Find many more voices through the new National News Feed, Self-Publish pages

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We often say this publication represents voices not often heard. Now, thanks to two new features, The Real MainStream will represent many, many, MANY more voices less heard. Most urgently, we now offer a National News Feed. In this contentious, confusing and sometimes chaotic information world, this new feature is an essential tool. Updated several times a day, the National News Feed contains curated links to some of today’s best intersectional, LGBTQ-identified, compassionate news, feature and thought pieces. The Feed is conveniently arranged in topics of broad interest that reflect…

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Thrift Bandit is eastern Iowa’s socially responsible outlaw of recycled fashion

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When they realized they were both wearing “polyester grandpa pants” and cardigan sweaters, Michael and Stef Duncan knew they were destined for each other.  They didn’t realize those grandpa pants would also inspire a business they would co-run. Thrift Bandit is the online vintage venture of Michael (from Burlington in southeast Iowa) and Stef (from Jerico in northeast Iowa), who describe themselves as “nerds running this out of our basement.” Launched in the summer of 2019, Thrift Bandit seeks to provide an alternative to first-hand, mass-produced disposable clothing — and…

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Juneteenth celebrations blossom online and throughout Iowa, Illinois

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A three-day virtual festival, comedy nights, protests, family-friendly gatherings, concerts, and online events of all kinds are honoring Juneteenth like never before this year. The annual June 19 celebration, which honors the date that slavery was abolished, is receiving long overdue nationwide focus in light of the recent rash of police killings of black men. The entire state of Illinois will lower its flags to half-staff in honor of the holiday. More than 70 Chicago restaurants have joined to offer Juneteenth specials, writes Chicago Eater. Many cities, including Chicago, have…

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“The Negro Artist,” award-winning poet, opens up at 8 pm virtual reading tonight

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While many of his fellow young Black men joined protests after the killing of George Floyd, Caleb “The Negro Artist” Rainey had different reactions: he felt paralyzed, catatonic, isolated, foolish and arrogant. Paralyzed and catatonic, because he felt stuck in 2011, when Eric Garner’s death by police choking was captured on video and first propelled Rainey to devote himself to improving Black lives. Isolated, because Floyd’s death made him feel as though society didn’t value his life or those of other Black men. And foolish and arrogant, because Rainey had…

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Iowa City, New York join list of Pride cancellations

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Iowa City Pride has made the painful decision to cancel its 50th anniversary Pride celebration, originally scheduled for June 19 and 20. “We know this comes with many disappointments, cancelled plans and one less thing to look forward to,” said Anthony Sivanthaphanith, Iowa City Pride president, in a press release. “It breaks my heart and the board’s heart as well.” However, Sivanthaphanith said, “ultimately, the safety of all our communities is the most important…. The board looks forward to planning more events soon and some creative ways, virtually, to celebrate.”…

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“Pass that virtual blunt!”

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Those of us old enough to remember “Pass that virtual blunt” on our flip phones probably have also participated in 4/20 in many ways: perhaps going over to a combustion connoisseur’s house, or using acrylic gas mask bongs, or passing around ornate glass pieces, or rolling up whether or not it could smoke. Growing up in Iowa, 4/20 was a day of driving around back roads, visiting nature, and gathering in groups.  Today, as we all adjust to the coronavirus crisis, celebrating 4/20 needs to be more solitary — and…

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

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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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‘Kinky Boots’ enlightens

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ROCK ISLAND – Brett Hitchcock calls it one of the “edgiest” shows the Circa 21 Dinner Playhouse has ever put on in its 43-year history, comparable only to “The Full Monty.” “Kinky Boots,” the award-winning creation of Cyndi Lauper and Harvey Fierstein, is on stage four to five shows weekly through March 14. The story features a quartet of drag queens who join to support their leader, Lola, as she helps a shoe designer create a line of erotic footwear to save his factory. “The message of the show is…

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Writers are pushed to write more through NaNoWriMo

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At least 50,000 words written in thirty days. Such is the insanity I undertake every November, along with hundreds of thousands of people from around the world. November was NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month), and according to, over 400,000 people participated last year in over 655 regions on six continents. I was one of them. I have participated in NaNoWriMo since November 2015. That first year, I was enormously pregnant with my youngest, who was born eight days after NaNo finished.  But I actually won. I wrote those 50,000…

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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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