Tracker Pixel for Entry

Local Fargo Organizations Plan First Summit for LGBTQ+ Folks

by HPR Contributor | .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) | News | October 31st, 2018

by: Melissa Gonzalez

North Dakota Human Rights Coalition held an LGBTQ+ Summit over the weekend of Oct. 5-7 at the Baymont Inn in Mandan.

The summit was a historical moment as it was the first statewide gathering for members of the LGBTQ+ community. The goals of the summit were to provide opportunities for networking, support and strategizing for educational opportunities as well as assisting attendees in recognizing their political power.

The North Dakota Human Rights Coalition and Dakota Outright, an organization that is dedicated to serving the LGBTQIA community of the central and western parts of the state, facilitated the summit.

The summit was inspired by a conversation between Erin Pringle, Chair of the Board of Dakota Outright, and Barry Nelson, a board member for ND Human Rights Coalition. After their observations of communication between local LGBT organizations and resources, the two wanted to find a way to bring more organizations together for networking and collaboration.

One of the North Dakota Human Rights Coalition’s goals is to advocate for communities that face discrimination and human rights violations. North Dakota is lacking an official hate crime law and in terms of the LGBT community, there is no protection for sexual orientation or gender identity in the North Dakota Human Rights Law.

In order to meet the goals of the two organizations, there were panels and break-out sessions that discussed potential community partnerships and available programming for health and wellbeing in North Dakota for youth, adults and elderly individuals.

There were also panels representing transgender individuals that allowed them to share their experiences. And Two Spirit individuals from North Dakota and from Wind River Reservation representing indigenous communities in North Dakota and Wyoming attended to share their work and experiences as well.

Aside from individual people, the Red River Rainbow Seniors, FM Pride Collective, Equality Federation and the National Center for Lesbian Rights attended the summit.

Nelson, 66, of Fargo, is not new to organizing or advocating for human rights, and was involved in refugee resettlement for Lutheran Social Services before becoming involved with the Human Rights Coalition in 2002.

Nelson believes that progress is measured and that, although North Dakota is led by conservative lawmakers, public opinion is shifting in terms of support for human rights and acceptance of people in the LGBTQ+ community.

The summit is a chance to increase visibility in North Dakota and to help shift public opinion even further.

“To have a state-wide gathering is historical,” he said. “I think that’s the thing, part of the reason that people were pumped up was that we’re making history here.”

Eighty people attended the summit from various places across the state, including Fargo, Bismarck and Williston. A majority of people were older, and the organizers of the event hope to increase attendance for younger community members.

Cody Severson, 32, of Fargo, attended the summit on behalf of the Harbor Health Clinic.

Harbor Health Clinic is a medical center that offers gender affirming hormone therapy for transgender folks in the Fargo-Moorhead area, free of charge. Severson’s goal was to promote the clinic, which opened in January. He was happy to have people interested in the clinic and in collaboration approach him.

After attending the summit, Severson had the sense that there is support for LGBT+ topics in North Dakota.

“I’m always a fan of anything that lets us say anything queer related out in the open, especially in North Dakota,” he said. “It was really nice to see people come together for the singular cause of promoting LGBTQ+ agenda items.”

More information about the Harbor Health Clinic can be found on the clinic’s website,

Cindy Roholt, 63, is a founding member of the Red River Rainbow Seniors and went to the summit to collaborate with others and increase visibility of the organization.

The Red River Rainbow Seniors, founded in 2015, advocates for older members of the LGBT community and the issues that affect them: Particularly long term care needs. They are currently working on an oral history project that shares experiences of people who are part of the community in the Red River Valley.

Roholt described the event as a casual, but energy filled three days. From the discussions and panels she attended, her belief in the need for building community and including different voices and experiences of the entirety of that community was reinforced.

“The thing that people were very interested in, [as] we were the only senior group that was there, was being able to go back to their own communities and reach out to the seniors in their communities to helpfully do some organizing … but also connect them with the oral history project,” Roholt said.

The Red River Rainbow Seniors were able to make connections with Dakota Outright, YouthWorks, as well as individuals in Bismarck and Williston. Roholt has no doubts that the summit will continue and that the organization will continue to attend.

“This was truly an inaugural event in the sense that this was the first pebble that has been cast,” she said. “That’s the biggest take away is that there is something happening here. There are people that are willing to come together.”

The Red River Rainbow Seniors can be found on Facebook.

North Dakota remains a conservative state and the first LGBTQ+ Summit was a bold move to showcase the undeniable presence of the community. The goal of the summit was to bring people together and bring change for the better.

As Nelson said, progress is measured, and time will tell how North Dakota will change, both socially and politically, in regards to individuals belonging to the LGBTQ+ and other marginalized groups.

Recently in:

BISMARCK – Backed by police and educators, state legislators hope to curb violent crime and rising suicide rates by proposing bipartisan legislation that would allow police to temporarily confiscate firearms from those deemed…

It is no secret that our world is becoming more and more computerized. Over the course of a few decades, computers and the Internet have transformed from being solely objects of luxury or business to a ubiquitous part of 21st…

Wednesday, January 23, at 6-8 p.m.Plains Art Museum, 704 1st Ave. N, FargoMeet featured artists and learn about the Human Rights Arts Festival. The North Dakota Human Rights Arts Festival is a traveling juried exhibition that…

A couple of days before Christmas, a video of “Virgin Island Vicky,” went viral. Her real name is irrelevant, but she’s a Minot native. The video shows her going on multiple public racist rants while she and her beau were on…

The Epic Battle Between Milk And WaterI didn’t realize our neighbor state Wisconsin had over 15,000 lakes until I Googled. Well, it might depend on how you count them according to size and acreage. We know that Minnesota has…

FARGO - A collection of memories from High Plains Reader's annual Cocktail Showdown. Participants were judged on creativity, flavor, and presentation; and this year we added a new category. Like years before, each establishment was…

All About Food

​Curry in a Hurry

by HPR Contributor

By Nataly My least favorite thing about being a college student is the limited selection of food that I am comfortable making with minimal ingredients and minimal effort. Plus, I liked to try…


To Broadway and back

by HPR Contributor

By Ryan Jankeryan.janke78@gmail.comCelebration of Women and Their Music kicks off this Thursday at the Spirit Room in Fargo, and Nina Grollman will be back in town to light up the stage with a brand-new sound. High Plains Reader…

Compared to the Betsy West and Julie Cohen documentary “RBG,” Mimi Leder’s period biographical slice “On the Basis of Sex” is nowhere near as notorious as one might hope, but the hagiographic reverence for Ruth Bader…

By Nataly"Snowgeese" for Charles BeckBy Timothy MurphyThe flock is whorled like a translucent shelland intricate as the tubing of a horn,its embouchure, the soft foot of a snaillighting on…

by Ryan Jankeryan.janke78@gmail.comFargo-Moorhead Community Theatre presents “A Christmas Story: The Musical” which is underway at the Stage at Island Park and will run through December 22. It has been promoted as a show both…

Those who have been reading my articles for a while may remember when I interviewed Zachary Tooker about the Level Two Comedy Club at the Radisson in Fargo. While the club may have unfortunately closed, Tooker has not ceased…

by Gabrielle Herschgabbyhersch@gmail.comphotography by Logan MacraeEver wish you could go to your favorite brewery without leaving your house? Finally, you can (sort of). Kilstone Brewing is now doing limited can releases of some…

I’m a big man, I’m tall and powerful, but this also causes some issues in the body department. I suffer from acute scoliosis in my lower back, and pain radiates from this area on a daily basis. I have only ever had one massage…

by Devin Joubertdevinlillianjoubert@gmail.comIt’s that beautiful time of the year that’s filled with seasonal decorations, sparkly lights, warm family gatherings, and delicious feasts. I love everything about this time of the…

By Gary"People spend so much time mocking Trump or waiting for him to be impeached. And the danger with this kind of obsession with a single person is that you don’t see the system that produced him."—…