Ruskey-Coons Family

2005 Honoree

What inspired Patti Ruskey to open The Coffee Hag in 1992 was a simple desire for community. “I wanted community and I couldn’t seem to find it in Mankato, so I created it.” Anyone who has visited the Coffee Hag would have to agree that Patti successfully realized her dream of providing “a gathering place for people to exchange ideas, have political discussions and push their boundaries.”

While LGBT concerns have been central to the mission of the Hag, Patti and Lisa Coons are quick to point out that their vision was much broader. “We were committed to being a place that welcomed all people,” Lisa says.

Although the two may be best known for creating the beloved Coffee Hag and nourishing it for 13 years, it is the simple privilege of serving as a role model that they are most proud of. As Lisa says, “Living your life as an out lesbian in Mankato is a political act in itself.”

They have been especially gratified at seeing the coming out processes of people they knew as children who have grown into proud LGBT adults. But, it is their own child, Eleanor, born last year, who has taken center stage. Last December, Patti and Lisa became the first same-sex couple to adopt in Blue Earth County. Parenting hasn’t distracted them from their social and political values, though. As Lisa puts it, “By far the most political thing I’ve done is raise a peaceful child in a violent world.”