Personality Profile: Jenni Fitzgerald is ‘selfless’ teamwork embodied

You may know Jenni Fitzgerald as the “special assistant” to legendary University of Iowa head coach Lisa Bluder, one of the familiar faces with Bluder on the coaching bench for decades. But did you know Fitzgerald was also one of Iowa’s first-ever 5-on-5 girls’ basketball stars? Or that she remains one of the state’s most heralded high school athletes? Or, that she knows as much about heartbreaking loss as she does about thrilling wins? In honor of Women’s History Month, here’s a collection of fascinating facts about a sports pioneer…

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Toomey brings relatable “in your face” comedy to Floodwater Friday night

Alyssa Limperis headlines tomorrow night’s showcase of Floodwater, which features more than 75 comedians over three days at five Iowa City venues. IOWA CITY – Kristen Toomey revels in defiance, isn’t really interested in being “agreeable,” and loves to connect directly with her audience. “I’m sort of trying to observe things, and not agree with anyone fully, which is really hard to navigate,” she says. “I want to come up with my own mixture of everything instead of just buying in to one side of anything.” Toomey brings her “in…

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Cedar Rapids Roller Girls aim to support Tanager Place’s LGBTQ Center with Feb. 28 ball

The team will donate a portion of its proceeds from its 2nd Annual Black & Blue Ball Feb. 28 to the center, which serves about 400 teens a year and aims to serve even more. CEDAR RAPIDS — Two years ago, the Cedar Rapids Roller Girls cancelled an entire season because they were so direly in need of rebuilding their team and organization. What a difference it made: today, the Roller Girls are back up to full-squad strength and have 25 regular participants. And, they’re hosting their second annual Black…

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Roller Derby Lags on Trans, Nonbinary Inclusiveness

The first-ever gender policy for the organization that helps roller derby grow worldwide came out in 2011. It was clinical, and harsh. If you were not assigned female at birth, the policy said, a healthcare provider had to verify that your “sex hormones are within the medically acceptable range for a female.” Ouch. My most recent article about my love for roller derby described the significance of the sport in terms of feminist empowerment and gender inclusivity. This time, I am writing to share that as much as roller derby…

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Escaping domestic violence when LGBTQ can be complicated

QUAD CITIES — If you’re a gay man trying to escape from domestic violence, your path out can seem almost impossible. “The police may not understand,” says Mona Ritemon, the new LGBTQ domestic violence advocate for the Quad Cities. “If a man gets beat up by his boyfriend, they may just look at him and say, ‘Man up. What’s the problem?’ “ Or what if you’re a lesbian who realizes you’re being abused by your partner? Sometimes, threats of outing you to your family, co-workers or church may lead you…

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Roller derby carves spaces for inclusive strength

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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Wichtendahl champions practical solutions

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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LGBTQ dating when you’re not ‘gay’ enough

Hey Varla! I have a problem that I’ve been dealing with … forever, really. I’m a REALLY feminine girl. And I’m also REALLY gay. It makes dating hard because only guys flirt with me, and if I try to flirt with other girls they think I’m joking around, actually straight and just experimenting, or they don’t believe me that I’m a lesbian. I don’t know how to get it out there. Every time I go to an LGBTQ+ event, I cover myself in rainbows and smile at butch lesbians. And…

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‘Celebrate the activist:’ Stonewall’s message

With the commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall uprising will be plenty of articles, tributes, and retrospects on the movement for LGBTQ rights and liberation. As a bisexual black woman, this time of year is a reminder of how our history continues to be white/cis-washed, and how much of the work so far has been beneficial to a few. Acts of violence against trans women of color are still on the rise. The medical and mental needs of the bi/pan/queer community continue to be ignored or not taken…

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