INDIANAPOLIS —The sun illuminated the rainbow flags littering the streets of downtown Indianapolis on June 9 as they hung on shoulders, in business windows and fluttered in the near nonexistent morning breeze.
As the temperature rose, so did the attendance for the Indy Pride Fest presented by Salesforce, a customer relationship management platform. Indy Pride produces events which educate, honor the history, and celebrate the diversity of the Indianapolis Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer community, according to their website.
Thousands of people sporting bright colors lined Massachusetts Avenue starting as early as 9 a.m. The crowd applied their sunscreen as they waited patiently for the parade to begin.
More than 50 companies, including Honda, Planned Parenthood and Comcast, took part in the parade – with employees decked out in matching t-shirts, passing out candy, standing on parade floats and more.
“Seeing a representation of all these companies that have queer people part of them, or support queer people, just makes me feel more welcome in the city,” Zoey Johnson, a 20-year-old IUPUI student, said. “It says, 'Hey, we’re gonna normalize this so you don’t feel so alienated all the time.’”
The 90-degree weather and sun didn’t seem to bother the crowd as they held their pride flags high and cheered for all those walking through the heat. Babies in strollers and older men holding hands all had one thing in common: They were there to support the LGBTQ+ community.
The Indy Pride fest is one of the largest LGBTQ+ gatherings in the Midwest, and the largest in Indiana, according to the Indy Pride website.
“I think without pride a lot of people wouldn’t understand that there are people like them out there,” Andrew Chen, an 18-year-old who will start attending school at Purdue in the fall, said. “They wouldn’t come out and be themselves, and I feel like there’s nothing worse in life than not being true to who you are.”
Indy’s first Pride Parade in the 2005 lasted only 15 minutes and featured only one float, a few drag queens, some antique cars and a couple of walkers. On June 9, just 13 years later, over 100 floats and walking groups made their way to the city to participate.
People walking the streets sold pride flags and buttons, making sure everyone who was there for the event had the opportunity to be decked out in rainbow colors.
"It breaks down the stereotypes of what a gay person looks like and what allies look like, too," Johnson said. "It's a place where people can come together and even people who don't understand every aspect of the spectrum, like the 'T' acronym for example, they can see examples of it and that can help bridge the gap."
The parade on Massachusetts Avenue was just the beginning of a long day full of activities. The entertainment line-up for the Pride Fest in Military Park began at 11 a.m., and extended until 11 p.m. with multiple acts on three stages: The Main Stage, the Family Stage and the Mojo (DJ) Stage, nearly every hour.
"It's a good time, it's a festival, it's a nice time for everyone to come together and spread love," Matthew Niemiec, 22, said. "I feel like a lot of people when they think of pride, they think it's just some big old orgy and it's really not, it just opens that we're all the same as everyone else – I just want to marry a man and not a woman."
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