LGBTQIA+ History on Hennepin


Boom! interior with view of bar, two bartenders in black shirts talking with a patron seated at the left, with large bright windows in the background at far end of room and colorful pink and purple light drenched tin ceiling with suspended oval wood fixture.

Boom!, interior. Circa 2003. Photo credit: John Kundtz.

Boom! was one of the first bars of its kind located in the Twin Cities. Historically, LGBTQIA+ bars tended to cover windows and restrict the ability of passersby to look inside, a relic of times when the secrecy of going to a gay bar was important for its closeted patrons. With floor-to-ceiling windows, Boom! broke that mold in the Twin Cities.

Charlie Rounds remembered the January 12, 2000, opening as an unforgettable moment, “It was the first gay bar in the state of Minnesota to have windows. That was such a huge deal. We felt so strongly that we would no longer live in the closet. We had 20-foot-high glass windows facing Hennepin Avenue. It was vitally important that we never hide, that we were no longer ashamed.”

Crowds watched as the paper-covered windows that faced Hennepin Ave were ceremoniously taken down that evening. “So many people met their life partners at Boom! It was a very safe, non-sexual space. We had fundraisers, the Queer Eye guys came and did a fundraiser and Bea Arthur came to dinner. It was really the gay man’s arrival to political power. We got three gay city council members, and nobody had that, not New York or Los Angeles,” said Charlie.

See all featured leaders for LGBTQIA+ History on Hennepin.