Mankato LGBTQ activist posthumously honored as Twin Cities Pride parade grand marshal

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Every summer, the Twin Cities Pride parade draws 100,000 spectators to downtown Minneapolis. This year's grand marshal will be a community activist, who sadly won't be able to be there.

"Jessica was just the kind of person you only had to meet once and she made a huge impact on people's lives," said Darcie Baumann, one of the Twin Cities Pride board of directors.

As the first director of the LGBTQ Center at Minnesota State University-Mankato, Jessica Flatequal was a shoulder for students to lean on as they navigated the tricky process of coming out. She also ran South Central Minnesota Pride, which puts on its own Pride Festival in Mankato, until she passed away in April from liver disease. She was just 46 years old.

"Jessica loved Mankato and she wanted it be a better place,” said Maria Bevacqua, Flatequal's wife. “She wanted it to be a great place."

Bevacqua will ride in the parade in Flatequal's memory. She will also pick her favorite float, which will receive the grand marshal's award. Bevacqua says Flatequal and her signature bow ties would be tickled pink to be honored at one of her favorite events.

"I'm incredibly touched,” said Bevacqua. “The only thing I could wish for is that she here to receive this honor herself."

Parade organizers hope making Flatequal grand marshal helps ensure her legacy lives on.

"She tried to make sure everyone had what they needed and if they didn't, she would try and make that happen," said Baumann.

Bevacqua will also receive a special cup with the names of all the previous grand marshals at a reception next week. The Pride parade will be Sunday, June 23.