Watch CBS News

How did Twin Cities Pride get started?

What is the history of Twin Cities Pride?
What is the history of Twin Cities Pride? 02:55

MINNEAPOLIS — June is Pride Month, and there are lots of activities to celebrate the LGBTQIA+ community, including the 52nd annual Pride festival and parade.

But how did Twin Cities Pride get started? Good Question.

It's one of the nation's largest pride celebrations, but as Andy Otto with Twin Cities Pride explains, it wasn't always that way.

"The story is there were 25 folks here in Loring Park," Otto said.

The first year of Pride was in 1972.

"And the other 25 went to go march up Nicollet Avenue and the purpose behind it were that the 25 people who were here could bail those that decided to march out of jail if they were jailed at that point," Otto said.

The protest marked the third anniversary of the Stonewall riots in New York.

Thoundsands of  people  crossed the Hennepin ave bridge during the annual gay/lesbian pride parade and celebration Sunday in downtown Minnepolis.(Photo by JERRY HOLT/Star Tribune via Getty Images)
Thousands of people crossed the Hennepin Avenue bridge during the 1997 annual gay/lesbian pride parade and celebration in downtown Minneapolis. JERRY HOLT/Star Tribune via Getty Images

"Back then, it was, you could be jailed for it. You could be persecuted," Otto said. "There were no protections. There wasn't the hate crime bill. There wasn't any of that."

To protect themselves, the first Pride program in 1973 was designed to be folded and tossed like a frisbee if needed.

"They stood up and we owe a lot to those folks," Otto said. "I get to live authentically today because of what they did back then. And to stand up and fight and say, 'We're not going anywhere and you can't make us go anywhere.'"

They persevered through attempts by the Minneapolis City Council to block the festivities.

In 1978, the Pride festival moved to Mears Park in St. Paul in protest of voters repealing a 1974 nondiscrimination ordinance.

In 1982, there were two separate festivals — Gay Pride and Lesbian Pride. They reunited the following year.

Then, during the AIDS epidemic in the 80s, Pride was a place for resources and support.

"You could come to Pride and find those resources. You could get educated because we know in the 80s there was a lot of misinformation out there as to what was happening, how to protect yourself from it," Otto said.

By the mid-90s, the festival emphasized the experiences of bisexual and transgender people, corporations started sponsoring the event and the crowds at Loring Park grew larger and larger.

"This is the biggest change that's happened in the organization, that it's not just focused on one weekend anymore, it's focused on the whole year and allowing people to live authentically," Otto said.

Pride's extensive history in the Twin Cities is still being written today.

"Every year, depending on what's happening, it kind of switches, the story of what pride turns out to be," Otto said.

Twin Cities Pride organizers expect around 600,000 people to attend the festivities this year. 

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.