drawn from the pioneering work of the Twin Cities GLBT Oral History Project—a collective organization of students, scholars, and activists devoted to documenting and interpreting the lives of GLBT people in Minneapolis and St. Paul—Queer Twin Cities is a uniquely critical collection of essays on Minnesota’s vibrant queer communities, past and present.

I see so much in Queer Twin Cities of my own experience as a citified queer made by the metropolitan American Midwest. This unprecedented and engrossing book descends into the diverse nexus of so-called flyover country, complicating and elucidating the intersecting histories of a vibrant urban people who claim our place queerly in the middle.

Barrie Jean Borich, author of My Lesbian Husband

The Twin Cities is home to one of the largest and most vital GLBT populations in the nation—and one of the highest percentages of gay residents in the country. Drawn from the pioneering work of the Twin Cities GLBT Oral History Project—a collective organization of students, scholars, and activists devoted to documenting and interpreting the lives of GLBT people in Minneapolis and St. Paul—Queer Twin Cities is a uniquely critical collection of essays on Minnesota’s vibrant queer communities, past and present.

A rich blend of oral history, archival research, and ethnography, Queer Twin Cities uses sexuality to chart connections between people’s lives in Minnesota. Topics range from turn-of-the-century Minneapolis amid moral reform—including the highly publicized William Williams murder trial and efforts to police Bridge Square, aka ‘skid row’—to northern Minnesota and the importance of male companionship among lumber workers, and to postwar life, when the increased visibility of queer life went hand in hand with increased regulation, repression, and violence. Other essays present a portrait of early queer spaces in the Twin Cities, such as Kirmser’s Bar, the Viking Room, and the Persian Palms, and the proliferation of establishments like the Dugout and the 19 Bar. Exploring the activism of GLBT Two-Spirit indigenous people, the antipornography movements of the 1980s, and the role of gay men in the gentrification of Minneapolis neighborhoods, this volume brings the history of queer life and politics in the Twin Cities into fascinating focus.

Engaging and revelatory, Queer Twin Cities offers a critical analysis of local history and community and fills a glaring omission in the culture and history of Minnesota, looking not only to a remarkable past but to our collective future.

Queer Twin Cities

Kevin P. Murphy is associate professor of history at the University of Minnesota. He is the author of Political Manhood: Red Bloods, Mollycoddles, and the Politics of Progressive Era Reform.

The Twin Cities GLBT Oral History Project is a collective devoted to documenting and interpreting the lives and experiences of queer people in the Twin Cities.

Jennifer L. Pierce is professor of American studies and a former director of the Center for Advanced Feminist Studies at the University of Minnesota. Her publications include Telling Stories: The Use of Personal Narratives in the Social Sciences and History (with Mary Jo Maynes and Barbara Laslett) and Gender Trials: Emotional Lives in Contemporary Law Firms. She coedited Feminist Waves, Feminist Generations: Life Stories from the Academy (Minnesota, 2007) and Is Academic Feminism Dead? Theory in Practice.

Queer Twin Cities

I see so much in Queer Twin Cities of my own experience as a citified queer made by the metropolitan American Midwest. This unprecedented and engrossing book descends into the diverse nexus of so-called flyover country, complicating and elucidating the intersecting histories of a vibrant urban people who claim our place queerly in the middle.

Barrie Jean Borich, author of My Lesbian Husband

This exemplary collection, which blends the riveting storytelling of first-person experience with passionate analysis and determined archival sleuthing is a model of politically engaged research that offers a fascinating window onto an under-appreciated aspect of two great Midwestern cities.

Susan Stryker, associate professor of gender studies, Indiana University-Bloomington

Foregrounding ‘queer’ identities, the project questions the narrative of forward progress that so often adheres to GLBT history, committing itself to a diverse array of voices and understandings of queer Twin Cities—past, present, and future.

Minnesota History

Queer Twin Cities

Contents

Acknowledgments

Introduction: Queer Twin Cities
Jennifer L. Pierce

1. Queering Oral History: Reflections on the Origins of the Twin Cities GLBT Oral History Project
Jason Ruiz

2. Calculating Risk: History of Medicine, Transgender Oral History, and the Institutional Review Board
Michael David Franklin

3. Sexuality in the Headlines: Intimate Upheavals as Histories of the Twin Cities
Ryan Patrick Murphy and Alex T. Urquhart

4. The Myth of the Great White North: Claiming Queer People of Color Histories in the Twin Cities (A Roundtable Discussion)
Charlotte Albrecht, Brandon Lacy Campos, and Jessica Giusti

5. A Single Queer Voice with Polyphonic Overtones: Elise Matthesen and the Politics of Subjectivity in the Twin Cities
Mark Soderstrom

6. Two-Spirits Organizing: Indigenous Two-Spirit Identity in the Twin Cities Region
Megan L. MacDonald

7. Skirting Boundaries: Queer Bar Cultures in the Postwar Twin Cities
Amy M. Tyson

8. Sex and the Cities: Reevaluating 1980s Feminist Politics in Minneapolis and St. Paul
Pamela Butler

9. The Gay Land Rush: Race, Gender, and Sexuality in the Life of Post-Welfare Minneapolis
Ryan Patrick Murphy

10. Private Cures for a Public Epidemic: Target(ing) HIV and AIDS Medications in the Twin Cities
Alex T. Urquhart and Susan Craddock

11. Gay Was Good: Progress, Homonormativity, and Oral History
Kevin P. Murphy


Notes
Contributors
Index

Queer Twin Cities

UMP blog excerpt: Twin Cities Pride, then and now

6/25/2010
Many respondents, while recognizing positive changes associated with the gay and lesbian movement of the 1970s, resisted a characterization of the preceding period as “repressive.” For example, like many of those we interviewed, Lynda, a sixty-year-old white lesbian, looked back with nostalgic longing to the 1950s and 1960s: “Well, I think it’s unfair to just say that was a repressive time. I mean, I lived in that time and I know it was a warm and sweet and tender time.”