photo courtesy of Joey Amato

Replicas of Dinosaurs at the Indianapolis Children's Museum

The last time I wrote an article about Indianapolis was back before I was living here. Sometimes you view a city differently as a tourist, so I decided to become a tourist again to explore my beautiful city. Indianapolis is in my opinion one of the most underrated cities in the country. Its people, culture, and opportunities are some of the greatest strengths of the city, not to mention, a thriving LGBTQ culture. Pride is celebrated here throughout the year. You can walk through neighborhoods and see countless rainbow flags hanging proudly from homes and businesses all year round.

Indianapolis is a very gay city, especially when it comes to LGBTQ philanthropic organizations and community initiatives. There are numerous local charities here such as Indiana Youth Group, Trinity Haven, Gender Nexus, Damien Center, Trans Solutions, and StepUp just to name a few. If you are looking to mingle with LGBTQ locals, you can definitely find a group that suits your interest.

We like things big in Indy. The city is home to the largest children’s museum in the world as well as the largest sports venue in the world, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, where the annual Indy 500 is run.

The Circle City boasts some wonderful LGBTQ bars and restaurants including English Ivy’s, Greg’s Our Place, Downtown Olly’s, FortyFive Degrees, Metro, Tini, and the newest drag bar, Almost Famous.


Animal lovers should head to the Indianapolis Zoo, home to the Indianapolis Prize, the most prestigious preservation and conservation award in the world. This May, the new Kangaroo Crossing exhibit will open in the current MISTery Park area, which has been home to the Zoo’s sloths since 2019. Construction is now underway to completely transform the space with beautiful new plantings, creating a backdrop for red kangaroos that will offer a feeling of Australia in Indianapolis. Kangaroo Crossing will offer visitors a chance to walk into a large open area to mingle with the 'roos without barriers.

One of the many gems of Indy is the Eiteljorg Museum which will present a thought-provoking exhibition of Andy Warhol’s late-career artwork that explores his interest in Western icons and his merging of the mythic West with contemporary art and popular culture. The exhibition will be on display from March 12 to Aug. 7, 2022. The traveling exhibition, Warhol's West, presents a range of his Western imagery, including prints of Geronimo, General Custer, Annie Oakley, and John Wayne. Also in 2022, the Eiteljorg Museum will celebrate its 30th annual Indian Market and Festival on June 25-26, where more than 100 Native American artists will display and sell their beautiful art.

Speaking of museums, the Children’s Museum of Indianapolis is not just for children. In fact, they host numerous adult-only events throughout the year. This March, they will be debuting Dinosphere, an immersive experience where guests will experience the sights, sounds, and smells of dinosaurs who roamed the Earth during the Cretaceous Period 65-75 million years ago. Visitors will be transported back in time under the cover of a former Cinedome that vibrantly changes from dawn to dusk and features thunderstorms to overnight meteor showers.

Significant dinosaur specimens will occupy the space, including Bucky the teenage T. rex which became the first dinosaur discovered to have a wishbone linking its relationship to birds.

Also located at the Children’s Museum of Indianapolis is a tribute to Ryan White, the young man who died of AIDS in 1990. Ryan garnered international fame for his heartwarming story and was befriended by everyone from Michael Jackson to Elton John. A replica of his room is located in the museum and his mother Jeanne White-Ginder visits the museum numerous times per year to tell Ryan’s story.


After a long day of sightseeing, head to The Conrad Indianapolis, perfectly situated in the heart of downtown. Everything you need is about a 5–10-minute walk from the property, including dozens of restaurants, boutiques, museums, and entertainment options, as well as Gainbridge Fieldhouse, home of the Indiana Pacers and Lucas Oil Stadium where you can watch the Colts take the field.

One of my favorite features of the Conrad is the lobby. The elegant, yet inviting space is welcoming and functional. A grand Dale Chihuly chandelier hangs from the center of the lobby, with other art prominently displayed throughout. Guests can also access the hotel’s two dining options: The Capital Grille and Tastings Wine Bar & Bistro, as well as Long-Sharp Gallery which specializes in works on paper, multiples, and drawings by modern and contemporary masters including Picasso, Miró, Haring, and Lichtenstein.

I stayed in the Pop Suite, a magnificent room paying homage to some of the greatest pop artists of all time including Andy Warhol, William John Kennedy, and of course, Robert Indiana. Located on a private floor, the Pop Suite features a dining room table, fireplace, wet bar, soaking tub, and spacious living area complete with remote-controlled lighting. The furnishings in the room are modern yet comfortable, and the shower is spacious enough to have a party in.

Spend the next day strolling along popular Massachusetts Avenue (or Mass Ave as we call it), where you can visit dozens of locally owned boutiques and restaurants. Towards the north end of the street is the new Bottleworks district which features The Garage Food Hall, Living Room Theatre, and Pins Mechanical in addition to a beautiful art deco hotel.


For dinner, head to Harry & Izzy’s, one of Indy’s most popular restaurants. The establishment is related to St. Elmo’s. Begin your meal with their famous shrimp cocktail. But be careful when using the cocktail sauce. It packs quite the kick. It’s fun to watch people try it for the first time. Also highly recommended are the Crab Beignets made with lump crab meat, mascarpone, chives and accompanied by a remoulade for dipping. Harry & Izzy’s as well as St. Elmo’s are known for their steaks, however, I chose to order the Pan-Seared Scallops served on a bed of edamame, roasted corn, rainbow carrots, and pancetta. The scallops were cooked to perfection and the vegetables were equally as delicious.

If you are looking for a fun and relatively inexpensive city to visit this year, give Indy a chance, and drop me a message while you’re in town. I’d be happy to show you around.

Enjoy the Journey!

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Like many of the recent Marvel Cinematic Universe films, LGBTQ+ fans awaited the release of Thor: Love and Thunder in open anticipation of the inclusivity that both Marvel and Disney had promised. However, the fans were only setting themselves up for disappointment when the film was finally released.

Despite passionate assurances from studio heads to key actors, Thor: Love and Thunder was NOT spectacularly gay. It wasn’t even that good…

Premiere Night Promises

A bolt of lightning cuts across a rainbow on a dark and stormy night.

Lightning bold across the sky

Photo by Bill D.

Standing on the red carpet at the London Premiere of the film, director and actor Taika Waititi and fellow cast members Natalie Portman and Tessa Thompson were offered up the inevitable question: “How gay is the film?

Amidst some laughter from the crowds, Waititi gestured towards Portman to respond. The actress (who plays Thor’s love interest, Jane Foster, throughout the franchise) raised the microphone to her lips and thought for a moment, before delivering a quiet yet fateful: “So gay!

Barely a moment had passed before the gathered fans went wild and Taika Waititi gave his own verdict: “Super gay!”. Tessa Thompson made no statement on the ‘gayness’ of the film, instead opting to swing her microphone around suggestively. As more cheers erupted, a second round of “super gay” slipped out of Waititi’s mouth, before he urged the fans to enjoy the film.

Thor: Love and Thunder’s LGBTQ+ Potential

Thor’s movie-goers were definitely hyped up for a gay extravaganza and they had a specific character in mind. The fan-favorite Valkyrie, played by Tessa Thompson, stumbled her way into the MCU during Thor’s third film, Ragnarok. The Asgardian warrior won many people over with her wit, sarcasm, and pure badassery.

After the events of Avengers: Endgame *spoilers*, Thor Odinson gives up his claim to the throne of Asgard and names Valkyrie as king in his stead. This left many fans excited to see what would become of the character, especially after certain revelations were made at the 2019 San Diego Comic-Con:

“As a new king, she has to find her queen. So that’ll be her first order of business.”

With these words, Tessa Thompson threw her LGBTQ+ fans into a frenzy, with heavy expectations for the then-upcoming fourth installment of the Thor films. Indeed, in an interview with the LA Times, shortly before the film's release, Tessa Thompson was asked to comment on the sexuality of her character. She responded with several promising remarks, including “there’s a lot of folks that are righteously very hungry for that representation to exist in these movies, as am I”.

*Warning: spoilers ahead!*

So, How Gay Was Thor 4?

To put it simply: not gay at all. Not only did Valkyrie end up without a fabulous new queen, her non-heteronormative sexuality only got the barest mention (a brief line about a previous, now dead, girlfriend). Valkyrie may have made bedroom eyes at some pretty ladies before an action scene spoils the moment, but that’s about as much as we get.

The film does get some credit for introducing a trans character in a minor yet significant role. Thor returns to his people (after a brief stint as a Guardian of the Galaxy) only to find out that the daughter of one of his closest (and deceased) friends is now a boy. The issue is, whether due to personal prejudice or some alien inability to grasp the concept of being transgender, it does take Thor a frustrating few moments to come to terms with the change. And to stop deadnaming.

In fact, the only concession to the queer community was Taika Waititi’s extraterrestrial character Korg finding a husband in one of the closing scenes. This heartfelt moment was somewhat underscored by the revelation that Korg’s entire species is male, meaning he had no other choice but to be ‘gay’.

This Is Not Marvel’s First Queerbaiting Attempt

Close up of an eye reflecting an unknown scene as a rainbow crosses the image.

Photo by Harry Q.

This is, by far, not the first time that LGBTQ+ fans have been sorely disappointed by the workings of Marvel and Disney. In fact, people across many social media platforms have been chiding expectant viewers for once again falling for classic queerbaiting tactics. “Being queerbaited by the MCU is like being a golden retriever with a human who always pretends to throw the ball”, one Tumblr user declared.

Captain Marvel, starring Brie Larson, was the perfect moment for the MCU to introduce its first lesbian lead. Larson’s character seemed to have an intense relationship with another woman, going so far as to help raise her child (before Larson’s Carol Danvers disappeared from Earth for 6 years). Despite leaning into several romantic tropes, the status of their relationship was never fully fleshed out. However, it was also the franchise’s first female-led superhero movie, so maybe they thought that introducing her as a lesbian would make the film too awesome.

The heavily anticipated Avengers: Endgame was also slated to introduce the MCU’s ‘first gay character'. While many fans were excited, particularly as this would be the second of Larson’s appearances on screen, the big gay build-up was a massive letdown. The film’s director Joe Russo made a cameo as a blip survivor mourning the loss of his husband. A five-second throw-away scene that had no impact on the outcome of the film. Big whoop...

Even when we did see a film with a gay lead, The Eternals, there were also ten other straight leads. At that point, it just seemed more like basic probability than an attempt at pushing LGBT+ superheroes into the spotlight.

Why Can’t Disney Let Marvel Be Gay?

The big problem with allowing a few characters to be anything other than cishet is that there are still many countries in the world that outlaw homosexuality. As much as we like to think that the MCU is being made for comic book fans, we all know the purpose of the films is to make money for Disney. And without certain markets in Asia and the Middle East, Disney wouldn’t be raking in up to (and over) one billion dollars per theatrical release.

Is There Any Hope For LGBTQ+ Fans In The MCU’s Future?

Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, the second in the much-loved Black Panther arc, will be released in cinemas this November. The studio has confirmed that the film will contain a queer character. Actress Michaela Coel will play Aneka, a warrior, and trainer of the king’s guard. Whether or not her diversity will stand out in the film (let alone endure for more than a 10-second scene that can be easily cut) remains to be seen.

Next year’s The Marvels film, starring Brie Larson, Iman Vellani, and Lashana Lynch may offer the MCU a chance to redeem itself in the eyes of its LGBT+ fans. The studios may feel it’s finally time to offer us the heartwarming lesbian relationship between Larson’s Carol Danvers and Lynch’s Maria Rambeau that seemed to be teased in the first Captain Marvel. Don’t raise your hopes too high, though, as you may yet end up as a stubborn golden retriever waiting for a cinematic universe to finally throw that rainbow ball.