I remember it like it was yesterday, it was a Sunday, two weeks before the Indiana State Legislature was to vote on Indiana Senate Bill 101 commonly known as the Religious Freedom Restoration Act or RFRA. My husband and I went out to a local pub for a drink, as we were sitting there talking we were approached by an acquaintance we knew. She went on to tell us that her and her fiancé were getting married later in the spring and they wanted to know what this “religious freedom thing” was and how would it affect their marriage. As we went on to explain what RFRA is, it occurred to me that at times it can be difficult for the LGBT community in this corner of the state to obtain the information we need. It’s the main reason why we started the Facebook page OUT in Michigan City & NWIN, our community needs to be informed.
We live in the shadow of Chicago, we get Chicago television stations, we are on Chicago time, we go to bars and attend PRIDE events in Chicago. We, in essence, are a suburb of Chicago, but we do not live in the state of Illinois. It is a fact that is easy to forget until something like RFRA happens, then we realize all to well that we live in a state that offers little to no protections to the LGBT community. We live in a state were we can be fired from our jobs for being gay. We live in a state where an evangelical Christian was elected governor. A ‘leader’ that would rather use the Christian Bible to interpret state and federal law, than state or federal constitutions, a ‘leader’ that was directly responsible for the state’s worst ever HIV outbreak that happened in Scott County. This happened all because of the then governor’s ‘moral’ objections to Planned Parenthood and needle exchanges. As I write this, that ‘leader’ is going to be sworn in at vice-president of the United State and despite his claims, he has never been a leader for ‘all people.’
In this political climate it’s all to important that we stay informed. We need real non-biased information. That is why we started the Beacon, Michigan City and Northwest Indiana’s own LGBT news magazine. We are going to be offering all original content and OUT in Michigan City and Northwest Indiana will continue with shared stories from other legitimate sources. We are going to attempt to fill in the gaps that are left from Chicago news reporting and the information from the Indiana State Legislature that does not get to us in a timely fashion.
I invite you to go on this journey with us, I encourage e-mails, story suggestions and constructive criticism. LGBT rights activist, solider, author, and one of my heroes told me as I was interviewing him for a Chicago based LGBT paper I used to write for “Always’s trust the power of your voice.” What we are doing here is not only my voice by it’s your voice too, and we are going to use the power of our collective voices to report on the stories that need to be talked about and that are hard to talk about. Most of all we will use the power of our voices to communicate with each other, to understand each other, and connect with each other.
Thanks for dropping by,
John Martin Livelsberger