October 31, 2023
A new era - Westfield Pride attendees enjoy a Taylor Swift-inspired drag performance.
The first pride parade was held in 1970 to commemorate the one-year anniversary of the 1969 Stonewall Riots. Early in the morning of June 28, 1969, patrons of the Stonewall Inn came together to fight back against a police raid, a common occurrence in queer gathering spaces at the time. The six days of rioting that ensued would go on to inspire the gay liberation movement, a social movement that encouraged queer people to counter societal shame with pride. In the spirit of this, many cities across America began holding their own pride parades.
Saturday, September 30, 53 years after the first pride parade, Westfield joined the celebration. The event, held at Asa Bales Park, consisted of games, vendors, musical entertainment, a drag performance, and much more. With over 1,200 attendees, Westfield’s first pride was widely considered a success.
“We had all different kinds of committees,” Westfield Pride team member and volunteer Emily Huss said. “We had our first meeting in May, and then we had them every two weeks. Then, starting in August, it was every week.”
With Westfield Pride being the first event of its kind in the city, there were lots of preparations to be made. The team behind the event spent months contacting vendors, raising awareness, and planning an engaging itinerary.
“There was social media, which involved promoting and reposting other towns’ pride news, like Carmel and Greenwood,” Huss said. “As we got closer we posted every day to bring more awareness.”
When the day finally came, activities and entertainment for both kids and adults drew a large crowd.
“We had story time, face painting, music, and obviously a ton of vendors,” Huss said. “And then at 6:15 we had the drag show.”
Even with the event only being a couple of weeks past, the team is already reflecting on what went well and what could be improved for next year.
“We sent out forms to all the volunteers and vendors to get feedback to see what they would want to see next year,” Huss said. “Originally the drag show was gonna be a year two idea, but a couple of our committee members were really pushing for the drag show and it was a huge success, so I’m really glad they did that.”
After such a rewarding first year, the Westfield Pride Committee is even more motivated to be a positive force in our city. They aim to create a welcoming space for all and to let people know that Westfield has a beautifully diverse community.
“I wanted to take this opportunity to create an event for those who have felt shunned… just for anyone and everyone to come and feel safe and loved,” Huss said “[LGBTQ+ people] exist in this community, and we matter, and we’re here no matter what.”