Editorial: I was sent the information on this LGBT archive for interest, and to also allow our readers who travel to Indianapolis to schedule time to visit such a wonderful resource.
For me what is interesting is that the population of Indianapolis was calculated to be 852,866 (2013), whilst the population of 333,871 at the 2015 census. From my research in the local libraries, I would hazard a guess that we proably have less than 50 items which be classified as LGBT; and indeed some 4 or 5 years ago I was at a Pride event held by UNISON about the dearth of material in our school libraries – at that time there was one, yes one, gay book in school libraries in Northern Ireland.
I would also hazard a guess that things will not have improved, indeed the indications are that our school libraries are being mothballed, and our Northern Ireland library service is under pressure to cut back again!
Indianapolis’s Chris Gonzalez Library and Archives is the unofficial home of the city’s rich and relatively unknown LGBT history. with a collection of almost 10,000 items which have mostly been collected by Michael Bohr, pictured.
Michael Bohr | Timothy Bella | 15070
Back in the ’60s, when I first started collecting gay books, it was very hard to find this stuff. You’d find two or three titles maybe in six months. It didn’t matter how good it was. You picked it up because that’s all there was.
The collection is named after Chris Gonzalez, whose family threw out photos of the 1970s local LGBT scene that he had taken after he died. “His family just trashed all of it,” Bohr says.
The collection includes mementos of the Celebration on the Circle event in 1990, which was a turning point for Indianapolis’ gay community.
This is the poster from the first pride celebration on [Monument] Circle. Doing pride on the Circle was a way of stating that the gay community was here and that we had a presence in the city. Before it was done on the Circle, pride celebrations were small banquet affairs done out of the public eye.
At one time, after dark the only people on the Circle were hustlers. There was a police presence trying to drive people off the Circle. The pride celebrations were a way of taking back the Circle as a public space for everybody. You could be on the Circle and be gay without being harassed by the police. Monument Circle is the big circle of Indianapolis. Doing something on Monument Circle is saying, “Hey, pay attention to us. We’re here, and we’re a presence. We’re not going away.”
Timothy Bella | 15071