A Timeline of Twin Cities Pride at 50

From its beginnings in 1972, we track some of Twin Cities Pride’s milestones
Twin Cities Pride march, 1974
Twin Cities Pride march, 1974

Photo by Larry Kampa, from the Michael McConnell files, used courtesy of the Tretter Collection in GLBT Studies, University of Minnesota Libraries


Police raid the Stonewall Inn, a gay club located in New York City’s Greenwich Village neighborhood, setting off an uprising that would become the catalyst for the gay rights movement both in the United States and around the world.


To celebrate the one-year anniversary of the Stonewall Uprising, a handful of U.S. cities—including New York and Chicago—host commemorative festivals. Minneapolis and St. Paul are not among them.


The first Twin Cities Pride is held—but it’s not a parade, it’s a protest march. About 50 protesters head down Nicollet Mall and return to Loring Park, where, surprised that they weren’t arrested, they have a picnic.


The first year there’s a Twin Cities Pride Guide. It’s just one sheet of paper designed to be folded up and thrown away from the carrier like a frisbee in the event of a police raid or other conflict.


Pride is not held in Minneapolis, moving instead to St. Paul’s Mears Park. The city had just repealed its groundbreaking non-discrimination ordinance by a troubling 2-1 margin, and Pride crosses the river in a show of solidarity.


KFAI’s “Fresh Fruit” broadcasts the weekend’s Pride events live on the radio for the first time.


The year of the great split. The Pride Committee removes the word “lesbian” from its title, resulting in two separate celebrations: a Loring Park “Gay Pride” and a Powderhorn Park “Lesbian Pride.”


The first year the city of Minneapolis permits street closures for the Pride parade and block party. Until that point, “Basically, they just showed up and took over the street,” says Stewart Van Cleve, author of “Land of 10,000 Loves.” “You can do that with less than 2,000 people. It’s harder to do that with hundreds of thousands.”


The first and last time organizers try to charge an entry fee for Twin Cities Pride. “1985 was a bad year, Van Cleve says. “Probably one of the worst.”


The Pride Committee becomes an actual nonprofit. “Before that, it was not a nonprofit organization that was running Twin Cities Pride; it was sometimes collectives, sometimes ad-hoc committees,” says Van Cleve.


The History Pavilion debuts. A unique feature to Twin Cities Pride, it’s a place where visitors can reflect on LGBTQ+ history and experiences, with materials drawn from the Tretter Collection.


The organization officially changes its name to “The Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender Pride Committee,” making it one of the first to add “bisexual” and “transgender” to the name. (The decision followed years of protest from bisexual and transgender activists.)


Corporations start sponsoring the event, and the Minneapolis Star Tribune prints its own 100-page Pride Guide.


The Pride Committee renames the parade in honor of Ashley Rukes, longtime transgender activist and parade organizer, to commemorate her unexpected passing. It’s still named for Rukes today.


Same sex-marriage becomes legal in Minnesota, and Mayor R.T. Rybak marries two couples at midnight at city hall.


On the Friday of Pride weekend, the Supreme Court rules that same-sex marriage is a national right. “We were all just kind of holding our breath, and as the announcement came out, we were like, ‘Well, it’s going to be a little busy this weekend,’” former Twin Cities Pride executive director Dot Belstler says, laughing. “And it was.”


Along with nearly every other outdoor summer event and festival in town, from Rock the Garden to the Twin Cities Marathon, Pride is canceled due to COVID-19 concerns.


To celebrate its 50th anniversary, Pride organizers choose the theme “past, present, and future.” It’s a nod to the decades that have passed, a recognition of a year of big changes, and a celebration of all that is to come.

Read more: A History of Twin Cities Pride at 50 – For our July/August issue, we released a feature on Twin Cities Pride, since it celebrates its half-century anniversary this year. Join us in exploring the origins and future of the festival.