(Ball State Daily News – Page 1 – July 1, 1991)
By REBECCA WARD
INDIANAPOLIS – The second annual Celebration on the Circle promoting gay and lesbian pride attracted over 3,500 people for the all-day event, including about 25 students from Ball State, according to David Speakman, Student Association off-campus Senator.
The Lesbian and Gay Student Association from the university sponsored one of the 47 booths at the event, handing out fliers and brochures about famous homosexuals throughout history.
“One of the goals of LGSA is to educate the gay community about itself,” Speakman said. “Everyone is ignorant about gay people. When you think gay people, you think Liberace and Rock Hudson. We just want to show that gay people are respectable.”
The event was sponsored by Justice, Inc., an Indiana state lobbying group that represents gay and lesbian citizens.
A group of about 50 religious protesters marched around the circle for about two hours at the beginning of the celebration carrying signs that said, “Sodomy is a sin,” “Got AIDS Yet? (acronym for gay)” and “There is something queer about this rally.”
Later on the protesters took the stage, only to be run off by hundreds of people chanting, “Go home.” The protesters left soon after and did not return.
There were no arrests or violent incidents.
Security for the event was doubled from last year’s security on recommendation of the city of Indianapolis, said Eric Evans, committee chair for Celebration on the Circle. Justice, Inc. hired about eight off-duty Indianapolis police officers to supplement the on-duty officers.
Democratic mayoral candidate Sen. Louis Mahern was on hand to let the gay and lesbian community know that he was supporting them. IN a speech he promised a “proclamation from the mayor and I will read it at this event (next year).”
“What this country is all about is the constant progress toward real civil liberties, real opportunities for everyone in this country,” Mahern said. “We’re not there yet, but we’re moving there in the right direction. This celebration today is what a city is all about.”
Mahern also said that if elected, he would “sensitize” police on delicate matters such as gay and lesbian rights and minorities.
“There is a tremendous political power within your community,” he told the crowd.
Afterward, Mahern said how he plans on handling the gay and lesbian issues he promised to address.
“I will meet regularly with the leadership of the gay and lesbian communities to make sure that the complaints that they have are being treated treated by the city,” he said. “There will be an open door in the mayor’s office.”
Mahern said he would deal with each complaint on a case-by-case basis and take whatever action is necessary for that situation.
Other speakers stressed AIDS education, gay pride, “coming out” and telling their parents they were homosexual.
Between speakers, entertainers pleased the crowd with songs and dances. The Indianapolis Men’s Chorus began their first song with men individually saying where they were from or their occupation. The men who were a truck driver ans registered nurse got rousing applause from the crowd.
A dance followed the speakers and entertainers and many gay and lesbian people took advantage of this rare opportunity to dance and express themselves in public.
Many other groups had booths that informed the gay and lesbian community about their service and how they could help. Several of the booths dealt with AIDS education and preventions.
The Marion County Health Department, in its second year at the event, distributed 5,000 condoms last year and was doing the same Saturday. IN addition to handing out free condoms, lubricants, dental dams and brochures about safe sex were available.
Barbara Burcham, Assistant HIV/AIDS Program Coordinator, stressed education as a string method of AIDS prevention for everyone. “It’s not a gay disease anymore,” she said. “It’s important to know that no matter who you’re having sex with to use a condom.”
The Indiana State Board of Health distributed brochures and conducted a survey to help develop new AIDS prevention and education ideas.