INDIANAPOLIS — Out + About, a new LGBTQ events organization in Indianapolis, is hosting a "Say Gay Beach Day" as it kicks off a series of monthly programs for the local queer community and its allies.
Tabitha Sloane, the founder of Out + About, tells WRTV Say Gay Beach Day is a direct response to the Parental Rights in Education bill that passed in Florida earlier this year, which has been dubbed the "Don't Say Gay" bill by LGBTQ activists. The bill — which went into effect in July — restricts classrooms and counseling offices from discussing LGBTQ-related issues, identity, books, and educational materials. In March, the controversial bill sparked 15 other states to propose similar legislation.
"With this 'Don't Say Gay' bill happening in Florida and in other states — but the Florida one is the one getting the most recognition right now — there's a lot of LGBTQ youth that are being displaced and not feeling safe, and not having safe spaces to communicate about their queerness," Sloane said.
Due to the displacement and surging anti-LGBTQ rhetoric online, Out + About has partnered with Trinity Haven, a residential program for LGBTQ youth who are experiencing homelessness. All of the proceeds from a raffle at Say Gay Beach Day will be donated to Trinity Haven.
"We wanted to make sure that we're doing something social, but we're also being intentional," Sloane said.
Sloane formally started Out + About in February, but it's an idea that's been brewing in their head for years.
"I've always wanted to somehow increase diversity, equity, and inclusion in the community that I was raised in," Sloane said.
Sloane has pursued many passions in their life thus far, including modeling, building movie sets, corporate marketing, retail, and fashion, but they say nothing has made them more excited than the idea of Out + About.
"I was like, 'You know what, I'm finally in a financial spot to put all of my effort and love into the idea of Out + About,' and I just said, 'Screw it. Let's go,'" Sloane said.
Sloane says LGBTQ-related events are happening in Indianapolis, but they're "very niched." The Out + About founder wants more of a middle ground between the varying groups, which are often extremely small or extremely large.
"There's no middleman events between like these small wine clubs, or biking clubs, or climbing clubs, and the huge events like Pride. So, I kind of wanted to be more of like a middleman between that," Sloane said. "I wanted to create events that were at least once a month, where people could safely socialize, but in an intentional way, as well."
Out + About is not only about curating events, Sloane says, but it's also about connecting the LGBTQ communities with safe programming that is already happening around them.
Sloane recognizes the several businesses in the Indy area that host events specifically for LGBTQ communities, such as North Mass Boulder, which holds Queer & Trans Climbing nights, and CycleBar in Carmel, which, according to Sloane, is creating queer cycle nights taught by queer instructors.
"It is about connecting our allies with their direct community," Sloane said. "That's what Out + About is truly aiming to be, is that bridge between allies and the queer community. Because we are welcome in so many different spaces in Indy, and not a lot of us know where we're welcome."
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The Cradle is hosting Say Gay Beach Day at 1118 E. 30th St. The beach-themed costume party is from 12 p.m. to 5 p.m. and is $15 to enter. All are welcome, including kids and pets. Queer-owned and allied vendors and entertainment will be featured at the event as well. There will also be LGBTQ community sponsors at the beach day.
WRTV Digital Reporter Shakkira Harris can be reached at email@example.com. You can follow her on Twitter, @shakkirasays.