(INDIANAPOLIS) – Indiana is commemorating a pair of turning points in the history of Indy’s LGBT community.
Monument Circle was the scene of two gay rights milestones, six years apart. In 1984, 15 years after New York’s Stonewall Riots ignited the gay rights movement, hundreds of gay men gathered on the Circle to protest police harassment. Stonewall was followed a year later by the first Pride marches — Indy finally followed suit in 1990 with the “Celebration on the Circle.”
Indy Pride executive director Shelly Snider says the 1990 celebration is significant as Indy’s first public, outdoor LGBTQ Pride festival. Until then, she says, there were had been annual Pride celebrations around the Stonewall anniversary in June — but behind closed doors in bars or hotels, and with participants sometimes wearing masks for fear of recognition and retaliation.
A newly installed Indiana Historical Bureau marker on the Circle commemorates both the 1990 celebration and the 1984 protest which proceeded it. Snider says IUPUI and the Indiana Historical Society pursued a marker for years, first to win approval for it, then to finalize the wording. The two-sided sign was finally ready last year, only to be delayed again by pandemic closures.
At that point, Snider says Indy Pride pushed back installation to coincide with this year’s Pride Month. The marker finally went up last week, but is not part of the month’s 22 Pride events. A formal dedication ceremony is planned in August.