May 18 marks the 42th 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 at last report lived 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 that event. Note, however, that FREE was founded nearly six weeks before Stonewall, a credit to the moxie of Minnesota gay activists.