‘The queerest yet’: Minneapolis gets festive with Queer Holiday Market

Aliveness Project
From left, Michele Boyer, Dylan Boyer and Shannon McGraw with the Aliveness Project, a local organization that helps Minnesotans with HIV, pick up donations that will go to participants in its housing program.
Courtesy Aliveness Project

The final month of the year in Minnesota is filled with the classics — ice fishing, hot chocolate, snowmobiling and annual holiday markets. This year there’s a new market in town: The Queer Holiday Market.

On Thursday, Dec. 15 and Friday, Dec. 16 the Queer Holiday Market hosted by Scout, a local apparel store, and the Aliveness Project, a local organization that helps Minnesotans with HIV, will debut at LUSH Lounge and Theater, 990 NE Central Ave, Minneapolis. 

John Thompson, co-owner of Scout and the lead organizer of the event, said it’s important in the current social climate — and in the aftermath of the Club Q shooting — that Minnesota’s LGBTQ+ community has a dedicated space to come together and celebrate.

“I think it’s really important that we are more visible and come together and show the beauty of our community. At the end of the day, we’re people. We deserve the same rights and protections as anyone else. We are a vibrant and creative community and we’re proud to show that off,” Thompson said. 

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Thompson has worked with the Aliveness Project before and thought partnering to offer a holiday event would be ideal thanks to their similar missions: raising awareness about HIV and supporting local LGBTQ+ creatives. 

The event will run from 5 to 9 p.m. both days. A dozen LGBTQ+ vendors will be selling local items and a drag Santa (and possibly a Grinch and Elsa) will greet visitors. Each vendor decided what percent of their proceeds they were comfortable donating to the Aliveness Project. The project will also have a “giving tree” where guests can take a shopping list and buy the items or donate on the website to give to newly housed people. 

The money raised from the vendors for the project will be used to make “welcome home” baskets, which provide essentials such as cleaning supplies, towels and toiletries for folks who are HIV positive and are newly housed. 

Shannon McGraw, housing locator for the Aliveness Project, says that the Queer Holiday Market will help Minnesotans learn more about the project and give them the chance to get involved. 

“Specifically within the queer community setting, it is important to consider the intersections of identity which impact one's access to health care and housing. Among those most at risk for contracting HIV, Black and Brown queer men and transgender women are often more likely to experience housing insecurity and homelessness,” they said. 

McGraw called the event the “queerest yet” in Minneapolis. 

Fear not — this won’t be the last of the Queer Holiday Market, Thompson said. 

“It’s become clear through planning this that there is a desire to have something like this in Minnesota,” he said.

He hopes to pivot to recurring Twin Cities queer markets, hosting multiple throughout the year.