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In the heart of the heartland, Indianapolis mixes a big-city arts and cultural scene with small-town charm. Known for the Indianapolisheld every Memorial Day, the city pulls in millions of visitors every year for the famous car race and other diversions. The gay scene in Indianapolis is fun, and folks here aren't timid about walking up and saying hello.
Handsome, strapping bartenders strut back and forth under a half-dozen TVs on both sides of a bar featuring music videos both classic and current. Well-heeled patrons always come out ready to play here. The drinks are strong and smart; bar manager Curtis McGaha knows how to craft a cocktail and certainly gets in the thick of it all himself.
Performers, staff and regulars gathered to send Talbott Street off for the second time last weekend. The first time was when the original incarnation of Talbott closed in the late '80s — but both marked the end of an era. The space that hosted Talbott Street has also been a silent movie theater, a dinner theater and a music club — but its most recent incarnation was as a drag bar hosting performers from all over the world.
The riots immediately forwarded the gay liberation movement and the fight for LGBT rights in America. Back when I first opened the bar, people were ashamed of who they were and frightened of the severe consequences if they were found out. And at the time, being caught in a gay bar would land you in jail and lose you your job.
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I was in town for the book project that had taken my research assistant Tory and me through 27 states, interviewing gay bar professionals. Gay bars are a marker of cosmopolitanism for small cities. They are the only physical places where LGBTQ people gather in public, and they serve multi-county regions of multiple states.
The gay nightlife in Northwest Indiana is vibrant and varied. From the bright lights of discotheques to the soft glow of a friendly neighborhood dive, Northwest Indiana's gay scene offers something for everyone. While not as abundant as in nearby Chicago, gay and lesbian bars in northwest Indiana's Calumet Region, also known as the South Shore, are nevertheless worth checking out.
In the United State's 12th largest city, you're bound to find some gay 'ol times and entertainment in a relatively conservative city where the gay population is strong but still finding its voice. Many of the downtown bars, nightclubs and restaurants are open to all walks of life, and there is plenty of historical exploration for the more site-seeking traveler. Many long-standing gay establishments still thrive in the gay 'hood, Circle City.