Indy Like a Local: Chris Handberg

Who is Chris?


Indy Pride Executive Director who is leading the 37th annual Indy Pride Festival on June 8


Q: How does Indy Pride Festival happen every year?


For the past several decades, Indy Pride has put on events throughout Central Indiana with solely volunteers leading the charge. It wasn’t until 2017 that they hired the first staff member, which is me, and we now have a part-time person as well to help lead those events. Indy Pride Festival is one of the largest Pride events in the Midwest, the largest gathering of LGBTQ people in the state of Indiana. We have anywhere from 25,000 to 30,000 people attend the parade and the festival. 

Q. How has the event changed over the years? 


The first Pride event we have historical record of was held in 1982. It was held at a hotel restaurant downtown. People wore masks as they went in or they wore bags over their heads because they were afraid of being outed. And here we are, 37 years later, celebrating Pride with huge support from our business community, from our general community, and a large amount of Hoosiers.
In the past couple years, Indy Pride has changed where we moved from the American Legion Mall to Military Park, which gives us more space and more shade. It really gives a community-picnic feel where you’re watching music on the stage, you can go off and socialize and sit with your friends, or meet new friends. We really bring our community together for one day a year where we have an atmosphere where we can be ourselves, where we can hold hands with our loved ones and not feel judged or pressured to conform to those who would oppress us.

Q. Why is Pride still relevant in 2019?

 I think Pride is important because we don’t have all of the rights that heterosexual and cisgendered people have. We can still be fired for being LGBTQ; we can still be denied housing. Our trans family are attacked and brutalized and even demonized by people in the highest offices in the land. In the sense of building community, this is the time for us to be together with people who are like us and aren’t going to judge us. There is a lot of research about the stress that it causes someone to navigate a world that is tolerant at best and hostile at worst. Think about how gay marriage is only a few years old. Some people think, “Oh, you can get married now; life must be fine.” Life is not fine.  

Q. What will be the significance of the June 2019 event?


This year we are excited to celebrate 50 years of the Stonewall riots. The Stonewall riots are what started the gay liberation movement in America and arguably the world. It was in New York City. There was a bar called the Stonewall Inn. The police raided it, they continued to raid it, and the people who went there finally fought back. They were all arrested, and that really sparked the gay liberation movement. 
We’re excited to be a tobacco-free Pride, one of three Pride fests in the country that choose to be tobacco-free to promote the health and wellness of our community. And we have a lot of exciting surprises planned for attendees in the form of entertainment.

Indy Pride

Q. What advice do you have for first-time attendees?


First, I would say buy a fast-pass ticket, which are on sale now on our website (indypride.org). That way, you can go to the front of the line. While you’re there, enjoy yourself, be open minded, meet new people, and be sure to see it all. There are several hundred vendors, there are several different food options, we have three stages, family fun areas, and all sorts of activities for children and families.

Q. What will be available for kids at the festival?

 We will have bouncy houses and a stage with entertainment geared to children. We’ll have vendors specific to families who will pass out information and goodies. We’ll have performers in a carnival style on stilts and magicians.

Q. Have you noticed over the years that more people are bringing their children to Pride?  


Our community is very diverse in the types of people that identify as LGBTQ. We have lots of people in the community who are raising families and who want their children to experience Pride. To be able to bring your child to an atmosphere where there are other kids like them who may have same-sex parents, that’s very powerful for children. Also, we celebrate all parts of our community. We work really hard to make sure that different folks in our community feel represented, both in the planning side and entertainment selections and options for activities at the festival.

Q. What other events take place during the week leading up to the festival?


We kick off Pride month, which is really more like two months, with a Pride launch party and drag pageant. That is Sunday, May 5. A Rainbow 5K walk and run down historically LGBTQ Mass Ave is on May 18. And then we have a community picnic to remember and honor the roots of Pride on June 2. After the first Pride in 1982, it turned into a community picnic. So from 1983 to the present, we’ve had a Pride picnic in Indiana every year.
We have other different events, we have a trans pride, girl pride, and we have the country’s only deaf pride that I am aware of. We have a large deaf and hard-of-hearing community who identify as LGBTQ, and this year we’ll be doing a bi-pan pride: bisexual and pansexual pride. We’ll finish off Pride month with a toast for Pride at Sun King on the last Wednesday of the month. All of these events will be on our website. You can look under our event section to find out specific information about our events.

Q. Other than the festival, what other events and programs the organization promote year-round?

 We do a monthly educational series. We participate in the Indiana AIDS Walk, and we have a community Thanksgiving every year. 

Q. What are the price ranges for the festival?


We have a $5 general admission pass, $5 at the door or in advance; an $8 fast-pass ticket to cut through the line; and a VIP ticket ($60 in advance; $75 day of) that gives special stage access, a private lounge and bar, and the potential for meet-and-greets with some of our artists. We have cabanas on site, limited in number, for $350 for you and 10 of your friends to have a private tent, a table, and chairs that you can decorate and make your own, and you can camp out all day long. We also have spots for people to bring their own 10x10 tents, and those are $60. Those are limited as well.

Q. Any closing thoughts?


I honestly love it. I couldn’t think of a better way to have Pride celebrated. We have so many cool events and continue to build that sense of community. That’s really important to me.

 

 

 

 

 


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