Community Debt

The Chase’s owner, Fred Cooney, helped fundraise for local gay rights organizations like the Gay People’s Union (more about the group in the politics exhibit) and worked to better the often-tense relationship between the city’s law enforcement and the gay community.3 Cooney and Mike Bohr also helped lead the Greater Indianapolis Gay Business Association (GIGBA), dedicated to promoting the interests of gay and lesbian businesses within the city.  Gay bars, with their obvious connection to the community, were staples of the association.  In 1985, GIGBA President Bohr pushed to get free condoms and safe sex literature in all gay bars and bathhouses in the city in an effort to stop the AIDS crisis. “We owe it to [our patrons] and to ourselves to do whatever we can to limit the spread of AIDS,” Bohr explained.4

By the 1980s, the 21 Club had taken the reigns as the “go to” Indianapolis gay bar.
Photo courtesy of the Chris Gonzalez Library and Archives

1. George Chauncey, Gay New York: Gender, Urban Culture, and the Making of the Gay Male World, 1890-1940, 358-359.

2. Will Higgins, "Gay Bars in Indianapolis: A Brief History," IndyStar, November 26, 2014.

3. Tom Green, Jr. "Paradise Lost..." The Works, October 1982, pg. 8

4."GIGBA Wants Free Condoms at All Bars and Gay Health Clubs in Indiana," The Works, September 1985, pg. 13,