"EDEN: Celebrating Life and Diversity"
A benefit for the Damien Center
Wednesday, March 29, 9 p.m. - 4 a.m.
$5 donation suggested
Chris Conner: "I see an immense amount of hope for this city."
Once upon a time, Chris Conner was told he was the Goth fairy, a man who could make things happen. Four years in the planning stages, rejections for funding and a city which can be a little unreceptive to, well, hmm ... let's call it diversity, was not enough to derail such a man.
Tonight, Conner's dream will come to fruition. His party, "EDEN: Celebrating Life and Diversity," will go on from 9 p.m. to 4 a.m. at Talbott Street, 2145 N. Talbott St.
Conner explains the genesis of the event: "Recently, I decided to come out of the closet as a gay male to the public at large. I started going to all the gay clubs in the city, being me ... that is the Gothic/cyberpunk/electro Goth me." As he later found, in Indianapolis, even the left of the dial subcultures find comfort in their compartmentalization. "So I came out and felt like my own tribe of Goths didn't understand me, and the tribe which I now belonged to, the 'gay community,' shunned me."
In answer to this, the words of a friend rang to mind for Conner: "Indianapolis is lost. We're a bunch of scattered lost children. All of the tribes of Indy for whatever reason have went to their corners and don't intermingle."
Conner is self-described as the "Gothic Make-a-Wish Foundation," but truly his greatest asset would be an enthusiasm for just about everything. Still a sociology student at IUPUI with a job, he has worked in the computer labs on campus, done promotion work and been involved with AIDS research programs and student government. If you find yourself even loosely attached to the IUPUI campus, chances are you'll find Conner burning up the pavement. "I feel well-equipped to bridge gaps," he said. "I just want to be everybody's friend."
EDEN is a hodge-podge of weird and eccentric audio and visual arts. There will be a fire arts show care of the Stinkee Beetle Tribe; the Bloomington High Flyers Circus, which has a long tradition of some amazing acrobatics; and the Wild Child Performance Art and Décor from New Orleans and Florida. There will also be DJs throughout the night, spinning various derivatives and hybrids of electronic dance and house music. It's certainly sure to be a spectacle, but Conner assures that anybody and everybody should feel comfortable there.
The event is being put on to benefit the Damien Center, an Indianapolis-based organization that provides free HIV/AIDS testing and ministry to anyone infected or effected by the disease. "The stigma on people who have AIDS is still pretty strong," Conner said. "It's not just a gay disease, it's a black disease, it's a white disease, it affects everybody. A lot of people didn't know what the Damien Center was while I was passing out flyers, so if nothing else I was able to educate people."
Conner's goal is simply to make Indianapolis a better and more diverse space, but don't expect the native Mooresville boy to leave the Midwest dejected, no matter how stifling the region can be to those of his ilk. "I see an immense amount of hope for this city," he said. "I'll know just how depressed I should be after my event, but even if I don't have a big turnout, you just can really know someone in this town and it's very easy to have a vision and make it come true."