The Twin Cities is not only a fine place to live during the summer months, but also a great place to be GLBT—or anything else for that matter. This year alone, we’re celebrating the 15th anniversary of the GLBT Human Rights Act Amendment (signed by a Republican Governor, no less), as well as marking the 30th anniversary of the repeal of the St. Paul gay-rights ordinance (although the one in Minneapolis remained in force).
That repeal certainly was a defeat, but nevertheless, it’s encouraging that more than 30 years ago, the Twin Cities was protecting the rights of the GLBT community—and is doing so now more than ever. In a time when many GLBT persons had to hide who they were, and were discriminated against openly, both cities had enacted laws that prevented them from being treated differently.As the large local GLBT community begins to prep for Pride events this year, Lavender joins the festivities with our annual PRIDE (People Rallying Individuality, Diversity, and Equality) Awards.
For six years now, we have been spotlighting a handful of the most dedicated individuals or organizations that have gone above and beyond in supporting our community. They have done much to ensure that GLBT individuals of this wonderful state could feel safe to be who they are, wherever they are, whenever they want to.
It is always hard to pick only six entities to receive these awards, when so many out there may deserve them equally as much. Fighting for the rights of people in a group you may not even belong to takes great courage—not only to insist they are equal to you, and deserve to be treated in the same fashion, but also to do so with pride.Lavender would like everyone to stand up, and say thank-you to those who won this year, as well as to the many others that deserved to win as well.
Everyone is invited to join us in a rousing “Huzzah!” for our 2008 recipients, commending them for all their hard work, and encouraging them to continue with their commitment. This year, we feted the winners June 5, on the roof of the Chambers Hotel in Downtown Minneapolis.For a complete list of events going on this summer, visit lavendermagazi.wpengine.com/summerofpride.If you know of, or encounter during the coming year, an exceptional someone or group you’d like to nominate for the 2009 PRIDE Awards, e-mail that person’s (organization’s) name and contact information, along with a brief description of what makes your nominee a deserving candidate, to [email protected].
By Chris Jackson
Tim Marburger is that quiet-hero type, the sort of gent who truly enjoys helping other people get the most out of life. “Humble” seems too flimsy a term to describe his devotion, “genuine” too limited to explain his personality.
For the past two-and-a half years, Marburger has been Director of Fund-raising and Special Events for The Aliveness Project. A self-described “Center for Living,” the organization is committed to serving the needs of those struggling with HIV/AIDS.
Marburger certainly has pledged his life to seeing personally that people continue to live, and win their battles against the disease plaguing our community. For his selfless generosity, he embodies the celebration of true Pride.
Having begun his work with The Aliveness Project in 2002 as a volunteer, Marburger blossomed into his current position. He started as a part-time receptionist. Asked shortly after to help with Dining Out for Life, he readily obliged. Another of his outstanding qualities is his inability to say no when asked for help.
Through Marburger’s dedication, The Aliveness Project has grown by astounding leaps and bounds, though he would be the first to deny himself credit. Yet, no matter how much he compliments others on the staff, his charisma slips though.
Beaming, Marburger speaks of the growth of Dining out for Life. Now in its 14th year, the program has gained enormous visibility and public support for local AIDS charities. The event, which partners with more than 100 restaurants, has seen an increase in donations from $30,000 to this year’s expected goal of more than $115,000.
Asked where he draws his strength and inspiration from, Marburger points to all the staff and volunteers at The Aliveness Project, and also to those he serves.
“I had a cousin die of AIDS. I always think if there had been a place like this….I think of him,” Marburger shares.
It seems Marburger’s unshakeable faith has allowed him to serve the community in a way that few even can begin to compare to. As a youth minister, he also spends his time in the service of others, not only through his church.
The Aliveness Project is one of the most prominent care organizations for people living with HIV. With a diverse array of services ranging from the food shelf to massage therapy, it is a testament that diversity and care of the person, not the disease, are paramount. Right now, The Aliveness Project boasts more than 1,000 volunteers. It has seen a 9 percent increase in membership since last year alone, and serves one in four people living with HIV in Minnesota.
In this Summer of Pride, it is heartening to know that people like Marburger refuse to see anything less than the best in everyone; we, in turn, see all the best in him. Though the battle against HIV may have no end in sight, the Tim Marburgers continue to inspire hope and life. We recognize those givers, which he epitomizes, with love and admiration, plus, of course, pride.
By Bradley Traynor
The French photographer and father of photojournalism, Henri Cartier-Bresson, once said, “Photographers deal in things which are continually vanishing, and when they have vanished, there is no contrivance on earth which can make them come back again.”
For the GLBTQIA community, that quote has extra-special significance. If we keep no record of our existence, it is as though we never existed. Our community, therefore, owes a tremendous debt of gratitude to photographers, those individuals willing to tell our stories, and record for posterity our place in history.
That is, in part, what makes local photographer Sophia Hantzes such a well-deserved recipient of this year’s Lavender PRIDE Award.
If, over the past 15 years, you ever found yourself at a community fund-raiser, political rally, or particularly festive night out on the town, you very likely had the pleasure of seeing, meeting, and most certainly laughing with Hantzes. With camera in hand, she bears witness to our community, capturing moments both subtle and sublime.
This photographer recorded our resolve at the State Capitol during the same-sex marriage amendment battle. Her candid photographs during times of celebration like Pride help illustrate the true breadth and diversity of our community, rising above the two-dimensional stereotypes all too often served up by mainstream media.
Photography has been a part of Hantzes’s life since she first picked up a camera as a child. In fact, she recalls, her family nickname was “Put That Damn Camera Down!”
Equally as important as the subjects themselves, Hantzes always has understood the role of photography as historical record.
“I’ve always had a sense of archiving, whether my family, the GLBTQIA community, the WNBA, or Big Ten Women’s Basketball. It’s about archiving history,” Hantzes says.
Hantzes has photographed the life and times of Minnesota’s GBTQIA community, including Duluth-Superior, since the early 1990s, following an opportunity to photograph the Minnesota AIDS Walk in 1993. She began shooting for local and national publications, then, ultimately, Lavender Magazine in 2000.
Asked what has kept her photographing the GLBTQIA community, Hantzes replies, “It’s not about the events—it’s about every day, I get to photograph heroes. I’m overwhelmed by the people who’ve been at it for years, who’ve done it silently and for their own convictions. I get to meet them, and photograph them.”
In addition to the simple act of capturing meaningful moments in time, Hantzes’s work belies an interpersonal approach to photography, which adds layers of richness to the stories she records. She humbly approaches her invitation to photograph, doing so on the terms of those on the other side of her lens, with a curiosity and willingness to learn.
“Everyone who has allowed me to photograph them has been a wonderful teacher to me,” Hantzes states.
Hantzes certainly seems to appreciate the unique challenges facing the GLBTQIA community, and the importance of documenting them: “The community is facing its biggest civil rights fight and health crisis. I have the opportunity, documenting it.”
Modest about receiving a Lavender PRIDE Award, Hantzes remarks, “I’m really grateful for the opportunity to do it. I’m humbled. I’d like to thank everybody for letting me into their lives. I wouldn’t be able to do it without Lavender, and I’m very appreciative.”
By John Townsend
Former Minnesota Governor Arne Carlson views his Republican Party in historical terms: a beacon for the expansion of human rights. He cites Presidents Abraham Lincoln, Teddy Roosevelt, and Dwight Eisenhower, along with Minnesota Governors Harold Stassen, Elmer L. Andersen, and Al Quie.
As Governor himself, Carlson’s prochoice stand for women’s reproductive rights, as well as his signing the Minnesota Human Rights Act Amendment to include GLBT individuals, ruptured the state Republican Party. For his brave stand, he paid dearly, essentially being driven from his own party.
Carlson’s involvement with the GLBT community goes back to roughly 1965, when the Minneapolis City Council was debating “open housing.” A proposed ordinance basically opened housing opportunities to the black community. Carlson agreed to add the gay community to it, which turned out to be highly controversial. Ultimately, the ordinance passed without including gays.
Later, as a member of the Minnesota Legislature, Carlson was sensitive to GLBT issues.
About 1976 or 1977, Carlson was asked to, in his words, “carry an amendment—it must have been through a human rights bill—on behalf of the transvestite community. [House Speaker] Martin Sabo said, ‘You know, it’s not going to pass.’ And I said, ‘That’s fine. That’s not the issue. The issue is the opportunity to get some insight into the issue.’ And then, Sabo opened by giving the Legislature a lovely, very brief homily. He said, ‘Arne Carlson is going to talk about this, and I just ask that you respectfully listen’—and they did.”
In 1991, Carlson became Governor of Minnesota. Two years later, the Minnesota Legislature amended the Minnesota Human Rights Act to prohibit discrimination on the basis of “sexual orientation”—which extended to include transgender individuals—making Minnesota the first state to provide them civil rights protection. Carlson signed the law into effect.
Among abortion and other hot topics, Carlson believes that the real incendiary part was the GLBT issue. When he signed the bill, it lit a fire in the Republican Party—people would say openly that he was not a Republican.
As Carlson relates, “I remember going to the Republican Convention in St. Cloud, and was booed off the stage. I knew I was going to be denied the nomination for re-election. They agreed to allow me to talk, because I was a sitting Governor. And then they stood up, and turned their backs on me.
“[In 1948, Senator] Hubert Humphrey gave a great speech on civil rights for blacks, and everybody hailed him as a hero. I gave what I felt was a great speech on civil rights for gays, and the press corps asked why I couldn’t get along with my own party.”
Things have changed radically since then. People today might look back, and wonder what in the world all the fuss was about. One of the reasons they have the luxury to do so is because of Carlson’s unflinching steadfastness on behalf of the GLBT community over the past four decades. For that, Lavender salutes him, and is honored to present him a 2008 PRIDE Award.
Queer Music Consortium
By Ed Huyck
Weather hasn’t always been kind to the annual Pride concerts of the Queer Music Consortium (QMC). The organization, made up of several area GLBT music groups, moved its annual concert to the Como Park Pavilion, hoping it would provide some extra protection for the string players from the Minnesota Philharmonic Orchestra. Nature had other ideas.
As Jane Ramseyer Miller, Artistic Director of One Voice Mixed Chorus, and one of QMC’s founders, recalls, “In 2006, a huge thunderstorm struck during the middle of the Queer Music Consortium Pride Concert, and at one point, a side wind drenched the entire audience, and soaked the Twin Cities Men’s Chorus, which was performing onstage. We were relieved it wasn’t the orchestra onstage at that point!”
Mere thunderstorms can’t stop QMC, however. For the past decade, it has brought together groups with diverse missions and members.
“In my first few months on the job, I realized that I was feeling rather isolated, and wanted a way to connect with some people doing similar work to my own,” Ramseyer shares. “So, I called the directors of the other queer music groups, and asked if they’d be interested in meeting to share programming ideas and information.”
QMC, which formed in the mid-1990s, consists of Calliope Women’s Chorus, Twin Cities Gay Men’s Chorus, Minnesota Freedom Band, One Voice Mixed Chorus, Minnesota Philharmonic Orchestra, and TransVoices.
One of the first issues QMC tackled was coordinating performances, so they would not overlap. Beyond that, the group has worked together on a number of events, from annual Pride Concerts to joint performances, such as one in November 2001 honoring victims of the 9/11 attacks. QMC also has provided a chance to create new works of art.
“I value the chance to connect regularly with music directors from the other QMC organizations, to share programming ideas, and collaborate in concerts,” Miller notes. “It is a unique relationship that we have within QMC. I know directors in other cities who experience significant competition between their performing groups, and are in awe of the way our QMC works together to share calendars, concerts, and programming.”
Eric Dollerschell of the Minnesota Freedom Band points out that QMC allows groups to be more creative with their programming: “It’s a lot of work to coordinate the logistics of joint concert. But in the end, the results are well worth the energy and the time.”
And QMC allows lovers of different styles of music to experience new sounds.
Minnesota Philharmonic Orchestra Music Director Joseph Schlefke remarks, “Through the establishment of the QMC Como Park Concert in early June, we have all expanded our audiences. Choral music lovers are exposed to great music from instrumental groups, and vice versa. Last year, we began sharing a large booth at the Pride Festival at Loring Park, which further helped all of us ‘cross-pollinate,’ if you will, our prospective audience members and other interested music lovers.”
Heltzer & Burg
By Heidi Fellner
Chances are, if you find yourself in need of an attorney, it’s not because things are going well. For nontraditional families, even so-called “happy law”—adoption, estate planning, domestic partnership agreements, and the like—isn’t always easy.
That’s why the Twin Cities is blessed to have Heltzer & Burg, a law firm that takes pride in catering to the needs of the GLBT community.
Rebecca Heltzer and Jerry Burg are partners in the practice, celebrating its 15th anniversary this year. Melissa Houghtaling joined the firm recently.
“We have the same issues everybody else has,” Heltzer says, “but the laws that apply to us in our relationships aren’t traditional family laws, so you can’t rely on those statues.”
It’s not that other firms would be unable to assist GLBT clients.
However, as Heltzer puts it, “If I’m working with other GLBT attorneys, they know what they’re dealing with, but if it’s a heterosexual attorney, it’s a six-month learning curve, and [that results in] an unnecessary spending of money to resolve disputes.”
Even in this day and age, one never knows when one may encounter homophobia, which both Heltzer and Burg have experienced at other law firms.
Burg recalls, “I’ve had experiences where clients didn’t feel comfortable being [at traditional firms], or the environment didn’t seem particularly welcoming.”
It’s sad GLBT people still face discrimination, but this state has seen several advances, thanks in part to individuals like Burg and Heltzer.
For example, in 1993, Burg spent a great deal of time lobbying to amend the Minnesota Human Rights Act to include sexual orientation as a protected class. Minnesota’s definition of sexual orientation is now one of the broadest in the country, covering not only gay, lesbian, bisexual, and straight, but also gender identity. But there is still a long way to go.
“I would say the fact that we still have in our state statute an exemption that people can discriminate against employees who work with kids is still a dimension of discrimination,” Burg contends.
Yet, as Heltzer states, “Every time we make another court appearance or advocate for another GLBT person who’s been discriminated against—that’s kind of a success story.”
Moreover, among the somewhat conservative legal profession, a firm entirely made up of openly GLBT attorneys seems to have encouraged a more tolerant attitude among their peers.
Heltzer relates, “Early on, not a lot of lawyers were out, but now, these big firms are catching on. It is now acceptable to be out and in a big firm. I think the pioneers within our community made that happen, and I think Jerry and I were a part of that in some way.”
Both Heltzer and Burg maintain a strong presence in the community, giving talks, and fielding questions about GLBT issues over the phone daily. Their firm has donated time and money to a number of GLBT-friendly organizations throughout the Twin Cities, including Chrysalis, District 202, Minnesota AIDS Project, and OutFront Minnesota.
Clearly, Heltzer & Burg has a continued dedication to fighting discrimination, and bettering the lives of the GLBT community in the Twin Cities.
By Kolina Cicero
Pride is voicing an opinion, even if it may be unpopular. It is taking initiative, having self-respect, and thriving on being different. More importantly, pride is the fuel that drives the hard-working GLBT community. People and companies that display their pride are the ones to thank for the success of today’s GLBT-friendly society.
This year, Ameriprise Financial, the nation’s largest financial-planning company, is the recipient of a Lavender PRIDE Award—because of its contributions to, support of, and involvement with the GLBT community. This award is given out each year to a company that has been outspoken in its commitment to the GLBT community. Ameriprise certainly meets this criteria.
Formerly Investors’ Syndicate, this GLBT-friendly company, founded in 1894, has as one of its four core values respect for individuals and communities with which Ameriprise is involved. True to its values—and one of the many reasons the company is receiving the PRIDE Award—it is supportive of its GLBT employees and clients.
Ameriprise’s involvement with the GLBT community is both internal and external, not only prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity, but also creating a network of GLBT employees. PRIDE (not to be confused with the award) is an 18-year-old GLBT employee network at Ameriprise.
This network helped the company become the first financial-services firm to offer a dual client analysis for domestic partners. It allows advisers to help domestic partners develop a financial plan, according to Seema Shah, Vice President of Diversity at Ameriprise Financial.
By promoting communication among the members of the company, PRIDE has transformed Ameriprise into an open environment where everyone is equal.
“The PRIDE network is extremely active in the GLBT community,” Shah says. “The network consults with company leaders to discuss ways we can meet the needs of our GLBT clients.”
At monthly meetings, advisers and corporate employees gather to discuss ways of providing the company’s GLBT clients with optimal service.
Along with a successful internal GLBT network, Ameriprise provides financial support to several local GLBT organizations. Corporate grant-making and sponsorship are two ways Ameriprise Financial gives to the community outside the company. In 2007, it awarded grants to District 202, Open Arms of Minnesota, and Twin Cities Gay Men’s Chorus, along with two California-based organizations. Twin Cities Pride, 2008 GLAAD Media Awards, NewNowNext Awards, and the Twin Cities Coming Out Day Luncheon are all events that Ameriprise sponsors. In addition, it’s participating in PrideFest in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
The development of a strong internal network, the sponsorship of GLBT programs, and the awarding of grants to support the GLBT community at large are all reasons that Ameriprise Financial is a well-deserved recipient of the 2008 Lavender PRIDE Award. The company has created an open-minded atmosphere for its employees, and in return, GLBT clients receive the same treatment. Ameriprise’s involvement in the GLBT community exercises the company’s pride, which is why it is being recognized.
“We are really pleased to be receiving the PRIDE Award,” Shah remarks. “We are proud and honored.”