June 8, 2024

Thousands gather for the Indy Pride festival in downtown Indianapolis

A float in the Indy Pride parade on Saturday, June 8, 2024 in downtown Indianapolis. - Zach Bundy / WFYI

A float in the Indy Pride parade on Saturday, June 8, 2024 in downtown Indianapolis.

Zach Bundy / WFYI

Thousands of people cheered Saturday morning in downtown Indianapolis alongside the Indy Pride Parade. The parade route stretched from the intersection of St. Clair Street and College Avenue to the Indy Pride Festival at Military Park.

This year was Tristen Frieden’s third year at the event. “It brings a lot of community because you get to see the businesses and the people involved,” she said. “Everyone just comes together to have a good time.” 

Jenny Boyts, the board president of Indy Pride, said they have been preparing for this festival since last summer. She expects around 32,000 people will attend the festival this year — the same as the 2023 event. Boyts said people are feeling a heightened need for community this year. 

“It has been really hard in the last two or three years to be a queer Hoosier, I think because of the violent rhetoric from the statehouse,” Boyts said. “But also just the ways in which societally we continue to be targeted, it feels really important to have kind of community partners and or institutions here in the city and organizations show up.”

State lawmakers passed a ban on gender-affirming care for transgender youth during the 2023 legislative session. The new law took effect in February after an injunction to stop it was struck down. 

Last month, Indiana Attorney General Todd Rokita joined a lawsuit with several other GOP-led states to stop new Title IX guidelines, released by the U.S. Department of Education, that forbids discrimination on the basis of sex stereotypes, sexual orientation, gender identity and sex characteristics schools that receive federal dollars.

Boyt said Indy Pride supports the ACLU of Indiana and their work advocating for trans youth. And she wants the festival to be more than about the hardships. 

“I think also just making sure that we have the space for joy,” Boyts said. “That queer folks are not only needing to be kind of resilient in the face of attack, but that we also can have our own space to be happy and have, you know, joyful moments and celebration together feels really important, especially today.”

There were religious protestors lining the gates of the festival and part of the parade. Brooklynn Richardson said that as she was entering the festival, some of them were harassing her.

“As I was walking in, I was called a groomer, I was called a pedophile,” Richardson said. “I was told you're going to hell, stuff like that. So it’s important to just show the community that there's more love than there is hate.”

The Indy Pride festival hosted live music all day Saturday, alongside dozens of vendors, a karaoke stage and drag shows. 

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