12,000 to fill downtown for gay unity event

With 12,000 attendees expected this weekend, organizers of IN Pride 2004 hope this event will be the largest gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered (GLBT) event in the state’s history.

“Our mission is to educate and honor the history of the gay/lesbian/bisexual community and celebrate the diversity and unity among the GLBT and straight communities,” said Gary Brackett, president of Indy Pride and chief organizer of the event. “We use funds that we generate from all of our events to sponsor scholarships for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender students.” Indy Pride events have been going on since the early 1980s, when they were just small gatherings in downtown ballrooms, and peaked in 2003 with attendance close to 11,000.

This year’s event, under the theme “Together, we are strong,” comes at a time when controversy and interest in the gay community is at a fever pitch due to political maelstroms such as gay marriage. “We’re hoping that that’s going to help bring more people to the event,” Brackett said. “We’re going to have several groups there registering people to vote. I think the whole marriage controversy has gotten people to want to be visible. They want to show their pride and they want to show the world that there are more GLBT people out there than they usually perceive … I think it’s helped make the gay community more aware of how big our community is. Right now in the state of Indiana you can be fired by some companies because they find out that you’re gay. We need to work together to get just equal rights with the rest of the world. People shouldn’t live in fear of being fired because of who they sleep with.”

The weekend’s not all political, however, with several DJs and dance parties and national entertainers such as CeCe Peniston and Crystal Waters on the main stage Saturday evening. “We just want everyone to come out and celebrate and learn more about the world,” Brackett said.

WHAT: IN Pride 2004

WHEN: June 12-13

WHERE: University Park downtown starting at 10 a.m. June 12; Garfield Park starting at noon June 13. Parade lineup begins at 9 a.m. June 12 on Massachusetts Avenue between Carrollton and College. Closing party runs from 3 to 9 p.m. June 13 at the Metro, 707 Massachusetts Ave.

ADMISSION: Free For more information and full schedule: www.indyprideinc.com/Pride.html.

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