Winona State University will host “Off the Grid: Winona Boathouses, Gay Liberation, and Women’s History” with Gina Favano and Suzanne Hogan at 7 p.m. Wednesday, March 1, in Stark Hall 103.

For almost a decade, Gina Favano has been living off the grid in a boathouse along the shores of Latsch Island in Winona. Along with Favano, there are more than 100 “boathousers” who make up this community on Latsch Island, which can be traced back to the 1970s.

Favano started out by digitizing decades’ worth of documents pertaining to the boathouse community’s efforts to gain the right to remain on Latsch Island. During this process, she began collecting an oral history by interviewing long-time residents of the boathouse community.

Favano quickly realized that these personal stories from the boathouse community deserved a wider audience, and this led to the creation of her podcast – Back Channel Radio.

In her podcast, Favano shares stories and interviews about the history and culture of the boathouse community on Latsch Island. Every episode describes the alternative lifestyles of the people in this community, as well as their thoughts about living outside of the mainstream culture.

For Dr. Mary Jo Klinker, the presentation highlights the importance of preserving oral histories about rural countercultures and queer history. Students in Klinker’s “Queer Theories and Politics” class at Winona State will listen to episode 2 of Back Channel Radio, “The Gospel of John,” in preparation for the event.

“In this episode, Gina provides critical history about the impact of McCarthyism and the lavender scare on LGBTQ+ communities, how the political importance of the Stonewall rebellion changed a local resident’s life, and how governmental neglect during the HIV/AIDS epidemic impacted local LGBTQ+ folks – all through interviews with John Rupkey, a Wolf Spider Island resident.”

“Off the Grid: Winona Boathouses, Gay Liberation, and Women’s History” is open to the public with both in-person and Zoom options (

The event is co-sponsored by the departments of Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies (WGSS); Mass Communications; Communication Studies; History; and the Krueger Library.

For more information, contact Mary Jo Klinker at