Support and Celebrate Midwest LGBTQ+ Community this Pride

By McKenzie Schwark

June is national LGBTQ+ Pride month. This month is dedicated to recognizing the uprising at Stonewall Inn in June 1969, and celebrating the accomplishments of the LGBTQ+ community. Pride is a time to celebrate joy and freedom, while continuing the fight for a more equitable world. This month we want to highlight some Midwest specific organizations, events, and advocates to support and celebrate not just during Pride, but all year round. 

Places to donate

FM Pride Collective

The FM Pride Collective’s mission is “To create a sense of community and promote education and social activities aimed at furthering the social and physical well-being and development of the LGBT community in the Red River Valley.” 

Outfront Minnesota

OutFront Minnesota’s mission is to create a state where lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer people are free to be who they are, love who they love, and live without fear of violence, harassment or discrimination. The organization has helped successfully advocate for several nondiscrimination laws across the state. 

PFLAG Bismarck

PFLAG has chapters across the United States that bring together volunteers who are dedicated to advocacy and education surrounding the LGTBQ+ community in their area. 

People and groups to know

Breaking Barriers

“Breaking Barriers: Harvesting LGBTQ Stories from the Northern Plains” was a project started in 2017 to gather and share the stories of queer people living in the Norther Plains area. More than 100+ stories have been collected and are available to listen to on their site. 

Project RAI FM

Project RAI has one mission: to reduce the rate of suicide within LGBTQ+ youth. They work with young people and supportive adults to build confidence and trust. They offer support for people aged 3-15, and host events throughout the FM area. 

Books by Queer Midwestern Authors

Under the Rainbow by Ceilia Laskey

“Big Burr, Kansas is the kind of place where everyone seems to know everyone–or so they think. But when a national nonprofit labels Big Burr “the most homophobic town in the U.S.” and sends in a queer task force to live and work there for two years, no one is prepared for what will ensue.”

Rust Belt Femme by Raechel Anne Jolie

“Fearlessly honest, wry, and tender, Jolie digs into both the pain of past traumas and the joy of teenaged discovery to craft a love letter to the brassy, big-haired women who raised her and the 90s alternative culture that shaped her into who she is today: a queer femme with PTSD and a deep love of the Midwest.”

Tomboyland by Melissa Faliveno

“In this intrepid collection of essays, Melissa Faliveno traverses the liminal spaces of her childhood in working-class Wisconsin and the paths she’s traveled since, compelled by questions of girlhood and womanhood, queerness and class, and how the lands of our upbringing both define and complicate us even long after we’ve left.”

Wow, No Thank You by Samantha Irby

“Irby is forty, and increasingly uncomfortable in her own skin despite what Inspirational Instagram Infographics have promised her. She has left her job as a receptionist at a veterinary clinic, has published successful books and has been friendzoned by Hollywood, left Chicago, and moved into a house with a garden that requires repairs and know-how with her wife in a Blue town in the middle of a Red state where she now hosts book clubs and makes mason jar salads.”

Homie by Danez Smith

Homie is Danez Smith’s magnificent anthem about the saving grace of friendship. Rooted in the loss of one of Smith’s close friends, this book comes out of the search for joy and intimacy within a nation where both can seem scarce and getting scarcer. In poems of rare power and generosity, Smith acknowledges that in a country overrun by violence, xenophobia, and disparity, and in a body defined by race, queerness, and diagnosis, it can be hard to survive, even harder to remember reasons for living.”

Prairie Silence by Melanie Hoffert

“Melanie Hoffert longs for her North Dakota childhood home, with its grain trucks and empty main streets. A land where she imagines standing at the bottom of the ancient lake that preceded the prairie: crop rows become the patterned sand ripples of the lake floor; trees are the large alien plants reaching for the light; and the sky is the water’s vast surface, reflecting the sun. Like most rural kids, she followed the out-migration pattern to a better life. The prairie is a hard place to stay—particularly if you are gay, and your home state is the last to know.”

Ways to show support

Attend the FM LGBT Film Festival

  • The festival highlights films made for, by, and about the LGBTQ+ community in the Fargo-Moorhead area.

Volunteer at a Dakota Outright Event 

  • Dakota Outright is hosting a day of fun, pride themed events on Saturday, June 19, 2021. Volunteer or find an event or attend their day of events in the Bismarck area! 

Donate clothes to the Fargo Trans Clothing Drive

  • Donations can be dropped at the Pride Center every Saturday, 1105 1st Ave S., Fargo ND, 58103, 218-287-8034

Additional Resources

LGBT Affirmative Therapists 

Trans Student Educational Resources

LGBTQ Youth Stop Bullying

Part of why we love the Midwest is that it is made up of a diverse, supportive and caring community. It’s important that we show up for our neighbors and help celebrate our individuality all year long.