The Chris Gonzalez Library and Archives is an LGBTQ+-focused collection of over 8,000 items housed at Indianapolis Public Library. Opened in 1995, it is named for Indianapolis activist Chris Gonzalez, who founded Indiana Youth Group (IYG), a nonprofit organization that serves LGBTQ+ youth. The collection is one of the largest of its kind in the United States.

Two women draw a purple curtain back to reveal a bookshelf display.
Chris Gonzalez Library and Archives unveiling event, 2019 Credit: Indianapolis Public Library

Michael Bohr, a gay activist who understood the importance of preserving the history of the LGBTQ community, spearheaded the Chris Gonzalez Library and Archives in 1993 when he began seeking a space to house his collection of 1,600 materials documenting gay life in Indiana. Seeking additional donations from community members, Bohr eventually curated a collection of thousands of items.

The collection features literature about LGBTQ+ topics, as well as historical items documenting gay life in Indiana. Highlights of the collection include The Screamer (1966-1967), a gay publication, and materials from the Bag Ladies, an AIDS activist drag organization.

Initially, the Library and Archives were housed at the Diversity Center at 1112 Southeastern Avenue. The collection changed locations over the years, often due to the closings of various LGBTQ+-centered spaces. In spring 2008, Indy Pride, Inc. became the primary benefactor of the collection and moved it to its downtown headquarters. During this time, the Library and Archives were only open on Saturdays and Sundays from noon to 6 pm, or by appointment.

In 2017, Indy Pride, Inc. collaborated with the Indianapolis Public Library to give the wider community access to the materials. At this time, it was renamed the Chris Gonzalez Collection, which was recognized in November 2019 with a permanent display in the Simon Reading Room.

Chris Gonzalez Library and Archives collection display, 2021
Chris Gonzalez Library and Archives collection display, 2021 Credit: Indianapolis Public Library

The Chris Gonzalez Collection continues to grow at the Indianapolis Public Library. In 2023, the Indianapolis Public Library Foundation received an Indiana Authors Award grant from Indiana Humanities to add more materials to the collection.

Indy Pride, Inc. also donated parts of the Library and Archives to the William Henry Smith Memorial Library at the Indiana Historical Society. The William Bohr Collection of the Indy Pride Chris Gonzalez Library and Archives features objects such as periodicals, photographs, buttons, and posters.

The Chris Gonzalez Library and Archives showcase the long-term existence of LGBTQ+ life in Indianapolis. The curation of this collection places Indianapolis in league with other cities that have worked to protect and give a voice to their rich and diverse history.

Revised May 2023

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