By Chris Nietupski
It’s no secret that the Twin Cities has cultivated leaders in GLBT advocacy for years. However, as progress continues, the history of those incremental steps that brought us to today is endangered.
Now, you can figuratively and literally walk those steps by downloading the YesterQueer Twin Cities app. The pilot mapping application seeks to document GLBT history, map that history onto the contemporary Twin Cities, and make the map accessible to the public.
The app contains locations and descriptions of over 100 historical points in Twin Cities GLBT history such as the location where Michael McConnell and Jack Baker applied for the first same-sex marriage license in 1970, a social club on Hennepin offering a safe haven for queer youth in the late ’60s, and the location where a bookstore owner stood his ground to open a gay bookstore location on Nicollet in the ’80s.
The app came to fruition through the support from the Jean-Nickolaus Tretter Collection in GLBT Studies at the University of Minnesota and Twin Cities Pride. YesterQueer is a collaborative effort shared by Stewart Van Cleve, author of Land of 10,000 Loves: A History of Minnesota (University of Minnesota Press, 2012) and Kerem San, founder of AppyNerds Mobile App Studio.
“The history exists, it’s out there if you look for it,” said San. “But we wanted to match history with technology to allow people to learn in the palm of their hand and contribute and collaborate all at the same time.”
And its creators hope that the app is never “complete” and will grow based on the shared memories of others.
“We’re not creating a traditional map that doesn’t change,” said Van Cleve. “Instead, we’re hoping to foster a map-based dialogue that allows new memories, which might otherwise be forgotten, to become documented places in our community’s history.”
To share a memory or an image of GLBT history, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org with a brief description of your memory, the location, and any additional images, if available. You will be contacted if further information is needed.
The launch of the app just prior to the 42nd Annual Twin Cities Pride Festival is no coincidence.
“The Pride Festival appeals to a young, socially conscious crowd,” said Dot Belstler, Executive Director for Twin Cities Pride. “And what better way to showcase the GLBT progress and great work that the Tretter Collection and Stewart have been doing for years than in an app that links history with the forefront of technology?”
Android and iPhone users can download the app in their respective marketplaces by simply searching “YesterQueer” and installing it for free. Festival goers are also encouraged to download the TCPride standalone app that serves as a companion guide for all events during the festival and beyond.
For a more traditional look at GLBTQ history in the Twin Cities, festival goers are encouraged to stop into the Tretter History Pavilion where artifacts and educational resources will be on display all weekend.