It’s all over but the shouting. The steady movement toward equality really is inexorable.
Earlier today, my husband and I rode our bikes to the Pride Parade. This was the 10th year for the Indy parade, and we were at the very first one–when, as my husband recalled, marchers outnumbered spectators even though only four or five groups marched. The parade has grown steadily–I stopped counting after fifty and it went on for a long time after that–and the crowd of spectators was massive.
The parade began at 10 and lasted until around 11:30, by which time the Pride Festival had begun. Even though the organizers had expanded the venue this year, going from the World War Memorial all the way up the Plaza to the library, it was so crowded I had trouble walking at some points. Parade and festival participants ranged from political candidates and officeholders, to banks, CPA firms and law offices, to local universities, to companies like Lilly, Cummins and Dow Agro. Local GLBT organizations were well represented, and so were area churches. (Out of 250 booths, I counted nine churches–and not just the “usual subjects.” The list included North United Methodist Church, Church of the Savior, Northview Church of the Brethern, All Saints Episcopal and Castleview Baptist, among others.)
So let me share some random observations:
- The crowds weren’t just huge, they were significantly more diverse than they used to be. There were large numbers of African-Americans and Latinos this year, for example. In the past, the more conservative nature of their cultures has meant fewer black and Latino attendees. From the looks of this year’s crowd, those barriers have weakened. (Surprisingly, I even saw two Muslim women wearing headscarves.)
- Organizers accommodated the greater number of children in attendance by erecting a Fun Zone with a couple of large blow-up “bouncy houses.” From the looks of it, the kids were bouncing themselves silly and having a great time.
- There must be a lot of dog lovers in the gay community; I saw spay-neuter organizations, dog grooming salons, something called “Puppy Playground” and something else called the “Bark Tutor School for Dogs.” It wasn’t just dogs–a representative of PETA thrust a pamphlet into my hands with an adorable, fuzzy chick and the caption “If you knew me you wouldn’t eat me.”
- A very persuasive young salesman nearly sold me a Chevy Volt. Chevrolet had several cars on display, but the Volt was clearly the star of their show.
- The wonderful thing about capitalism is that it trumps bigotry every time. Literally hundreds of merchants were hawking their wares on the mall–from the jewelry and tee shirt vendors who reliably show up at every festival to realtors, printers, day spas, pizza joints and children’s camps. It was a great opportunity for marketing, and they were taking full advantage of it.
- Also taking the opportunity for outreach were lots of government agencies, social services organizations, and a variety of non-profits hoping to attract new members.
Bottom line? Over the past decade, as old bigotries have steadily retreated, the annual Pride festival has come to look more and more like every other American celebration, with gays and straights, children and adults, vendors and politicians all mingling on the mall. That normalcy is what will finally defeat the remaining homophobic fringe characters who can look at lots of nice, normal people enjoying themselves on a sunny Saturday and see a group of fellow humans who somehow don’t deserve equal civil rights.
Fortunately, fewer and fewer people see what Eric Miller and Micah Clark see. That ship has sailed. Too bad they weren’t on it.