The City of Greenwood, Indiana was established in 1864.

I think about the manicured hand in front of me bridging through a century and a half of history, past new schools, first phone lines, cutting through my hometown’s little history and into this moment.

As I watch my dollar bill disappear into the nails of the drag queen passing through the crowd — gliding through a field of flags, umbrellas and bodies in rainbow — a smile dawns on my face.

It’s Greenwood’s first Pride, and it only took 157 years to get here.

On June 5 I attended my first Pride event in my hometown of Greenwood in central Indiana, which is around an 18-hour drive from Wilton Manors, Florida. Greenwood Indiana Pride Block Party 2021 took place in an extended cement lot wrapping around a local baseball diamond with a baseball game running at the same time.

Driving up, I was unsure how many people would be attending and incredibly nervous that very few would actually show up. A small part of me was terrified the entire event was orchestrated as a joke.

Thankfully, as I approached the park I spotted pedestrians clad in Pride regalia — flags of all sorts, rainbow bandanas, t-shirts, overalls, etc. As I came closer my confidence bloomed in my chest and I loosened my shoulders, proudly displaying my Indiana Pride shirt I bought two semesters ago, shortly after coming out to friends.

I remember how tense I felt, making that purchase, not to mention having a visible indication of queerness. Months later, now at Pride, I was reminded of that growth to where I was now.

Visiting the booths of businesses and organizations, we collected pins and merchandise of all kinds. We were already weighed down with necklaces, stickers, buttons as well as cups of candy and coffee before we even saw a half of the vendors.

Looking back, I am reminded of the common discussion around the commercialization of Pride. The question arises of what Pride is besides a month of marketing and money-making.

For me, I choose to view Greenwood Pride as a signpost, a reminder to take a look back. To me, being queer is not something on a shirt, nor an annual event. I am not queer because I display it for the world one weekend out of the year. My identity is perpetual, spanning my past and paving forward.

My first Pride was a marker, a reminder of how tall and wide and wonderful I had grown in the past year. Though I have so much more growing to do, it was nice to have a reminder to stop, enjoy the progress and celebrate the many more Prides to come.

Avraham Forrest is a student studying journalism at Indiana University. He is also SFGN’s summer intern. In his off time he enjoys reading and writing.