Some Thoughts On Pride

The subject-matter of yesterday’s post was yet another reminder that bigotry against our LGBTQ+ neighbors still exists, and is used–together with racism, anti-Semitism and anti-Muslim bigotry–to motivate the MAGA base. When stripped to its essentials, the reality is that our current political divide is almost completely based on the division between “live and let live” Americans and the Christian Nationalists who largely comprise the MAGA movement.

That said, it is also a reality that those harboring these racial and religious grievances are in the minority. The culture has moved on, and they know it. In fact, it is that recognition that has them so furious.

I was forcefully reminded of that cultural shift when I attended this year’s Pride parade.

I have gone to every Pride parade held in Indianapolis since my years as the Executive Director of Indiana’s ACLU, so I’ve had a front-row seat to the event’s explosive growth. Although a variety of Pride events were held in the 1980s, it was in 1992 (I think–I may be a year or so off), that the very first “Cadillac Barbie Pride Parade” was held. I was there with a couple hundred other onlookers to see the floats–all eight of them, as I recall–most sponsored by the city’s gay bars.

Over the years, the number of floats and the crowds of cheering onlookers have grown–exponentially. The parade’s path has been expanded by several blocks to accomodate the crowds. And this year, a parade that was supposed to take two hours took almost three. There were at least a couple hundred entries, and they represented a breathtakingly broad part of our community. It seemed as if every company doing business in Indianapolis took part. At least five banks, multiple law firms, hospitals and schools had large contingents. The Indianapolis police and fire departments participated, as did the Mayor, the prosecutor, several Democratic political candidates, and multiple nonprofits. The local gay bars were back, along with a variety of gay organizations (including–I think for the first time– an African-American gay organization) and a large number of churches and religious communities.

The huge crowds–including lots of families with children– cheered and clapped. Many waved rainbow flags or wore  supportive clothing items. Where my husband and I were watching, near the end of the parade route, everyone was festive and polite.

I wonder what the two people holding large signs calling “homo sex” a sin thought about that massive show of support, and about the religious congregations marching with signs having some version of “Love all thy neighbors.” The “Christian” protestors who turned up regularly in the early days of the parade have dwindled over the years; I hadn’t seen any for the last few years, although given the enormous crowds of late, I may have missed them.

I didn’t go to the Pride festival that followed the Parade; I used to attend, but these days, I limit myself to the expanded parade. From what I hear, the festival–with its multiple booths and musical presentations–was equally well-attended.

I think we can take a lesson from events like this, and that lesson is comforting.

American culture has shifted. The majority is comfortable with inclusion–with the increased visibility and civic participation of Blacks and women and gay people. According to contemporary polls, over seventy percent of Americans approve of same-sex marriage, and majorities strongly disapprove of laws like Florida’s ‘don’t say gay” and efforts to keep books referencing LGBTQ+ folks out of public libraries.

It’s that level of acceptance that infuriates and frightens the MAGA throwbacks who currently control the GOP, and has pushed that party farther and farther to the Right. Just take a look at this year’s Texas GOP platform, which would infuse fundamentalist Christianity into the agencies of state government.

From his booth in the exhibit hall of the Texas GOP’s 2024 convention, Steve Hotze saw an army of God assembled before him.

For four decades, Hotze, an indicted election fraud conspiracy theorist, has helmed hardline anti-abortion movements and virulently homophobic campaigns against LGBTQ+ rights, comparing gay people to Nazis and helping popularize the “groomer” slur that paints them as pedophiles. Once on the fringes, Hotze said Saturday that he was pleased by the party’s growing embrace of his calls for spiritual warfare with “demonic, Satanic forces” on the left.

In Indiana, if everyone who marched in or cheered that Pride parade and the others around the state were to cast a ballot, we could easily hold off the people who see inclusion and acceptance as an attack on their right to dominate American life.

We need to get them to the polls.


  1. Spot on, Sheila, once again. Just think of it, an overwhelming majority of our country’s citizens have moved on, accepting the reality of a pluralistic society, while a small minority of bigots and religious zealots want to cling to societal norms from seventy-five years ago (and earlier). I just watched a couple of movies, Priscilla Queen of the Desert, which I’ve seen several times, and Boy Erased, for the first time. The contrast is remarkable, and while Priscilla is over the top but well-acted with a touching story line, Boy Erased, also very well acted, shows the insidious attempts at changing the reality of homosexuality. To me it feels unremarkable that we can be so inclusive as a nation in 2024, but then again, those ghosts from the 50s rear their ugly heads to remind us all that we have to keep fighting for what is inherently right. Voting is mandatory if we want to keep moving forward.

  2. Thanks Prof. All good stuff. I am reminded of another movie – “Cabaret”
    Before Hitler, Berlin was a very progressive place where gay people thrived. Just a few years later they were being executed in the camps. MAGA is dangerous and it is unwise to celebrate too early. This is not over.

  3. Without access to billionaire and multimillionaire money to support the radical right religious extremists they would have fallen silent decades ago. The extremely wealthy use their deep pockets to purchase politicians and keep them in line with threats to their job security and they keep the rest of us divided by owning the media sources that willingly spread their malicious lies.

  4. I have so many memories of those early days of the Pride Parade. I was there with my church and we didn’t have a lot of competition for the souls of the marchers in those days. Over time that changed. We got to the point of having a church section at the festival. I’m assuming that’s still the case. May I ask if the state Democratic Party had a table? Were there any groups there registering voters?

  5. Demonic forces of the left. Yes, very demonic to feed the hungry, cloth the naked, welcome the stranger. How evil to judge not. Maybe it is Lucifers work that so many Biblical scholars are referring back to the original Biblical texts to point out abortion, which has been around since humans began, isn’t condemned in the Bible and the passages used to rationalize hate of gay men is actually about adult men being with male prostitutes. Never mind Hotze has probably never considered the fact translations can and do change entire meanings. Then again it’s doubtful he has actually red the red ink parts of the Bible, the words of Jesus being “weak & woke” and all.

  6. Getting these people to the polls is only half the problem. I am aware of many people who accept the LGBT community, but adamantly vote GOP, and see no problem with it, and are offended when those of us of the LGBT community point out the inconsistency. They may not be NAT-C’s, but they blithely support them. At this point in time, “fiscal conservative, social liberal” isn’t doing anyone any favors.

  7. Sadly, Pat is correct: “This is not over.”

    The recent days have been marked by a disconcerting shift in European politics, with a surge of far-right ideologies. The dissolution of the French government due to a significant shift away from Macron is a stark example. Could this be a harbinger of what awaits America in November?

    Not a Marxist, but Karl Marx predicted this for decaying capitalism when it no longer serves the people. Sadly, what exists in Europe and the US is a pseudo-left that has acquiesced to the oligarchs but wants to be “inclusive” culturally. That didn’t work in Europe, and it’s not working in the US. Biden has put an exclamation point on destroying the left. Even AOC lost her luster as she endorsed Biden in the fall instead of tossing the party aside.

    Unless Biden pulls a trick out of his hat, we’ll probably see four pathetic years of Trump, and the goal will be to reign in the national debt because the oligarchs don’t want to pay taxes.

  8. The war between the Left and the Reds has taken a turn. It may now be accurately labeled as a war between Christ and Christians. I was always taught that Christ was an example of life we could regard as moral living. That’s what I’ve learned since, too. Do unto others………….

  9. Nick Poff. But, as I expect you know, today’s Republicans are not fiscal conservatives. That’s one of the things Democrats must make clear to voters.

  10. We are a Pagan organization here in Indy, and have had a booth at IndyPride since 2014. Yes! The growth is phenomenal, and I am happy/giddy that acceptance has grown so much. Personally, as an ally, I just sit in awe of the hard work, through the bigotry, that Pride has shown all of us!!

  11. The fundamental idea of liberal democracy is the need to give others what rights each of us wants for ourselves.

    I was born favored: white, male, Christian, solidly European ancestry, heterosexual, middle class. Perhaps I have never known cultural disadvantage.

    What I do know is that living in a box of any dimension rankles me. I assume that must be true of others too.

    I think of our potential as a country and as a species if we all lived as I have.

  12. Wonderful cultural advances!
    But, there will always be Hotze-like people living in fear of change.

  13. Every takeover of a free society by authoritarians follows the same path: moneyed interests who fear the power of the government to limit their wealth frighten the stupid and ignorant into voting for security over liberty.

    No offense intended toward any of you or your favorite causes, but every social issue is a sideshow compared to the real struggle at hand. To the real movers behind the right wing movement, anti-abortion rights, anti-gay rights, racism, etc. are levers, simply ways to control the dumb masses through fear.

    The fundamental problem, as always, is that those who wish to own everything are psychopathic and highly motivated. Those of us who care for gays, minorities, immigrants, and others, are neither as motivated nor as ruthless in pursuit of our goals.

    I certainly understand that the culturally backward, the clueless, and the religious need to be taught better ways, and someone needs to do that, but at this moment in time there is only one imperative: vote blue and convince as many as possible to do so as well.

  14. I know a gay couple who are staunch tRumpers, don’t believe in same sex marriage (they have been together for more than 25 years.), call themselves born again Christians, are racist and xenophobic. Self-haters? Maybe. Delusional? Probably. Dangerous? Yes. They expect all others to conform to their views. Unfortunately, they vote, too.
    There are several same sex couples in the neighborhood, some married and some not. Several of them are activists, some are “non-political”.
    As the Professor often reminds us, it depends and it’s complicated.

  15. Yes, the large majority of us who live in urban areas support diversity. In the more rural areas of the state, not so much. For those of you who live in smaller towns, does your hometown sponsor a Pride parade and event?

  16. Last Saturday the first Pride Festival was held in Dowagiac, MI, in the heart of MAGA country. I attended for a about 90 minutes. The Festival was small but friendly. During my visit there were no passers-by who opposed the Festival. The Democrat Party had a booth and there was a voter information booth. Although I am not in any of the LGBTQ+ categories, I went to support the rights of those who are. Discrimination against and harassment of LGBTQ+must end.

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