Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Pride in the Face of Inequality

I’ll never forget the first year I went to gay pride.  I was seventeen years old, fresh out of the closet and debating whether or not I should jump back in.  A lesbian couple invited me to go to pride, though at the time I had no idea what that meant.  The sights and sounds, but mostly the people, blew me away, and for the first time I realized I had a place in this world—a community where I didn’t have to hide the truth from myself or others just to make life a little easier.  Years later, after I met my husband, I had the privilege of taking him to his first gay pride event.  We drove over an hour to Indianapolis, searched for twenty minutes for a parking space, all for him to look at me and ask:  “You just want to go home?”
Well fuck no I didn’t want to go home. 

Gay pride was a celebration, and I wanted him to experience it too.  Luckily, I convinced him to stay and, as I knew he would, he loved it.  And we’ve been going back ever since.
Last Saturday marked the 25th Anniversary of Circle City Pride, an event that continues to grow larger and larger each year.  This year, over 90,000 people came out to partake in the festivities, which consisted of a week’s worth of events beginning with a Rainbow 5K walk/run and culminating in the largest pride event Indianapolis has ever seen.  Quite a difference from the first Indianapolis pride which was held at the, now gone, Essex Hotel in 1981.  Back then, Indy wasn’t the safest place for the queer community, so attendees entered through a side door and wore masks so as not to be recognized.  But if you were anywhere near the Circle City on Saturday, you saw how far we’ve come. 
Of course, the LGBT community of Indianapolis has a lot to celebrate when only a few short months ago House Joint Resolution 3, which would ban same-sex marriage in the state, was being positioned to be placed on the ballot this November.  But it was struck down when members of the Senate voted to strike the second sentence from the amendment, making 2016 the earliest Indiana could see the likes of HJR-3 on a voter ballot.  A small victory, and proof of Indiana’s on-going fight against inequality—but victory nonetheless.  And we’ll take it!  After all, if there is one thing LGBT Hoosiers know it’s the power of community. 

And we’re not finished yet.

In Indiana there are no hate crime laws, despite the 45 other states which have enacted those laws—and gays can still be fired from their jobs without fault.  Currently, 19 states and the District of Columbia recognize same sex marriage while Indiana watches from the sidelines as if afraid of what other states might think of us if we stepped out.  Our politicians have made a mockery of what should be our natural-born rights.  When a cancer patient is forced from her bed to fight for the rights of her wife, then something is sincerely fucked with our political system.  We’re a backwards state, forever on the wrong side of history.  But times change, and the LGBT Community has proven it will no longer sit quietly as we wait for the powers that be to give us what should have been ours all along, especially when they’ve ignored us for too long.
So here’s to you, Indiana, you beautiful red bitch.  We’re here and we’re queer, and you’ll get used to it. 

Happy Pride Month!  

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