Minnesota is home to a rich LGBTQIA+ history.
MNHS welcomes and serves all people of Minnesota. We are committed to working toward reflecting the diversity of the state, including preserving and sharing the stories of LGBTQIA+ communities in Minnesota.
Some of these stories include:
- In 1971 Jack Baker and Michael McConnell applied for a marriage license in Hennepin County but were denied;
- in 2013 same-sex marriage was made legal in the state.
- The Minnesota Men of Color non-profit was organized in 1998 to advocate for people whom the majority-white LGBT groups had overlooked.
- Alan Spear was the first openly-gay state legislator in the country and served in the state Senate for nearly three decades advocating for issues of civil/LGBT rights and criminal justice reform.
- Joseph Israel Lobdell (born Lucy Ann Lobdell) sought refuge in Minnesota Territory and was brought to trial in 1858 for "impersonating a man" in a farming community near Litchfield.
These diverse stories only scratch the surface of LGBTQIA+ history in our state.
Over the years, MNHS has collaborated with the community to document these remarkable stories by collecting oral histories, images, and artifacts on LGBTQIA+ experiences. Donate to the MNHS collections.
Special exhibit at Mill City Museum
Going Out, Coming In
June 1 - October 8, 2023
Featuring LGBTQIA+ community spaces in Downtown Minneapolis, this photo exhibit details queer resistance, love, and identity formation amid the evolution of the neighborhood through the 20th century.
MNopedia articles, Minnesota History Magazine articles, and MNHS press books
Both the online encyclopedia MNopedia and the Minnesota History Magazine include free articles that document the experiences of LGBTQIA+ people in Minnesota. These themes can also be found in some MNHS Press books. MNHS Press publishes outstanding books for sale on the history, art, and culture of the Upper Midwest.
- MNopedia Article: Over the Rainbow: Queer and Trans History in Minnesota
- MNopedia Article: Minnesota Men of Color
- MNopedia Article: Baker v. Nelson
- MNopedia Article: Whipple, Evangeline Marrs Simpson (1857–1930)
- MNopedia Article: Minnesota Amendment 1
- MNopedia Article: NAMES Project AIDS Memorial Quilt display, Minneapolis
- MNopedia Article: Spear, Allan Henry (1937–2008)
- MNopedia Article: At the Foot of the Mountain Theater, Minneapolis
- MNopedia Article: Execution of William Williams, 1906
- MNopedia Article: Haupers, Clement (1900–1982)
- MNHS Press Book: Precious & Adored
- Minnesota History Magazine Book Review: Wild Mares: My Lesbian-Back-to-the-Land Life
- Minnesota History Magazine Article: Out of Silence: FREE, Minnesota's First Gay Rights Organization
- MNHS Press Book: Queer Voices
- Minnesota History Magazine Article: Senator Allan Spear and the Minnesota Human Rights Act
- MNopedia Article: HIV/AIDS Crisis, 1981‒1997
- Minnesota History Magazine Article: “Minnesota is Open to Everything”: Queer Hmong and the Politics of Community Formation in the Diaspora
- MNopedia Article: Bisexual Organizing Project
- MNopedia Article: The Trial of Joseph Israel / Lucy Ann Lobdell, 1858
- Minnesota History Magazine Article: "Curious and Romantic Sensation": Sex, Fraud, and Celebrity in the Leon A. Belmont Case of 1880
Twin Cities LGBTQ+ History Tours with Twin Cities Pride
The Twin Cities LGBTQ+ History Tours are an ongoing collaboration between Twin Cities Pride and the Minnesota Historical Society.
The tours comprise fifty-eight sites across the Twin Cities (thirty- eight in Minneapolis, including Loring Park, and twenty in St. Paul). The sites can be explored from anywhere, via tablet, desktop computer, or smartphone. Users can enable location services on their smart devices to understand their current location in proximity to any given site listed on the map. Users can explore beyond the maps by following the external links to MNopedia, online essays, and newspaper articles. TC Pride and MNHS welcome suggestions for future sites and have included a suggestion form with the maps for community members to make their voices heard.
History is now!
Oral history projects
The Minnesota History Center’s Gale Family Library is free and open to the public. Visit the library to see resources about the history of the LGBTQIA+ communities in Minnesota.