Queer Girl City Guide: Minneapolis, MN

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Be prepared to delve into the eclectic and exciting city that is Minneapolis. Experience the vast queertopia where I have resided for nearly five years. Try to hide your excitement as you realize all of the queer opportunities this beautiful city provides. From the homeland of Paul Bunyan comes gayborhoods, queer dance parties, and burlesque shows, OH MY! I like things measured, so I decided to rate each section in this guide with 1 to 5 “you betchas!” I dare you to try to find a section that’s under 3.

MinneapolisCityScape

Datin’ and Hookin’ Up

The Minneapolis queer girl scene is fun and exciting with a wide variety of girls to meet. Alas, like most queer scenes, you can get a case of “it’s a small world” real quick. One great think about Minneapolis is that I’m constantly amazed to find new queer “groups” and people that I never knew existed before, even if they somehow still know everyone you know. There are a lot of beautiful northern people up here too, just so you know. Our different events host a variety of different queer girls, so if you’re not into one scene you can try a different one out. Just follow the guide below and you’ll be well on your way to having a great time in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

Bars

Minneapolis has lots of “gay” bars, but you have to be kind of specific if you want to find the ladies. The list below tends to have the most queer girls hanging out just on regular, non-event nights. Use the google to find some of the other gay bars if you exhaust this list.

The192_Bar

The 19 Bar

The 19 Bar (19 West 15th Street) is probably where I spend most of my time in barlandia. It’s nestled in the Loring Park neighborhood (see below for gayborhoods) and is one of the oldest gay bars in town. It’s definitely more of a dive, it’s dimly lit from the ceiling, but I honestly think most of the light comes from the jukebox (packed full of Madonna and Prince). This is one of those beautiful bars where you can get a bag of popcorn for $1; yes, the microwave kind. They host pool tournaments and have a smoking porch out back, which is fantastic in the summer and offers lots of natural light when day drinking. Open Mon-Sun 12 pm to 2 am.

The19_Bar

Lush (990 Central Ave NE) is a fairly new bar in NE Minneapolis. They host a weekly lesbian event and have a really cool space. They have a patio where you can do a variety of things…smoke, make out on one of the many seating arrangements, drink, fill in the blank. There is an open fire bar to keep you warm (which is sometimes important in Minnesota), but be very careful for loose clothing, scarves or long hair near the flame. I would assume you understand why. Open Tue-Fri 4 pm to 2 am and Sat-Sun 10 am to 2 am.

Lush_Bar

Lush

The Town House Bar (1415 University Ave W.) is in St. Paul (I know, shhhh), but it’s one of the only bars in the Twin Cities that was at one point deemed a “Lesbian Bar”. The crowd can be kind of weird sometimes and my typical mode of transportation is bike, so I rarely go here. They host a monthly event called Dragged Out that is featured below and totally worth seeing. Open Mon-Weds 3 pm to 1 am, Thurs-Fri 3 pm to 2 am and Sat-Sun 12 pm to 2 am.

Events

Soul Friday is held on the first Friday of every month at Hell’s Kitchen (80 South 9th St.). Hell’s Kitchen is another queer friendly great place to hang out. Soul Friday was created for queer women of color and friends. It’s a dance party with local DJ’s spinning great R & B, old and new hip-hop, house and more. The place is usually packed and it’s a great time.

SoulFriday_Event

Berlin is held the last Saturday of every month. It was originally held at Club Underground in NE Minneapolis, but is currently moving to Hell’s Kitchen. Berlin is an Indie Queer Revolution Dance Party (say that three times fast). The music typically strays from top 40 stuff you’ll hear at most other clubs. It showcases alternative types of music, which makes it my favorite event of them all.

Berlin_Event

Berlin

Blush is held every Friday at Lush (listed above). This event can sometimes be a bit of an amateur night, but it’s a great option if there’s not much else going on. Like I said it’s a really cool space and there’s bound to be lots of girls every Friday.

Dragged Out is held on the third Friday of every month at The Townhouse Bar (listed above). Dragged Out is a diverse cast of LGBT members that give amazing performances to great music. This event packs the Townhouse Bar. Every time I’ve attended it’s hard to even walk around. Bring lots of ones though, you’ll want to tip the performers. They’ve been travelling to perform as of late, but will always call The Townhouse their home.

DraggedOut_Event

Dragged Out

Booby Trap used to be a monthly event held in the basement of a bear bar. Unfortunately it has now been changed to a quarterly event. During Pride this event is a blow out though. The Booby Trap Girls are always performing. Scantly dressed beauties dancing and swinging from poles. I really wish it was still a monthly event, or a weekly one for that matter.

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Booby Trap

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Booby Trap

I give this section 5 “you betchas!”

Gettin’ Smart

Minneapolis houses many different colleges. You can choose from a variety of technical schools, art schools and universities. Schools also range in price, from very affordable to stupid expensive. I think you would be hard pressed to find one without a LGBT community or club/group to join though. We even have our very own all women’s school, probably can’t go wrong there.

MCTC_School

MCTC

I give this section 4 “you betchas!”

Gettin’ Yo Game On

Minneapolis has a hidden gem called the Minnesota Machine. It’s an all women’s tackle football league. It would be a great way to meet new people and play a sport that isn’t available in many other places. They’re always looking for new players and no experience is necessary.

MinnesotaMachine_Sport

Minnesota Machine

I feel obligated to mention the roller derby league, because it’s such a woman centric sport, BUT if you’re looking for a girl to date look in the stands, not on the track. I think there are typically more girls looking for girls in attendance than actually participating in the sport. Either way it’s still fun to watch girls in tight clothes hit each other. Minneapolis has two different leagues, the Minnesota Roller Girls and the North Star Roller Girls.

RollerDerby_Sport

Roller Derby

Biking is a very big deal in Minneapolis. The queer girls like it A LOT too and Minneapolis hosts two very unique bike races. Babes in Bikeland is an all women’s bike race hosted in the summer and Cirque Du SoGay, which is run by Queer Bike Gang in the fall. Cirque Du SoGay is a bike race for the LGBTQA crowd and is a fantastic time and it has a bitchin name.

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Babes in Bikeland

I’ll mention our WNBA team the Lynx too. In one word… gay.

You can probably also just stand at any softball field around 4 o’clock and find a pack of sporty dykes pumpin iron or “throwin the pig skin around”. You know, like they do.

I give this section 5 “you betchas!”

Eatin’ And Drinkin’ In Style

RESTAURANTS

Bryant Lake Bowl (810 W Lake St) is an awesome queer friendly restaurant/bowling alley. They have amazing brunch and a great list of Bloody Marys to choose from. They also host a cheap date night, you’ll look real thoughtful and savvy when you bring your date to this ambient atmosphere, especially if they don’t know you’re only spending $30 on both the entrees, appetizer, bowling AND a bottle of wine. Open from 8 am to 2 am every day.

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Bryant Lake Bowl

Muddy Waters (2933 Lyndale Ave S) You can find Muddy Waters laced in Atmosphere’s lyrics, if you’re into that mid-western hip-hop that’s become so popular. This coffee shop turned restaurant is one of my all time favorites. They have a classy coffee bar running parallel to the real bar. Any time of the day is good at Muddy Waters. It’s also a great place to bring a date with amazing dinner entrees and a fantastic beer selection. Open Mon – Fri 7 am to 2 am and Sat-Sun 8am to 2 am.

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Muddy Waters

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Muddy Waters

Seward Café (2129 E. Franklin Ave) is a punk, vegan/vegetarian, sit down and have a discussion about the intricacies of destroying the system or where you got your black boots type of place. The food here is AMAZING and it’s one of the oldest collectively run businesses in Minneapolis. Open Mon – Fri 7 am to 3 pm and Sat-Sun 8 am to 4 pm.

CAFES

Spyhouse (2451 Nicollet Ave) is a very well designed coffee shop. They have an adorable patio and standing coffee bar outside and comfortable and squishy things to sit on inside. Their trade-mark black cup makes you look extremely stylish when you drink the concoction of your choice. It’s a popular place to study and meet up with people during the day or night. They have delicious baked goods that are baked locally at one of our many co-ops. I would advise you to only go to the Nicollet location though – hence me only posting that address. Open Mon-Fri 6:30 am to 12 am Saturday 7 am to 12 am and Sunday 8 am to 12 am.

Spyhouse_Cafe

Spyhouse

Café Southside (3405 Chicago Ave) is a fairly new coffee shop. Nestled next to the Trans Youth Support Network this is an amazing place for LGBTQA people to feel comfortable and accepted. It’s a queer owned coffee shop and while the owners said it’s not a LGBTQ specific spot they are definitely “really queer.” Exactly the type of place I like to spend time. It’s situated in the Powderhorn Neighborhood, which is one of our listed gayborhoods. With space for local artists to display their artwork and a garden right outside their doors this is a fantastic place to spend your time and money. Open Mon-Sun 7 am to 7 pm.

CafeSouthside_Cafe

Cafe Southside

Cafettos (708 W 22nd St) isn’t really a queer coffee shop, but you can find this queer chick named Meg here all of the time. She’ll be in the back booth waiting for you. Open Mon-Sun 6:30 am to 1 am.

May Day Café (3440 Bloomington Ave) is an adorable café in the Powderhorn neighborhood (see gayborhoods). It has a completely welcoming atmosphere and a great selection of food and beverages. This is a very suitable place to bring that vegan girl you just started dating. She’ll think you’re real hip to her socially conscious diet. Open Mon-Sun 7 am to 6 pm.

MayDayCafe_Cafe

May Day Cafe

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38 Comments

  1. Thumb up 0

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    Thanks for this! I recently moved back to Minneapolis (I grew up here) and am getting to know it as an adult. I’ve been to many of the bars, parties and cafes you’ve suggested. Berlin is the best! Soooo looking forward to this Saturday. One question for you… how do you get into different friend groups here? I don’t remember it being that difficult but I’ve run into some pretty closed packs since I’ve moved back. I’m all about meeting new people and making new friends but people seem to be hesitant to the idea of new people or something… Either that, or I’m giving of weird vibes. Hopefully not! Just wondering if you have any ideas on that. Might give The Twin Cities Avengers a try. Seems like a group I would really dig.

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    Don’t listen to the advice to stay away from St. Paul. Maybe I’m biased after living there for 5 years, but I feel like it’s the most beautiful place in the world. Bookstores, ice cream shops, lots of ethnic food, bike lanes, gluten free bakeries, and like you mentioned, one (slightly odd) lesbian bar. But the last time I heard, they had $5 cover with dollar drinks one weird day during the week and one Friday a month, SO HEY THAT’S AWESOME. It’s a cute bar because there’s a cool combo of sporty baby dykes, usually one sassy gay man dancing by himself with his eyes closed, and older lesbians awkwardly dancing with their partners/wives, which is adorable. The bartender complimented my smile all the time and would give me extra cherries in my whiskey sours.

    There used to be a bar/club in Lowertown St. Paul (closed because of lightrail construction) called Rumours/Innuendo that I would go to once or twice a week with my gay roommate for karaoke. I miss that so much. They also hosted drag shows (kings and queens) and maybe a monthly queer women’s night? There used to be several (Lure, Twilight, Booby Trap) that I knew of. Glad to see Booby Trap is still in operation (sort of). You could get lapdances or buy your friends lapdances for things like birthdays, embarrassing them, etc.

    Anyway I just had to put in my two cents that I love St. Paul. And also, it’s kind of a law that once, preferably when you’re a baby gay, you have to go to the drag show at the Gay 90’s in downtown Minneapolis. Then you should leave, because every girl you hit on will be straight. It doesn’t mean they won’t make out with you.

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      Also there was a sweet place in St. Paul to work on your bike that had women’s nights. I think it was a co-op.

      And there were always a goodly amount of concerts in the area.

      also roller derby is great, the MN rollergirls are amaaaazing, and North Star is a league that is very fun to watch. Ok I’m done.

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      So I wrote a long rant about how St Paul is great and then my browser closed on me. LYFE IS RUFF

      Anyways. I agree with the above reaction. I really appreciate that this was written. It is so great and I am glad that there is finally a Queer guide to Minneapolis. However, being a resident of St Paul (a queer resident at that) I want to make it clear that St. Paul is a very queer friendly and beautiful city to both live in and visit. I wish we weren’t included under things to avoid because, as the Twin Cities, it would be to our great advantage to relish in the fact that we both have a lot of stellar things to share and so much potential if we support one another! What other cities can claim that?

      I live in St Paul and I love visiting Minneapolis. I find that both cities have a vibrant queer community. I mean, seriously, St Paul is momma to two of the most queer colleges in the state if not the nation (Macalester and St. Catherine’s University). I can attest. I graduated from ST. Kate’s. An all women’s school. So many queer womyn.

      I just want to clarify so that anybody who is planning on moving or visiting Minnesota isn’t turned off by the “avoidance” because they assume St Paul will be homophobic. It is so far from that.

      Cycles for Change is the women&trans folk bike co-op located on University Avenue. It is stellar. The Lowertown bike depot is queer friendly and is run by a woman. The Townhouse, Black Dog Cafe, Trotter’s, Kopplin’s coffeeshop, Rumours/Innuendo (RIP…thxxx a lot, light rail), Key’s Cafe, we are the home of the roller girls, etc etc etc.

      So, maybe less St. Paul bashing and more Twin Cities LOVINNNNnnn because both of these beautiful places are home to hundreds of beautiful queers! & we all love beautiful queers!

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        St. Paul is great in all the ways, and the Twin Cities have awesome public transportation that stretches across both (and into the burbs). So don’t be afraid of it, or you’re gonna miss out on that awesome Afghani restaurant over by Macalester. And also, of course, the land of lesbians (St Kate’s).

        Fun fact, I seriously considered applying to St Kate’s and ended up at St Thomas, the must less fun brother school nearby. WHOOPS (but I still loved it).

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        Also can we talk about Izzy’s for a second? Best ice cream ever, awesome flavors, soy and sorbet options all the time, AND THEY GIVE YOU AN IZZY SCOOP (a baby scoop) of another flavor on top of your regular scoop.

        They also sold Izzy cones of the teeny scoops for tiny people. You haven’t seen cute until you’ve seen a cute tiny child with a cute tiny ice cream cone.

        Sorry I will try to stop being nostalgic for St. Paul for now.

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      Thank you!! As a fellow St. Paul lesbian, I also felt the sting of the “stay away from St. Paul” statement! I don’t quite understand the rivalry between Minneapolis and St. Paul, maybe that is because I am a transplant (2 years ago from Seattle) though. Anyways, I love both of the Twin Cities and think it is a shame to discount the awesomeness of St. Paul. :)

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    Hurray for a guide to my favorite city, and a city I’m moving back to this June! Thanks for introducing me to some new reasons to love Minneapolis more.

    There are a couple more pieces of information I’d like to add that may be of interest to you..

    1. More about THE BIKING. This is pretty much the main reason why I am moving back to Minneapolis. Minneapolis and Portland usually fight every year for the top bike city. The bike trail and on-road bike lane system is a dream. Surly is from here. There are a good amount of winter bike commuters that gear up and fight the cold and snow. Heck, there’s even a yearly bike art show called ArtCrank (billed as “a poster party for bike people”). If you want a good intro to the Minneapolis bike scene, I’d recommend doing this. Rent a Nice Ride (Minneapolis’s bike share program) bike at one of the many kiosks set up around the city on a nice warm day, bike down the Midtown Greenway bike and pedestrian only path and stare at all the happy people biking and playing in happy happy harmony, and then finish your ride by cooling off in one of the city’s many lakes (I prefer Cedar lake where you’ll find a mix of punks, families, hippies, queers, and everything in between). Also. there are plenty of great bike shops around the Twin Cities to help you get rolling. And as Marika mentioned, there’s a community bike shop called Cycles for Change in St. Paul that has a weekly women’s and trans night (I haven’t been to this women’s/trans night, but I’ve been to one and Portland and had a super fantastic experience).

    2. THE BEER. Minneapolis (and the Twin Cities as a whole) has a lot of good beer, and now there seems to be a good amount of brewing companies/taprooms popping up including Indeed and Dangerous Man (which I have yet to check out) in an area of Minneapolis know as Northeast (MY SOON TO BE GAYBORHOOD). There are also the staples, such as Grainbelt, Surly (not the same as the bike company, but just as good), and Summit.

    3. THE MUSIC. The music scene in Minneapolis (local and international) is the. best. There are so many places to see live music that I would spend all day trying to list them. BUT, I’ll throw a few options out there. First Avenue is a must. IF you’ve seen Purple Rain, you’ll know. If you haven’t, GO WATCH IT. Also, the Cedar Cultural Center is located near the already mentioned Hard Times cafe and is a community, non-profit, world music theater. I saw Kaki King play there this past winter and I fell in love with her (music) all over again…

    Hope this adds to an already great rundown of things to do, see, and get involved with in Minneapolis. Come find me on my bike.

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      I actually don’t think they mentioned Hard Times cafe (but they did mention Seward) so thanks for mentioning that! I took my vegan sister there when she visited because it’s a great greasy spoon spot for vegans, if you don’t mind sassy service or kind of lack thereof. However, it’s cheap as all get out and you get what you pay for.

      I just remember we had a goodly amount of food, it was early o’clock when her flight came in so it was completely empty (open 22 hours a day) and the coffee was sooooooooo strong.

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    The caption is incorrect, we apologize. Just trying to give Soul Friday some love, but we can ask that it be removed if it’s bothering you.

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    YAY!! I’m so excited that this exists!! I just moved to a small city north of Minneapolis from beautiful, IPA-loving, rainbow-flag-waving Oregon, and I’ve been wondering about the fun things I can do when I visit the Cities! Thanks for all the great ideas I can enjoy now that it’s stopped snowing (knock on wood…)

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    I’m from Wisconsin, but a lot of my college friends were from the Cities so I visit pretty often. This summer will be my 5th Pride there. It is always magical. And by magical, I mean really gay and really drunk. Most of my friends are gay men so I usually end up at the Saloon. It’s most definitely a gay dude space, but it’s fun if you’re into that kind of scene and don’t mind a lack of lesbians. On Pride, though, girls are everywhere and the Saloon always has a huge block party on Sunday that gets better every year. Highly recommended. I’ve been to Lush (or Blush rather) a few times. That was a ton of fun, too. Their Friday night Pride party was great and there were so many cute girls there I literally got sweaty palms when I first walked in.

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    Oh and if you’re a family oriented queer, I BELIEVE there may still be an organization called Rainbow Families. We (queers from my school) would volunteer at the Halloween party and at a conference they would hold yearly.

    I think it was really great as far as support for both queer parents and their kids.

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    I checked out Lunchboxx and there’s nothing yet. Is it going to be all Twin Cities stuff or just Minneapolis? Obviously this is very Minneapolis oriented and I really dislike the queer/hipster idea that St. Paul suuuuuucks so let me spend all my time in Uptown or Loring Park or whatever the cool neighborhood is nowadays, and completely ignoring the super cool other city.

    I ask because it seems like you run it which I also like people to disclose when promoting a website but hey, can’t force people to do that.

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    Hey Marika, just here to answer a few of your questions, which are totally valid and i appreciate the feedback. Jacqui and I created this queer guide of Minneapolis, and perhaps we were a bit to candid about disliking Saint Paul. I actually work in Saint Paul, and both Jacqui and I think that Saint Paul is a great place to live and play. It’s just that we don’t spend much time there, and it sort of a running joke if you will, to say people live in Saint Paul, and party in Minneapolis. To be completely transparent, we do spend most of our time in Minneapolis, and we wanted to write about what we knew. The goal of this city guide was to get people out and about, meeting one another and getting involved in this amazing queer community that we have here. And the same goes for Lunchboxx. I started Lunchboxx in 2010…on the way home from my GLBT lit class, I realized that there wasn’t any one source for information about the queer community in the twin cities, and I wanted it to be easier for people to access all of the amazing stuff happening in the queer community in one spot. I also wanted to promote people that were doing really cool things in the community, but weren’t getting any press. So that’s what we’re trying to do with Lunchboxx. Promote awesome queers, events and happenings to make us stronger as a community. We don’t have any content on the website yet, because we’re just two people with full time jobs and we need everyone’s help to make this website. In the end, we’d like the website to be a comprehensive guide to queer life in the twin cities and the surrounding area. We’ve asked our friend Annah to help us write about Saint Paul, as she is a unicorn that knows both Minneapolis and Saint Paul very well. That information will eventually be on Lunchboxx, but we really can’t do this alone! This Minneapolis queer guide is just the tip of the iceberg and we’d love to share your story and your favorite things too, we just don’t know what they are.

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      Ingrid, thank you for this. I just felt odd about the potential of someone promoting a website (especially one that will sell merch/things) without disclosing that it was their own, you know?

      And I hope you get some good people to help you out with St. Paul. Just remember St. Paul has awesome people and places too, and mocking it may not make St. Paul denizens particularly happy or particularly willing to listen to you/visit the website/buy the things, yes? I was just kind of bummed out by the hating on St. Paul, especially when things like the Minnesota Rollergirls and the women’s college (St. Kate’s) were mentioned without saying they’re in St. Paul.

      So in future it might be more diplomatic to say “I don’t spend a lot of time in St. Paul” instead of “places to stay away from include St. Paul” if you want to appeal to more than one very specific group of people.

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        I bet that if you used all of the things that you’ve talked about on this comment thread you could start your very own queer guide for St. Paul. You seem like a St. Paul expert and since this guide was just for Minneapolis I think that St. Paul should have it’s very own guide! Sorry it took me a while to follow up on comments. I’ve been sick the past week.

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    Thank you for this!!! I have lived in MN almost my entire life, but have only recently kind of came out, so I know relatively nothing about the queer community here. I was actually a little shocked when autostraddler had that top lesbian cities list and Minneapolis made number 12… still a little shocked it was even on the list.

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    These are all good points, but really, Minneapolis would need many pages to do it justice. I’ve lived in NY and SF, and I honestly like both the queer scene and overall quality of life here better. The diversity, the beautiful seasons, the arts community here, just about everything. If you feel too old/mellow/midwestern for big city queer cliques/drama, the twin cities is a lovely alternative.

    My wife and I recently bought a house in Whittier, and it’s amazing being able to walk to downtown, uptown, Eat Street and the lakes. Fun weekend things to do are awesome, but what really seals the deal are the simple things, like everyone wanting to give my dog some lovin on walks, and how much nature can be found in an urban setting. We’re very lucky to have the Mississippi and so many lakes, and we do not take them for granted.

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    This is so wonderful. I’ve lived in Minneapolis for four years, and like Leigh (a couple of comments above) only came out properly just recently. I live right on the edge of the Powderhorn neighborhood, and have been to a good number of these events/bars/awesome places, but did not know about Berlin, for instance, or that Minneapolis has a women’s tackle football team!

    The only thing I’d add is that Boneshaker is a stellar bookstore that is super queer friendly. The Seward neighborhood never stops getting more awesome!

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    Woot! What a wonderful list! If it’s a living list, I would like to suggest the theatre company I run for inclusion–we’re a strictly LGBTQIA* and feminist organization with a secondary emphasis on inclusion of people marginalized for other reasons as well as giving new playwrights opportunities. We are Gadfly Theatre Productions at gadflytheatre.org for more info. I hate that this sounds so spammy, but I think we go great with your other stuff! Also, if it’s not a living list, just ignore me. I’ll still love Autostraddle forever and ever.

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