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Mostly Inclusive Brookings Sprouts PFLAG Chapter

Spearfish residents formed a chapter of PFLAG—Parents, Family, and Friends of Lesbians and Gays—in 2014. When the Sioux Falls chapter folded in 2015, that left PFLAG Spearfish as the only active chapter in the state.

But those Spearfish advocates will soon have company in the Spearfish of the East, Brookings:

The Brookings chapter met Saturday morning at Ascension Lutheran Church to continue work on its bylaws, in preparation for a kickoff event at the Brookings Public Library at 6:30 p.m. Sept. 28.

Committee members present were the Rev. Teri Johnson, president and chair; Trevor Clements, vice president; Sandy Olson, secretary; Lawrence Novotny, treasurer; the Rev. Larry Ort, rector of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church; and the Rev. Michael Mortvedt. A seventh member, Ruth Harper, was absent.

“We’re hoping to be a catalyst, a support group,” Johnson, pastor of United Church of Christ and a professor at South Dakota State University, said. “One of the critical pieces of PFLAG is that it’s not a political organization, not a religious organization. It’s a support group for families, allies and friends [John Kubal, “LGBTQ Support Groups Forming in Brookings,” Brookings Register, 2017.09.15].

Aside from a certain angry blog and a few other regressive elements, Brookings is a pretty good town for tolerance and diversity. The home of South Dakota’s biggest and best university scored 50 out of 100 on the Human Rights Campaign’s 2016 Municipal Equality Index, the best score in the state. PFLAG Spearfish labors under an MEI of 21:

Municipal Equality Index 2016 for South Dakota cities, Human Rights Campaign.
Municipal Equality Index 2016 for South Dakota cities, Human Rights Campaign.

The Brookings City Council renewed its commitment to “inclusion, respect, tolerance, equality and justice” for all residents last February by passing Resolution 17-022., which called for, among other things, “reporting, tracking, and responding to hate and bias-motivated activities in Brookings.” PFLAG Brookings organizers say Brookings does a fair job of living up to its inclusive principles:

There was a consensus among the chapter members that Brookings is a caring and inclusive community.

“We’re very lucky to have Brookings. Brookings is an incredible, incredible community,” Clements, assistant manager at Pheasant Restaurant & Lounge, said. “I don’t think me being a gay man raising two children would have the support network in another community [Kubal, 2017.09.15].

Kubal reports that PFLAG Brookings wants to focus on offering “(1) support, to cope with an adverse society; (2) education, to enlighten an ill-informed public; and (3) advocacy, to end discrimination and to secure equal civil rights.”


  1. Mr. Lansing 2017-09-16

    Brookings beat my little town by two. Denver got 82.

  2. happy camper 2017-09-16

    The higher levels of tolerance is very good news, especially out here in the sticks, but it seems even more likely our understanding of sex and gender remains quite rudimentary. Even on this blog the guys have felt it necessary to say I’m very straight, but whatever others do is fine. That’s funny cause it seems this life experience is much more of a spectrum so defined and limiting labels and terms aren’t appropriate descriptors, and probably do more harm than good.

    There’s pressure to put everyone in a slot, even outside of sexuality, but the labeling and self labeling of transgender especially seems unhealthy. Who cares it just doesn’t matter, but medical procedures to change sex don’t seem to make people happier, the studies are very mixed. They may feel a need to express a binary gender label of culture and somehow fit, which is just something society forces on all of us.

    Whatever you are is fine, and however you want to express yourself is fine would be a better message and letting go of all the letters and accepting much more murkiness. Younger people understand and accept the spectrum much better and don’t have nearly the uncomfortableness that we learned as a result of being told you’re this or that, or maybe this. Nobody fits in little slots.

  3. Mr. Lansing 2017-09-16

    Hc … Like the way you put all Muslims in one category? Terrorists!! e.g. (There’s pressure to put everyone in a slot, even outside of sexuality.) – HampyCapper lol

  4. happy camper 2017-09-16

    I never said that, and was always very careful to acknowledge a very, very small percentage, and then to assume everyone on an enlightened blog would understand that.

    But we have Mike: Hates all Republicans. Jerry: All Republicans are Nazis. Porter and Roger violence is acceptable. Sorry, but violence is not a liberal value.

    So, there are those in the comment section that are so binary, yet they don’t see it. Black and white thinking.

  5. Mr. Lansing 2017-09-16

    I could decimate your back-stroking apology but I won’t. PS … Violence is sometimes acceptable. e.g. Enola Gay, Civil War, Civil Rights Movement etc.

  6. happy camper 2017-09-16

    I wasn’t apologizing for anything. There is Islamic terrorism. But you support Antifa who are anarchists Nancy Pelosi condemned their actions as should every true liberal.

  7. Mr. Lansing 2017-09-16

    I support parts of Antifa’s message. Yes, I do. Standing up to white supremacists is a valiant effort. I support parts of Black Lives Matter, Too’s message. I support standing up to Aberdeen Anti-Muslim Hate Groups (one of whom wants to be Sheriff). I however, see no validity in you naming yourself as a defining opinion on anything liberal. You’re a confused soul with little to call solid among your opinions.
    This is off topic, not where Mr. Lansing wants to go on an Autumn Saturday and LWIY (last word is yours). Someone else can take a few swipes at Happy Piñata.

  8. happy camper 2017-09-16

    Well, I might put it this way. Years ago when we were fighting for gay rights bisexuals started to get involved in the movement. We looked at them with distrust. We thought they were still partly in denial, or just trying to keep one foot in the straight world and escape all the oppression we faced head on. They experienced real discrimination and dislike by gay people.

    But then I had a relationship with a bisexual (who wanted me to join him with his girlfriend – ugh – but this felt totally natural him), and my last boyfriend has mainly had sex with straight guys. Once again I couldn’t wrap my head around that, but turns out this (The Down Low) is much more common than people think, so it made me look again at how we define things, and I think in the spectrum we’re all much more bisexual and some especially fluid, but we’re still taught to think too much in terms of binary.

    Similarly the same can hold true in politics. Read the comments here, on Huffpost, Briebart, most are so disappointingly polarizing. Take the bell curve, extremists are on the ends, but the vast majority are in the middle picking and choosing which makes the ideologues on the extremes
    both unhappy, but like bisexuals, we like it a little bit both ways.

  9. mike from iowa 2017-09-16

    HC-I have nada against Abe Lincoln. He’s dead. I am surrounded by many good wingnuts, the ones that don’t pretend to be holier than everyone else while flogging the 10 Commandments for thet hrill of it all.

  10. John 2017-09-16

    Speaking of tolerance and diversity — look who is exercising “states’ rights!”.
    California is turning itself into a sanctuary state. This is despite the slave-states hold on the electoral college anti-democratic nonsense.

  11. Andrea Van Dyke 2017-09-16

    I would like more information about the group and its next meeting. I will be unable to attend the Sept. 28th meeting, but would like to attend a meeting at a later date.

  12. Jenny 2017-09-16

    hc, I don’t mind that you’re very open about your sexuality. I just don’t know why you choose to live in a state where the majority of its legislators are very anti-gay. These hypocrite people preach about a free country, religious rights and gun rights but could care less about people like you.

  13. Jenny 2017-09-16

    And drum roll……. Minneapolis and St Paul score perfect 100s. Yay Minnesota! thank you for staunchly and wholeheartedly supporting and protecting LGBT rights and showing the rest of the country that not all of the Midwest are anti-gay.

  14. Jenny 2017-09-16

    Not surprising the closer you get to Pierre (like Mitchell) the more closed-minded it gets. (I know hc, it’s just too bad so many in the farming and ranching community have to be in the closet).
    Brokeback Mountain is very real.

  15. Mr. Lansing 2017-09-16

    Camper and Gohn are a couple of two faced, back stabbing liars. The things they say about the commenters on DFPress publicly, when they think no one’s watching are the exact opposite of the ass kissing they do over here. Low self esteem and even lower dignity. Funny thing is the Catholic Blog despises both Happy and Miranda and their lifestyles.

  16. Jenny 2017-09-16

    Who’s Miranda Gohn?

  17. happy camper 2017-09-17

    Huh, I almost never post at the other blog, and in fact I’m probably too critical here when reacting to the extreme posts that come from the very few, Porter being the most extreme.

    There was an interesting interview a former white supremacist did with an active Antifa member: he said getting hit by a brick never helped change his mind. Confrontational tactics probably have adverse effects though it is hard to be conciliatory in the face of ignorance.

    I do find it fascinating however that both ends of the spectrum think black and white, but maybe not entirely so Mike has admitted liking a few Wingnuts. Easy for rhetoric to get too harsh.

    Jenny, remember Lynn and Larry, I read his blog now and then after they were banished. They still don’t get along. If you do a search for Miranda Gohn you can read an interview she did with the Argus Leader on her transition.

  18. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2017-09-17

    Jenny, I suspect Hap lives here despite adversity for reasons similar to those that have kept Lawrence Novotny in Brookings, or me somewhere within the borders of South Dakota. Maybe we all like adversity. Maybe we all prefer to offer ourselves as lifestyle/philosophical counterexamples where counterexamples are needed most.

    Or maybe we’re just nuts.

  19. Miranda Gohn 2017-09-17

    Jenny, At least what I have read Happy Camper seems pretty consistent in his views and I know I have been and will express those same concerns when meeting in person also if there is an issue, community or candidate I care about.

    One of the few areas Happy Camper and I may agree on is how extremism, growing polarization and demonization that we see on both sides of the political spectrum hurts all of us.

    I’m not interested in claiming to be a professional, expert photographer and fixating on the height of our attorney general and claiming something is going on with the photos that is some new conspiracy when nothing is going on in an attempt to demonize him. I briefly visited with AG and candidate for Governor Marty Jackley at the Brown County Fair. He was very nice and sincere. We may disagree on some major issues important to me but as we spoke we may be able to work together on other issues in whatever future position he is in.

    My support will go towards Senator Billie Sutton in that particular race for Governor. Billie has stated the Transgender Bathroom Bill spending all this time looking for a solution to a problem that does not exist. We have way bigger fish to fry in South Dakota and we are talking bread and butter issues and have been kicking the can down the road for far too long and it’s time to deal with real issues.

    At the Brown County Fair I spent some time at the Brown County Democrats booth visiting with Tim Bjorkman whom I also support and will volunteer for and a few local Brown County Dems and I went over to the Brown County Republican booth and visited with them. I have friends and family members who are Democrats, Republicans and unaffiliated. Take these tags off and we are just people that are shaped by our experiences.

  20. Miranda Gohn 2017-09-17

    Happy Camper or should I call you John?

    That article in the Argus written about me was never even supposed to happen and I was horribly misquoted. Patrick Lalley and I share two passions which are bicycle racing and politics. We would exchange messages and visit for some time and he just advised me to share my story for a possible story with numerous harmful transgender related bills going thru the legislature that year. I had an appointment in Sioux Falls at the Argus and drove down with no sleep the night before and was going to cancel it and buy Stu Whitney lunch at Five Guys Burger and Fries kitty corner from the Argus to make up for the time spent since I was canceling.

    Anyways they said that I would have final say in editing and could say no to the story and cancel all of it but they just wanted me to share my story. I talked being completely exhausted and the next thing I saw that Saturday night online posted on the Argus was a very inaccurate story about me with words and experiences just thrown in. It was a mess! No contact as promised to edit and make corrections nor a chance to cancel all of it as promised. My family and friends close to me knew that article was very inaccurate and I was taken advantage of Live and learn. lol

  21. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2017-09-17

    Somewhere we were talking about PFLAG and inclusivity in Brookings. Heck of a town, that Brookings.

  22. mike from iowa 2017-09-17

    Ms Gohn, always remember and never forget the sad tale of the innocent lady who saved a snake from freezing and did not live to regret her misplaced humanity.

    Take me in, oh tender woman, sighed the snake.

  23. Miranda Gohn 2017-09-17

    Good for Brookings and hopefully this support is able to spread where it is needed!

    As PFLAG and any other allied group members know they have to be careful at times of others out there who may not have their best interest in mind. I came out publically against a particular issue that I see being pushed forward without sufficient safeguards and honesty that could crate further harm on this particular community and others. Shortly afterwards some guy from New Mexico starts sending me messages that were just weird and made no sense some of which were pornographic and highly offensive. I had to block him! Next thing I know he is writing about me along with some guy I never met who claimed to have met me. Be careful! Since Trump has been elected and the added stress of another bathroom bill being introduced in one way or another here in South Dakota we have seen two suicides by those who identified as Transgendered or gender fluid. Tragically adding to this were some hateful individuals encouraging their suicides and then celebrating afterwards.

  24. happy camper 2017-09-17

    I stole “Happy Camper” from my last boyfriend who slept with straight guys. Yuk. But, he forced me to again face my binary views of the world were incorrect and not complete, at least for some people more than others.

    Google Monosexism: a belief that heterosexuality and/or homosexuality is superior to or more legitimate than a bisexual or other non-monosexual orientation.

    So you can see why discord exists. Pansexuals are attracted to all, well that makes Transexuals uncomfortable, and Transexuals make Bisexuals uncomfortable, and Bisexuals make Monosexuals uncomfortable.

    At a certain point don’t you just have to laugh a little bit, love the one you love, and forget about all the labels?

    This girl is kind of funny, and makes my point we define labels, labels do not define us:

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