Preserving Past & Present: The Chris Gonzalez Library and Archives

The Library

The library is located at 429 E. Vermont Street. Here you are welcome to peruse the shelves, borrow materials, or start up a conversation with Michael Bohr, the founder of the library. Bohr established the Chris Gonzalez Library and Archives in 1995. The library is named after Chris Gonzalez, an LGBT+ activist who founded the Indianapolis Youth Group, among many accomplishments. Bohr wanted to preserve a history that was often destroyed or simply not collected by most institutions. Bohr also wanted to make LGBT+-related materials easily accessible.

The Chris Gonzalez Library is the largest of its kind in the state, with over 10,000 items. From western and mystery novels to psychology and photography books, there are a variety of lending materials and media. The library also continues to collect LGBT+ materials and even houses some of the city’s earliest LGBT+ publications, some of which you can access online via the Kinsey Institute, an Indiana University research center specializing in the fields of human sex, gender, and reproduction.

Indy’s Publications

In the early twentieth century, LGBT+ communities were rarely mentioned or only mentioned in negative contexts by the media. This began to change in 1953  with the third publication of One Magazine, titled “Homosexual Marriage.” A Los Angeles postmaster refused to distribute it on the grounds that it was obscene, but a Supreme Court decision in 1958 ruled in favor of the magazine, paving the way for the distribution of future LGBT+ publications.

Indianapolis’ earliest known gay publication was The Screamer. It was created by a man who used a mimeograph machine he had access to at work in the Beech Grove train yards in the southeastern part of the city. Published in the late 1960s, The Screamer reflected greater trends across the county where LGBT+ individuals created their own media outlets. The Screamer only lasted four issues, but later Indianapolis print publications like The Works and The Mirror had larger distribution networks and longer runs. Indianapolis’ current publications include the Word, IXE, which is dedicated to cross-dressing, and Indy Unite, which has just released its first issues. Copies of current issues are available to browse at the library.

Images

The Chris Gonzalez Library

The Chris Gonzalez Library

The Chris Gonzalez Library and Archive is located in the Academy building, just east of downtown Indianapolis at 429 East Vermont Street. The building is in Indianapolis™ oldest historic district, Lockerbie Square, listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1973. Constructed in the early 1910s, the building originally was the St. Mark™s Academy according to the Indianapolis Historic Preservation Commission plan. The brick building boasts limestone details, quoining, and Gothic-style entry. Photography by Kurt Lee Nettleton '© 2015. | Source: Kurt Lee Nettleton | Creator: Kurt Lee Nettleton. View File Details Page

Inside Library and Archives Entrance

Inside Library and Archives Entrance

Over the years the library has had many homes including the Indiana Civil Liberties Union, a location on Mass Ave, Central Christian, and Fat Dick™s Video. Originally sponsored by Diversity, an LGBT+ organization, it is now sponsored by Indy Pride. Image courtesy of Alyssa Boge. | Source: Alyssa Boge | Creator: Alyssa Boge View File Details Page

<em>The Screamer</em>, First Issue Cover

The Screamer, First Issue Cover

First published in 1966, The Screamer is the first known LGBT+ publication created in Indianapolis. There are only four issues of the magazine, printed from 1966-1967. Printed using a mimeograph machine, there were likely only a few copies produced that were shared between friends. Image courtesy of the Chris Gonzalez Library and Archives and IUPUI Digital Collections. | Source: The Screamer, Chris Gonzales Library and Archives, IUPUI University Library Digital Collections | Creator: The Screamer, Rhoda Jean Berger View File Details Page

<em>The Screamer</em>, Opening Page of First Issue

The Screamer, Opening Page of First Issue

Image courtesy of the Chris Gonzalez Library and Archives and IUPUI Digital Collections. | Source: The Screamer, Chris Gonzales Library and Archives, IUPUI Digital Collections | Creator: The Screamer, Rhoda Jean Berger View File Details Page

The<em> Works</em>

The Works

Published between 1981 and 1986, The Works, later known as the New Works News in 1987, was published until 1991. It was founded by Stan Berg, owner of The Bathhouse. Berg often functioned as the de facto spokesperson for the LGBT+ community in Indianapolis. Articles featured news relevant to LGBT+ communities, book and movie reviews, and personal ads. This is the cover from September 1982. Image courtesy of the Chris Gonzalez Library and Archives and IUPUI Digital Collections. | Source: The New Works News, Chris Gonzales Library and Archives, IUPUI Digital Collections | Creator: Berg Investment Corp., The New Works News View File Details Page

Cite this Page:

Alyssa Boge, “Preserving Past & Present: The Chris Gonzalez Library and Archives,” Discover Indiana, accessed September 22, 2017, http://indyhist.iupui.edu/items/show/91.

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