LGBTQ+ Pride Month may be over, but Crawfordsville could join the celebration next year.
A group of LGBTQ+ residents and straight allies are making plans for a pride festival next June to “challenge homophobia, transphobia, and hate within the community,” organizers say. Nearly 400 people have joined the group’s Facebook page and organizers plan to begin raising money later this summer.
“We’re getting a lot more support than I figured we would here,” co-organizer Austin Aldrich said.
Crawfordsville would become one of the smallest cities in Indiana with a pride festival, joining a growing list of communities recognizing the month.
The state’s largest event is held in Indianapolis, and festivals were organized for the first time this year in Angola, Evansville and the Hammond area.
Aldrich, 25, and his friend, Syd Innovaria, 31, said it was time for the community to support young people bullied over their LGBTQ+ status as well as transgender people, non-binary people and other marginalized groups.
Nearly three-quarters of youth nationwide have experienced verbal threats because of their actual or perceived sexual orientation and gender identity, and are almost five times as likely to have attempted suicide than their straight peers, advocates say.
“I always talked about, like, I want to get away from this place, I hate it here … everybody’s so conservative and everything,” said Innovaria, who identifies as gender-fluid and pansexual, which is the attraction to people regardless of gender, sex or presentation.
“But then I was like, you know what, there’s people like me here and we can just change the community … I just feel like we always keep running away from everything trying to find something better, well, who’s going to make those places better for us to go to?” Innovaria added. “Someone’s got to do it, why not us?”
A planning committee of about 40 people, which conducts monthly public meetings, has begun organizing fundraisers and securing a site for the festival. The group is also creating a resource guide of LGBTQ+-friendly businesses and setting up workshops on terminology, pronoun use and the distinction between sexual orientation and gender identity.
The committee’s next meeting is scheduled for 3 p.m. Aug. 4 at the Crawfordsville District Public Library.
The group forms as other local organizations have been working to raise awareness of LGBTQ+ issues.
Humans United for Equality has invited the group to lead a subcommittee. Wabash College’s LGBTQ+-student led club recently sponsored a lecture by the plaintiff in the U.S. Supreme Court case that legalized same-sex marriage nationwide.
And last year, acting on the recommendation of the Human Rights Commission, the common council added protections for sexual orientation and gender identity to the city’s non-discrimination ordinance.
That issue wasn’t front and center when Aldrich and his husband, Jacob, now 26, came out in high school. Though the couple said the community is more accepting, Jacob envisions businesses painting rainbows on windows to show support for Pride Month.
“It’d be really cool for the month of June to get something support-related for LGBTQ [people] just everywhere so kids don’t have to feel alienated anymore,” he said. “And I think we’re in a better place than we were, but it can always get better.”