Church Camp: The Naming Project

Summer camp. Youthful memories of a time of life when things were figured out between trips to the ballpark or mall. Life was sort of complicated in the way that only teenagers can complicate things. Camp was when those complications were concentrated and compacted into a time and place away from home; away from the usual rhythm of life. It was a brief stint of heaven or hell, depending upon who ended up in the lower bunk. Was reality suspended or was it a microcosm of the larger world? Homesickness. Puppy love. Learning to kayak. Swimming past the buoy. Generic peanut butter. Outhouses. Woven potholders in wacky colors. Capture the Flag. Campfires. Bugspray. Permanently damp swimsuits. Tie-dyed t-shirts.


Shame. Condemnation. Fear. Confusion.

How would camp have been different had it been geared toward GLBT and Allied youth? Some might say that it couldn’t have existed. Summer camp was church camp…and no such topic of sexual orientation would be allowed or addressed. If not church-based, summer camp was just summer camp and nobody talked about such things. Or, they did. But, they did so in secret.

That was then. 15 years ago or 50 years ago, the time of silencing the identity and discovery of young people is over. The long, painful history of denying sexual orientation and identity as part of the discourse in faith communities has passed.

Now, there is The Naming Project. One of a handful of camps in North America for gay, lesbian, bisexual, trans-identified, allied, and questioning youth, The Naming Project organization started its formation in 2002 as an answer to the question, was there a place where a gay youth could go to discuss sexuality as well as spirituality?

It was a simple—but revolutionary—question. No, there was not.

Since then, the founders of The Naming Project—Jay Wiesner, Ross Murray, and Brad Froslee—have built a multi-faceted organization with programming to help GLBTA youth learn, grow, and share their experiences. It includes outings to worship and fellowship experiences; resources for youth and parents; workshops and conversations for youth in schools, communities, and churches; workshops for youth workers, parents, and congregations; and, as seen here, a five-day summer camp for youth at Bay Lake Camp near Garrison, Minnesota.

The camp is on an island. Metaphorical or literal, the shift in reality is palpable.

What is found on the island is unconditional acceptance. There is enlightenment. Something is known there that has yet to be fully articulated elsewhere:

Whether gay, lesbian, bisexual, trans-identifying, an ally, or questioning, you have been created and named as “a beloved child of God.”

Again, revolutionary. To come from a society where GLBT individuals are called names throughout their lives, it was an imperative of The Naming Project that the youth know that in being created, baptized, and called they are given another name, “Child of God.”

Though on an island, the work of The Naming Project is not relegated to its boundaries. The youth leave Bay Lake with a charge to see how they fit into society and figure out what they can do to make it better which, by simply existing, they already do.

The Naming Project has been featured on Our America with Lisa Ling and in the documentary Camp Out.


A Beginner's Guide to a Lynx Game*

I went to my first Minnesota Lynx game on August 30 when they smacked the Washington Mystics at the Target Center, 73-56. I was worried; I’ve gone to one professional basketball game in my life…about eight years ago. I didn’t know how to go to a basketball game. “Smacked?” Is that the right word for trouncing the opponent in such a fashion? At one time, they were up by 20 points…the first half was a little iffy, but by the end it was clear: Our WNBA team is on their way to the playoffs and I fully expect a smackdown the whole way to the Championship. Big talk from someone who just went to her first Lynx game, but if there’s one thing I know about beginners and sports, we don’t take chances. This sounds like a sure thing.

What’s also a sure thing is that you should be at the games.

Never been to a game, either? Don’t psych yourself out about it. Let me be of assistance.

Don’t sweat the venue. The Target Center is just like any other big building in downtown Minneapolis that people go to for an event. If you’re accustomed to going to Orchestra Hall or the Walker Art Center for concerts or exhibits, it’s the same thing to be going to the Target Center for basketball. You find a place to park, you go to the box office, you find your seat, and you settle in to give yourself up to the Lynx for couple of hours. The space may appear surprisingly small and intimate to a first-timer. I was impressed that the seats are so close to the floor–like going to a show at First Avenue over the Xcel Center. The action is right there in front of us–smackdown central.

Look around and catch the energy.
Be prepared to know people. Minnesota is lucky to have one of only 12 Women’s National Basketball Association teams in the United States and, of course, it’s no surprise that a large percentage of the Lynx fan base is from the GLBT community. If not in the community, itself, the seats are full of enlightened people who have caught on to the fact that we’ve got a stellar women’s basketball team. The fans are loyal and growing in number, as well they should be. And, chances are good that you know some of the other enlightened individuals in the seats. It’s an energetic, feel-good group of people.

Mastery of the game of basketball is not required. I was worried that I wouldn’t know what was happening on the boards, that someone would out me and I’d be asked to leave. Not at all. People are extremely willing to give the rookie some pointers and though I may not have understood why the whistle blew at particular times, I got the gist of it. Turns out, the back-to-back years that I watched Duke win the NCAA Championship with my older brother 20 years ago came in very handy for understanding which players were in what roles for the Lynx (as players, not as attitudes).

Get to know our players and coaches. There are 11 players. It’s catchy when the crowd croons “MAYAHHH” whenever Maya Moore makes a basket. Former Gopher Lindsay Whalen was the top scorer against the Mystics and Candice Wiggins gave an inspirational speech after the game about HIV/AIDS Awareness. The players are real and they’re worth getting to know. All of the players got time against the Mystics and each one of them scored. Cheryl Reeves is the Head Coach; Shelley Patterson and Jim Peterson are the Assistant Coaches. Watch the coaches–they can be as fascinating as the players and the game. Like any other organized sport, they use a body language and signals. And, they use them to win.

Appreciation is easy. You’re there to be involved so get caught up in the excitement of the game. These women are phenomenal athletes. Not to be conflated with the euphemistic “physical fitness” aspect of a beauty pageant, any athletic event is a time to appreciate the abilities of the human body. The strategies of the human mind. The chemistry of a team. And, the crisp air of a victory. Okay…and if that’s a bit too flowery for you, they’re wiping the boards with their opponents. That’s stinking awesome.

*To those of you who are die-hard fans, thank you for indulging me and reading this Beginner’s Guide to your Lynx games. Be prepared to see more of us newbies in the seats in this next month and your patience and assistance is appreciated. I promise, though, that a real sports writer will be covering the playoff games in our upcoming issues. I know when it’s my place to just watch and learn.

From the Editor: Boycotts and Story Arcs

One of the lesser-known (but probably predictable) aspects of my job at Lavender is catching up on old issues, literally and figuratively. When approached with an idea for a story, I have to run triage. What have we already said about it? What is the scuttlebutt and what is the nitty-gritty? Who’s been covering it and what have they said? Where is the issue going? What good or harm might come of it? Have we given too much attention to it or not enough? Where should it go? When should it run? Who should write it? Is someone pulling my leg?

I have a well-thumbed stack of Lavenders at home for those times when I don’t have the whole 1995-2011 office library at my fingertips. Odd hours of the day and night, I page through them to educate myself. I’ve always read Lavender, just not with quite the attention that should be paid the publication as by its editor. This issue, we’ve got the 25th Anniversary of Duluth-Superior Pride written by Angela Nichols in response to a mayday call I sent out at the last minute. Articles about fall getaways to Stillwater, Lake Pepin, and Duluth (with a special piece about the Olcott House) each show new aspects of old towns. Café Levain…we may have covered it in recent years, but the news is that Adam Vickerman’s back. Wanda’s State Fairy Guide is new and darned darling. And, we’ve got great photos of the community, the latest and greatest from the arts scene, and thoughtful commentary and witty remarks from our gallery of writers.

Then, we’ve got Target. Corporate giving. The boycott.

I reached for my stack of 26 issues and shuffled through them for the era involving the Emmer donation. A handful of covers ask the question, “Boycott Target?” Beyond the covers, the answers are hashed out. What a good exercise, to read the coverage—it helps me to get to know the writers, the topics, and the readers much, much better. Thoughtful Letters to the Editor, biting requests for more transparency, the grey between the black and the white. Plenty of anger and betrayal with a healthy dose of reality that, no, corporations are not necessarily our friends. But, what else?

When John mentioned that he had a piece about Target in the hopper, I was pleased to find out that it was about the efficacy of boycotting Target. When referring to story arcs in communications and publications, I appreciate the fact that we’re coming to our resolution with the question we raised over and over last year—“Boycott Target?”

I’m well aware of the “slacktivism” that runs rampant on social networking sites. Saying I’m for or against something–while not actually doing anything about it in my daily life–can be seen as a slacker’s approach to activism. Effective? In some cases. Numbers count, when it’s a sentiment or a petition. But, what happens with boycotting? When the click of the mouse isn’t really the action required to constitute the actual movement or demonstration, is it effective? By joining the boycott, I am not boycotting. To boycott, I must abstain from making purchases. Right?

I’m not going to go around and survey folks about whether or not they boycotted Target, either by mouse clicks or by withheld credit card swipes. Some of us did, some of us didn’t. Would the backlash have been felt so fiercely had there been no button to click to Boycott Target? If people hadn’t withheld their business? What would have happened in a time without social networking? What do we need to know as we move forward toward Election 2012? What have we learned?

Was it a question that needed to be asked?

Those questions are an editorial outline for the year ahead of us. In this issue, to round out the discussion about the efficacy of boycotting Target, Kaitlyn also asked the question of local non-profit organizations: “How do you prefer to receive donations? Does it matter if it’s from the corporations, themselves, or their employee groups? What matters?” Next issue, we’ll ask more of the large corporations in Minnesota and find out what they have to say.

It’s good to ask, it’s good to know. The shades of grey are deep and varied.

Let me know what you want us to ask. I’ll put it through triage and see what we can do.

With thanks,

End Notes:
“Roadtripping,” as in “Roadtripping Lake Pepin,” might not really be a word. I’m trying to turn it colloquial to get away with using it as much as I do.

We were a wee late in getting our issue to print because we’ve got the FIRST photos of Ross Mathews taken of him after losing 40 pounds. Please go online to to read more of Bradley’s interview with Ross (in which he talks about his weight loss) and see more photos of his stylish self hot off the camera. They were worth the wait.

Roadtripping Lake Pepin

One of the most beautiful stretches of Minnesota is found between Red Wing and Winona, along the Mississippi River. To be truthful, we owe a lot of credit to Wisconsin, as Lake Pepin is hard to enjoy wholly from only one of the two states. While I call this piece Roadtripping Lake Pepin, it’s somewhat of a misnomer. Feel free to end your trip when Lake Pepin does by crossing over to Wisconsin on Highway 25 at Wabasha, but I’d recommend seeing it through all the way down to Winona. This is a trip I’ve made each fall for many years and the adventure doesn’t feel complete without seeing a fair stretch of Bluff Country. Continue reading “Roadtripping Lake Pepin”

Dog Days of Summer Dining

The Dog Days of Summer. Sultry, lazy days. Days marked by lack of movement, a partial stagnation of sorts. But, being Minnesotans, we have a passive-aggressive flair to our stagnancy. We begrudgingly flirt with these still, humid days because we can recall the not-so-distant months of snow and cold. We embrace the steambath with a sigh and then go find some comfort food.

It’s with these lazy, hazy, and crazy days of summer in mind that we present to you the Dog Days of Summer Dining. We found food vendors that you might encounter while already succumbing to the heat index at the Farmers Markets. Gourmet grab-and-go grub. Food trucks that meet you almost where you already are. Ice cream oases in your neighborhoods. Urban farmers who grow you good food while you live your summer in the city. And, for those of you who like it hot, we present ways to make things even hotter.


Farmers Market Food

Eating fresh and local is haute. Twitter is a-flutter with foodies traipsing to the wild variety of Farmers Markets in the area both weekdays and weekends, some only the size of a parking lot, others the size of a city block. As you wander through the booths of scapes and beaets and honey jars and flower bouquets, mind your midsection. Be prepared to find your breakfast, your second breakfast, your elevenses, or your lunch as you juggle your reusable bags of local produce.

Kingfield Farmers Market
Sundays, 8:30am – 1pm
4310 Nicollet Ave., Mpls

Midtown Farmers Market
Tuesdays, 3pm – 7pm, Saturdays, 8am – 1pm
2225 E. Lake Street, Mpls

Fulton Farmers Market
Saturdays, 8:30am – 1pm
4901 Chowen Ave. S, Mpls

Mill City Farmers Market
Saturdays, 8am – 1pm
704 South Second Street, Mpls

Minneapolis Farmers Market
Every day, 6am – 1pm at East Lyndale Market
Thursdays, 6am – 6pm at Nicollet Mall Market
See website for directions.

St. Paul Farmers Market
Saturdays, 6am – 1pm, Sundays, 8am – 1pm
290 E 5th Street, St. Paul
Multiple days/locations listed on website.

Hot Hot Heat

By Joy Summers

We can’t beat it, so we may as well join it. This summer has given us heat indexes that make
Southerners sweat. Want to laugh in its face? Try these.


Smack Shack Lobster Boil
Josh Thoma and the crew of the Smack Shack lobster truck have been dolling out lobster rolls by the dozens in downtown Minneapolis, but on evenings and the weekends, they can be found at The 1029 Bar over in Nordeast. Each month they hold lobster boils, a messy fest that comes drenched in butter and spattered with crustacean bits. Lose your inhibitions and don the bib, you’ll be thankful you did. The August boil will last for three days (19-21) and is an all out bash, when The 1029 hosts their annual tent party. Tickets will be available through the Smack Shack’s Facebook page.

Chef Shack
The fleet of food trucks has grown exponentially, but there was a time when there was only one truck that was to be seen. After garnering national attention and fawning reviews, the Chef Shack remains a local treasure. Lisa Carlson and Carrie Summer’s summer job has now expanded to include three trucks and a seemingly endless menu supply of tasty creativity.
The menus change often, but include items like sweet potato tacos, a vegetarian delight with savory sweet filling with fresh salsa, luscious pulled pork and the spiced mini donuts: possibly the greatest street food ever. Check Twitter or Facebook for locations.

Angry GumMi
Why only suffer the heat on the outside? Why not treat your innards to an inferno of boozy delight? The Angry Gummi as poured at the Nordeast Minneapolis hotspot Masu Sushi & Robata looks friendly enough- a pale green drink topped with a jaunty little gummy bear- but then you take a sip. General advice in hot climate regions suggests that spicy items are best to combat the oppressive air. This drink fits the bill. The vodka carries sweet, tart grapefruit flavor and the pungent horseradish burn of pure wasabi, causes sweaty eyelids and cleared nasal passages.

Picnic Grab & Go at Golden Fig

Persian Cooler Made of course by Golden Fig…Fresh-squeezed lime juice, orange and roseflower water, cardamom, sour cherry & a touch of hibiscus to make it a beautiful pink. Mix with fizzy water or even yummier with a splash of vodka! $12.95
Raspberry Marshmallows Handmade from Laura’s Marshmallows in St. Peter, MN. Bursting with fresh raspberry flavor. $7.00

Graham Crackers Handmade from Laura’s Marshmallows with local graham flour from Whole Grain Milling in Welcome, MN. $7.00

Dark Chocolate
Delicious dark chocolate bar from Sweet Goddess Chocolates in New Prague, MN. $2.95

Salami Hard Salami from Bende and Sons in Vernon Hills, Illinois. They use Vitamin C as the main preservative instead of all the nitrites that usual salamis contain. $11.95

Camembert Bent River Cheese is made by the Alemar Cheese Company. They use milk from Dave and Florence Minar at Cedar Summit Dairy. It is super creamy and crazy tasty. $1.50 per oz.

Rustica bread Delicious Rustic loaf from Barbara and Steve at Rustica Bakery in Minneapolis. Made in traditional European methods, Rustica breads are the perfect addition to any picnic! $4.95

Scream For It

By Carla Waldemar


I scream, you scream, we all… Okay, I hear you. It’s hot-hot-hot, and we long for ice cream. But not the square brick from the supermarket, thank you very much. We’re holding out for the real deal, the local scoop shops that churn their own, super-premium, hold-the-additives frozen treats. Where to head? Here’s the scoop.

Adele’s Frozen Custard—well, technically, it’s not ice cream; but, according to Adele, founder of the legendary Excelsior stand, it’s far better: less air, for smoothness; egg yolks for richer flavor. Clearly her customers agree, vying for cones packed with goodness. Among Adele’s 90 recipes, four flavors reign daily. Orange creamsicle, anyone?

Edina Creamery sates the already-supercool patrollers of 50th & France with flavors melting from amaretto chocolate cherry and Butterfinger to more outré numbers like green tea and durian (I dare you). Gourmet Magazine voted it one of the Best in the U.S. I won’t disagree.

Grand Ole Creamery has drawn lines all down St. Paul’s Grand Avenue for decades. Now a newer Nokomis location also stops traffic at the mere scent of those hand-rolled, malted waffle cones, which hold a secret surprise in the bottom (hint: love Whoppers?). The old-time ice cream parlor atmosphere is as addictive as the 31 flavors offered daily, ranging from chocolate malt banana and cotton candy to the quintessential sweet cream.

Izzy’s has created an ice-cream frenzy in St. Paul (and many a Minneapolitan has been know to cross the river) since 2000, thanks to a rotation of 32 gotta-try flavors, including that true test of a scoopmeister, pure vanilla. More esoteric flavors careen from Guinness to Norwegian Chai.

Pumphouse Creamery, cooling Chicago Avenue, is a hole in the wall that some claim is hard to find. Well, just look for the crowd on the sidewalk, lined up for the ultra-organic, über-locally-sourced ingredients that contribute to prime flavors like fresh strawberry to—ready?—kulfi, scented with rosewater, pistachios, and cardamom.

Sebastian Joe’s has been family-owned (three brothers paying homage to their Italian grandfather, Sebastian) since the ’80s, and its two Minneapolis locations serve only all-natural flavors, ranging from the zany (chocolate coyote, basil sorbet) to the immensely popular best-seller, Pavarotti, blended with caramel, bananas, and chocolate chips. Local art on the walls and free Wi-Fi, too.

ice cream has been the gold standard since 1945. Housed in South Lyndale’s Crema Café, the scoop shop-cum-café calls on premier Wisconsin cream to churn out flavors like the original sweet cream to wild cards including chocolate cabernet chip and pineapple mango basil sorbet.

From the Editor: Finding Us Out in the Stands

I brought my eight-year old nephew to Lavender’s “Out in the Stands” night at Target Field. I’d never been to Target Field, so I was a little concerned. It’s one thing to go with someone older than eight who’s already been there—or one who hasn’t, but can stumble through all the first-times with me. It’s another to be The Adult. Being The Adult means I have to know What’s Going On. I asked my friends. I asked my coworkers. I asked my brother. Okay, okay, okay. Park there, walk there, and 7th Street ends at the Field. And it did. And we got there.

Once we walked through the gates I looked out at the expanse of people and seats…looked down at our tickets…looked up again…and had no clue as to where to go. I was not blessed with a great sense of direction. I can get from Point A to Point B with aplomb, but usually by envisioning the map or layout in my head. I prefer visual cues. I hadn’t looked for our seats online before setting out for the Field and I was paying for that by being stymied. In the heat. With an eight-year old. Who was hungry.

Then I saw us.

I saw people wearing the same t-shirt that I was and I knew I was close to our destination. Visual cues—white t-shirts, red and blue “Out in the Stands” logos, smiles. I followed them. At the flagpole, I uploaded a picture to Facebook of Courtney raising the flag as our “Out in the Stands” representative and got directions to our section of seats from her friends. Everything was so much more manageable once I’d found us.

Going the direction I’d been pointed, the bunny warren full of people again became confusing. I’m not sure if it was the rate at which I kept glancing at my ticket or that my nephew asked his usual question, “Auntie, do you know where we’re going?” rather loudly, but soon a gentleman in a red Target Field shirt asked me if we needed help finding our seats. Ohmygoshthankyouyeswedo. Without knowing exactly where they were, he informed me how to get there based simply on the fact that I was wearing the “Out in the Stands” t-shirt.

We followed his directions and, suddenly, we were there. With us. We joined a sea of white t-shirts and we settled in, happy. Almost everyone around us was part of our group and, though we didn’t know them, we belonged. The man seated to my nephew’s left, Mark, ended up sort of adopting us, whether or not he knew it (or would have volunteered to do it) as eight-year olds tend to drop all sorts of things when watching a ballgame and eating their way through my wallet. Mark was on the left and I was on the right. He was gracious and so very nice. The game was played and, all too soon, a bedtime loomed and it was time to leave.

As we retraced our steps to leave the Field after the sixth inning, we ran into the same gentleman in the red Target Field shirt who had helped us find our seats. He asked us how our night was and I told him that we had a wonderful time. I sheepishly explained that I was new to Lavender and a little embarrassed to be so lost at our own event, so his assistance was ever so appreciated. We got to get down to the business of having a great time sooner, thanks to his help.

He smiled and said that he was so glad that we all enjoyed ourselves, gesturing to my t-shirt. Then, he held eye contact and pointedly said, “I had a great time, too.”

He smiled again, more broadly—a subtle emphasis to his statement.

I got it. I understood. And, I realized that–whether or not he was wearing a white t-shirt with a red and blue “Out in the Stands” logo—he was with us, too.

The perfect end to a lovely evening “Out in the Stands.”

With thanks,

Hot Fun in the Summertime
Special thanks to Barb Zapzalka at Pumphouse Creamery for hosting our cover shoot with the actresses of Fertile Ashes: Catherine, Mel, Kim, and Sweetpea. Fun shoot, delicious props, beautiful people. See all the photos from the shoot on or on our Facebook page.

From the Editor: Beginnings

It’s 4:45am, the morning of my first photo shoot for a cover feature as the Managing Editor of Lavender Magazine. Lavender, the same magazine I can recall from my first year in college in black and purplish newsprint that’s grown into the lasting voice of the GLBT community in the region. Lavender, the magazine I’ve watched mature and become more colorful and full of content whether in times of feast or famine—the one that remains free to its community, in both print and digital formats. Lavender, the magazine that carries with it the hopes and dreams of my bleeding heart, shouldering the heavy weight of representing a multi-faceted community while requiring doses of business and whimsy as well. Continue reading “From the Editor: Beginnings”