Wednesday, March 19th, 2008
The Midwest has acquired a reputation for prudishness, that, let’s face it, is deserving at times. For example, Carmel, Indiana recently debated a “wholesomeness” resolution, sponsored by a woman who wanted to create a G-rated city for her children. Now I’m not going to suggest that all such things are wrong. Communities need moral and other standards in order to function. However, I think the common perception would be that the Midwest errs on the side of caution here, so to speak.
I’ve always thought this reputation was a bit overblown. Every community has its busybodies. But for the most part I’ve seen the Midwest as a pretty live and let live sort of place. As long as you stay out of other people’s business, they’ll stay out of yours. What’s more, Indiana has always harbored a soft spot for offbeat characters who didn’t fit in with the norm. This is, after all, the state that resisted daylight savings time to the bitter end.
Here’s an illustration of what I mean, one that would probably come as quite a surprise to outsiders. And let’s be honest here, to yours truly a bit as well. The Indianapolis Star posted a small notice about an opening celebration [dead link] for a new fashion-related exhibit called “Breaking the Mode” at the Indianapolis Museum of Art. Here’s a quote that caught my attention:
“Dowagers and drag queens squeezed into the Pulliam Great Hall for cocktails and canapés while loud techno music filled the air.”
Drag queens? Yes, indeed. In fact, the Star even posted a picture to prove it, which I’ll include here with a rare fair use claim. From left to right we’ve got Dawn Tabler, drag queen Matthew Garger, and Jacqueline Anderson, wife of the IMA director.
How about some props to “Ms.” Garger – that’s not a bad look.
On seeing this someone commented, “Indy is not Chicago, so I’m pleasantly surprised.” Well I’ll tell you that I’ve been to more than my share of swanky receptions in Chicago, and I’ve never seen them hire drag queens to work the floors. (Some of the nightclubs do, however, or at least used to). In this regard, Naptown seems to be outpacing the Windy City.
Admittedly, the article provides little context on the event, so I don’t know the specific circumstances here, but when a major civic institution like the IMA hosts an event like this and it is apparently no big deal to invite the drag queens, I think it shows a city with a more progressive attitude than a lot of people give it credit for.