Proteus celebrates 40 years serving migrant workers

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DES MOINES — Proteus, a Des Moines-based nonprofit that helps immigrant farmworkers find support to live safely and securely, is celebrating its 40th anniversary this year. Named after the Greek God that transforms to the needs of the people, Proteus focuses on Iowa’s migrant farmworkers, many of whom work sunup ‘til sundown and are therefore rarely seen in their greater communities. The nonprofit estimates it has served 75,000 people since 1979. “Working with the clients and patients we do, these are the most hardworking and grateful individuals I have ever…

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OC Pride drag show survives city censorship

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ORANGE CITY –– In eastern and central Iowa, you can take in a sultry drag show several days a week without worry of any hassle from government officials or conservative activists. But in northwest Iowa’s Orange City, at the 3rd annual OC Pride celebration, city officials censored a headlining drag show, imposing a list of conditions for the performance including “no gyrating of buttocks, genitals or breasts” and “no physical contact” between performers and spectators. The city of Orange City announced its censorship of the show days before the performance…

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Roller derby carves spaces for inclusive strength

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Why did women and gender-fluid people start up to 2,000 roller derby leagues worldwide? We needed it.  I’m writing today about roller derby as a cultural phenomenon, a feminist and “inclusive” place to find like-minded people, showcase our strength, and be aggressive. I have had personal struggles and triumphs over body image, a lack of self-confidence, and an angry fire inside of me due to years of oppression. I have been roller skating since I was 8, but never realized that roller derby existed until I saw the movie “Whip…

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QUEERIES by Varla: How to reach my queer crush

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Help me Varla! I have a crush and I don’t know if she is queer or non-monogamous.  Apprehensively,  Hot to trot Dear Hot to Trot,  Sounds like you have been consumed by desire. The basis of any great relationship, or even hook-up, is friendship and communication. So start there! Invite her to queer things, like the IC Kings Shows starring yours truly, Me (shameless plug, last Thursday of every month at Studio 13, 9:30 p.m.) You could meet up at the Farmers Market or go clothes shopping at Menards,. But…

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Slam poetry in Iowa born 19 years ago

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In the documentary, “Louder Than a Bomb,” a poet takes the stage and says “poets, breathe now.” Though I wasn’t a poet yet when I saw the film, I held my breath and then released it with him. In that electrifying and powerful moment, I breathed life into a poem for the first time. I felt the poetry begin to pulse through me.  That’s how Heather Knowles (aka Heather K, aka Slamama) remembers feeling when she saw “SlamNation,” shortly after founding the Des Moines Poetry Slam, Iowa’s first-ever poetry slam,…

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LGBTQ health care leader offers spiritual salve, too

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EDITOR’S NOTE: Most people know of Dr. Katie Imborek through her work helping to found the University of Iowa’s LGBTQ Clinic. Imborek is also an active member of Sanctuary Community Church, a non-denominational Coralville church leading the way in LGBTQ inclusion since 2016. Imborek offers occasional teachings at Sanctuary; here is an abridged version of a teaching she provided Oct. 14. At the start of this school year, my youngest son Will had to complete an “All About Me” collage. He tediously went through pictures on my wife’s iPhone to…

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One Human Family offers brochures on tracking, reporting hate

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QUAD CITIES – A Quad-Cities collaboration between a queer Christian Church and a synagogue is encouraging Quad-Cities residents to make use of new brochures that guide people on how to respond to hate incidents. One Human Family QCA has introduced a tri-fold that: • Defines hate crimes • Defines hate incidents • Guides people on how and where to report both hate crimes and hate incidents • Connects readers with other resources to understand hate speech and replace it with unity “It is ‘hard times’ for a lot of people…

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Wichtendahl champions practical solutions

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HIAWATHA — Aime Wichtendahl embraces her status as a role model for LGBTQ Iowans, an obligation and privilege she earned when she won a seat on the Hiawatha City Council four years ago and became the first-ever openly transgender elected official in the state. She regularly responds to requests for input from media on LGBTQ issues, and Wichtendahl was among several dignitaries who co-hosted One Iowa’s historic LGBTQ presidential forum in September. But her trademark quality is not being on the front lines for LGBTQ equality. Rather, Wichtendahl is known…

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Teens who need coats, clothes should head to UAY Tuesday


IOWA CITY — An estimated 400 youth are expected to find needed clothes and coats Tuesday during the annual UAY Clothing Drive for Youth in downtown Iowa City. From 4:30 to 8:30 p.m., youth of all ages and their families are encouraged to visit the UAY Swaim Youth Center, 355 Iowa Ave., to “shop” through racks and piles of coats, sweaters, formal wear, T-shirts and more. “This has been going on for about a decade,” says Kai Kiser, Americorps volunteer with UAY. “We started this when we saw youth were…

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