Hoosier Homos

Indiana’s LGBT community has consistently been represented at national LGBT Pride events, including one of the largest annual celebrations in the country—Southern Decadence. What began as a little costume party in New Orleans is now a world-famous gay celebration.  Celebrating its 40th Anniversary in 2012, it has mushroomed from a small gathering of friends to a Labor Day weekend tradition. It attracts over 110,000 participants, predominantly gay and lesbian, and generates almost $125 million in tourist revenue, including many dollars from “Hoosier homos,” each year.

This 1994 shirt hints at the reclamation of the pejorative slang “homo” by the LGBT community. Attendees at national pride events were not alone in this reclamation process. On October 11 1987, over 200 Hoosier LGBT activists joined nearly half a million protesters on the National Mall in Washington D.C. and chanted "Hoosier Homos! Hoosier Homos!"1 The Indiana marchers demanded an end to discrimination, the abolition of sodomy laws following the Bowers v. Hardwick decision and more money for AIDS research and treatment from a publically silent President Reagan. High profile names backed the “Second National March on Washington for Lesbian and Gay Rights”, including actress Whoopi Goldberg, labor leader Cesar Chavez, and presidential candidate Jesse Jackson. Another gay rights march on the National Mall in 1993 is highlighted later in this exhibit.  

1. "Hoosier Gays Speak Out at Capital March," Post-Tribune (IN) October 12, 1987