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" I think that gays should not be recognized in a school setting because school is for curricular activities not for outside, personal feelings."
Obviously, this person has never been to high school.

The comments actually ended up being more balanced than I thought they would be. Some pretty stupid stuff now and then, but that's par for the course.

Posted by wench | April 20, 2007 10:04 AM

Just as many nations have mandatory military service, the leaders of "the gay conspiracy" should require homos to spend a year living in backwater states like North Dakota & Mississipi to support kids like these and turn the state from red to blue.

Posted by Sean | April 20, 2007 10:08 AM

Count me as one of those naive blue-staters - I'm just stunned by the fact that this is news.

Posted by alissa | April 20, 2007 10:10 AM

i spent six years in the Fargo area (moved from there to here) and there is a very interesting division between generations. the parents and grandparents are very conservative and "red".

But the Fargo/Moorhead has 4 major colleges that infuse the region with youth and "outside" influences. my private lutheran college had a very large percentage of GLBT students--no one thought anything of it. the youth in Fargo seem fairly "big city" in their embracing of "differences". call it the youth revolution or their desire to not be associated with Fargo and/or ND. i think the parent chaperones will have much more issues than the kids at the dance.

and i think it is good that it is news in ND. that way the old fogeys can read that it is happening and will continue to happen, and they will slowly come to accept (or ignore) it.

it should also be noted that the Fargo metro area is about the same population as greater Bellevue. they've got malls, stoplights, freeways, bike trails and even a Microsoft campus of 3 buildings and just under 1,000 people. it might not be as "backwater" as you think.


Posted by ddv | April 20, 2007 10:19 AM

The last one (the one from the New York times) made me cry thinking about my own experience 20 years ago but this one just makes me happy.

Posted by Andrew | April 20, 2007 10:21 AM

You make it seem like there is nothing but hate hate hate in the comments thread. But what's there is actually much more supportive of this than you let on. Maybe you should read through all of them instead of the tired "Adam and Steve" comment at the top.

Seems to me that Fargo is further ahead than you'd like to believe.

Posted by PA Native | April 20, 2007 10:21 AM

Didn't read the forum comments, but what does "not recognize gays in a school setting" mean? So ... they're invisible? Everyone pretends they can't hear the gays talking, so their feelings would be so hurt they'd run away?

Posted by Gloria | April 20, 2007 10:22 AM

"I think that gays should not be recognized in a school setting because school is for curricular activities not for outside, personal feelings."

Yes indeedy, a prom illustrates that fact nicely. Thank you, silly person.

Posted by Maggie | April 20, 2007 10:24 AM

#2-Sean-- What is backwater?

Is that like like getting pulled in the undertow of a river near Black Diamond?

Posted by okie from snoqualmie | April 20, 2007 10:25 AM

it happened to me, and it was kind of a thrill!

Posted by okie from snoqualmie | April 20, 2007 10:28 AM

i'm gay and have lived in ND all my life. i came out to my parents at 18 and they pretty much are in denial about it.

so, i agree with ddv that the "generation gap" argument is pretty relevant. but, like ddv, i'd also like to point out the fact that the eastern part of ND (specifically, fargo and grand forks) seem to be much more progressive than the western part of the state - as has been said, probably due to major colleges/universities (NDSU, concordia, MSUM in fargo/moorhead and UND in grand forks) and progressive businesses like microsoft (fargo) and amazon (grand forks).

also, the ND HRC ( is making significant headway in ND - with committees in Fargo, Dickinson, and Bismarck, and one currently in the planning stages for Grand Forks.

Posted by jesse | April 20, 2007 10:38 AM

yay. go these kids.

Posted by josh | April 20, 2007 10:45 AM

ddv #4:
I grew up one state over from ND, so I'm familiar with the progressive elements of midwestern culture. Indeed, "Backwater" is innaccurate.

This is admittedly off topic, but that's why it really stung to read Dan's attack on Garrison Keillor, who is the epitome scandanavian-influenced, progressive, gay-friendly midwesternism, and he preaches a subtly liberal message to an audience that extends well beyond the choir (my slowly evolving, formerly Republican mom included).

He didn't deserve a "Fuck Garrison Keillor" followed by an angry, paranoid rant. More appropriate would have been "You lost me there, Mr. Keillor" or maybe "What the hell are you talking about, Garrison?"

Posted by former midwesterner | April 20, 2007 10:47 AM


Wow. Fargo grew up. Who knew?

I once lived in Fargo for a short time about 35 years ago. I was surprised to learn they had flush toilets, much less two out gay teenagers to rub together.

The population of Bellevue? I didn't realize there were that many people in the whole state of ND. Where did they all come from? And why, given any choice, would anyone want to live there? Didn't you people see the movie? It's f-ing cold there.

Posted by SDA in SEA | April 20, 2007 11:15 AM

Unfortunately, this is news in North Dakota. But Jesse's right: there are progressive pockets, institutions and populations here. And it's not ALL young people- there's a strong history of progressive "older" people. Still, we've got a (very) long way to go.

Weird, but good, to read about Fargo in the Stranger.

Posted by Mitch | April 20, 2007 11:15 AM

Fuck Fargo. Grand Forks rules! Go Sioux!

Posted by Boomer in NYC | April 20, 2007 11:20 AM


Some of us choose to live here because we want to work to change things, rather than giving up. But thanks for the snide, condescending comments- it really makes the work we progressives are doing here feel worthwhile.

Posted by Mitch | April 20, 2007 11:23 AM

former midwesterner: dan thinks that anyone who lives in a town with less than 100,000 people is a "rube" no matter what. He's very similar to the gay bashers in his black-and-white view of urban/rural in that he has a hard time accepting that not everyone who lives in the country is a cowboy just as some in the red states have a hard time believing everyone who lives in the city isn't in a satanic cult. same level of ignorance, just different end of the spectrum.

Posted by still a midwesterner at heart | April 20, 2007 11:30 AM

I believe there was a Dawson's Creek episode dealing with the same dilemma. But seriously, just last week, wasn't there news that a high school in Geogia was having their very first racially intigrated prom?

Posted by Carr | April 20, 2007 11:52 AM

That's awesome. Take that cynical fuckers!

Cute couple too.

As for the GK, I think Dan stumbled into by accident:

I knew he'd come around!

Posted by chris | April 20, 2007 12:19 PM

"Some of us choose to live here because we want to work to change things, rather than giving up."

It's also a fantastic place to live cheaply, raise a family, and organize. Speaking as someone who ran a statewide women's organization for awhile, it's amazing to see the transformation of a community with the very presence of people saying, "we need change."

Posted by Liz | April 20, 2007 1:34 PM

I can't find any confirmation of this, but I seem to recall that the mayor of Fargo declared some sort of gay pride week--they called it "lifestyle diversity awareness week" or some such obfuscation, but everyone knew what was meant--in 1980. 1980! I was a high-school kid in Grand Forks at the time, not out yet, and that came as an encouraging surprise. I don't imagine this will ring a bell with any other Slog readers, but correct me if I'm wrong--

Posted by gkb | April 20, 2007 5:04 PM

I lived in Moorhead, MN in in the mid-80s. In 1986, while in 10th grade one of my best friends was a junior at South High in Fargo. We ran with a bunch of genderfuckers comprised of gays, straights, bis and just about everything in between. A small group of us tried to go to her prom as couples. There was only one male the group. Everyone had tickets to the prom except me. The organizers were selling tickets at the door and I planned to buy mine when we got there. My friend and I were planning to go as a couple. Technically we weren't one, but we might as well have been. There was enough same-sex exploration within the group to justify it. We were punks and we didn't exactly fit the Molly Ringwald circa Sixteen Candles look, but we took the "formal" part seriously and got dressed up. We looked GOOD, damnit. Didn't matter. They refused to let us in. They made up some excuse about me being from another school and not getting a ticket in advance - while they continued to sell them to other couples entering the school. We fought it, asked to talk to people in charge, etc. They wouldn't budge. We did it to test the limits and challenge people. To prove a point. It was obvious at that time that the thought of same sex couples dancing together wasn't acceptable by school leadership. But then, I'm sure my friend's blue hair didn't help. Strange thing was...Fargo/Moorhead in the mid-80s had a number of out, queer youth. I moved to Duluth later that year and was really surprised at how repressed that city was by comparison. Most GLBT kids at my Duluth high school in the closet; whereas they were out & proud in farm country. Go figure.

Posted by former midwesterner | April 20, 2007 6:00 PM

I had a spontaneous, "Oh they are so cute" smile appear on my face when I saw their pict :)

Posted by Ramza | April 21, 2007 8:38 AM

Ah. :) Cute kids. :)

That said, yay for the Midwest. Finally talking about things and growing up. :)

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