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Macaroons made by Gallery Pastry Shop, Indianapolis

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 under way 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 guest 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, include Bucky the teenage T. rex which became the first dinosaur discovered to have a wish bone 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.

Ryan White: The Power of Children - Live Actors at The Children's Museum of Indianapolis youtu.be

Conrad Indianapolis youtu.be

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.

Pan-seared Scallops at Harry & Izzy'sJoey Amato

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.

To book your Indianapolis gaycation, visit www.Orbitz.com/pride

How to talk about transgender issues

So how do we talk about transgender issues (even if you're not transgender)? There are three main things to remember when discussing transgender issues today, so before getting into the meat and potatoes of it all, let's keep these things in mind:

  1. It is not a political discussion, it is a human rights discussion.
  2. There is a rich history rooted in transgender rights that must be considered when discussing these issues.
  3. Humanization should always be at the forefront of the conversation.

Before going into any conversation, no matter who it's with, try to keep these things in mind before you say something that may be inappropriate, misguided, or just plain wrong. Even those with the best intentions can mess up; remember that it is always ok to admit when you do not know something or when you are wrong. That being said, let's get into it.

sign with a 'friendly for all genders' image showing a person in a wheelchair, and a person with half a dress and pants on.

Transgender bathroom bills


So whether you choose to become a transgender activist or if you just want to be a better ally, this easy talking point will generally keep you in line and on the safe side of conversations while still putting forth the effort to encourage and better represent transgender rights.

Easy, all-around approach: This will work for almost all transgender issues and expand on the previous three rules; firstly, trans issues are not a debate. When discussing with someone, do not indulge in hypotheticals and always remember that transgender people are the exact same as anyone else, with the exact same feelings. Keeping this in mind, let's use the bathroom bill as an example. When discussing this issue, one should humanize, de-politicize, and normalize the conversation. How does one employ this, though? Here is an example of how the conversation may go.

Person 1: I don't want men in the women's restroom, they will rape my daughters.

So this statement is clearly based on reactionary conversation perpetuated by anti-transgender ideals. This means that the person probably has a misconception of the history and oppression of transgender people. They also show concern for their family, which is a step towards humanization, despite the misconception. Here would be an appropriate response that helps to humanize, de-politicize, and normalize the conversation.

Person 2: I don't want men in the women's restroom, either, which is why we need to make sure people who identify as women are using the women's restroom. There has never been a documented case where a transgender person has raped either a man or woman in a public restroom. And by forcing people to use a restroom that does not match their gender identity, it is promoting violence, as there is a strong history of physical violence against transgender people.

By only saying about three sentences, you are able to do the previous steps while discussing the issue in a civil manner without opening it up to debate. The key to this is to keep it short and sweet, stating both the truth and an ally's stance to support the transgender community. It's critical to make sure that what you say is backed with confidence, though, which is why this second approach is more encouraged as it gives the person speaking more confidence in their opinion.

gif of a man in a suit talking about number 1. Number 1 GIF by PragerU Giphy

The second approach: backed by facts and history, is the exact same as before, but this approach leaves the other person with more questions about their stance and gives them something to consider. Before going into this approach, however, it is important to keep in mind that you are not debating the existence of trans people, nor are you trying to change someone's mind. That is not the goal; the goal is simply to get your opinion across in a way that honors both the trans community and their ideas. Let's take the same example as before but add the new sentiments.

Person 1: I don't want men in the women's restrooms, they will rape my daughters.

Person 2: There has never been a documented case of a transgender person raping anyone in a public restroom, and the only published cases of such were proven to be false. Further, when people say things like this, they are perpetuating violence against transgender people, which has historically (and still does) oppressed and insight further physical violence against them. And honestly, the most common reason there is this stance is because the person typically does not know a trans person and may not even know a person who does know a trans person. But the truth is, they probably do. The probability is more likely that the transgender people around them are just not comfortable enough in the environment to come out and speak up about their gender identity. And yes, everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but it is quite sad that some people's opinion does not invite civil discussion but instead incites violence.

This approach is more confrontational, which requires more confidence when using it in a conversation, but it still holds true to all of the previous rules and sentiments. It adds truth based on history, which is an important aspect of trans rights as it reminds people of where we were/ where we are currently with human rights. These ideas can be transferred to most all trans issues and will honor the transgender movement and your allyship. The last thing to keep in mind is the person or reason you are standing up for/with trans rights. The passion -the compassion will shine through in conversation if you keep your reasoning close to heart. Whether it is because of a transgender friend, family member, or just because of your moral values, if you put your emotions into your reasoning, it will create more compelling statements, especially if the statement is well versed with the facts.

Tips to Remember When Discussing Transgender Issues

  1. Transgender issues are not political, they are human rights issues
  2. There is a rich history behind transgender issues
  3. Humanize transgender people through our words and ideas and don't forget to include:
    • 3(b). The facts
    • 3(c).The confidence
    • 3(d). The inspiration behind the support for transgender rights

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Photo courtesy of Amazon Prime

LGBTQ+ Movies on Amazon Prime

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