Q&A: Indy Pride Parade Founder Gary Brackett

Brackett on the history of the event, and how his drag name came to be included in the official title of the Cadillac Barbie IN Pride Parade.
Cadillac Barbie IN Pride Parade

The 11th Cadillac Barbie IN Pride Parade is this Saturday. It borrows the drag name of founder Gary Brackett (no relation to the former Colts player of the same name), who organized the first parade in 2005. That lasted less than 15 minutes and featured one classic car and a small group of people walking. The event has since grown to become one of the annual highlights of the Circle City IN Pride celebration and gets bigger every year, bringing out new faces and supporters from every walk of life.

IM caught up with Brackett to discuss the history of the parade, how he got his drag name, and advice on coming out.

How did you get the idea to hold a pride parade in Indianapolis?

I lived in Indianapolis for awhile, and then my husband’s job was relocated to Memphis, and Memphis had a gay pride parade. So when I moved back to Indy, I started asking why we couldn’t have one here, because we are a bigger town. Folks said if I wanted a parade, I should start one, so I got involved and made it happen.

What about the parade has changed the most?

The length of it! The first one only last about 10 minutes from start to finish [laughs]! There were very few things in the parade. The crowd of course. Now the parade lasts about an hour and a half, and there are thousands of people lined up all around the parade route. It’s awesome to see.

What about the parade are you most proud of?

The fact that the community has embraced the parade and that everybody loves the parade. They love to come to watch it if they aren’t participating in it. I think it makes the day a lot more festive. It really kicks off the Pride festival and gives it a great start.

Have you seen more support after RFRA?

I think yes. Things like RFRA and some of these other crazy laws have brought more and more allies. People realize that there is still a lot of discrimination against the LGBT community, and people come out to show their support.

Advice to newbies to the parade?

Get there early. There are several restaurants that are opening early and will be serving breakfast/brunch. Forty Five Degrees will be doing what they call DJ and Eggs—they have a live DJ and will be serving breakfast. That way they can sit and watch the parade and have breakfast. There will be outdoor patios at several restaurants. The earlier you get there, the better your view will be.

So the parade uses your drag name, Cadillac Barbie …

Because of the former Colts player Gary Brackett, I didn’t want to cause any confusion when they decided to change the name and name it after me, so we went with my drag name. It makes it a little more campy, more fun.

Any significance behind the name?

I used to work for Lockhart Cadillac many, many years ago. I worked for Mrs. Lockhart and her children. When I first did drag, my friends came up with a name for me, and they said I have everything, like Barbie, so they came up with Cadillac Barbie. Just like Barbie, Barbie has everything. Of course Mattel probably wouldn’t appreciate that [laughs].

Do you have any response for people who don’t want to see the parade happen in Indianapolis?

Well then, don’t come! Don’t come to the parade if don’t want to see it. I’m not a big sports fan, but I still go to the 500 parade because I like a parade. What’s not to love about a parade? Floats, motorcycles, walking groups, drag queens, hot men.

Do protestors show up?

We usually have two or three protestors. I think we’ve had two or three protestors since we started the parade. We ask them to stay in a specific area where the police protect them and protect the crowd. They have the right to protest. They have the right to their opinion. Like I said, it’s very few people, and we’ve been very fortunate for that.

Do you have any advice to LGBT kids who are thinking about coming out?

Coming out is a process. Everyone needs to decide when the time is right for them to come. My best advice for anybody that I’ve ever tried to help come out is that people who truly love you are going to love you no matter what. I don’t understand these people who hate people for being who they are. You’ve got to pick the right time—I hate seeing kids being thrown out of their houses because they came out to their parents, and their parents can’t handle it. Like I said, it’s a process, and you have to know the people. You have to trust people. I believe people truly have love in their heart, and if they love you, they will love you for who you are.