I’m From Watford City, ND – Featured Artist

by Kelley Halvorson

Satellite overhead image of North Dakota from Google Earth 2022


STORY by Kelley Halvorson

It was 1976, the year I won a Soprano spot in the North Dakota State Honors Choir. A small-town gal, I was thrilled to hang out with other music geeks for 3 days. The festival was fabulous — I learned to sing gospel music for the first time, and to improvise. I met so many great people that I found I didn’t even miss my sweet boyfriend, whom I left back home.

But what really mattered — what really, really mattered — was that every day, for about 8 hours, I was able to stand directly across from you — this gorgeous brunette in the Alto section — about 6 feet tall, and your legs were about 5 feet of it.

In 1976, girls didn’t have visible muscles, but you had actual muscle definition in her shoulders and arms! I asked a fellow soprano who you were — she said you were a gifted athlete from Dickinson. Rumor has it, she said, that you were a lesbian! I couldn’t stop staring–you often looked back. I blushed several times a day, lost track of the song measures and conductor’s direction. And looked again, heart pounding.

No, I never talked to you. I enjoyed you every day, felt tingling in all my 16-year-old private places, fantasized — then went home to my boyfriend. I forgot your name.

But I never forgot how I felt. I came out 2 years later. I thank you so much for my awakening. And gospel music still makes my heart pound, thirty years later.





Brian Ness’s stories and illustrations are interested in exploring gender, specifically related to the effeminate, the de-masculinized, and the fabulous. His images reside somewhere between the present and the Victorian, where many of our current ideas of men and women were formulated, and whose children’s literature inverts, scares, and romanticizes the world in which it resides. He produces a quarterly zine called Kitten Punch, about the goings-on at a theme park/commune for sissies, called Dandyland. He received the 2007 Schochet Award for Excellence in GLBT Studies for his comic book/coloring book, BJ’s Unfabulous Christmas, and recently finished his first graphic novella, Molly Bottom. He lives and works in Minneapolis. You can follow his work at greetingsfromdandyland.blogspot.com.


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