Our trip today leads to the “The Region” as it is locally known, which constitutes Lake, La Porte, Jasper and Porter Counties in Northwest Indiana. Despite what many from Chicago think of Indiana (Indiana-the Midwest’s Redneck Cousin, Iran of the Midwest, and other terms with more colorful language) this area have much to offer. YES! Seriously, keep reading.
Our first stop is darling Beverly Shores, a 1920’s Spanish Revival wet dream that never really happened (damn you Great Depression)Being miniscule, with a population of under 800, this hamlet was supposed to be so much larger-Indiana’s answer to Chicago’s Northshore. This never came to be but surprisingly the state of Indiana did something right and created to Dunes National Lakeshore to protect the undeveloped areas from development. Beverly Shores are literally a plethora of nature walks, preserved beaches and more dunes than you can possibly count. Despite it being an exclusive village of the Indiana wealthy, it’s always been gay friendly, even being known as rainbow enclave in a sea of industrial grit. This town is quaint, this time has charm, and it has a darling pink stucco train station that houses an art museum!
I mean you really can’t get much gayer than a pink rail station. Just sayin’.
Our second stop is to something amazing in Michigan City, not architecturally but it is totally a breath of fresh air in Northwestern Indiana. Michigan City’s first ever Pride Festival!
This celebration is monumental in Northwest Indiana–Indiana a state known for backwardness and homophobia is actually hosting a gay pride festival in a mid-size city. This parade is historic and it was such a thrill to be part of it. Though it lacked the grandeur, decadence and floats of Chicago’s Pride Parade it made up for it in it’s flamboyant spirit.
Everyone seemed to be represented there, gays, straights, out of towners, townies, drag queens, everyone was there to celebrate, have a good time, and virtually give a middle finger to Indiana’s ultra-conservative values. The beer flowed like water, entertainment was provided by talented drag queens, and everywhere you looked rainbows were swaying in the wind. I think the best thing about the evening was the amount of teenagers there.
Growing up in Chicago, a welcoming city it’s easy to forget how hard it is growing up somewhere where everyone is not so open minded. Where being different leads you to be ostracized, abused, and many times pushed away because you are seen as unsavory. These kinds of events, though as an adult I enjoyed for people watching, entertainment and booze means so much more to kids/teens of alternative lifestyles. It shows there are other people like you, you can be happy the way you are, and there may be a lot of assholes out there but you have a community that has your back
What a trip! Good night from “The Region” y’all, stay fabulous!