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History of the Minnesota Freedom Band

Founded in 1982, the band and its members have seen and done many, many things including making and affecting history both in Minnesota and Nationwide.  If you are a past member of the band and have historical information or pictures or stories you can share with us, please contact us at  We would love to hear from you!


From History of the Gay Movement in Minnesota and the Role of the Minnesota Civil Liberties Union by Dick Hewetson

The Minnesota Freedom Band. Tom Valach and several of his friends were walking in the 1982 Twin Cities Pride Parade down Hennepin Avenue from Lake Calhoun to Loring Park in  Minneapolis. One of them remarked, “what this parade needs is a marching band.” Some of them  had played in school and decided to see if they could generate enough interest to start a band.  

They contacted Tim Campbell of the GLC Voice and asked him to run a recruitment ad. The first gathering of almost a dozen people was at Tom Valach’s apartment. They formed a small committee and set a date for their first rehearsal.  On September 12, 1982, they met in the old Metropolitan Community Church space on West 22nd Street in Minneapolis. Thirty-three musicians attended and Jim Cochrane was selected as their first Conductor. Their first concert was on December 12, 1982, at Wiley Hall on the University of Minnesota campus. The next year they led the Parade at the annual Twin Cities Pride Festival. The band now consists of GLBT and allied people. As well as being a marching band, it also provide concerts and jazz performances.

From the GLC Voice (Minneapolis, MN), 1982-07-05

3,000 Celebrate Gay Pride First came the theme banner scrolled in red on army green "An Army of Lovers." Then just behind it, higher and brighter, came the red and white banner of Target City Coalition. No Republican banners, no DFL banners, not even a socialist banner this year. 

Afterward followed the real gay pride parade of Minneapolis. Small groups clustered around banners announcing Lesbian/ Gay Christians, the University Lesbian-Gay Community, the Goodtime Softball League, the Twin  Cities Men's   Chorus, Rochester GLCS, Fargo-Moorhead Prairie Gay Community, and a variety of local gay businesses followed with decorated vehicles announcing the Saloon Spirits, the Gold Coast, the Sun Disco (followed by a boycott truck), Patra (Miss City of the Lakes), and Queen Ericka. About 1,000 persons chanted and clapped, skated and biked down the route from Lake Calhoun to Loring Park. By the time the crowd peaked, between 2,000 and 3,000 persons were commemorating the first mass protest  of the gay rights movement which oc curred June 28,1969 in New York. Similar commemorations were held throughout the country with San Francisco organizers claiming 350,000 marchers, the Associated Press reported 125,000 marchers in New York, 30,000 in Chicago. Houston organizers claimed 90,000 and crowds gathered in every metropolitan area, probably totaling 1,000,000 nationwide. Other news sources identified "Womynfest 82"held in Powderhorn Park as the local lesbian participation in the commemorations, although that group does not identify itself as lesbian. 


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