He had lived in Indianapolis before moving to Memphis, Tennessee, which was home to a large pride festival and parade. Brackett couldn’t understand why a city like Indianapolis didn’t have one. City administrators told him that if he wanted one, he’d have to start one himself.
And he did.
The first year only eight people participated, and the entire parade lasted about 15 minutes.
But the 14th annual parade, which was Saturday, lasted more than two hours and included thousands of people marching through the streets in support of the LGBT community. Among them was the parade’s own founder, Brackett.
“It’s one of the biggest moments of my life,” Brackett said. “It’s a legacy. You get choked up seeing all of these people out here.”
Brackett marched in the parade as Cadillac Barbie, his drag name and the personality the parade is named after.
Brackett had been dressing as Cadillac Barbie long before the beginning of the parade. For about 35 years, he has participated in Indy Pride Bag Ladies, one of the oldest HIV/AIDS fundraising organizations in the country.
During 2014, the group raised $117,000 for HIV/AIDS causes. During the course of the group’s history, they’ve raised about 2 million dollars.
“We’re just a bunch of queens that put a dress and heels on and have a lot of fun,” Brackett said. “It’s a great organization.”
Other organizations at this year’s Indy Pride Parade and Festival are raising money for charities as well.
Indianapolis resident Kevin Warren started a political action committee called “Pence Must Go,” which he said is to raise awareness of Gov. Mike Pence’s policies. He coordinated friends and other volunteers to sell merchandise, including bumper stickers and yard signs at Saturday’s festival.
Warren said what started as a political action committee has snowballed into a movement. Warren said he believes passing the Religious Freedom Restoration Act isn’t the only reason Pence is at fault; he also doesn’t speak for the people of Indiana.
The profits from selling the merchandise are being donated to various groups and charities that support the LGBT community.
“At the end of the day, his arrogance and policies will raise money for the LGBT community,” Warren said.
Members of Bloomington’s own LGBT community were also in attendance at Saturday’s festival. Bloomington Prism Youth Community attended the festival for the third time and was able to bring 25 young adults to march in the parade.
Members of the group ran a booth during the festival, selling pins and spreading the word about their organization and the supportive Bloomington community.
“We’re growing and providing a valuable resource for youth who otherwise wouldn’t be able to go,” Prism member Sam Ison, 19, said.
Prism has more than doubled in size since its creation. Like the parade, it started with only eight members and now has about 20 members who regularly attend meetings and events.
“Youth don’t always feel like part of the community,” Ison said. “This is a good way for them to connect.”