Twin Cities Pride 2016 Recap!
by Bradley Loiederman

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The Monday after pride weekend is one of the hardest Mondays of the year to get through: drained, sunburnt, and wishing it didn’t all have to end. Although we have to wait another year for Pride 2017, let’s recap on this energetic and pride-filled weekend that left rainbow splattered around the Twin Cities!

Friday

Like many other LGBTQIA+ people and allies did this weekend, I made sure to take the entire weekend off and start hitting events early to show my pride this year! I started Friday morning this year with the Twin Cities Caffeine Crawl, a biking tour of 19 different roasters, cafes, chocolatiers, and ice creameries around the Twin Cities. Being mentioned on the TC Pride website, it was a great way to wake up and start the weekend with the community!

After spending the early part of Friday biking around and getting buzzed off caffeine, it was time to shimmy to Memory Lanes for the 9th Annual Fruit Bowl! The Fruit Bowl is a sponsored by the Rainbow Health Initiative and provides an all ages, sober, tobacco free environment for LGBTQIA+ members and allies of all ages a safe place to have some fun over pride! There was bowling, volleyball, karaoke, and a taco bar! What I really enjoyed about it was the variety of ages of attendees: young people connected with older people and families, showing that pride is meant for every age group!

After hitting some pins and stuffing myself with tacos, it was time to head downtown to the first night of celebration! With so much going on, it was hard to choose where to go, so inexpensive cover and drink specials were definitely on the radar. I started the night at The Saloon; it was my first time there for the pride block party, and I wanted to see what all the fuss was about. And boy, it was definitely worth the rave reviews! People as far as the eye can see were dancing, being jubilant, and showing pride both inside the club and all around the block! Djs were spinning some banging house and techno, and the headliners of the night were some of the biggest modern day drag queens around, Pearl and Detox! The cover was a little steep, but it was definitely a fantastic way to celebrate and show pride!

After dancing around outside The Saloon and seeing some famous queens from RPDR, it was time to move on to the second club of the night. I decided to keep the theme of famous drag queens going, and I went to Rev to see Naomi Smalls! Naomi Smalls put on a crazy fun show, but it was definitely starting to get way too sweaty down in Rev after her show was over. Luckily, I was able to air out at Union and dance to some hot house and electro for completely free! Although there were plenty of people on the rooftop Friday night, it felt a lot more controllable than some of the other clubs downtown, and I ended up staying until bar close! Getting on the bus to go back home, I was ready for a good night sleep and to do it all again the next day!

Saturday

I slept in Saturday but still wanted to check out the festival. When I got down to Loring Park around 4pm, however, it seemed that many vendors had closed down due to severe weather approaching. Luckily, during pride weekend, many of the clubs start opening up around 4 and 5, so it was off to another pride block party! Lush, a relatively newer club in Northeast, was doing their own pride block party, offering drink specials and spinning music from all over the board. What drew me to the club, however, was their special guest performer: RPDR star Alaska Thunderfuck! After seeing her hysterical and talented performance and dancing to some harder electronic that I would have never imagined being played at a gay club, I went back downtown to celebrate Saturday with the SIM fam!

With another night of free cover and Absolut drink specials, it was time to shimmy back to Union! I hung out on the rooftop for a few hours dancing to Jack Trash’s sick house mixes and pride-filled tropical and electro vibes. It was also so much fun to watch Hennepin from the Union rooftop Saturday night, seeing all the craziness on the street and people filled with energy and pride. However, after a couple hours of getting pumped with good energy and loving feels, it was time to stop by the Nicollet Diner for their pride buffet and head to bed.

Sunday

I got up early on Sunday and made the trek downtown to go Union’s pride brunch! With only a $15 cover, great brunch drink specials, and a spectacular view of the parade, it was definitely the best place to watch the parade from! Hennepin was jam-packed with viewers from each side as bright-colored floats moved fashionably down the avenue. People were throwing rainbow necklaces, sunglasses, whistles, beer cozies, and many other vibrant objects into the crowd as attendees cheered and hollered with glee. After about two hours of watching the gigantic parade go by, it was time to say goodbye to Union for the weekend and head down to Loring Park for the festival!

Walking through the festival on Sunday felt like walking through Times Square: thousands upon thousands of people walking with energy and extreme happiness as vendors and organizations came out to show their pride and bring their organizations to light. I learned all about different organizations around the Twin Cities that provide services for the LGBTQIA+ community, and I got to buy some of the coolest little trinkets that can’t be found anywhere else (as well as some very funny-printed underwear). The pride festival is one of the most accepting events around, where you can go and feel loved no matter what your age, ethnicity, orientation, fashion style, etc. I had one of the best days I’ve had in a while on Sunday, and it really helped me break out and show my pride with the community!

This was by far my favorite and most memorable pride weekend I’ve had so far. It really helped remind me that in the wake of attacks being centered around our community, the best way to fight against the hate is with pride and love. Seeing everyone, no matter gay, straight, bisexual, transgendered, queer, etc., come out to love and support each other gave me extreme hope and pride for the community at large and made me really thankful to be a part of it. And as I sit here sunburnt out the wazoo and wanting nothing more than to sleep, I am still smiling with how much love and hope I experienced this weekend. So thank you to everyone that came out proud during Pride 2016, and I am very excited to see you all again next year!