The Twin Cities, MN.

About halfway between Madison and the Twin Cities of St. Paul and Minneapolis, Minnesota, an email popped up suggesting I collect a story of a Serbian teen who, after some struggles in his home country, is now living in St. Paul.

We stopped by to film Stefan’s story and also met his amazing host family and cat, whose name I kept mispronouncing to Stefan’s enjoyment. “You’re saying ‘boob’ in Serbian! You need to pronounce the ‘z’ more.” I’m pretty sure I never got it right. Stefan is here on a State program; the US government brings people over from other countries so they can educate us about their cultures. Stefan gives presentations at schools about LGBTQ life in Serbia and shared a lot of details with us. It doesn’t sound like being gay is very fun or safe there, and I’m glad he’s with some wonderful people in St. Paul. His story will be on IFD soon.


After St. Paul we crept to Minneapolis, inching through traffic. We finally decided to exit the freeway and take the side streets to our host’s lovely apartment in the trendy Warehouse District. Waqar is a friend and ex-coworker of IFD’s very own resident “tech guy” Rafi. We arrived at nighttime and were starving. Waqar was all but ready to hit the hay but he was kind enough to drive us around to find a place that was still serving food. While we ate we learned a few interesting facts about Minneapolis. Their downtown isn’t actually down and “north east” is pronounced and spelled “nordeast.” Accents were becoming more and more apparent.

The next evening started strong. Waqar got off work and took us to a 3-for-1 happy hour at The Eagle. After finishing our 3 drinks and with 80s music stuck in our head, we went to his friend’s apartment for “game night” which is in quotes because no games ended up being played because everyone was having so much fun just hanging out and chatting. A while after we were there, Waqar introduced me to someone.

“Hey Nathan, this is Brian.”

We shook hands and smiled.

“Hi, nice to meet you.” Then I looked back to Waqar and started chatting about whatever we were talking about before. Then it hit me.

“Oh! Brian? Brian Ness?!”

This was THE Brian Ness who has been a regular IFD Featured Artist–the first, actually! We had never met before that night.

Brian, Waqar, Nathan, Marquise

Not to miss an opportunity, Marquise and I captured his Video Story on an outdoor deck in the apartment building. I also asked him to draw something. I gave him a business card and he conjured up something quick and adorable.

After getting Brian’s Video Story and business card-size drawing, we ended up meeting two lovely ladies who were thrilled to hear we’re going to Fargo the next day. Why?

“My brother lives in Alexandria, Minnesota. It’s on the way to Fargo. He’s gay, owns a gym, lives on the lake with his partner and is awesome. You have to meet him.”

Like I could say “no” to that. Stay tuned…

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