The GLBT community of Minnesota is fortunate enough to be supported by many non-profits that strive to improve our quality of life. These non-profits work tirelessly to protect our families, our rights, and our health. This spring, show your thanks and your support by attending one (or all!) of the special events that directly benefit the services that unite our community and allow us to move forward into a more healthy, happy, and prosperous future.
Midwest Family Equality Conference
SpringHouse Ministry Center/Burroughs Community School, Minneapolis
The Family Equality Council will hold its 18th Midwest Family Equality Conference in Minneapolis on April 19 and 20. Full of educational and social events geared toward GLBT-headed families, the conference celebrates families of all kinds and allows families to connect and support each other. Kim Simes, Midwest Regional Manager of the Family Equality Council, says the conference allows GLBT families and the professionals that work with them “to learn more about topics that matter, to build on their own community of support, to share their stories to further open hearts and minds, and to raise their collective voices to create social justice.”
With over three million GLBT parents and their six million children living in the United States, the Family Equality Council works tirelessly to support and serve all GLBT families across the country. Simes stresses the organization’s commitment to “changing attitudes and policies to ensure all families are respected, loved, and celebrated.” In the past year, the Family Equality Council has fought to protect the rights of GLBT families everywhere, including their fight against the anti-marriage amendment in Minnesota last year. The Family Equality Council also aided in the development of anti-discrimination ordinances in several Missouri cities, helped to defeat an anti-family and adoption care bill in Michigan aimed to discriminate against GLBT families, and rallied support for school administrators in Illinois who were terminated after instituting policies that supported and protected all families.
This year’s conference will celebrate and inspire all families to take an active role in changing history. Panels and information sessions will allow adults to discuss current issues faced by GLBT families, and activities geared toward children are offered. Tammy Baldwin will serve as keynote speaker, and the conference will end with a Pride Parade and family concert.
INCREDIBOWL 2013: A Benefit for Avenues for Homeless Youth
Sunday, April 21
The Park Tavern, St. Louis Park
There’s one portion of our GLBT society that’s often found in the shadows of other pressing issues: GLBT homeless youth. Many youth and young adults are forced out of disapproving households due to their sexuality, forcing them to live on the street and putting their emotional and physical well-being at risk. In order to provide safe living situations for these youth, Avenues for Homeless Youth will hold their annual INCREDIBOWL fundraiser at Park Tavern on April 21 to support youth in need.
Mike Meyer, Marketing and Development Manager for Avenues for Homeless Youth, says the program “provides emergency shelter, short-term housing, and supportive services for homeless youth ages 16-20 in a safe and nurturing environment. Avenues seeks to help youth achieve their personal goals and make a positive transition into young adulthood.”
In addition to providing these services, the organization has a unique, community-based program specifically targeted toward GLBT youth experiencing homelessness. For a year or more, volunteer hosts open their home to a young person, providing a bedroom and food, in order to create a safe environment where the person’s sexuality is respected and celebrated. Meyer adds, “It is an intimate and transformative experience for participants and is a proven working model for almost 15 years. The GLBT Host Home Program serves as a national model for communities and organizations throughout the nation and even globally as to what works in supporting young GLBT people experiencing homelessness.”
INCREDIBOWL will benefit all individuals who utilize the services of Avenues for Homeless Youth. For $40, participants get two games of bowling, a pizza buffet, and a chance to win one of several raffle prizes. Donors can also sponsor a youth for the event, allowing them to participate and enjoy the festivities. Reservations and questions can be sent to Mike Meyer at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Dining Out for Life
Participating restaurants, Minnesota
One of the most anticipated fundraisers of the year is just around the corner—Dining Out for Life! On April 25, join over 180 restaurants for breakfast, lunch, and dinner to raise money for The Aliveness Project and Rural AIDS Action Network (RAAN). With restaurants in the Twin Cities, Duluth, Lanesboro, Mankato, and Saint Cloud, there shouldn’t be any problem finding a participating restaurant to satisfy every craving.
The organizations benefiting from Minnesota’s Dining Out for Life strive to provide quality care for individuals living with HIV/AIDS. Serving one out of every four Minnesotans with HIV/AIDS, The Aliveness Project provides many services including daily meal programs, a food shelf, therapeutic services, case management, and support groups. RAAN reaches out to individuals in Greater Minnesota who are affected by HIV/AIDS by providing case management, support groups, HIV testing, medical transportation assistance, and health education.
Market Bar-B-Que will be joining the cause this year by donating 25% of their dinner sales to Dining Out for Life. Owner Anthony Polski was inspired to participate in Dining Out for Life when he learned that one of his employees has greatly benefited from the services of The Aliveness Project. “He has worked for my family for 25 years, and he spoke so highly of the event…the most exciting part is thinking about all the people out there who will benefit the same way he has. The fact that the money goes to improve and save his life really means a lot to us.”
Market Bar-B-Que has been owned by Polski’s family for 67 years, beginning as a late-night place where performers could get great barbecue. Polski notes that in addition to making award-winning barbecue, the restaurant has “always been about helping out the community.” Be sure to swing by Market Bar-B-Que, or any other participating restaurant, to dine out and fight AIDS!
PFund 25th Anniversary Celebration
The Cowles Center for Dance and the Performing Arts, Minneapolis
In celebration of 25 years of service to the GLBT community in the upper Midwest, PFund will hold its 25th Anniversary Celebration on April 27 at The Cowles Center. According to Ryan Kroening (PFund’s Events and Outreach Coordinator), the celebration’s theme—”Generate”—will help “recognize and celebrate all that has been generated for the past 25 years—and all that PFund will continue to generate over the next 25 years.”
PFund is the only foundation that supports the GLBT communities in the upper Midwest. Kroening states, “PFund works for a future where every GLBT person is safe and celebrated in their own communities by awarding grants and scholarships through a social justice framework, developing leaders, inspiring giving, and advocating for more responsive philanthropy. PFund works for long-lasting social change and is a vital resource across our five-state region.” PFund also financially supports research and data collection regarding the needs of the GLBT community, including the needs of seniors and people of color.
The 25th Anniversary Celebration will be full of entertainment, including a commissioned production written by Michael Elyanow of The Playwright Center. Erin Schwab will preside as Mistress of Ceremonies, and attendants are invited to a spectacular after party at Graves 601, complete with DJ MF and an interactive photo booth.
Bingo A-GoGo: Vegas Bingo!
Hyatt Regency Hotel, Minneapolis
It’s time for Bingo, baby! Bingo A-GoGo is going glitz for this special Vegas edition of our community’s favorite game on April 27 at the Hyatt Regency Hotel. The celebrated Miss Richfield 1981 and her sidekicks will be calling the games and keeping everyone on their toes. Expect glamour. Expect sparkle. Expect anything!
Currently benefiting Park House and the Twin Cities Gay Men’s Chorus, Bingo A-GoGo began as a small event in a church basement with about 400 people. Now, event organizers plan for 800-1,000 people to show up to the Hyatt Regency for the event. “Since our first game in 2002, Bingo A-GoGo has raised over $700,000, ensuring efforts to provide supportive day and mental health services to the HIV/AIDS community in the Twin Cities,” says Shannon Regan, Bingo A-GoGo co-organizer.
Everyone is welcome to attend Vegas Bingo, and table hosts are encouraged to get their friends to attend. Regan adds that a special prize has been added to reward the table host with the most guests. But she won’t tell what this huge prize is; “I can’t divulge it…it’s a secret. But it’s a good one—a great one, even!” she adds.
Like always, players are encouraged to dress up in festive attire—anything goes in Vegas!—and participate in the costume contest. Food and drinks will be available, and there will be a raffle with huge prizes. What happens at Vegas Bingo stays at Vegas Bingo!
Razoo.com Give OUT Day
If you want to give back to the community, but you don’t want to leave your couch, be sure to participate in Razoo.com’s Give OUT Day, the first national online GLBT fundraiser, on May 9. Hosted by Bolder Giving, Give OUT Day is the easiest way to support GLBT causes across the country. By simply searching for a specific zip code, donors can find GLBT organizations near them that will benefit from Give OUT Day.
Lesley Mansford, CEO of Razoo, says, “Razoo is the fastest growing crowd-funding platform for causes. Razoo has empowered individuals, nonprofits, and communities across the country to raise over $147 million online, one small donation at a time.” Mansford adds that Razoo has specific tools to make fundraising easy and fun for any organization regardless of its size.
Mansford states, “Give OUT Day is a new national initiative that will engage hundreds of organizations and mobilize thousands of people on a single day across the country to give in support of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer community. It is a chance for LGBTQ groups, large and small, to work across the wide range of issues and activities that matter to the LGBTQ community from sports to policy change, families to the arts. It is a chance for members of the LGBTQ community and its many allies to stand up and show its support for this community together on one day. It is a chance to make history.”
Several Minnesota organizations are already planning to participate in Give OUT Day, including OutFront Minnesota, Project 515, One Voice Mixed Chorus, and Avenues for Homeless Youth. Organizations that receive the most donations from the greatest number of individual donors will have the opportunity to receive cash prizes. Any organization (large or small) is invited to join the event, and donors can start planning their donations now at www.giveoutday.com.
Training to Serve Benefit
DoubleTree Hotel, Minneapolis
Training to Serve will hold its annual benefit on May 16 at the DoubleTree Hotel in Minneapolis to celebrate their fourth year as a GLBT resource for providers of Minnesota aging services. Training to Serve “works to make safe, welcoming, and supportive services available to LGBT older adults throughout Minnesota and the region.” By training service providers on how to meet the needs of aging GLBT people and providing educational tools needed to address GLBT-specific issues, Training to Serve is greatly improving the standard of care given to aging Minnesotans.
In 2012 alone, Training to Serve provided professional workshops and trainings to over 3,000 professionals who work with aging GLBT individuals. John Buchholz, Chair of the Annual Benefit Committee and a member of the Board of Directors, says that this year’s benefit “supports this work by providing the resources needed to maintain our nationally recognized curriculum and promote welcoming and safe services for LGBT older adults throughout the year.”
Buchholz notes that Training to Serve has become more than just an organization that trains service providers. The GLBT community now sees Training to Serve as a resource. He states, “We get quite a few inquiries and requests for service providers even though our focus has been working with service providers themselves, instead of directly with the LGBT older person needing services.” Buchholz also adds that Training to Serve recently received a PFUND grant to create a public directory of senior service providers.
This year’s benefit will be hosted by Jason Matheson from myTalk 107.1 FM. The John Yoakam Award for Service to LGBT Elders will be jointly presented to Lucinda Jesson (Minnesota Department of Human Services Commissioner) and the Minnesota Board on Aging. The evening’s festivities also include a silent auction, a live auction, a light buffet, and a cash bar.
Minnesota AIDS Walk
Minnehaha Park, Minneapolis
As the largest and oldest HIV prevention organization in Minnesota, The Minnesota AIDS Project (MAP) will hold its 26th annual Minnesota AIDS Walk on May 19 in Minnehaha Park. In the past 26 years, the Minnesota AIDS Walk has grown into an epic event of over 5,000 walkers, runners, and donors who join together to raise over $500,000 for HIV testing and education. Melissa Conway, Director of Communications at The Minnesota AIDS Project, says that donations made to the AIDS Walk “help the Minnesota AIDS Project prevent new HIV infections and keep people living with HIV in Minnesota healthy.”
Conway states that the Minnesota AIDS Project aims to prevent the spread of HIV by spreading awareness through “evidence-based policies that can help lower the incidence of HIV across Minnesota. New cases are prevented by reducing risk in high-risk populations. In Minnesota, those most at risk are young gay and bisexual men of all races.” The Minnesota AIDS Project targets high-risk populations through street and internet-based outreach, and it offers free HIV testing and information about the risks associated with HIV infection. Another resource, The MAP AIDSLine, provides HIV education, risk-assessment, and referrals to needed services across the state.
The Minnesota AIDS project also provides confidential community-based support to people living with HIV, and has become an advocate “for those at risk for and living with HIV at the Minnesota legislature through the HIV Action Network and public policy efforts.”
The theme of the 2013 Minnesota AIDS Walk is “Celebrate!,” a celebration of the progress made in the AIDS awareness movement and a celebration honoring the lives of lost loved ones. Doug Melroe from The Firm will be the official ambassador and emcee of the event. Games, massages, music, and free HIV testing will take place throughout the celebration.
Augsburg College, Minneapolis
The Bisexual Organizing Project (BOP) is excited to announce its annual conference, BECAUSE: You Matter, from June 7-9 at Augsburg College in Minneapolis. In addition to the traditional conference dedicated to “building Bi, Pan, Fluid, Queer, Unlabeled, and Allied communities,” BECAUSE will also feature a special one-day academic conference on bisexuality entitled BiReConUSA: Because Research Matters.
Twanna Anderson, BOP board member at-large, considers BOP to be a great advocate for the entire GLBT community, particularly for people who are struggling to gain understanding. The conference allows people to be supported and celebrated in an understanding and open community. Anderson adds, “Bisexuals still have to endure dismissals of ‘being confused’ or being in limbo between being straight or gay.” The BECAUSE Conference allows people to simply be themselves without having to explain or defend their sexuality.
Anderson also notes that the conference is welcoming to all people. “The 21st Annual BECAUSE Conference, which stands for ‘Bisexual Empowerment Conference, A Uniting Supportive Experience,’ is welcoming and inclusive of all people, including but not limited to people of all genders, gender identities, sexual orientations, sexes, relationship orientations, races, ethnicities, national origins, abilities, religions, sizes, political affiliations, and others. We encourage everyone to attend so that we can all began to foster complete inclusion of everyone who belongs to the queer community.”
In addition to this year’s addition of BiReConUSA, Dr. Meg Barker will be attending the conference as a keynote speaker. Gadfly Theater will premier its newest play, Queer, and the Twin Cities Out Film Festival will be screening several premieres during the weekend. The conference will also host its much-anticipated Cabaret Show and provide other social opportunities for people to celebrate and support each other.
Rainbow Health Initiative Relaunch
Rainbow Health Initiative has a new look! Officially launched on February 21, Rainbow Health Initiative has created a new website and resource directory to better serve the GLBT community. Created to alleviate the health inequities faced by the GLBT community due to internalized and externalized homophobia and transphobia, Rainbow Health Initiative works to improve the overall health of the GLBT community.
Though the organization is known mostly for their strong stance against GLBT tobacco use, RHI provides many other health services to the community. Tiffany Paulson (Communications and Marketing Manager) believes the relaunch will help the community learn about other services RHI provides. Paulson states that an initial survey about RHI revealed that “there was a lot of confusion about us. People didn’t know what we were about; they essentially thought we were just a smoking cessation program. We’re so much more! We’re a health policy and advocacy organization, and we promote health equity.”
Three new initiatives will help Rainbow Health Initiative to assess and meet the health needs of our community—research, education, and advocacy. In addition to the new initiatives, Rainbow Health will focus on six areas of health: healthy eating, active living, tobacco cessation, recovery, youth pregnancy, and social support.
Rainbow Health Initiative provides substance-free activities throughout the year, including the Fruit Bowl event during PRIDE and enforcing the smoking ban at the PRIDE festival. The Proud Recovery Program assists GLBT people in recovery by providing recovery coaches. Also, Rainbow Health Initiative has created a new Provider Directory listing “culturally competent” health care providers, and has also taken an active stance in training providers on GLBT issues. This recent relaunch encourages the community to utilize the resources of Rainbow Health Initiative in order to improve the overall health of GLBT people across Minnesota.