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DULUTH - Duluth Superior Pride kicks–off on a Thursday evening starting with a mayor's proclamation signed by city leaders from across the region.
But the open support for gays, lesbians, and transgender people around the Twin Ports is a relatively new ritual by mayors started by Herb Bergson only about eight years ago.
Also on Thursday the politician returned to Duluth for a special ceremony at city hall unveiling his mayor's portrait.
There were three criteria Bergson said he held for his portrait: 1) no public money used 2) It had to happen during Duluth Superior Pride and 3)...
"I insisted on was that I be wearing a pink triangle in the portrait and that is of course to respect my gay friends and the gay community," Bergson said.
"I spent my entire political career trying to make people angry and I figured I might as well do it when I don't even live here," Bergson said. (the politician moved to Madison, WI)
Bergson, who served as city leader from 2004 to 2008, used his speech at the unveiling to celebrates his history in Duluth but he did hold one of this actions above all others.
"The first proclamation that I signed for pride weekend," Bergson said.
"I would estimate that I received over 4,000 communications, phone calls, emails, traditional mail and, gosh, I bet 98% of them were hateful," Bergson said.
This year Mayor Don Ness continues the tradition at the Pride kick-off event.
"We don't have our protester friends this year, yeah!" Ness said
He was joined by Mayor Randy Bolen of Two Harbors, a representative for Mayor Bruce Hagen of Superior, and Mayor Bruce Ahlgren of Cloquet.
"When Mayor Bergson did it I was very proud of him because it was the right thing to do," Mayor Ahlgren said.
"The fact is that they're people. They're productive. They're hard working. They're great people. And to say 'those people' and 'we don't want them' or 'we don't want to associate with them' is just dead wrong because you're working with them every day," Ahlgren said.
Coordinators of Pride also say the fact that politicians continue to step forward in support help GLBT people in the community – especially youths struggling with their identities.
"It reinforces the fact that you're okay. That things get better. There are people out there who are like you and do like you," Bob Jansen, owner of Superior "The Main Club", said.
And for Bergson, during his return to the city, he says he saw strides in local politics that seemed almost "too new" less than six years ago.
"Sexual orientation isn't a lifestyle. It's not a choice. It's who people are," Bergson said.
"They shouldn't have to feel punished because they say who they are. And I hope that my pin in just some little way makes people more comfortable walking into a public building," Bergson said.
Duluth Superior Pride continues through August 31 - September 2. To find a full listing of events, click here.