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It’s small but not small-minded towards queers of all shapes, sizes and sorts – while it may not be as out and proud about supporting LGBT women as larger cities like Des Moines, it still shows love for the queer community in small ways that count.

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Studio 13 13 S Linn St 8pm-2am Tues-Thurs 7pm-2am Fri-Sat 7pm-12am Sun Iowa City’s only gay bar, Studio 13, is tucked into the brick wall of an alleyway, right around the corner from the colonial style facade of the nearby Yacht Club.

The neon-lined entrance welcomes visitors for drinks, dancing, karaoke, and more.

Low on gendered language — members refer to each other as “siblings” rather than sisters — and high on acceptance, Gamma Rho Lambda is easily the most friendly and welcoming sorority I’ve seen, and I know several alumni who consider it a second family.

If Greek life isn’t your style, you might find a home at Spectrum UI, the all-inclusive LGBTQ student org with the distinction of being the first of its type in the entire country.

Since graduating and moving beyond the prescribed borders of campus, though, my opinion has changed.

Iowa City’s often overlooked elements include its vibrant DIY arts and music scenes, a thriving bike culture, and activism that does not limit its scope to the white middle-class.Organized by Kendra Malone, a Diversity Resources Coordinator at the University of Iowa, the Lounge featured musical performance, creative writing sessions, and conversations titled “Working Class, Buddhist, Queer, Black and Female in Iowa: The Challenges of Leadership” and “Beyond protecting and serving: Police as allies of the LGBTQ community.” It’s heartening to see the celebration of Pride extended to everyone, not just white, cis gay men.As joyous and affirmative as it is, I hope Iowa City Pride continues to take steps towards welcoming diversity and being more inclusive every year.This year’s highlight was definitely the brave soul who got up on stilts in a Babadook costume, complete with pink shades and feather boa, and carried signs that said “Still not as scary as racism! After the parade, the party continued with vendors spread across the Pedestrian Mall offering everything from face-painting to “The Future is Gender Neutral” shirts, bars with rainbow flags across their windows, and performances from drag kings, drag queens, and burlesque dancers.New this year was the Dark and Lovely Lounge, a dedicated space for LGBT people of color.It sucks to see the only gay club in town treated as a “destination” bar, but it’s still my favorite place to dance.

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