Since my last performance three years ago in Indianapolis, the city has gone through a lot of changes. They have a new state of the art airport. Nonetheless, I was still delayed out of LaGuardia. They have a new football stadium emblazoned with "Lucas Oil" on it. For now. Sadly the city landmark, the Hoosier Dome has been razed. I miss it. It looked like a giant diaphragm on the horizon just waiting for the Washington Monument to come to town. Despite the handy Lucas lube nearby, the dome had to go. Indiana takes abstinence-only very seriously.
My old pal Dino Sierpe, the P. T. Barnum of productions for 25 years in Indiana once again brought me to the amazing Indiana Roof Ballroom. Built in 1927, you can just imagine the big swing bands that played for cotillions, proms and New Year's bashes over the years. The duo, The Troubadours of Divine Bliss, opened with a set of their own rocking folk music. The crowd loved them. So did I.
Dino is a community organizer who sees every production as an opportunity to involve as many groups as she can in her schemes. Her production company, Branching Out Productions and Indiana Equality co-sponsored the show. PFLAG, Indiana ACLU, the Out Word Bound Bookstore [while the dome is gone, the bookstore remains!] I-Can and the Indiana Youth Group were all involved. Dino has recently been hired as a field organizer for Indiana Equality and will be traveling the state to help towns pass a Human Rights Ordinance with an eye toward a statewide gay rights ordinance in five years. They won't know what hit 'em.
The next night I returned to Boston to emcee the Fenway Men's Event, at the Copley Marriott. It was déjà vu all over again. The Women's Dinner was held first this year because organizers wanted to avoid conflicting with the LPGA Dinah Shore and the NCAA women's basketball finals. The Women's dinner raised a record amount of cashola and challenged the men to match. The men got out their checkbooks, bid at the silent and live auction and more than met the challenge.
Massachusetts Rep. Barney Frank, head of the House Financial Services Committee, and a very busy man, presented the Gerry Studds Visibility Award to author and Democratic National Committee Treasurer Andy Tobias. Barney spoke of his friend Gerry, the first openly gay member of Congress in 1983, gave his assessment of gay legislation and then presented the award to his friend, Andy Tobias. In his acceptance, Andy marveled at LGBT progress and stressed the still basic importance of coming out.
Special thanks to Tim Fitzgerald and all the Fenway staff. A week after the Women's dinner, they moved into the new Fenway Center as they prepared for the Men's event. Those two dinners and the move into a new space would have done me in, but the staff and volunteers were professional, gracious and had a good time too!
The official ribbon cutting for the new ten-story building is May 7. If you are in Bean Town for a Red Sox game or to run the Boston Marathon stop in at 1340 Boylston to marvel at what the GLUT community and its Boston allies have created.
Did I already mention my new book, I TOLD YOU SO? Order it now. It's a lovely read for Spring.