Queer Girl City Guide: Minneapolis, MN

Extra Guidin’

If you want more of Minneapolis, which who wouldn’t, head to Lunchboxx and see what’s being featured monthly in the city. Lunchboxx is a website run by queer girls, for queer girls. Every month they feature a new person, place and thing in the community. I happen to think very, very highly of this company and even if you aren’t in Minneapolis check the website out for super queer merch and an upcoming funny blog on the ins and outs of being a queer girl.

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Ladies who Lunchboxx

Lavender Magazine is a monthly, free magazine distributed at coffee shops and the like around the Minneapolis area. About 50% of it is advertisements, but it’s still an amazing resource to have in the city. Head to one of our listed coffee shops, pick up a Lavender and pull up Lunchboxx on your smart phone and you’ll be well on your way to navigating this fine, queer city.

I give this section 5 “you betchas!”

Getting’ Healthy

Minneapolis has a very strong trans* support system in place with several different resources to draw from. We have the Trans Youth Connection and Cinca De Shot. The Red Door (525 Portland Ave, 4th Floor) is a LGBTQ friendly public health clinic and HIV/STD testing center. Avenues for Homeless Youth has a LGBT host home program that provides transitional living arrangements for LGBT youth in safe, supportive, volunteer host homes.

I give this section 5 “you betchas!”

Stickin’ It To the Man

There are a couple feminist/activist groups in Minneapolis. The Twin Cities Avengers is an all-inclusive queer direct action group committed to dismantling all forms of oppression, so yeah, like them on facebook or something. MAP (Minneapolis Aids Project) is leading Minnesota’s fight to stop HIV through prevention, advocacy, awareness and services. Out Front Minnesota  is leading Minnesota toward LGBT equality.

I give this section 5 “you betchas!”

Livin’ Family Style

Minneapolis has a local PFLAG chapter. This is a space for parents of LGBT people to go. MN United for All Families is fighting the fight to ensure that LGBT Minnesotans will eventually have the right to marry.

I give this section 5 “you betchas!”

Cruisin’ the Gayborhoods

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Loring Park

Here in Minneapolis we have two gayborhoods, one being Loring Park. I would say that Loring Park is a pretty good mix of gay men and lesbians. It’s situated, as you may guess, on a park. The park is pretty awesome and plays host to the annual Pride Parade festivities. You can stroll down to the pond and throw pieces of your vegan scone to the ducks, but watch out for the geese. They might sneak up to you when you’re kissing your lady friend, and they’re not as nice as the ducks. And if you were afraid of the geese don’t even get me started on the squirrels. I’ve never seen wild animals quite so… organized. MCTC, a technical college that goes highly recommended by yours truly, is on the north side of the park along with a cute little urban dog park.

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Loring Park

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Loring Park

The other gayborhood is Powderhorn Park, which is also, as you may have surmised, on a park. The difference between these two hoods in Minneapolis bike lingo is like the difference between people that ride single speeds and those that ride fixed gears. Or maybe Loring Park would be the intense, power dyke who makes you nervous and excited at the same time and Powderhorn Park would be the hot hippy that makes sexy naked busts of females out of all different types of materials. It’s all relative in the end. Powderhorn hosts the May Day Parade which can be about as queer as the Pride Parade, but in a totally Powderhorn way. Check them both out and see which you like better.

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Powderhorn

I give this section 5 “you betchas!”

Places Not To Go

Here’s a detailed list of places I try to stay away from in Minneapolis; Hennepin County Jail (Free Cece), Dinkytown (College Bros and Hos Dominate this area), Downtown (just on Friday and Saturday nights it can get real lame, real fast), Breeder Avenue (Hennepin and Lake/Lagoon is probably the worst place you could go on the weekends), and St. Paul.

Lookin’ Sexy

There are lots of cool places to go to get your latest trendy tattoo or piercings. I tend to go to St. Sabrina’s (2645 Hennepin Ave S) most of the time, because they have an awesome jewelry selection to fill my hipster gauged ears. They can be a little pricy, but the staff is extremely helpful and nice and it’s a really cool shop. Open Mon-Thurs 11 am – 10 pm and Fri – Sun 11 am – 12 am.

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St. Sabrina’s

Leviticus Tattoo (4109 E Lake St) is another great choice. I’ve had many a girl tell me they love the work being done there. The lime green walls that are filled with artwork beckon you from the street. Be careful too, they take walk-ins, you might be lured just walking by. Open Mon – Sun 1 pm to 9 pm.

Uptown Tattoo (614 W 27th St) is where all of my cool tattoo artist friends go when they want to add to the canvas that is their skin. I think that’s a pretty good endorsement, but they’re usually booked pretty far out, so make sure you want that star on your ankle reeeeal bad.

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Uptown Tattoo

Moxie Hair Salon (2649 Lyndale Ave S) is where I go to get my dyke hawk cut. Before every hair cut they take you into this back room (it’s not creepy) and wash your hair and give you this amazing head massage while a hot towel rests over your weary eyes. It’s just fantastic. They have a couple of locations, but I think the other one is in St. Paul so… Open Mon-Sat 3 pm to 9 pm and Sun 12 pm to 6 pm.

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Moxie Hair Salon

Hair Police (611 West Lake Street) specializes in unique haircuts. This is where grown ups go to get those dreads you mom wouldn’t let happen to your hair in high school. Open Mon-Fri 12 pm to 8 pm and Sat 10 am to 6 pm.

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Hair Police

I give this section 5 “you betchas!”

Hittin’ the Books

Minneapolis doesn’t have any LGBT/Feminist specific bookstores anymore. The longest running bookstore, True Colors, closed just a few months ago, which is extremely unfortunate. It was run by a couple of very cool women and it’s missed dearly in the community.

I am an avid reader though and have had to find my books elsewhere. If you find yourself in Minneapolis and need a good book, head to Magers & Quinn (3038 Hennepin Ave S). They have this big, old style bookstore in the heart of uptown. Towering bookshelves and over-filled tables with affordable books will surround you like a comforting blanket.

Use the google and find some of our other independently owned bookstores. I believe we have around 10 of them.

I give this section 3 “you betchas!”

Gettin’ Artsy

Intermedia Arts (2822 Lyndale Ave S) host the Queer Voices reading series, which is the longest LGBT literary series in the nation. They focus on every aspect of the community. You won’t miss them on Lyndale with their ever-changing art running along their wall and “Art Changes Everything” in big black letters on the front.

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Intermedia Arts

The 20% Theater Company focuses on the work of female and transgender theater artists in the twin cities area. The Naked I: Wide Open IS an amazing performance and not something to be missed. An extremely unique gem in our city.

Black Hearts Burlesque is a burlesque troop with some real sexy members. They perform at various events around the city throughout the year. You can see them at Club Underground (Minneapolis’ very own goth bar) or at Grown and Sexy Pride during Pride weekend. Whenever they are performing it’s a fabulous time.

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Black Hearts Burlesque

Dykes Do Drag is a performance that runs at Bryant Lake Bowl (ever continuing the queerness) that is hilarious, sexy and completely entertaining. It ranges from skits to burlesque acts. A must see if traveling through Minneapolis.

I give this section 5 “you betchas!”

Sexin’ It Up

There wasn’t a category for sex stores, but this store can totally hold down a category all of it’s own. Smitten Kitten (3010 Lyndale Ave S) is the perfect place to get all of your sex toys and supplies. It’s a queer run, progressive operation that pays attention to detail. You won’t find any gear here that will leach anything nasty into your system. They also have a fantastic book selection, and you will feel welcomed and comfortable the minute you enter the door. Jennifer Pritchett, the owner, has really made a difference in this industry and made a great space for queer people to boot. This place is like the Rolls Royce of sex stores.

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Smitten Kitten

I give this store 5 “you betchas!”

Havin’ Pride

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Pride in Minneapolis is a beautiful thing. Glitter, drag queens and kings, free stuff, puppies you can pet for $1 (I know! total bargain), queers every which way you turn your head, half-dressed people, food trucks, beer tent, bikes and babes. It’s everything you would want in a pride. Every pride we also have the Dyke March, which is hosted by the Twin Cities Avengers, pretty self-explanatory. There is live music at a couple different stages along with some great performances. Also, one of the best parts is that all of the above listed events that go on have special, blow out, pride events that are packed and even more fun than usual. It’s a fantastic weekend that we all look forward to all year long.

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I give this section 5 “you betchas!”

Bonus Facts

There’s a Mary Tyler Moore statue downtown, awesome pic op!

Prince has his studio in Minnesota.

We have that Minnesota Nice thang going for us up here, or all mid-western people just internalize their feelings and put a happy face on. Either way it’s nice!!

Did you see how many “you betchas!” Minneapolis got? Totally worth coming here.

There’s this huge spoon with a cherry on it, pic op!

We have a lot of lakes, come and count them.

Paul Bunyan lives here and a lot of the queer girls dress just like him.

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46 Comments

  1. 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.

  2. 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.

    • 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.

    • 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!

      • 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).

      • 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.

    • 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. 🙂

    • Yes I agree! I lived in Saint Paul for 8 years. And St.Paul has the history of “firsts” in LGBTQIA+ rights. It has been the front runner of legislation since 1983! In 1983 Saint Paul City Council president Bob Sylvester came out as transgender, and under went sexual confirmation surgery to transition. Susan Kimberly, didn’t retire from the council until 2010! In 1990 Saint Paul city ordinances were passed that plainly protected LGBT communities, and efforts to appeal the decision were quickly shot down by Saint Paul residents. In 1993 St.Paul amended the state’s Human Rights Act to prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation in federal hiring practices, which appeared in St.Paul’s City ordinance. Saint Paul has been at the fore front of setting precedents in the Twin Cities, and continues to be the capitol city I am proud to say represents me on a national stage as well as, as my city!

  3. 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.

    • 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.

  4. 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…)

  5. 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.

  6. 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.

  7. 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.

  8. 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.

    • 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.

      • 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.

  9. 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.

  10. 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.

  11. 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!

  12. 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.

  13. Very “educational” & funny. thank you for this. I love it & shared it on my facebook wall. Looking to get out there being a newly single Bi Gal. again ty

  14. If the all women’s school you’re referring to is St Kate’s…y’all in for a nasty surprise. While Katies are (mostly) open-minded, the PRIDE club is tragic and dating is dismal. Great school, but not full of lesbians.

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