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It’s June, and in addition to warmer weather and sunshine, this time of year also brings out the rainbows. June is LGBTQ+ Pride month, and everyone from corporations to churches jumps out with their rainbow colors during this month.

As a kid who grew up in a world with no rainbows, this increased visibility welcoming the LGBTQ+ community always feels a bit like a warm hug, but it also sometimes feels like a distraction from how Pride started and why it’s so important to our community, particularly our youth.

This month, I reached out to Twin Cities Pride Executive Director Andi Otto, an inspirational community leader and fierce advocate for LGBTQ+ youth, to talk to us about how he is approaching this June’s Pride celebration.

Andi Otto, executive director of Twin Cities Pride
Andi Otto, executive director of Twin Cities Pride.

Andi in his own words

While the LGBTQ+ community is attempting to live its most authentic life all year-round, when June comes, it’s a time to partake in Pride festivities. Twin Cities Pride has always been considered a time to celebrate and party, however, when I became executive director in 2022, my vision was a little different.

I wanted to not only provide a place to celebrate, but a place to find resources, friends, family and all the things that would help everyone live their best life. Whether that is finding a support group for a parent of a trans child, a realtor to buy your first house or dream house, a therapist to work through daily life with you, or that amazing shirt that demands protection for trans youth, I hope you are able to make great connections and find great resources at the Twin Cities Pride Festival.

This year you will also find an array of new things: from our Queer Writes tent featuring community authors showcasing their books, to a pickleball tournament to help you get active and find more community. We have also changed our sports field to include those pro teams that are inclusive, and we have new fun activities for you to try out.

What I am most excited about is our Youth Area. Last year, we learned that young people in our community were begging for a place to call their own, to mix among their peers and talk about everyday life. They would take public transportation down to Loring Park on Friday to see what was going on and to find belonging. Even after last year’s inclusion of Youth Hideaway, we knew this year we needed to do better and go bigger.

So, this year’s Youth Hideaway will include the Rainbow stage for focused programming along with activities to help young people show their true colors. We’re surrounding the area with youth-based organizations like Transforming Families to ensure the resources are right there. Children’s Minnesota will also be featured in our Youth Hideaway area, to uplift their work supporting LGBTQ+ youth and gender inclusivity. Partnerships with organizations like Children’s Minnesota make our youth and families proud to seek care at such a welcoming place. We know that partnerships are vital to making our kids grow up in a safe and welcoming world. A world where they know that they are loved and that they are amazing humans.

And then there’s our first ever Youth Pride Night, Friday, June 29, from 5:30-8:30 p.m. This special event is tailored for ages 10-20 and offers a safe and inclusive space for LGBTQIA+ youth to celebrate Pride.

However you choose to participate in Pride, I hope you will take a second to step back and look around. I hope you will see the thousands of people around you. I hope that their presence reminds you that you are not alone. And I hope that you feel proud to be part of this strong, vibrant and beautiful community.


Yours in Pride,

Andi Otto (he/him/his)

Dr. Kade Goepferd, (they/them)
Chief education officer and medical director of the Gender Health program

Dr. Kade Goepferd, (they/them), is the chief education officer, pediatrician and medical director of the Gender Health program at Children’s Minnesota. Dr. Goepferd is an advocate for advancing equitable health care for all children – including trans and gender-diverse youth. They have been named a Top Doctor by both Minneapolis/St. Paul Magazine and Minnesota Monthly for the last several years and gave their first TED talk, “The Revolutionary Truth about Kids and Gender Identity” at TEDx Minneapolis in 2020.
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Julianna Olsen