When you think of places that typically come across as open-minded Indiana doesn’t really come to mind.
This idea seemed especially true when the state received heavy criticism for passing the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, or RFRA, early last year. Which was one of the first laws of its kind that was seen as allowing discrimination against the LGBT community.
However, even after a year since RFRA was signed into law, Bloomington has remained incredibly welcoming to LGBT individuals.
Walking downtown you can see multiple businesses displaying pride flags in their windows and saying that they are open to serving anyone.
Honestly, I am proud to live in a community where people of all genders and sexual orientations can live and be unafraid of being themselves.
I have friends from all over the LGBT community. They are an important part of my life, so knowing they live in a community where they feel safe and free to express themselves makes me worry about them so much less.
Not only are businesses in Bloomington sympathetic and open to the LGBT community, but there are many different support groups that help individuals take pride in their identities.
Prism Youth Community is a group specifically for people ages 12 to 20.
The Unitarian Universalist Church is very vocal about the fact they are welcoming to the LGBT individuals in their congregation.
Bloomington PRIDE works to organize services and puts on events for and to represent the LGBTQ community such as the PRIDE Film Festival.
This is only a fraction of the outreach that is available in Bloomington, and doesn’t even include Indiana University. The college has its own lengthy list of groups and hosts the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender Support Center on Seventh Street.
Bloomington has also been recognized nationally for how welcoming the community is.
It has been called the fourth gayest city by the gay news outlet “The Advocate.” Also, it has received a perfect score on the Human Rights Campaign’s (the largest LGBT civil rights advocacy group) 2015 Municipal Equality Index.
With all this in mind you can understand why I’m so proud of where I live, but what really made me certain about my feelings was how the city responded to the tragedy in Orlando.
Needless to say what happened at the PULSE nightclub is still hard to believe. However last Tuesday, June 14, Bloomington showed its support with a candlelight vigil outside city hall on Morton Street.
The large parking lot was full of people coming to show their solidarity with the victims.
Speakers delivered a message encouraging love for all people, LGBT individuals to feel pride in themselves, and change so that a tragedy like what happened in Orlando never happens again.
The ceremony concluded in somewhat silence after the names of the victims had been read leaving a feeling of somber respect in the air.
Reflecting back the service defined how I feel about Bloomington. I live in a loving community that will accept you no matter who you are.