Southern Indiana

Southern Indiana Pride is planning its first festival since the pandemic started.

After launching in 2016, the LGBTQ group held an annual parade for four years in Jeffersonville. Then the pandemic hit, forcing organizers to scrap the festival two years in a row.

Now, Southern Indiana Pride founder Evan Stoner is looking to rebuild that momentum. This week, the group is hosting its first planning session for next year’s celebration.

“Just to have that representation in our city, in a small Southern Indiana community, is huge,” Stoner said. “It means so much to a lot of people. And that’s really why we haven’t given up on this organization yet.

In the coming months, Southern Indiana Pride will form a new leadership team, including festival director, parade coordinator, vendor coordinator and sponsor coordinator.

Stoner said he’s excited to look ahead to next year and expand the scope of the event.

“While we do have a focus on building up and supporting our LGBTQ community, we truly want to lift up everyone in our community and be an organization that is able to bridge divides,” he said.

Southern Indiana Pride started as Jeffersonville Pride before rebranding in 2018. Now that the organization represents the whole region, the festival could take place in a different community from year to year.

But Jeffersonville Mayor Mike Moore said his city is open to hosting again.

“I hate to use words like this, but condemning somebody for the way they live, I don’t want to live in a city like that,” Moore said. “I want everybody to be happy. So if I can say, ‘Sure, you’re welcome to have a parade here,’ I’m proud to be able to say that.

Southern Indiana Pride’s planning session for the 2022 festival takes place at 6 p.m. Wednesday at Pints & Union in New Albany. The group hopes to hold its next parade in June.

John Boyle is a reporter and editor at WFPL news focused on Southern Indiana. He is a corps member with Report For America, a national service program that places journalists into local newsrooms.