FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) — Fort Wayne Pride has come a long way since it started up in 1998, and Executive Director Nikki Fultz tells WANE 15 that the Fort Wayne community has come a long way in that time as well.
Fultz said Fort Wayne Pride tries to put on events for the LGBTQ+ community every month but that people generally find themselves welcome in a lot of spaces here in Fort Wayne. She said she cannot make a blanket statement that everyone is accepting or accepting of LGBTQ+ people because everyone’s situations and experiences are different. However, they often see people from smaller surrounding communities coming to Fort Wayne to take part in events because there is a bigger sense of community among LGBTQ+ people here.
“We have seen a huge change in just the perception in the community, the visibility that we’re able to have the support that we gain, not just from community members, but from businesses, and media,” said Fultz. “We’re just able to, just join that festival circuit of Fort Wayne’s Summer Festival. We’ve been lucky to see that change over the years, and we hope that continues in the future.”
While she says that is great progress for an area that many see as relatively conservative, there is still more progress that can be made.
“I think that maybe some more resources, especially, I know, with like the homeless population,” Fultz said. “There’s some issues with members of the LGBTQ community being able to find a place that works for them. Still, with the youth in the schools and stuff like that, I think that there’s still places that people aren’t always accepted. So my goal is to have 100% where it doesn’t matter who you love, it doesn’t matter. You know who you are. You can just find a place here in Fort Wayne.”
Fort Wayne Pride is hosting a couple of events this month:
- June 5: The Pride Ambassador pageant where people will compete to become the representative for Fort Wayne Pride for the next year
- June 8: Pride Night at Parkview Field for the TinCaps game
- June 18: Fort Wayne Pride is partnering with the Three Rivers Music Theater to bring a performance of “True Colors: A Celebration of Pride” at the Embassy Theater
In June there is usually a Pride Festival that happens in many cities this month to celebrate. Fultz said Fort Wayne’s will take place in July as usual. It was canceled last year due to the pandemic but they’re bringing it back this year with some adjustments.
“This year, we’ve expanded our footprint to be both sides of Headwaters,” Fultz said. “We’re going to be taking place on the east and west side, which gives us extra space for the vendor market, an extra stage a second stage, and so we’re hoping people are able to spread out more for anybody who’s concerned about COVID issues. They’re going to have an opportunity Saturday day time to visit and have plenty of room to enjoy the festival.”
The parade that typically happens during the festival will not be making a comeback this year, however. The Fort Wayne Pride board is still working out a finalized plan for this year’s festival.
Fultz said Fort Wayne Pride is excited to bring back the festival because it is such a meaningful event for so many people.
“I think anytime you can have something in your hometown or near your hometown you feel more of a community support, and you are able to meet people connect with resources in the area, but also just being yourself in an area that you’re comfortable with,” said Fultz. “Being in Fort Wayne, a lot of people think it’s a conservative town and it’s made strides along the years. As that’s happened, I think people are more open to coming out to the festival, checking it out whether they are part of our community or straight allies, we’re able to bring people together and just have a great celebration.”
Fort Wayne Pride 2021 is scheduled for July 23 and 24.