Life in Northwest Indiana's steel closet

LGBT steelworkers face discrimination, and fear reporting it to union.

June 2, 2014

As Illinois gears up for its first legal same-sex marriages, across the border in Indiana gay marriage is still officially banned.

Hoosiers say attitudes there are starting to soften, but some workplaces are still more closeted than others.

A new book reveals a little-known community of LGBT steelworkers who punch in every day at Northwest Indiana’s huge steel mills.

“Steel Closets” by the author Anne Balay, documents life in the macho environment of the steel mills where LGBT workers face discrimination and are often afraid to report it to the union.

Balay, a former English professor at Indiana University Northwest in Gary and the University of Illinois at Chicago, spent five years interviewing some 40 current and former steelworkers for her book.

She and retired lesbian steelworker Jan Gentry joined WBEZ’s Michael Puente at our Crown Point bureau.