On June 5, 2021, Terre Haute Pride Center hosted its grand opening as a resource for the LGBTQ+ community in Vigo County – a first of its kind for the area. On Saturday, the Pride Center hosted another first for Terre Haute – a pride festival.
The family-friendly event, “Rooted in Pride,” took place between Sixth and Seventh streets downtown Terre Haute with more than 60 vendors, games, an entertainment stage, bounce houses and a special appearance.
Blair St. Clair, a season 10 contestant on the TV show “RuPaul’s Drag Race” held a meet and greet in the Pride Center, and then took to the stage in the evening for the drag show. Proceeds from the meet-and-greet tickets benefited the Pride Center.
Lela Porter (she/her), who was dancing along with the drag show near the stage, said she is glad to have an event where she and her girlfriend can be themselves.
“Everyone is so supportive here,” Porter said. “I know it’s scary going out in public [if you’re gay], but knowing there is a community, it just makes you feel safer.”
Having a well-known name in the drag community was a plus, too, she said. “I’m excited Blair St. Clair came,” she said. “I was a little nervous about the turnout, but it’s been great.”
Nichelle Campbell-Miller, president of Terre Haute Pride Center, oversaw much of the planning and execution of the inaugural event.
“In Terre Haute, we haven’t had anything like this before. We are looking to decrease isolation and really bring our community together,” she said. “I’m super stoked. I’m grateful for the opportunity to be here and be a part of it.”
Kelsey Weiss agreed the community is one of the best parts of an event like this. “All the people being here is beautiful.”
William Edwards, a board member at the center, said he is proud to be a part of bringing attention to the gay community. He is from Terre Haute and said it was harder growing up as a gay person in a place that didn’t have something like the center or a festival.
“To watch it and be a part of it is amazing,” he said. “I think it’s long overdue.”
Campbell-Miller said having this sort of gathering is extra important to her because she is a school social worker.
“Having this representation for my students is big,” she said. “When students have allies and have people who are accepting, it makes for a better situation. Any chance I get to affirm my students, I take it.”
“We haven’t seen the end of the Pride Center,” Campbell-Miller said. “We’re just getting started.” Next year, she hopes the event only gets bigger and better.
Weiss’ said two words she believed summed up what the event means: “Be yourself.”
The Pride Center provides resources to all members of the LBGTQ+ community and to allies. It hosts events, educational programs, support groups and some testing. It’s downtown at 630 Wabash Ave., Terre Haute.