New Ulm community rallies against anti-queer incidents

Around 60 to 70 members of the New Ulm Community and surrounding area rallied together this past Saturday in response to a series of anti-queer incidents, most prominently the bullying of an out gay basketball player from St. Peter.

There was no shortage of rainbow flags on display at the rally which had been organized by One New Ulm, which was recently formed from the merger of the Welcoming Communities Project of New Ulm and New Ulm Forward. The purpose of One New Ulm is to promote diversity, inclusion, and equitability.

Attendees stood on all four corners of Broadway and Center St carrying signs with slogans like “Love Wins” and other statements to support the LGBTQ community.

Julia Stovall, a student at New Ulm High School, came to the rally wearing a pansexual pride flag like a cape.

“After all the things that went down at the basketball game, it really started something in the community that really needed to happen. I’m here to support all the gay people in the community, and the LGBTQ+ community and I’m sick of feeling unsafe in my own school,” Stovall said. “I’ve been called slurs, had the middle finger held up at me, at one point I had my rainbow flag ripped off my car. It’s not a good environment.”

River Reed came to the rally with a sign that stated, “I just found my voice, you can’t take it from me.”

“I live in New Ulm and I’m tired of not feeling safe in my own community so I want to come out and show that we’re here, and we’re not going anywhere,” Reed said. “I’m visibly trans, my partner is visibly trans, we would get names in wal-mart, I’ve been followed around being called a dyke, horrible slurs, just made to feel not safe shopping and I wanted to show that we’re not going anywhere.”

At one point during the rally, Scott Richards, a pastor from Gaylord, MN, led a call and response using the phrase “Love Wins”.

“It was important for me to be here to show support both personally because I identify as queer but also as a voice from the church because so much of what we here the so called Christian mainstream, well its hateful and its divisive.  So it’s important to stand here as a representative of the church and as a clergyperson to give voice to love and acceptance,” said Richards.

The bullying of Alex Bosacker has received national coverage, including Outsports and LGBTQ Nation. Bosacker’s story was first reported on by the StarTribune.

Bosacker came out to his basketball teammates early in the season.

According to the StarTribune, Bosacker was bullied at games between New Ulm and St. Peter, where Bosacker was both physically assaulted and verbally harassed.

“The experience was awful,” Bosacker said regarding his experiences in the StarTribune. “I wanted to leave the court, to just leave my body at some points.” (Nasty incidents raise questions of discrimination in southern Minnesota school rivalry)

Bosackers story was also addressed by Philip Weyhe, managing editor for St. Peter Herald, in the editorial, “That took guts, kid: St. Peter student can be an example for us all”.

In describing his own experiences related to coming out and how Bosackers affected him, Weyhe wrote, “I don’t like to share about myself. Those years in the closet perhaps conditioned me to keep things close to the chest. But Alex has inspired a 30-year-old, like me, to be a little more courageous.”

Unfortunately, the New Ulm community is no stranger to anti-queer violence and discrimination.

A letter on Feb. 4 to the editor of the New Ulm supporting the transgender community by the New Ulm Human Rights Commission generated controversy. In addition, many homophobic and transphobic letters have been published in The New Ulm Journal in recent months.

In 1987, restaurant owner Bill Schaefer was murdered in New Ulm by one of his employees in an anti-gay hate crime.

Header Photo: Community members of New Ulm rally in town this past Saturday in response to various anti-queer incidents. (Jeremy Redlien/The Reporter)

Write to Jeremy Redlien at Jeremy.Redlien@mnsu.edu

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