From the Editor: Lavender's Land of Oz


Fab.  I’m feeling fab today.  It’s Friday.  We’re sending the second half of the Fab 50 issue to press.  The weekend is next.  And I’ve got so much to tell you.

I realize that I’m running the risk of overusing a tired metaphor in this community when I make this next statement, but I’m going to do it anyway: Running a magazine is a lot like The Wizard of Oz.  There are yellow brick roads leading to this place and that.  Sometimes, there’s singing, even a little dancing.  People of all ilk and ages and interests are cheering and waving while conducting their business and going about their daily lives.  There might be a few flying monkeys—maybe even some nefarious characters, but I’m not going to take the metaphor into too dark an area.  We have quests and challenges and guards to convince to let us through the big doors.  We’ve got Kings of the Forest and people with heart and brains and courage.  The horse has changed its color every time you turn around.

Smoke and mirrors would be easy to employ as a means to distract and divert, but I’m just not interested.

Here is where we start to depart from the comparison a bit.

I’m not interested in a curtain to hide behind, either.

This community has historically had its fill of run-around and double-speak.  We’re analytical and tend to default toward the skeptical.  It makes sense.  It’s been a requirement for survival.  As we venture outward and upward, out of closets…and out from behind curtains…we get stronger as a community.  Issue 429, though thin, is huge.  In its pages is content that is bona fide.  It’s backed by stats.  It’s truthful and honest and representative of you.  And, it represents you more the more you participate.

The 2011 Fab 50 contest was tightened up this year to include Fabulicious Finalists that were determined based on previous Fab 50 winners, the results of other publications’ award programs, and new industry knowledge.  Not everyone could be a Finalist, so write-ins were encouraged.  Using an online survey platform, voting was easier and the results were crystal clear and beyond reproach.  See?  There’s no big green projected head telling you what you should hear or think or know—while scaring your terrier and sending your Cowardly Lion running with a booming voice and flamethrower.  They are your results as determined by you.  And, if you don’t agree, perhaps you should cast your votes next year.  We hope you do.

Many congratulations to the winners.  Our community thinks you’re fabulous.

Also, this issue has in it one partial page that is the key to Emerald City.  It’s ridiculously understated for its significance.  It is the introduction to Lavender’s new website.  Go to and turn the key.  What you’ll see is the framework that is ready for you and what you want to know about.  Being a publication that has always been free to its community, our page numbers have gone up and down with advertising dollars.  We get to give you more content when we have more advertisers in our pages.  Advertisers get more readers when we get to present more content.  This relationship works best when we understand that we have to deliver great content at the same time as the advertisers understand that they need our readers to see their businesses.  This economy isn’t making this relationship very easy, either.  So, in order to make sure that our audience gets what it deserves (breadth and depth in content), we developed our new website.  The website will be the primary vehicle for both the content and the advertisers as we evolve into embracing new media and everything it can offer us.  And, the biweekly glossy magazine will become more of a cherrypicked showcase of what is the best our community has to offer to itself every two weeks.

What will happen is that we’ll have this gorgeous collection of content.  My role as an editor will turn into more of the role of a curator—finding talent and content and figuring out when and where to display it; accepting submissions and assigning commissions; looking to the future and keeping my eyes and ears open to what the community wants.

Here’s the key.  Walk in, take a look around, see what you think, and let us know.

Without the smoke and mirrors, you’ll see that all of this is still a piece of work that’s under development.  It’s evolving.  It’s got its flaws and we’ll fix them as we find them.  There are articles on that site that are years old that have yet to be categorized, but we’ll get to them.  They’re both time capsules of policies past as well as being articles that are still relevant and worth revisiting.  There is so much—and I am incredibly fortunate to have inherited what I have.  Fortunate and tired.  Believe me, taking over the role of editor of a biweekly magazine at the same time as developing a website is not the sanest career move—more than once did I want to find a hot air balloon and fly back to Omaha and out of Oz.  But, if Lavender agrees to pay for reblonding my new grey hairs for a while, we’ll call it good.  And, we’ll keep plugging away at making our community more interactive in all its differences and similarities.

Hopefully, we’ll find that staying in Oz and going Home aren’t mutually exclusive options any longer.

With thanks,


From the Editor: Politics as Usual?

Halloween and Politics: Two subjects that our publication should be soaking in until our fingers get pruney.  The season is changing, the costumes are coming out, and the politics are borderline gruesome—as usual.

I ran up to Duluth for a day this past week and landed smack dab at the right place at the right time.  I wasn’t supposed to be there—it was a whim.  My friend Chrissy is a faculty member at the University of Minnesota in Duluth and I arrived at her office door on National Coming Out Day just in time for a special 6th Annual National Coming Out Day Luncheon. I joked that only I could manage to take off a day and head up to the North Shore and end up at a Coming Out Day event. Timing.  It’s all in the timing.  And what a time it was.  The ballroom was full of people observing a day that demands reverence and celebration.  We listened to Deborah Petersen-Perlman (top, left) recount the history of National Coming Out Day.  UMD student, Sovann Khong (middle), told us of bullying and being locked out of his own home as brutal accents of his own coming out story. Jake Caceres (top, right) regaled us with “The Caveman Song” which was a crowd-pleaser to say the least.  Gary Anderson (lower, left) gave a moving update of what’s going on with Duluth and Minnesota United for All Families and Angie Nichols (lower, right) ended the program, leaving us all with a sense of empowered togetherness.

Sitting there, I looked around at a group of people that was gathered for greatness.  I thought about how these issues of bullying and civil rights are drawing us out in greater numbers.  How, by being drawn out and united, we’re actually making the world smaller.  I certainly didn’t feel like I was in a ballroom on a university campus 160 miles from where I’d started that morning. I could’ve walked into an event happening downtown and been hit with the same purpose, the same sense of accomplishment, and the same sense of unity.

Unity.  As you read through this issue, think of the politics that are presented.  We’ve got five of the more recognized parties speaking out in these pages—many of which talk about personal agency and rights.  Oddly unifying. From the people of faith to the atheists against the marriage amendment, there are differences to be sure.  But, there are so many points of unity.  There is an abundance of ways to make this world smaller as we fight the same fight toward the same goal: Rights.  Civil, human, equal.

Sometimes it’s being in the right place at the right time…and sometimes it’s simply walking out the door and looking around.  Look around.  See each other.  Feel stronger.

As the only GLBT publication in the region, Lavender is there with you.  We’re unifying and presenting information to foster a continued discussion.  I really mean it when I say that I’m committing Lavender to this conversation.  Please hold me to it.


With thanks,



From the Editor: Rocky Horror Heels

There’s something about growing up in Minnesota that makes the prospect of seeing Don Shelby in fishnet stockings and heels a little bit thrilling. We went to THE LAB theater to do a photo shoot with the actors of The Rocky Horror Show in preparation for this Fall Arts & Entertainment issue and I found myself surrounded by beautiful, talented people made up and dressed in all sorts of costume finery for their opening weekend. The props were ready, the smoke machine was prepped, the lights were up, and the camera was hot.

As was the shoot.

Each time we have a photo shoot, I want to push the limits. Any of the other magazines in town can get the standard photos of what to expect during the production. I like to put the Lavender spin on the artwork. What we can do is mix and match with a little more wanton abandonment than the other publications. We can showcase the intersections of sexuality. We can get a little cheeky. And, we can ask more of the models.

I said to Don, “You know, I want to make sure that you’re comfortable doing whatever it is you end up doing. I’d like to push a little, but not too far. I’ll follow your lead.” I’d been thinking that it’d be fun to put him in a silk dressing gown with feather accents…you know, make it a little saucy, but not over the top.

The Narrator and Rocky. Photo by Mike Hnida

A wry look crossed his face. He was game.

Don found himself a boa and offered to don his platform heels. I declined the heels, thinking we could tease the readers to come and see the show rather than show too much in the magazine. We’d keep his coverage fairly tame.

Then, he pulled his “sassy” move.

As it turns out, I didn’t need to worry about Don Shelby. He improvised his own shots.

Enjoy this issue, readers. We are rife with arts and entertainment here in the Twin Cities and it’s our pleasure to show it off for you in Lavender’s pages.

With thanks,

From the Editor: Always Learning

Back To School

A trio of lovely ladies spoke with me at the meet-up at the State Fair the other day. The meet-up was informal, the 5th Annual Gay Day was unofficial, the people were real. As always. Quite seriously, they talked to me about how they thought that other T-girls might be afraid to come out in public to a large event such as the Fair. No doubt, they would be greatly outnumbered. But, Susanna, Brenda, and Tracy eagerly disagreed with that conclusion–there was nothing to fear coming all dressed up to the Fair. They do it all the time, dressed as any women would dress who are going to the Great Minnesota Get Together (better than most, in my opinion).

I opined with them over how I wondered if it is really safe and, if it is, do we just not know it, yet. Are we waiting for an all-clear signal? Proof? Perhaps. Or, is it generational?

My theory is that it is generational.

“It” being defined as being able to express whatever gender identity someone chooses to express. Of course, “choose” could be a problematic term, too, as choice may not be part of the equation.

I told them about the incredible young people I met while putting together this issue: the campers at the GLBT church camp “The Naming Project” and the older students involved in our fashion photo shoot later in these pages. With grace and humor, the campers were your usual squirrelly high-schoolers…but with a more evolved sense of self than most high-schoolers I’d encountered. They had language with which they could define themselves, if they wanted to, or they could decide to leave themselves undefined. But, somewhere along the way, they’d been given the gift of that language. We didn’t have it yet in college back in 1995, I know that. When they were given it, I don’t yet know. In one of the multiple poignant interviews that I taped (that can be seen online), one of the students introduced himself: “My name is Caleb…I am a heterosexual transgender male and I am also a Christian. Um…I guess the big thing I’d want to say would be that just because I haven’t had the surgery does not mean that I’m not a man and I am not a human being.”

He broke my heart. There might be language, but there is still a hard reality despite the beauty of the language.

We held the photo shoot for the fashion portion of this issue at Macalester College, my alma mater and one of the gayest/gay-friendly colleges in the United States. When I sent out my requests for student models, I specifically asked each for an “Identified Gender” and wanted them to fill in the answers themselves rather than give them options from which to choose. Not surprisingly, one of them returned the questionnaire with “genderqueer.” As I recounted this experience to the ladies at the Fair, I told Susanna, Brenda, and Tracy that it all seemed so normal to the students.

Normal. How do we define normal? Perhaps the definition I’m looking for is one that’s claimed by the people—rather than assigned to the people. In their state of being normal, there seemed to be an ease to them. When one of the students replied that she dresses in men’s clothing, I asked, “Would you like to get outfitted for a swank suit at Heimie’s?” She enthusiastically replied that she would. She didn’t skip a beat. I don’t know how Nichole felt when going to the Haberdashery and getting sized for her clothes, but she donned them for the photo shoot and everything appeared to be done with ease.

Maybe she wouldn’t have batted a mascara-less eyelash at joining us at the State Fair, either. Plenty of the students would’ve been there with Susanna, Brenda, and Tracy—and the other fine folks in their Gay Day glory—in a heartbeat in all their genderqueer ease. Their apparent fearlessness. Their comfort. Their normalcy.

It would have been wonderful for them to meet their predecessors—all of the folks at the Fair who were wearing red for Gay Day. The people who, largely, enabled the community to have a shift in language simply by existing…or fighting…or demonstrating on college campuses like Macalester.

And, I think that Susanna, Brenda, and Tracy would’ve been so proud of them and their fearlessness. Just like I am.

With thanks,

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.

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”