Latest Event Updates

2015: A Banner Year for Pride

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There have been many good years of celebration for East Central Minnesota Pride, having cast a rainbow in the region for 11 years now.  But, 2015 is expected to be an especially good year for Pride… a “banner year”, no less!

It wasn’t always so rosy.  There were years of controversial event promotions.  For example, early on, an advertisement ran in local newspapers showing a rainbow boa on a familiar but non-trademarked voyageur statue in the Pine City park where the event is held.  Even though the statue is not the City’s symbol (its official logo can be viewed here), it was viewed as iconic enough to upset some who protested across town with their own event, dubbed as “pro-family”–as if pride were anti-family.

More recently, a message of “Happy Pride!” scrolled on an electronic programmable message sign.  The sign has advertised community events since it was erected 15 years ago on property owned by Pine City Public Schools.  The pride message, though positive, made some in the school district wary.  And, instead of the controversy being used as a learning opportunity for school administration and a teaching moment for students, the school opted to forgo community event messages altogether and subsequently refund the $10,000 used to purchase the sign granted by the Greater Pine Area Endowment (after all, the grant specified that the sign was to be used for school “and community events”).  Today, only school messages are advertised.

These roadblocks were being put in the way of an event that, over the years, had garnered positive statewide, national and even worldwide attention.  East Central Minnesota Pride was a Community Pride Showcase award winner at the Minnesota State Fair as a way that the Greater Pine City area is moving beyond economic challenges with creative and proactive community and economic development innovations.

Year after year, big acts have made their way to the East Central Pride stage as well:  Chastity Brown, an internationally-recognized musician who straddles multiple genres, has twice been booked.  Former Minnesota Viking Esera Tuaolo debuted his smash single “Stronger” on the East Central Minnesota Pride stage, twice as well.  Others who have been to Pride include Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton, Last Comic Standing’s Tommy Ryman, and WCCO-TV’s Edward Moody.

Through several generous donations by area residents and local businesses, a banner has been purchased from a Pine City sign company and hung across Pine City’s Main Street.

The banner is welcoming and sends a powerful message of inclusivity to ALL members of the community and passersby.

Moreover, some younger folks in the community are especially thankful the banner is there.  Take this message sent to Pride last week for example:

Facebook Correspond

To that kid:  This is why we do what we do!  We hope some day you’ll be able to safely attend.  To everyone else, we hope to see you at pride this Sunday.  Happy Pride!  Let’s have another successful event and a banner year!

Hedwig to appear at Pride

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Hedwig photoHedwig 3Excerpts from “Hedwig and the Angry Inch” will be a featured component of the 11th annual East Central Minnesota Pride event, scheduled for June 7 at Voyageur Park in Pine City.  As part of the entertainment schedule, the co-stars of the award-winning Duluth production will present a live soundtrack from “Hedwig”.

Written by John Cameran Mitchell, “Hedwig and the Angry Inch” won three Tony Awards after finally making its way on to the Broadway stage in early 2014, introducing Neil Patrick Harris as Hedwig.

Duluth’s version of “Hedwig” played to standing room only crowds by the closing weekend of its October, 2014, run on the Underground stage at the Duluth Playhouse. It was named best local play by the Northland Reader’s Best of The Northland 2014.  Ogilvie-native and Mora High School graduate Alec Schroeder, as Hedwig, won best local actor of 2014 and Tonya Porter, co-strarring as Hedwig’s husband and back-up singer Yitzhak, won best local actress as well.

For those not familiar with “Hedwig”, this rock musical,  set in a bar, is the life story in the form of a monologue of Hedwig. Her tale starts in East Germany, where she is a rock and roll, philosophy loving boy with the name of Hansel. In order to follow back his lover back to America, Hansel changes his name and has a botched sex change surgery, which leaves him with an “Angry Inch”. Hedwig then forms a band which she names “the Angry Inch”. Once in the United States, she then meets Tommy Gnosis and starts writing songs with him who in turn leaves her to become a famous rock star with the songs they wrote together. In her search for love, freedom and happiness, Hedwig –and The Angry Inch – follows Tommy around and supports herself by playing in dive bars close to venues that are hosting Tommy’s performances.

Schroeder and Porter will revive their roles as Hedwig and Yitzhak on the Pride stage via a live performance highlighting songs from the Tony Award winning soundtrack. Come and experience hits like Origins of Love, Wig in a Box, Wicked Little Town, and Midnight Radio.

Why go? Robert Lee, Director of the Duluth production, describes it this way: “Hedwig is the triumphant freak. The hero for anyone who has ever felt different, out of place, pushed down, pushed out, spit on or cursed at – you know, everyone. She is calloused, but funny; Jaded, but witty; different, but triumphant. She is deeply flawed and self-destructive, but no one can tear her down.”  Come and be moved by the music of “Hedwig and the Angry Inch”.

Photo Credit:  Photos provided by Robert Lee and Ryan Fargo

Sat., May 16 Garage Sale supports Pride

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In May, hundreds of bargain hunters will descend upon close-knit Pine City, Minn., for the annual citywide garage sale.  About 65 homes will host individual garage sales, and shoppers can walk or drive from sale to sale, securing deals on secondhand goods that might have otherwise ended up in the landfill or languished in storage.

One such sale’s proceeds will benefit East Central Minnesota Pride.  It is located in the garage of a town home at 922 7th Street SW, in Pine City, and a wide variety of items will be displayed for sale including, but not limited to, clothes, sporting equipment, electronics, toys and games, household items, furniture, books and gardening equipment.

East Central PFLAG (Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays) of Mora will be on-hand with its popcorn wagon with fresh, buttered popcorn for sale.  There will also be a delicious bake sale with bars, brownies and cheese cakes.

The Pine City citywide Parade of Garage Sales begins at 7 a.m. on Saturday, May 16. Check the Advertiser May 10 or the May 14 edition of the Pioneer for a full listing, map of sale locations, and sale descriptions.

Pride Planning Committee Seeks New Members To Plan June 7 Pride Event

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For some, an annual picnic in the park isn’t enough. For those people, there is the East Central Minnesota Pride (ECMP) planning committee.  If you want to take an extra step in community building, changing hearts and minds about LGBT issues, and getting involved with your neighbors has a whole, consider attending an ECMP planning committee meeting.

The planning committee does the important work of putting on one of the few rural LGBT pride events… in the (gulp) world!  East Central Minnesota is comprised of Pine, Isanti, Chisago, Kanabec and Mille Lacs counties, and the ideal planning committee would be made of of a good cross-section of members from each of the counties in the region.  The ECMP planning committee has generally had between 10 and 15 members, and has been a mix of people who identify as part of the LGBT community as well as straight allies.  To get involved, email .

Volunteering for ECMP is a great way to get involved with your local LGBT community all while having a fun and rewarding time doing it. Some of the tasks of the committee members include:  coordination, public relations, outreach, entertainment lineup, food, setup, breakdown, and fundraising throughout the year.  ECMP began in 2005 and last year celebrated its 10th anniversary.

March in Pine County Fair Parade to support Pride in the region

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For the very FIRST time, East Central PFLAG is organizing a unit in this parade, the biggest in the region.  Theme:  “A Decade of Pride in East Central Minnesota”.  PFLAG is looking for volunteers to help decorate, walk, hold signs, etc.  Wear your rainbow bling to show your pride.  This is done in effort to thank the overwhelming majority of the Greater Pine City community that has welcomed Pride for 10 years.

The parade begins Saturday, Aug. 2, 2014 at 4 p.m.

Despite washout forecast, sun shined on Pride

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Despite the ominous forecast, hundreds descended on Pine City’s Voyageur Park for the 10th annual pride.   Thanks to everyone who came out and supported Minnesota’s Small-Town Gay Pride!  A special thanks to the scores of volunteers who help make this event possible.