The Indiana University South Bend Civil Rights Heritage Center LGBTQ Collection contains materials relating to the experience of people in and around South Bend, Indiana, who describe their sexual and/or gender identity as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgendered, or queer, as well as people who consider themselves allies to the LGBTQ community. South Bend and neighboring cities in north central Indiana and south central Michigan, like so many cities in the United States during the second half of the 20th century and first quarter of the 21st, has experienced a radical transformation in attitudes towards the LGBTQ community. For much of the 20th century, South Bend's LGBTQ community was closed and closeted. With a stronger Catholic and Christian culture than other cities (as evidenced in places like the predominately Catholic University of Notre Dame as well as significant Polish and Eastern European immigration), South Bend had been described as a less welcoming place than larger cities with higher percentages of "out" LGBTQ people and stronger gay cultures, such as San Francisco or New York City. Without the promise of acceptance by their families or protections against discrimination in their workplaces, people often did not identify as LGBTQ publicly. Many felt they could publicly identify only within the few gay-friendly public spaces, such as the Sea Horse Bar and Cabaret. Like much of the United States, South Bend underwent significant changes in the first quarter of the 21st century through the efforts of countless "out" individuals and straight allies. By 2012, those efforts helped make South Bend one of the few cities in Indiana to add LGBT protections to its human rights ordinance. In 2015, South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg publicly came out as well, becoming the highest ranking government official in Indiana to do so. The IU South Bend Civil Rights Heritage Center LGBTQ collection — the first of its kind in the city — helps all people understand and reflect upon the major advancements in LGBTQ acceptance over the last fifty years, and how this one Midwest city moved from a place where many people felt they needed to hide their identities into a more welcoming and more open community.