The LGBT Community in Indianapolis: A Historical Journey Revisited

The Damien Center was founded in 1987 to combat the local AIDS crisis and support the LGBT community. Zach Adamson, the first LGBT council member in Indianapolis as vice-president of the City and County Council, has described the unique heritage of this place. But it wasn't long before the three-story Hunt and Chase opened its doors on South Pennsylvania Street. With its enormous sound system and mirrors, and with the arrival of disco music by Gloria Gaynor and Donna Summer (expertly mixed by a DJ who was very young and posed as Turtle), Hunt and Chase quickly became the go-to gay dance club.

“It was the bar of the bars,” Byrne said. “It's where I learned to dance, it's where I went out.”Indianapolis's oldest gay bar, the Varsity, dates back to the 1940s. Eckert described it as a decent place, where the owner, a woman from Poland or Czechoslovakia, rode herd on public displays of affection. If a man hugged another man, Eckert recalled, she would hit you on the shoulder and say, “We're not going to allow that.”The Famous Door, Bellflower Clinic, Essex House, Body Works - these are just a few of the missing milestones for the Indianapolis LGBTQ community.

Even though these structures no longer exist, they are still sharing their stories with us today. In a 1984 Works article, Jim Chaffin, a gay, cisgender man, reprimanded the “drag queen” mentality among Indiana's LGBTQ community. These meeting places organized meetings to plan AIDS awareness marches and welcomed LGBT faithful, who are called “Friends in the Quaker Tradition.” The LGBTQ community in Indianapolis faced numerous challenges posed by law enforcement in the 1980s and protested against police surveillance of cruise ship sites, harassment in safe spaces, and possible biased policing as homicide rates among gay men increased. This legacy of embracing underrepresented communities is one of the reasons why many LGBTQ people of the 20th and 21st centuries have found acceptance in the Religious Society of Friends, including the North Meadow Circle of Friends.

Along this journey, the addition of the plus sign (+) after LGBT means all groups associated with the LGBT community are included. The New Works News noted in 1988 that, again at the initiative of the queer community and not of police officers, the IPD and the LGBTQ community came together in connection with a series of robberies at gay bars in Indianapolis. The location on North Talbott Street is mentioned several times in articles in The New Works News as a place for meetings in preparation for a “March on Washington” to protest against violence against the LGBTQ community. One such organization is Friends for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer Concerns (FLGBTQC), a Quaker religious community in North America that meets twice a year and defends Quaker support for the LGBTQ community.

In Indianapolis, this relationship becomes even more intriguing when we analyze the connections of Quakers with the LGBTQ community, specifically the activism of the North Meadow Circle of Friends located at 1710 North Talbott Street in the 1980s. The difference now said Shantel Sifuentes who was sitting with Bill 44 but is 15 years younger and who spelled her last name slowly and clearly (she was so committed to fully and unequivocally disclosing it) is that people want their city to know that they exist. But to really understand the history of LGBT culture here there is perhaps no better space than González Library located in E. Other materials from this library located in same building as LGBT community advocacy group Indy Pride a law firm and a tattoo parlor were purchased under similar circumstances he said.

Three LGBTQ organizations from Indianapolis as well as those from Muncie Columbus and Bloomington attended or supported a press conference in which they denounced harassment and resumption of video surveillance. In 1995 Bohr now 66 years old and retired auditor began purchasing materials after an acquaintance died and his family published photos of local LGBT scene from 1970s that he had taken.

Alana Gholston
Alana Gholston

Evil bacon evangelist. Freelance music aficionado. Typical coffee scholar. Lifelong travel maven. Hardcore bacon ninja. Evil bacon expert.

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