Category: 2023

Galena LitFest tonight welcomes Angela Trudell Vasquez, Madison’s first-ever Latina poet laureate

Angela Trudell Vasquez is the first-ever Latino poet laureate for Madison, Wis., a community with a thriving poetry scene.

She’ll speak Thursday, Jan. 26, as part of Galena LitFest in a presentation available in-person and online.

Learn about Vasquez’ childhood in Iowa City and Des Moines, her commitment to both editing and free-writing, and her many projects to bring the beauty of poetry alive for students and others.

Her talk tonight starts at 6 p.m.; pre-registration is required for both online and in-person attendance.

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Kings and Queens Club in Waterloo will reopen no matter what, owner vows

John Hayes vows to keep Kings and Queens Club, Waterloo’s only LGBTQ+ bar, open no matter what.

He announced the bar’s temporary closing right after New Year’s and now has at least a dozen people who have made serious inquiries.

Kings and Queens Club opened in 2001 under Jona Von Blaricom, and Hayes took over in 2011. The bar has a long history of supporting causes and nonprofits and bringing out a spirit of LGBTQ+ acceptance in the Waterloo/Cedar Falls area.

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New Bolingbrook youth program helps fill growing mental health support needs of LGBTQ youth

The new Bolingbrook Pride LGBTQ youth program provides a monthly drop-in “safe space” for youth in Bolingbrook and Romeoville.

Allies and partners in the project include the Valley View School District, a University of Chicago professor, a suburban Chicago all-LGBTQ+ counseling service, and PFLAG Bolingbrook. Read about how this new drop-in program helps build on existing efforts in public schools and by other groups to help LGBTQ+ youth feel safe and accepted.

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Rainbow Cafe renovation aims for March opening of new Carbondale headquarters

Rainbow Cafe aims to have its new headquarters in downtown Carbondale open for business by the end of March.

The new 3,000-square-foot space across the street from Carbondale’s Town Square will host Rainbow Cafe’s programming, AIDS and HIV testing, case management, office space, and a stage and open area for special events. Read about the renovation effort by and for Rainbow Cafe, which serves 20 southern Illinois counties with not only LGBTQ+ support services, but also harm reduction and other quality of life initiatives.

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“The Way of Water” is stunning, important and helps redeem the original “Avatar”

Like many, Aime Wichtendahl was initially a skeptic about “The Way of Water,” James Cameron’s massive and much-anticipated sequel to the original “Avatar” film.

But after taking in the three-hour film, Wichtendahl is a fan of the new “Avatar 2” and gained a renewed appreciation of the original “Avatar” released in 2009.

“James Cameron is trying to help us learn. By tapping into the universal nostalgia we all feel – that once there was a time everything was perfect before someone screwed it up – he’s trying to tell us something. He’s trying to wake us up to how we’re impacting the world around us. ‘The Way of Water’ illustrates that despite our best efforts, humanity remains incapable of change.“

Read Wichtendahl’s review of this blockbuster film here.

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From family to BLM to boudoir, Wezz de la Rosa captures special moments

Quad Cities photographer Wezz De La Rosa can often be found at Pride events like the Pride Party at Bass Street Landing 2022, capturing special moments like the cover shot of the Quad Cities all-female band Been There Done That performing live, or a pic of local drag legend Sinclaire Snaps hugging a young girl.

He also undertakes an annual photo effort to help document the area’s LGBTQ+ community by taking photos of everyday people he meets at LGBTQ+ events. And in 2020, De La Rosa focused on gathering members of the Quad Cities’ Black community holding variations of “Black Lives Matter” signs.

All the while, he’s also providing wholesome family portraits, classy corporate head shots, and tasteful boudoir shots, both indoor and outdoor. Check out a sample of his art here.

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Iowa City rock vocalist Nikki Lunden Trotter finds solace in photography, too

Most people know of Nikki Lunden Trotter as the founder and lead singer for Natural Habits, an Iowa City rock band. But she’s also discovered a love of photography — especially the kind that helps express angst.

Explore three photo galleries from this prolific musician whose career spans more than 30 years and at least eight different combinations of musicians.

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