Twin Cities on my mind . . .

This quiet bastion of liberalism, Minneapolis – St. Paul, is a stone’s throw but also a universe away from anything Michele Bachmann, and an enchanting community of people who live and let live as a way of life, accept all manner of queer or kinky people as their neighbors and friends, and happen to be among this country’s leaders in establishing equality for all its citizens as a matter basic human rights.

Minneapolis-St.Paul gives pause to anyone with any shade of coastal mentalities, and I’m checking myself here too, who thinks fly-over country holds nothing of interest except the occasional museum or ski resort. You will be hard pressed to find anyone who lives there, straight, gay, or kinky, who could be described as jaded or insincere. The breath of fresh air was more than the wind chill. For me, it was a rediscovery and a new love affair with the frontier spirit I had read about and dreamed about in my youth.

Never thought of as anything like a romantic getaway (especially in sub-zero winter), the Twin City area is nonetheless an oasis where you can be who you are, no matter how extreme or gender-bending, pretty much without interference. That freedom, that sexual freedom, conveys a palpable feeling of safety, comfort, and inner joy that no travel agent or city booster could package and affix a label even if he tried.

Fiercely independent is the way U.S. Rep. Keith Ellison (Minn.-5) described Minnesota in his address closing Creating Change, the National Gay & Lesbian Task Force’s annual conference on equality, which brought more than 2000 gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people to the Minneapolis Hilton, February 2-6.

VenusPlusX and Team Columbia’s message and cause of universal sexual freedom drew hundreds, mostly young people, to our high-tech and interactive display in Creating Change’s exhibition hall. Team Columbia’s two days of additional sexual freedom programming next door at the Hotel Ivy was open to Creating Change registrants and free to the general public, and culminated with one of the best parties in town on Saturday night.

The local people we connected with were without exception unforgettable, highly personable, and clear-headed about respect for everyone’s individual autonomy, something so crucial to ending sexual repression in our culture. They were not only passionate about the interest group they happen to represent, they were passionate about the rights of every other group or individual to pursue happiness in the manner of their choosing, and enjoy the right to be who they want to be, without the interference of government, religion, or social practice.

For these and many other reasons, Team Columbia has confirmed its plans to return to the Twin Cities this summer for more sexual freedom programming and receptions open to the public. Stay tuned.

–Alison Gardner