Jenny Boyts: Indy Pride is committed to collaboration, healing

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The summer of 2020 was painful. The racial reckoning in Indianapolis and across the country was a reminder of the long and difficult road to liberation for so many people in the United States. While Indy Pride was reconciling the future of in-person events in the middle of a global pandemic, the organization was also called into accountability by local organizations fighting against police brutality, which led to a statement reimagining our relationship with IMPD.

As a not-for-profit that exists to unite and serve the LGBTQ+ community by creating and supporting LGBTQ+ spaces, we wondered if Indy Pride would be able to create inclusive spaces where LGBTQ+ officers could exist and support members of our community actively fighting police brutality. We also questioned whether officers fully understood the fear and pain experienced on a day-to-day basis by many members of our community.

In January 2022, Indy Pride welcomed the most gender and racially diverse board of directors in the organization’s history, the first female board president and the first female executive director. I have never been prouder to be a part of a team that is committed, eager and excited to be unapologetically diverse, inclusive and intersectional. Our team is thoughtful, strategically focused on collaboration and committed to following our mission.

As we convened our first meeting of the year, we set several goals for ourselves. The first was to connect with IMPD to explore how we will engage going forward.

Since connecting, there have been candid conversations with IMPD’s LGBTQ+ liaison, primarily focused on collaboration for our June events. While it is clear we must engage with IMPD to be in compliance with city permitting requirements, we also know safety and security mean different things to different people. Because of that, some things will look different this year for festival goers. Indy Pride will continue to contract with private security to manage entry and exits and will only utilize IMPD at strategic locations for road closures and homeland security requirements.

We are exploring the use of mobile crisis assistance teams, and we have requested more bicycle patrols versus vehicle patrols where possible. We have also invited LGBTQ+ officers to walk in the parade in the first responder unit which will include officers, firefighters and emergency response personnel and their families.

While Indy Pride continues to build relationships rooted in collaboration during this Pride season and beyond, we remain steadfast in our commitment to continue fighting for the safety and security of marginalized communities and those actively fighting against police brutality. Healing doesn’t come as a result of public statements, press releases or op-eds. Healing is a result of authentic relationships and trust-building, ranging from clear communication and follow through to Saturday morning coffee chats and long evening conversations. It includes asking important questions, listening and doing better. Healing is communal.

Indy Pride is just one organization in an ecosystem filled with many who are driving towards a more equitable and just society. We encourage our LGBTQ+ community organizations, local elected officials and community members to join us as we work to build authentic relationships that will offer opportunities for collaboration, partnership and healing.

The Indianapolis queer community deserves an ecosystem of LGBTQ+ organizations and leaders committed to coming together to resist the urge to perpetuate division and instead drive us toward true liberation. This is Indy Pride’s commitment. It is our hope other LGBTQ+ leaders and allies will join us.•


Boyts (she/hers) is chair of the Indy Pride Board.

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