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Owner of LGBTQ+ bar disagrees that Indiana ranks as an unwelcoming state

Group ranks Indiana among bottom 10 states for LGBTQ+ businesses, community

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Out Leadership ranked Indiana in the bottom 10 states for LGBTQ+ businesses and community.

The LGBTQ+ advocacy group based its rankings on legal protections, government policies, lifestyle, and political attitudes.

For more than 30 years, Downtown Olly’s has been a mainstay in the gay community. The downtown restaurant and bar was LGBTQ-founded. Co-owner David Brandon disagrees with the Out Leadership assessment. “From my perspective as an owner of Olly’s, we have always felt welcomed, felt supported, and we have been able to survive recent turmoil.”

The establishment survived the 2008-2009 recession and the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Brandon is straight and took over the ownership with his wife in 2018. “We know Olly’s was a fixture in the Indianapolis market having been here as long as they have and we knew we can continue that tradition of having an LGBTQ based safe space for all,” he said.

Rainbow flags adorn the restaurant and its patio. The gay establishment welcomes all, and Brandon doesn’t see his business as a risk at all. “We don’t stay in business for over 30 years if you’re not profitable.”

Saturday’s pride pub crawl and drag show will bring in several hundred people, Brandon said. 

Lisa Sheilder works at the restaurant as the event coordinator. “The people that I have come in contact with that know about me being trans are very welcoming and very warm to me and accepting.”

Sheilder says she feels safe in Indianapolis as a transwoman, but admits attacks or discrimination can happen anywhere. “I feel like, no matter where you’re at, you’re going to have people that do not agree with your lifestyle and what you represent.”