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Saturday, June 15
The Indiana Daily Student

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COLUMN: Celebrating Pride Month in Bloomington 


When police raided the Stonewall Inn in the early morning hours of June 28, 1969, the response of the patrons inside the popular Manhattan gay bar and the New York City queer community marked a turning point in the LGBTQIA+ civil rights movement.  

Stonewall Inn was not the first queer bar raided by New York City police. In the state of New York, it was illegal to serve alcohol to a gay person until 1966, and when the Stonewall Inn was raided in 1969, homosexuality was considered a criminal offense. The Stonewall Inn also catered to marginalized members of the LGBTQIA+ community – underaged and unhoused people, people of color and drag performers – those who didn’t fit in or couldn’t afford to go to other queer community spaces.  

What exactly happened during the raid at the Stonewall Inn has historically been difficult to confirm, but interactions between police and patrons were violent, and continued for days after.  

When word got out about what happened at Stonewall, thousands gathered at the inn during protests which lasted six days. What become known as the Stonewall Uprising or Rebellion is considered by many activists as the birth of the large-scale modern pride and gay liberation movements. “Threw the first brick at Stonewall” is still a common phrase used in LGBTQIA+ communities today.  

On the one-year anniversary of the raid at the Stonewall Inn, thousands gathered in the streets of New York City, Los Angeles and Chicago to commemorate. The Eastern Regional Conference of Homophile Organizations called it the Christopher Street Liberation Day. The demonstrations were recognized as the first gay pride marches in the United States, which began a movement of celebrating Pride during the month of June.  

The celebration was first federally recognized in 1999 when President Bill Clinton declared June “Gay and Lesbian Pride Month,” which was changed in 2009 by President Barack Obama to “LGBT Pride Month” and in 2021 by President Joe Biden to “LGBTQ Pride Month.”  

All over the nation, June is celebrated as Pride Month and recognizes the entire LGBTQQIP2SA – Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Questioning, Intersex, Pansexual, Two-Spirited, Asexual and other identities in the queer community. While the Bloomington Pride Festival isn’t until August, there are other ways to celebrate Pride during the month of June.  

“All Pride, No Ego: A Conversation and Book Signing with Jim Fielding” 

IU alumnus Jim Fielding began his first professional fashion industry job in the 1980s. He wasn’t open about his sexual orientation with his colleagues, which caused him physical stress, he shared in an interview with the Harvard Business Review in 2023. He left to find a place of employment where he could embrace his true self.  

After eight years at the Gap Inc., he went on to become the president of Disney Store Worldwide, president of consumer products and innovation at 20th Century Fox, global head for consumer products and retail development at DreamWorks Animation and CEO of the Claire’s chain of stores before taking his current position as president of the Archer Gray Co-Lab Group, where he has learned to live and lead authentically.  

Fielding wrote his book, “All Pride No Ego: A Queer Executive’s Journey to Living and Leading Authentically,” in 2023, where he reflects on bullying during his adolescence and shares his experiences as an openly queer individual working in corporate America where only four Fortune 500 companies are led by openly LGBTQ CEOs.  

On June 9, Fielding will visit the Monroe County History Center for a conversation led by Justin Robertson from WFHB’s BloomingOUT and a book signing, where hardcover books will be available for purchase. The event is free and begins at 3 p.m. 

Spend a night out at The Back Door 

If you are over 21 and looking to spend a night out doing karaoke, line dancing, watching a drag show, playing trivia or even volunteering for a cause, Bloomington’s only gay bar, The Back Door, is worth a try.  

Every Sunday night, The Back Door hosts karaoke; Wednesday nights are reserved for open stage, and Mondays are for Trivia Night with Bloomington Pub Quiz. The bar will also be hosting a “Pack-a-thon” for Pages to Prisoners, an all-volunteer project which encourages self-education among prisoners, on June 25 and a Pride Dance Party on June 14.  

The Back Door has a robust menu of specialty cocktails and mocktails, including “These Gays Are Trying to Murder Me” with Lunetta Prosecco, Aperol and soda and the “Pink Cadillac Margarita” with Patrón Tequila, Cointreau, hibiscus syrup and lime juice. The Back Door also has a pet friendly patio, where patrons can purchase food from “The Munch Box” food truck’s menu, which includes a classic grilled cheese, jalapeño pineapple quesadilla and spicy waffle fries, among other items.  

The Back Door is open 7 p.m. to 1 a.m. Sunday through Thursday and 5 p.m. to 3 a.m. Friday to Saturday. The Munch Box serves food from 8:30 p.m. to 2 a.m. Friday to Saturday and 8 to 11 p.m. on Mondays. The Back Door is located at 207 S. College Ave.  

Support queer-owned businesses  

The Cat’s Closet is a queer and Black-owned vintage store which combines its owners’ love of sustainable fashion and finding loving homes for adoptable cats. Their goal is to provide a safe and welcoming space for both cats and people by offering fashion that is accessible for all sizes, genders and budgets.

Along with a shopping space full of vintage clothes, The Cat’s Closet has a cat lounge where cats and kittens from the Bloomington Animal Shelter relax and play, and for customers to come and visit. The Cat’s Closet usually keeps between eight and 12 cats in the lounge, all of which are available for adoption. Since their opening in October 2023, The Cat’s Closet has reached more than 90 adoptions.  

The Cat’s Closet is hosting several different events during the month of June, including a bingo night on June 21, Paint and Pet on June 22 and “Caturday,” which includes handmade gifts, art, vintage clothing, food trucks and more on June 29. It is also offering free cat lounge visits when you bring cat treats or toys June 12-15. More information about The Cat’s Closet’s events can be found on its Instagram.  

The Cat’s Closet is open from 12 to 8 p.m., Wednesday through Sunday at 223 S. Pete Ellis Drive. 

More queer-owned businesses can be found on the Bloomington Chamber of Commerce website.

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