Thousands of people gathered in downtown Indianapolis on Saturday to celebrate the LGBTQ+ community at the annual Indy Pride Parade and Festival. The event featured music, entertainment, food, and fun, as well as a message of acceptance and love.
The parade, which started at 10 a.m. and ran along Massachusetts Avenue from College Avenue to Delaware Street, was led by the Grand Marshals: parents of transgender youth who have been advocating for their rights at the statehouse, and Dave Hochoy, the retiring artistic director of Dance Kaleidoscope, a contemporary dance company.
One of the parents, Beth Clawson, said being at the parade was “really special” to her and her family. She and her husband have been supporting their 10-year-old transgender daughter, Kirin, who faced discrimination and harassment at school.
“Being here is really special to us. It’s so nice to be able to celebrate with our friends and community, as opposed to worried about the attacks and worried about how we’re going to handle them,” she said.
Kirin said she felt happy and proud to be part of the parade. “It’s really nice. Not just I need it, but every trans kid in this community needs it,” she said.
The festival, which ran from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. at Military Park, featured performances by Saucy Santana, Deborah Cox, Maude Latour, and RuPaul’s Drag Race queens Vanessa Vanjie Mateo, Jorgeous, and Morgan McMichaels. Indy Pride implemented a new clear bag policy for the festival and offered various ticket options, including general admission, VIP, and cabana packages.
Many businesses, organizations, and public services joined the parade and festival to show their solidarity and pride. The Indianapolis Fire Department, the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department, Kroger, and Indy Humane were among the participants.
Bill Leshorn, a member of the Pride of Indy Bands, which got its start 18 years ago, said he was amazed by the growth and progress of the event over the years.
“Out of adversity comes growth. And so many people come out to support us. And year over year, it’s more about families, it’s really about everybody coming together,” he said.
He recalled that the first parade they ever did was very modest and low-budget. “We didn’t have any money, so we were playing drums on trash cans, so we’ve really come a long way. Not only have we come a wrong way as an organization, but the parade has come a long way,” he said.
He added that music brings everybody together and that he loved being part of the celebration. “It’s a wonderful day. There’s families, there’s music, there’s fun. It’s fantastic. We love it,” he said.
Indy Pride is a nonprofit organization that hosts events throughout the year to support and celebrate the LGBTQ+ community in Indianapolis. Its mission is to create safe spaces, provide educational opportunities, and promote self-empowerment for all LGBTQ+ people and allies in Central Indiana.
– Love and acceptance take center stage at Indy Pride, WTHR, June 10, 2023
– Indy Pride Festival 2023 coming up in Military Park, IndyStar, May 8, 2023
– 2023 Indy Pride parade and festival: What to know before you go, IndyStar, June 8, 2023
– Indy Pride Festival 2023 takes place Saturday, wfyi.org, June 9, 2023