Letter: Remembering one of Fargo's pioneer gay activists

Lenny Tweeden suspended his campaign for Fargo City Commission in April in order to seek treatment for cancer.

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Lenny Tweeden, one of Fargo’s pioneer gay rights activists, died last week. Energetically supporting and fighting for LGBTQ rights for over 40 years, he is best known for opening Fargo’s first gay bar, My Place, in 1983. That was the first time that gays and lesbians actually had their own space in Fargo, not just an area where they were “tolerated” in an otherwise straight bar.

More about Lenny Tweeden
He said in an email that he has been receiving infusion treatments for cancer at the Roger Maris Cancer Center.

In 1984, Tweeden, Frank Hunkler, Ron Lang and the late Richard Shelton met with Fargo mayor, John Lindgren, and convinced him to issue the first Gay Pride proclamation in Fargo history. Tweeden believed Fargo should be more progressive and welcoming for everyone, running for Fargo City Commission in 1988 and 2022 and for mayor in 2010.

Although Tweeden was recognized for his contributions to the FM LGBTQ community when he was one of co-grand marshals for the 2005 Pride parade, he never stopped campaigning for gay rights. He challenged North Dakota’s anti-gay marriage laws by applying for a marriage license with his husband, Wayne, and by organizing an online group of North Dakotans who supported same-sex marriages. His energy and his commitment to social justice will be missed by many of us.

Lenny Tweeden

Larry Peterson is coordinator of the Red River Rainbow Seniors oral history project, "Breaking Barriers: Harvesting LGBTQ Stories from the Northern Plains"

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