For the LGBTQ+ community, by the LGBTQ+ community

Eye on KELOLAND

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) – June may be Pride Month but representation for the LGBTQ+ community is important all year-round.

Whether you’re looking to buy Pride merchandise, take in the arts or simply feel supported, there are safe spaces for the LGBTQ plus community, by the LGBTQ plus community in Sioux Falls.

Take Queen on the Scene, for example. Quinn Kathner-Tucker started her Pride pin business after an unpleasant experience with a vendor at a Twin Cities Pride Festival.

“I remember going to a vendor and I was so excited to get some rainbow gear, but the interaction I had with them wasn’t very positive,” Kathner-Tucker said. “I remember buying the rainbow gear but realized through the conversation that they weren’t LGBT-owned, they really didn’t have a passion for giving back to the community. So that kind of left an inspiration in me to start my own business.”

Through Queen on the Scene, Kathner-Tucker sells mostly enamel pins, but some T-shirts and headbands too.

“When people buy Queen on the Scene, I want them to feel as amazing as I do when I create them,” Kathner-Tucker said. “I’m all about empowerment for the LGBTQ community, but then I’m also all about personal empowerment and my pins are loud and proud, just like me. I hope people feel as fierce as I do when they wear them.”

She sells her merchandise online, but also has a vendor booth at Full Circle Book Co-op. She’ll also be set up at the Pride Festival in Sioux Falls on June 26.

In the world of live entertainment, the Good Night Theatre Collective is an LGBTQ-led organization that embraces the local arts scene in Sioux Falls.

“We’re married, we’ve been married for 11 years and so, owning a business together has been really special for us but we also feature a lot of LGBTQ plus performers on stage too,” Bob Wendland, artistic director with Good Night Theatre Collective, said. “We also, in a lot of our shows, we’ve featured story lines that shed light on, you know, what it is to be a person of queer identity.”

Wendland says the Collective began with a dream to create a local platform for professionally trained musical theater performers in Sioux Falls.

“You see performers with insane talent and they’re teachers, they’re elementary teachers, they work at the colleges, they work at the hospitals,” Luke Tatge, marketing director with Good Night Theatre Collective, said. “All of our people come from all different places unexpected.”

The Collective is just wrapping up its fifth season with a cabaret show at the Belbas Theater in the Washington Pavilion.

On a quiet side of support lives the Quilting Allies in Sioux Falls. For three years, a group of five people have been creating quilts for transgender and non-binary youth in South Dakota who are dealing with thoughts of self-harm or suicide.

“Our organization exists because of some very unfortunate circumstances,” Boots Among Trees with Quilting Allies said. “Someone I care about very deeply lost their gender fluid child to suicide and a group of her friends got together and actually made a quilt for her and they put just quotes on there to help her deal with her grief. And I thought, maybe if we make these quilts for the kids, we won’t have to comfort parents.”

Squares on the quilts are signed with messages of hope and love from members of the community.

“Suicide prevention isn’t a mental health issue, it’s a bodily health issue,” Among Trees said. “This is not always something these kids can help, even if they have the most supporting and loving family in the world, they still need help. And our duty as a community is to come together and support these kids to make sure they thrive.”

Among Trees says the community can help their cause through donations or signing a quilt square.

  • Venmo: @CareQuilts4TransKids
  • They accept e-gift carts from Joann Fabric to boots1888@gmail.com

Representation and support for the LGBTQ plus community goes beyond Pride Month.

“We both moved to Sioux Falls around the same time, 12-13 years ago-ish, and I think it’s night and day from what it was before,” Tatge said. “I think there’s a long way to go still and I think we’ve been lucky that we’ve built this sort of little community around us of people who support us and through the years we’ve really leaned on that.”

“I love to feel like I’m representing my state well in a positive LGBTQIA+ business because there aren’t a lot of LGBT-ran businesses in South Dakota,” Kathner-Tucker said.

“Being out or being visible doesn’t always happen,” Among Trees said. “But when we have organizations that come forward and create that visibility, you get to see people, like yourself, out in the community doing important things for the community and get that representation without having to expose yourself if you don’t want to.”

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