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Boy (girl, ha), has the Twin Ports become a more inviting and accepting place for the LGBT community. I can only compare it to 2006, when I first arrived into town from Chicago at the tender age of 22 to take my first job as a reporter at KBJR. I was not out and was really worried that I'd literally be the only gay person in Duluth. But I soon found out that was not the case after some co-workers took me to JT's in Superior - one of the only two gay bars in the Twin Ports at the time - both in Superior.
The culture then , was much different than it is today. People in the gay community really, at least from what I was aware of, did not feel comfortable being themselves in so-called straight bars, especially in Duluth. Red Star at the time, was really the only "alternative" type of bar that, I believe was a so-called safe zone to just be yourself. And as for being "out" as a television reporter, that was a no-no in my mind - worrying that it would make me less marketable for future jobs.
But now, in 2014, gay marriage is legal in Minnesota. We have past and present gay city councilors in Duluth. And on a bigger scale, there are big-name celebrities and TV personalities who have chosen to come out and show other it's all good. Heck, that's given me the courage to say I'm the first openly gay main television anchor in Duluth (shameless plug and an exclusive for The Reader) ha. But in all seriousness, for me, I feel it's so important to be my authentic self for this city because it will only help keep the positive momentum of acceptance going.
And as for the nightlife, Duluth is now home to the first-ever gay owned-and-opperated nightclub - The Flame Nightclub. And, unlike 2006, the establishment is full of all types of people - straight couples, single ladies, single men, gays, lesbians, different races, ethnicities, etc. It's great. It's how it should be. It's the result, in part, of the work from pride committees and gay-rights advocacy groups local and national.
Now, while the Twin Ports still has work to do to reach a culture like Chicago or Minneapolis, it is moving forward and faster than ever before. It's a good feeling, and it's one big reason why I continue to work, live and play here.
Happy Pride Fest 2014!
FOX 21 News