Issue 423

Locally Sourced: Growing Lots Urban Farm

Urban Farming with Jake Schultz & Stefan Meyer

The clanging of a commuter train rolling past rang in my ears as I stood near a crop field in what was once a parking lot, smelling the moist earth and hot asphalt. I was soon joined by Jake Schultz and Stefan Meyer, two of the metro area’s few gay urban farmers.

Meyer grew up in rural Minnesota on a conventional turkey farm and explained that he has always been involved in farming, in one way or another. Schultz had a very different upbringing, as a city kid outside of Milwaukee. It was while studying at the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh he realized that his passion for food and sustainability after reading the “Omnivore’s Dilemma” by Michael Pollan.

 

Utilizing permaculture, a method of growing and sustaining people, animals and plant life in balance with nature, Growing Lots Urban Farm has two lots that grow an array of produce. They work with the area community, teaching neighborhood children about their chickens, utilizing waste from nearby businesses, such as Coastal Seafoods, for compost and even setting up giant bins to catch rain water for drip irrigation systems, so that little to nothing goes to waste.

Meyer and Schultz are anxious to share their vision with the world, hoping to be able to reach out to other gay urban farmers to form an eventual coalition. “It’s really rare. We haven’t met many others. It’s easier to find lesbian farmers than gay men,” Schultz mused. I asked him why he thought that was the case.

“I think a lot of us left rural places for the city, for the community; the safety… It’s often the case that we come in to the neighborhoods and clean up, bring in our culture – it makes sense that we would do this as well,” added Meyer.

“We just need more of the granola gays,” said Schultz.

“Did you just say ‘granola gays?’” Meyer laughed.

Shultz just grinned, “Sure. I do think that some men are more concerned about working out, moisturizer, clothes, than what we actually put into our bodies.”

Whatever the term, it’s a valid point that most of us urban dwellers would benefit by being closer to our food sources. The juxtaposition of fertile soil churning out baby eggplants, gobs of heirloom tomatoes and a confounding ground cherry breed that tasted like a bursting pineapple with the nearby traffic noise was oddly comforting. In addition to their produce, sold mainly through CSA shares, Schultz also has a bakery, Black Paws, and can be found at the Midtown Farmer’s Market every Saturday.

The chickens produce beautifully pale green- and brown-shelled eggs. Unfortunately, they were informed the day after I visited that due to zoning restrictions the birds would have to be relocated, a sad day for the farm.

From classes to a culinary CSA specializing in unique produce, Growing Lots will hopefully continue to expand and share their sustenance with a grateful neighborhood. To find out more, visit them on the Facebook pages for Growing Lots Urban Farm and Black Paws Community Supported Bakery.

 

Green Egg Basket

1/2 cabbage – chopped into strips
1/2 bundle of beet greens – chopped
salt
pepper
1 -2 tsp cumin
2-4 eggs (depending how many you want)
handful of fresh chopped/shredded mozzarella
small handful of chopped basil

Saute the chopped cabbage and beet greens in a frying pan over medium heat with a little olive oil.
Sprinkle in the salt, pepper, and cumin to the mixture and saute for about 2 minutes or when it just starts to soften.
Shape the greens into two ‘baskets.’ So they look like little bird’s nests.
Crack the eggs into the baskets and sprinkle the mozzarella and basil over the top.
Cover the pan and let the steam cook the eggs until you liking.

Simplicity at it’s best. Yet so surprisingly delicious.

Off the Eaten Path: 128 Café

The 128 Café has been a fixture of St. Paul’s Merriam Park neighborhood since 1996, but when Jill Wilson bought the place, it was still a risky investment. The 128 Café is tucked into the basement of an apartment building, and located off the main strip on Cleveland Avenue. Nevertheless, the dining room has a kind of unassuming elegance, and the same can be said for the food. Wilson puts it best, saying it feels a bit like going to a neighbor’s house for dinner—that is, if your neighbors happen to be good cooks. Foodies have always frequented the place, but it remained the Twin Cities’ best-kept secret until 2010, when instead of trying to get diners to find her hidden restaurant, Wilson decided to bring the restaurant to them with a custom-built food truck.

 

During the summer, they serve lunches to the corporate set in downtown St. Paul, and appear at special events.

Their off-site menu presents a scaled-down version of restaurant favorites and hearty, entrée-sized salads. The Ginger-Soy Sirloin Skewers ($9), for example, are a fixture both on the truck and in the dining room. In other hands, its moderately spicy cashew sauce could be overwhelming, but restraint seems to be characteristic of Chef Ian Pierce’s dishes. Thus unfettered, the tender sirloin, pickled carrots and greens make for a charming appetizer.

Pork Tenderloin with Roasted Potatoes. Photo by Mike Hnida

If you are visiting for the first time, you should order either the Roast Garlic Apple Chutney with goat cheese, apple slices and grilled baguette ($10), or the Beet Salad ($8). The salad is an inspired twist on the classic, with fennel, goat cheese, candied pumpkin seeds, dressed oh-so-lightly with a refreshing lemon vinaigrette. If pressed to make a decision between the two, I would favor the roasted garlic chutney. The baguette is toasted to perfection, with just enough bite for texture but not so crisp that it loses its toppings. It seems like such a small point, but quite a few restaurants err on the side of overdone. The chutney has just the barest hint of mint, but it is quite complementary with the mellow roasted garlic and brightens up the entire dish.

With our starters we have been sipping the spry, citrusy Châuteau Haut-Rian Semillon/Sauv Blanc $8/30. Wilson refers to it somewhat jokingly as a “porch-white,” and in the thick muggy midst of our Minnesotan July, I take her meaning. Their wine list may be small, but it is no afterthought—each has been carefully selected to accompany specific dishes and add interest to the evening. As we transition to our appetizers, we move to the Dolcetto d’Alba Vigneto Vantrino Albarella ($11/40). With a big nose of dark fruits and a little black pepper, it was nevertheless food-friendly.

If you haven’t yet had the pleasure of 128 Café’s BBQ Baby Back Ribs ($18 half/30 full), they are a must-try when paired with the rich, Ridge “East Bench” Zinfandel ($46). A side of sweet and spicy barbeque sauce is wonderful for drizzling over the accompanying mashed potatoes and sautéed vegetables, but the meat is flavorful enough to be enjoyed plain. I don’t order ribs enough to have a “technique” down, but Wilson lends me her favorite method—flipping them over and removing the bones from the back. If you’re looking to impress your companions with your excellent table manners, I’d suggest you do the same. If not, by all means pick them up and have at; the ribs have quite the reputation here, and I don’t think anyone in the dining room would judge you.

We also tried the Pork Tenderloin with roasted potatoes, mustard greens, grilled peach and a bacon and molasses vinaigrette ($20). It has all the makings of a masterpiece if only the vinaigrette were a bit more assertive. The other flavors of this dish meld so well, it almost needs just a little something to stand out. That said, I realize that I have been consistently praising the kitchen for their restraint, and this entrée is perfectly in line with what you’re really looking for when you go to the 128: an unfussy experience that feels more like a food-spa than the typical Twin Cities hotspot. This tenderloin is downright homey, and to be honest, sometimes that’s exactly what you need.

Jill Wilson in the 128 Café food truck

Dessert almost felt superfluous at this point, but should you have room, a small dish of Izzy’s vanilla ice cream and a fudge brownie, topped with crumbled pecan brittle, is the perfect finishing touch. If you’re on a budget, Sunday through Thursday a three-course dinner is just $25 if you stick to the daily specials. But even on the weekends, the 128 Café is a delightfully affordable date spot. The 128 also participates in Dining out for Life and other charitable events. For more information about how to participate, or to make reservations, visit 128cafe.net.

128 Café
128 Cleveland Ave. N., St. Paul, MN 55104
(651) 645-4128
128cafe.net

Skirting the Issues: Getting to Know You

I’m new to Lavender, so here’s a little about me.

First off, I have this thing about the GLBTA alphabet, since at one time or another, I’ve been each of those letters. I started off as an “A,” a gay rights ally, living large as a hairy, deep-voiced, straight, white, married guy with two kids. Then, after 32 years (22 married, 10 dating), I left my wife thinking I was a ”G.” That didn’t last because I thought that really, I was just a “B,” so I went back to my poor wife. I left again when I started thinking I was a “T.” Thankfully, that did last, and now I’m a year post-op (both bottom and facial surgeries) dating a great woman with eyesight issues, who thinks that I’m beautiful. (I just had to add that last part; actually, it has nothing to do with the story.) I think this officially makes me a “L.”

It’s not that I’m all that screwed up, at least not anymore. I’ve had years of therapy with multiple therapists. Finally, I found one who actually helped. She kicked the crap out of me before we were done, but at least I figured things out.

At age 52.

Talk about coming to the party late.

Part of the delay was denial. I had the life that any person would want, with a loving wife, two devoted daughters, and a successful career. How could I give that up?

Another reason was my personality. I was a lawyer when I lived as a man. Not just any kind of lawyer; I was an attack dog, son of a bitch, oh-why-do-we-have-to-deal-with-him kind of lawyer and person. Sure, my clients loved me, but almost everyone else–opposing attorneys and their clients, people who worked for me, and others—hated me.

I found that when you’re frustrated with your life, it’s damn easy to attack, and sometimes decimate, other people. I was horrible. I still shudder when I think about it.

I hated myself for what I’d become, but I didn’t know how to get out. I had the wrong life, the wrong gender, and the wrong values.

What started my GLBTA alphabet hopping was a personal epiphany, September, 11, a date that looms large for all of us.

On the night of 9/11. I sat in a church. Midway through the Mass (please, I’m past being Catholic, but I’m going for dramatic effect), I realized for the first time that I’d die someday. I imagined sitting in seat 13A on American Flight 11, watching as the looming tower came into view, thinking last thoughts. One of those thoughts: you coward. I hadn’t been brave enough to be me, the person inside who had been itching to get out from the moment I first wore my sister’s clothes. (Okay, maybe too much information, but hell, it’s part of the story.)

I started to understand that I was missing. The genuine person inside hadn’t been allowed to see the light of day. The imposter who had grown up in a society that couldn’t tolerate “different,” had to go.

I knew that coming out would hurt many people who loved me. Remarkably, many of those people stuck by me. It wasn’t easy, but I’m on the other side now, happy to report that life over here does exist. I’ve even managed to salvage relationships with my daughters and ex-wife.

In going from boy to girl, I got to Ellen. In the process, I lost the attack dog, and I became kinder and gentler, a genuine person. We’re talking really kind, as in I stop for turtles crossing the road. The people in my new life—I had to change cities–can’t imagine the asshole I was.

And that’s how I want it.

One more thing about me: I learned the power of gratitude. Not everyone can make the journey I’ve taken. I’m so lucky.

Make that so incredibly lucky.

In the end, I learned it’s damn important to listen to yourself, to be genuine, regardless of where it takes you, even if it’s to a “T.” I’ll always regret what I put loved ones through, but now, they seem to understand.

Because I finally see and respect me.

Funny how that happens.

Dog Days of Summer Dining

The Dog Days of Summer. Sultry, lazy days. Days marked by lack of movement, a partial stagnation of sorts. But, being Minnesotans, we have a passive-aggressive flair to our stagnancy. We begrudgingly flirt with these still, humid days because we can recall the not-so-distant months of snow and cold. We embrace the steambath with a sigh and then go find some comfort food.

It’s with these lazy, hazy, and crazy days of summer in mind that we present to you the Dog Days of Summer Dining. We found food vendors that you might encounter while already succumbing to the heat index at the Farmers Markets. Gourmet grab-and-go grub. Food trucks that meet you almost where you already are. Ice cream oases in your neighborhoods. Urban farmers who grow you good food while you live your summer in the city. And, for those of you who like it hot, we present ways to make things even hotter.

 

Farmers Market Food

Eating fresh and local is haute. Twitter is a-flutter with foodies traipsing to the wild variety of Farmers Markets in the area both weekdays and weekends, some only the size of a parking lot, others the size of a city block. As you wander through the booths of scapes and beaets and honey jars and flower bouquets, mind your midsection. Be prepared to find your breakfast, your second breakfast, your elevenses, or your lunch as you juggle your reusable bags of local produce.

Kingfield Farmers Market
Sundays, 8:30am – 1pm
4310 Nicollet Ave., Mpls
www.kingfieldfarmersmarket.org

Midtown Farmers Market
Tuesdays, 3pm – 7pm, Saturdays, 8am – 1pm
2225 E. Lake Street, Mpls
www.midtownfarmersmarket.org

Fulton Farmers Market
Saturdays, 8:30am – 1pm
4901 Chowen Ave. S, Mpls
www.fultonfarmersmarket.org

Mill City Farmers Market
Saturdays, 8am – 1pm
704 South Second Street, Mpls
www.millcityfarmersmarket.org

Minneapolis Farmers Market
Every day, 6am – 1pm at East Lyndale Market
Thursdays, 6am – 6pm at Nicollet Mall Market
See website for directions.
www.mplsfarmersmarket.com

St. Paul Farmers Market
Saturdays, 6am – 1pm, Sundays, 8am – 1pm
290 E 5th Street, St. Paul
Multiple days/locations listed on website.
www.stpaulfarmersmarket.com

Hot Hot Heat

By Joy Summers

We can’t beat it, so we may as well join it. This summer has given us heat indexes that make
Southerners sweat. Want to laugh in its face? Try these.

 

Smack Shack Lobster Boil
Josh Thoma and the crew of the Smack Shack lobster truck have been dolling out lobster rolls by the dozens in downtown Minneapolis, but on evenings and the weekends, they can be found at The 1029 Bar over in Nordeast. Each month they hold lobster boils, a messy fest that comes drenched in butter and spattered with crustacean bits. Lose your inhibitions and don the bib, you’ll be thankful you did. The August boil will last for three days (19-21) and is an all out bash, when The 1029 hosts their annual tent party. Tickets will be available through the Smack Shack’s Facebook page.

Chef Shack
The fleet of food trucks has grown exponentially, but there was a time when there was only one truck that was to be seen. After garnering national attention and fawning reviews, the Chef Shack remains a local treasure. Lisa Carlson and Carrie Summer’s summer job has now expanded to include three trucks and a seemingly endless menu supply of tasty creativity.
The menus change often, but include items like sweet potato tacos, a vegetarian delight with savory sweet filling with fresh salsa, luscious pulled pork and the spiced mini donuts: possibly the greatest street food ever. Check Twitter or Facebook for locations.

Angry GumMi
Why only suffer the heat on the outside? Why not treat your innards to an inferno of boozy delight? The Angry Gummi as poured at the Nordeast Minneapolis hotspot Masu Sushi & Robata looks friendly enough- a pale green drink topped with a jaunty little gummy bear- but then you take a sip. General advice in hot climate regions suggests that spicy items are best to combat the oppressive air. This drink fits the bill. The vodka carries sweet, tart grapefruit flavor and the pungent horseradish burn of pure wasabi, causes sweaty eyelids and cleared nasal passages.

Picnic Grab & Go at Golden Fig

Persian Cooler Made of course by Golden Fig…Fresh-squeezed lime juice, orange and roseflower water, cardamom, sour cherry & a touch of hibiscus to make it a beautiful pink. Mix with fizzy water or even yummier with a splash of vodka! $12.95
Raspberry Marshmallows Handmade from Laura’s Marshmallows in St. Peter, MN. Bursting with fresh raspberry flavor. $7.00

Graham Crackers Handmade from Laura’s Marshmallows with local graham flour from Whole Grain Milling in Welcome, MN. $7.00

Dark Chocolate
Delicious dark chocolate bar from Sweet Goddess Chocolates in New Prague, MN. $2.95

Salami Hard Salami from Bende and Sons in Vernon Hills, Illinois. They use Vitamin C as the main preservative instead of all the nitrites that usual salamis contain. $11.95

Camembert Bent River Cheese is made by the Alemar Cheese Company. They use milk from Dave and Florence Minar at Cedar Summit Dairy. It is super creamy and crazy tasty. $1.50 per oz.

Rustica bread Delicious Rustic loaf from Barbara and Steve at Rustica Bakery in Minneapolis. Made in traditional European methods, Rustica breads are the perfect addition to any picnic! $4.95

Scream For It

By Carla Waldemar

 

I scream, you scream, we all… Okay, I hear you. It’s hot-hot-hot, and we long for ice cream. But not the square brick from the supermarket, thank you very much. We’re holding out for the real deal, the local scoop shops that churn their own, super-premium, hold-the-additives frozen treats. Where to head? Here’s the scoop.

Adele’s Frozen Custard—well, technically, it’s not ice cream; but, according to Adele, founder of the legendary Excelsior stand, it’s far better: less air, for smoothness; egg yolks for richer flavor. Clearly her customers agree, vying for cones packed with goodness. Among Adele’s 90 recipes, four flavors reign daily. Orange creamsicle, anyone?

Edina Creamery sates the already-supercool patrollers of 50th & France with flavors melting from amaretto chocolate cherry and Butterfinger to more outré numbers like green tea and durian (I dare you). Gourmet Magazine voted it one of the Best in the U.S. I won’t disagree.

Grand Ole Creamery has drawn lines all down St. Paul’s Grand Avenue for decades. Now a newer Nokomis location also stops traffic at the mere scent of those hand-rolled, malted waffle cones, which hold a secret surprise in the bottom (hint: love Whoppers?). The old-time ice cream parlor atmosphere is as addictive as the 31 flavors offered daily, ranging from chocolate malt banana and cotton candy to the quintessential sweet cream.

Izzy’s has created an ice-cream frenzy in St. Paul (and many a Minneapolitan has been know to cross the river) since 2000, thanks to a rotation of 32 gotta-try flavors, including that true test of a scoopmeister, pure vanilla. More esoteric flavors careen from Guinness to Norwegian Chai.

Pumphouse Creamery, cooling Chicago Avenue, is a hole in the wall that some claim is hard to find. Well, just look for the crowd on the sidewalk, lined up for the ultra-organic, über-locally-sourced ingredients that contribute to prime flavors like fresh strawberry to—ready?—kulfi, scented with rosewater, pistachios, and cardamom.

Sebastian Joe’s has been family-owned (three brothers paying homage to their Italian grandfather, Sebastian) since the ’80s, and its two Minneapolis locations serve only all-natural flavors, ranging from the zany (chocolate coyote, basil sorbet) to the immensely popular best-seller, Pavarotti, blended with caramel, bananas, and chocolate chips. Local art on the walls and free Wi-Fi, too.

Sonny’s
ice cream has been the gold standard since 1945. Housed in South Lyndale’s Crema Café, the scoop shop-cum-café calls on premier Wisconsin cream to churn out flavors like the original sweet cream to wild cards including chocolate cabernet chip and pineapple mango basil sorbet.

Big Gay News

New Poll Shows Generation Gap Over NY Gay Marriage

Politico reports that a new Washington Post-ABC poll shows that support for New York’s recent decision to legalize same-sex marriage depends largely on the age of the respondent. Overall, potential voters supported legalization 50-46 percent. However, those under 30 supported the measure by a 2-1 margin while senior citizens disapproved of the measure by 60%.

Anti-Gay Marriage Group Files Legal Challenge to New York’s Law

The New York Daily News reports that just 24 hours after same-sex marriage became legal in New York, an anti-gay marriage group, New Yorkers for Constitutional Freedom, has filed a lawsuit to overturn the legislation. The group claims the state legislature violated transparency laws in passing the legislation. The state has yet to respond to the lawsuit.

California Gay Marriage Ban Case to be Heard Sept. 6

The Associated Press reports that the California Supreme Court has scheduled a hearing for September 6th to consider whether supporters of the state’s voter-approved ban on same-sex marriage have the authority to fight court rulings on the initiative even when the governor and attorney general refuse to appeal.

Openly Gay Man Is First Confirmed as U.S. Judge

The New York Times reports that former Clinton administration lawyer J. Paul Oetken became the first openly gay man to be confirmed as a federal judge in July. Oetken was confirmed in the U.S. Senate by a vote of 80 to 13. Following the President’s signature, Oetken will take his seat as a federal judge in Manhattan.

Gay Pride Returns to Jerusalem

Haaretz reports that Israel’s GLBT community marched in Jerusalem’s annual gay pride parade in July. In previous years, the march has been marked by violence. The march also marked the second anniversary of a shooting at a gay youth center in Tel Aviv.

Obama Nominates Fourth Openly Gay Judicial Candidate

Politico reports that President Obama nominated openly gay Michael Fitzgerald to the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California. This is the fourth time Obama has nominated an openly gay candidate to the federal courts.

Navy Censures Officer for Anti-Gay Hazing

UPI reports that former US Navy commander Liam Bruen has been censured by the Navy for allowing a subordinate to be labeled with gay slurs. Ensign Steve Crowston filed a complaint after he was given anti-gay nicknames as a call sign. The Navy later found that Bruen “failed to exercise appropriate leadership and demonstrated a profound lack of judgment.” Bruen abruptly retired from the navy in May.

Homelessness More Common Among Gay, Bisexual Teens

Medical News Today reports that a new study in the American Journal of Public Health shows that homelessness is much more common among gay, lesbian and bisexual teens than their heterosexual counterparts. The study included over 6300 Massachusetts teens. Twenty-five percent of gay and lesbian teens were found to be homeless while only 3% of heterosexual teens reported being homeless.

Big Gay News Exclusive:

Minneapolis City Council to Redefine Gender Identity Ordinance
by Ellen Krug

A proposed ordinance making its way to the Minneapolis City Council will revise the definition of “Gender Identity” and provide transgender individuals with stand alone protection against discrimination. At present, gender identity protection is buried within an ordinance protecting sexual orientation. GLBT community members have complained that the presently worded ordinance can be confusing. Others seek a specific transgender-protection ordinance to ensure that Minneapolis retains its status as one of the most welcoming cities in the country. Transgender advocates believe the change is necessary to make it easier for everyone—business owners, landlords, and anyone else subject to prohibitions against discrimination—to understand exactly what “gender identity” means.

Under the proposed ordinance, “Gender Identity” is defined as “a person’s actual or perceived self-image or identity as expressed through dress, appearance, behavior, speech or similar characteristics, whether or not traditionally associated with the person’s physical anatomy, chromosomal sex, or sex at birth.” According to Phil Duran, Legal Director for OutFront Minnesota, the proposed re-definition is not intended to expand any existing rights. Instead, it is intended to make it easier for everyone to understand the existing law. A final hearing on the revised ordinance is set for August 5.

It’s Right There in Black-and-White

“It’s right there in black and white,” folks say, citing some line in a religious text or political agenda to justify discrimination, persecution or prosecution of whomever they wish to prove their superiority.

A fundamentalist’s “Black/White” is a rigid world-view, a binary set of beliefs that lifts from its members the onerous task of thinking, sifting, or analyzing information coming from without their closed system. In a fundamentalist world, there are only two places to be: One of Us–or One of Them. We/Us are right and saved; They/Them are damned or at least consigned to a non-participatory status in the group. “Other” is a useful category in which to contain and control dissenters who become not just different or misguided, but Evil.

The religious right, and I include Christians, Muslims and Jews–few religions are exempt- and political parties are drifting further and further apart into intransigent camps, seeking only to gain control, to keep the other side from “winning.” The Mormons, already rigidly dichotomized, have their own further right wing fundamentalist splinter groups, while right wing Christians routinely and painstakingly cherry-pick a book written in a different age by non-Christians to prove without doubt (to themselves) that gays are an abomination, ignoring other Hebraic sanctions in the same chapters.

Parleys, meetings of minds, agreements, are secondary to gaining total power for the group. So why even write this essay? To fundamentalist adherents, my words are nugatory, lacking power to persuade. Black-and-white does not dialogue.

Frankly, I’m preaching to the choir, and my sermon is an exhortation to seek out the grays, the full spectrum of grays between the Black and the White bringing to light the nuances that will allow individuals of different religions, political views and sexual preferences to celebrate our likenesses and ties to our fellow beings.

Without firm ties to others we will continue to drift inevitably into a world of theocracies, oligarchies, and autocracies. Just how that can be done, I don’t know, but if inclusiveness is allowed to become exclusiveness, the few will create a smaller, meaner, more dangerous world.

As local author Jonathan Odell (“The View from Delphi,” “The Healing”) wrote recently, “Fundamentalism doesn’t work in government any better than it does in religion. Both are gifts to tyrants.”

From the Editor: Finding Us Out in the Stands

I brought my eight-year old nephew to Lavender’s “Out in the Stands” night at Target Field. I’d never been to Target Field, so I was a little concerned. It’s one thing to go with someone older than eight who’s already been there—or one who hasn’t, but can stumble through all the first-times with me. It’s another to be The Adult. Being The Adult means I have to know What’s Going On. I asked my friends. I asked my coworkers. I asked my brother. Okay, okay, okay. Park there, walk there, and 7th Street ends at the Field. And it did. And we got there.

Once we walked through the gates I looked out at the expanse of people and seats…looked down at our tickets…looked up again…and had no clue as to where to go. I was not blessed with a great sense of direction. I can get from Point A to Point B with aplomb, but usually by envisioning the map or layout in my head. I prefer visual cues. I hadn’t looked for our seats online before setting out for the Field and I was paying for that by being stymied. In the heat. With an eight-year old. Who was hungry.

Then I saw us.

I saw people wearing the same t-shirt that I was and I knew I was close to our destination. Visual cues—white t-shirts, red and blue “Out in the Stands” logos, smiles. I followed them. At the flagpole, I uploaded a picture to Facebook of Courtney raising the flag as our “Out in the Stands” representative and got directions to our section of seats from her friends. Everything was so much more manageable once I’d found us.

Going the direction I’d been pointed, the bunny warren full of people again became confusing. I’m not sure if it was the rate at which I kept glancing at my ticket or that my nephew asked his usual question, “Auntie, do you know where we’re going?” rather loudly, but soon a gentleman in a red Target Field shirt asked me if we needed help finding our seats. Ohmygoshthankyouyeswedo. Without knowing exactly where they were, he informed me how to get there based simply on the fact that I was wearing the “Out in the Stands” t-shirt.

We followed his directions and, suddenly, we were there. With us. We joined a sea of white t-shirts and we settled in, happy. Almost everyone around us was part of our group and, though we didn’t know them, we belonged. The man seated to my nephew’s left, Mark, ended up sort of adopting us, whether or not he knew it (or would have volunteered to do it) as eight-year olds tend to drop all sorts of things when watching a ballgame and eating their way through my wallet. Mark was on the left and I was on the right. He was gracious and so very nice. The game was played and, all too soon, a bedtime loomed and it was time to leave.

As we retraced our steps to leave the Field after the sixth inning, we ran into the same gentleman in the red Target Field shirt who had helped us find our seats. He asked us how our night was and I told him that we had a wonderful time. I sheepishly explained that I was new to Lavender and a little embarrassed to be so lost at our own event, so his assistance was ever so appreciated. We got to get down to the business of having a great time sooner, thanks to his help.

He smiled and said that he was so glad that we all enjoyed ourselves, gesturing to my t-shirt. Then, he held eye contact and pointedly said, “I had a great time, too.”

He smiled again, more broadly—a subtle emphasis to his statement.

I got it. I understood. And, I realized that–whether or not he was wearing a white t-shirt with a red and blue “Out in the Stands” logo—he was with us, too.

The perfect end to a lovely evening “Out in the Stands.”

With thanks,
Andy

Hot Fun in the Summertime
Special thanks to Barb Zapzalka at Pumphouse Creamery for hosting our cover shoot with the actresses of Fertile Ashes: Catherine, Mel, Kim, and Sweetpea. Fun shoot, delicious props, beautiful people. See all the photos from the shoot on LavenderMagazine.com or on our Facebook page.

Glimpses: 423

Minnesota Lynx Host Breast Health Awareness Night

On Tuesday, August 2, the Lynx donned pink jerseys, shorts, sweat bands and shoes in support of breast health awareness and played their way to yet another win in their successful season. A live auction of the jerseys was held after the game with proceeds going to the Lynx Foundation, which supports breast cancer research and support programs in the state of Minnesota. www.lynxbasketball.com

Phibbs to be Director of Education for the Office for Equity & Diversity

Best wishes to Anne Phibbs as she moves from the GLBTA Programs Office to a newly created position as Director of Education for the Office for Equity & Diversity at the University of Minnesota. As she elaborated on Facebook, “I am proud of what we–students, interns, staff, faculty, alumni, community members–have collectively created: our Ally Training Series, Txuj Ci Showcase, Transgender Commission, Tongues Untied, Bi/Pan/Fluid Sexuality Inclusion Project, Lavender House, Genderheads, the GLBTA Mentor Program, Leadership Retreat, Systemwide Summit, Leadership Year…and much more.”

Suing School

The Anoka-Hennepin School District is being sued to address “pervasive” anti-gay bullying in the district and for its policy that requires staff to remain neutral when discussing issues related to sexual orientation, which some have characterized as a “gag policy.”

The students represented in the case were verbally and physically harassed for their actual or perceived sexual orientation or when they did not conform to stereotypical gender roles, causing some to transfer schools or drop out. The complaint alleges the district did not respond adequately to the bullying.

The lawsuit was filed in U.S. District Court on July 21 by the Southern Poverty Law Center, the National Center for Lesbian Rights, and Faegre & Benson, LLP on behalf of five current and former students from the district who have suffered persistent anti-GLBT harassment in school, which the groups claim was exacerbated by the policy.

The Sexual Orientation Curriculum Policy states that district staff “shall remain neutral on matters regarding sexual orientation” and “such matters are best addressed within individual family homes, churches, or community organizations.”

The “discriminatory” policy leaves GLBT students out in the cold, said Ilona Turner, the NCLR’s lead attorney on the case.

“The simple existent of the policy sends a stigmatizing message to LGBT students that being gay is so wrong and so shameful that it can’t even be mentioned in schools,” Turner asserted. “It keeps teachers and staff from responding effectively when they see harassment of LGBT students going on because they are not sure how they can respond.”

The SPLC began an investigation in November 2010 after an alarming number of students in the district took their own lives and community members reported incidences of anti-gay persecution, according to Sam Wolfe, the SPLC’s lead attorney on the case.

Wolfe said the investigation showed the district has a “serious problem” with harassment. He explained the district’s response has been insufficient and continuing to stand behind the neutrality policy alienates GLBT students.

“You can’t have a welcoming environment when you have a policy that singles out LGBT students,” Wolfe stated. “You’ve got to get rid of that policy.”

Currently, the school board is not willing to change the policy, according to Mary Olson, the district’s director of communications and public relations. She said the policy reflects the needs of the community, which remains “divided” on GLBT issues, and does not prevent staff from discussing GLBT-related matters.

“The [school] board feels strongly that the policy is appropriate for our district,” Olson said. “We object to it being characterized as being a gag order.”

A statement was released on the school district’s website the day before the lawsuit was filed urging the NCLR and the SPLC to work with them on developing more training for students and staff to support GLBT students.

But without getting rid of the policy, Turner said, the district cannot implement effective training to protect all students.

“Their response to stick by the gag policy is hypocritical,” Turner said. “There is no way to have anti-bullying programs when you can’t say the word gay.”

The U.S. Department of Justice and Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights have been in discussions with the district to address the need for further guidance on GLBT-related topics, the district’s statement says.

The school district is addressing the matter and will continue to improve their resources to best serve students and staff, according to Olson.

“We are very concerned about it,” Olson emphasized. “We are definitely going to be ratcheting up our efforts to make sure all our students are safe.”

The district recently added information to their website to help students and staff deal with GLBT issues in school, including a brochure by the union Education Minnesota, which outlines how staff may deal with conflicts involving anti-GLBT slurs or other forms of bullying.

Books: 423

Seeing Gertrude Stein: Five Stories
Wanda M. Corn and Tirza True Latimer

Most think of Stein as a wordsmith, and have some knowledge of her broad collection of artists of the day, but Five Stories, a companion to the exhibit of the same name currently running at the Contemporary Jewish Museum in San Francisco, explores the visual Stein. She kept photos and artifacts from childhood on, and was acutely aware of herself as she was posed for photographs, paintings, and sculptures by outstanding artists of the day, from Picasso to George Platt Lynes. Stein asserted, “A writer should write with his eyes, and a painter paint with his ears. Five topics, “Picturing Gertrude,” “Domestic Stein,” “Art of Friendship,” “Celebrity Stein,” and “Legacies,” each containing 4-8 essays, help the reader see beyond the type.

University of California Press
$45

A Study in Lavender: Queering Sherlock Holmes
Ed. Joseph R.G. DeMarco

Over the years many writers have tried their hands at enlarging the Sherlock Holmes canon with their own works, Laurie R. King’s Mary Russell series is just one example. Lavender offers 11 niftily crafted and nuanced stories involving Holmes and the faithful Watson – sometimes clueless concerning his companion’s predilections, sometimes himself yearning for the master. Vincent Kovar’s The Bride and the Bachelors offers an almost O’Henry twist in its surprising solution, while Ruth Sims’s Whom God Destroys is told from the point of view of a serial killer who deems “Old Jack”–the Ripper–“overrated.” Editor DeMarco’s The Adventure of the Movie Never Made posits a fifteenth Holmes film with Basil Rathbone, Nigel Bruce, Mary Gordon–and a homicidal child actor.

Lethe Press
$20
Seven Petrow’s Complete Gay & Lesbian Manners
Steven Petrow, with Sally Chew

Citing statesman-philosopher Edmund Burke’s “Manners are of more importance than laws. Upon them, in great measure, the laws depend,” author Petrow covers every conceivable social situation that one might encounter as a gay person, as a non-gay person dealing with gays–with your bartender, your coat-check person and parking attendant. The Fleur de Lys Goblet Napkin Fold? Page 277. Invited to be a sperm donor? Page 204. Addressing Invitations to Lesbian and Gay Couples? Page 261. Serious Illness? Page 352. In short, you hold in your hands some 400+ pages of “The Definitive Guide to LGBT Life,” all sharply observed and candidly expressed. If something has been left unanswered, or you have a personal question, Petrow himself awaits at GayManners.com

Workman
$17.95

The Comics – The Complete Collection
Brian Walker

This handsome volume combines Walker’s previous The Comics: Before 1945 and The Comics: Since 1945 comprising 672 pages and some 1,300 images. Walker knows the comics thoroughly, as cartoonist, scholar, and founder and former director of the Museum of Cartoon Art. Following in his father Mort’s footsteps, Walker continues as part of the team producing the Beetle Bailey and Hi and Lois strips. Of course, all the big guns are represented, George Herriman’s Krazy Kat, Walt Kelly’s Pogo, Scott Adams’s Dilbert, Al Capp’s Li’l Abner, with many new strips like Rick Kirkman & Jerry Scott’s accurately titled Baby Blues, Jerry Scott and Jim Borgman’s wry Zits, and Ray Billingsly’s politically cutting Curtis, all enhanced by Walker’s well-researched and analytical text.

Abrams Comic Art
$40

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