May 18 marks the 40th anniversary of the founding of Fight Repression of Erotic Expression (FREE), Minnesota’s first gay organization. Courageous young activists, Koreen Phelps was 20 and Stephen Ihrig was 21 when they established FREE. Phelps passed away in 2007. Ihrig lives in New York City, where he moved in the early 1970s.
Many are under the misconception that the Stonewall Riot in New York City on June 28, 1969, took place, and then, presto, organizing followed in other parts of the country, inspired by Stonewall. Note, however, that FREE was founded nearly six weeks before Stonewall, a credit to the Moxie of local gay activists.
Watch for a spotlight on FREE and Stonewall, the events we commemorate at GLBT Pride each year, in our June 5 Lavender Pride Edition.