Indy Gay Market empowers queer scene in Indianapolis

<p>Big Gay Halloween attendees browse the market in costume.</p>

Big Gay Halloween attendees browse the market in costume.

Big Gay Halloween is one market in a continuing series of installments, allowing local queer artists and vendors to showcase their work. The initial goal behind the creation of the first market in July 2021 was to expand upon safe spaces for the LGBTQ+ community in Indianapolis. The original market and a few after were organized by Meghan Curran (she/her), but leadership was taken over by Hannah Hadley-Maxwell (she/her) in August 2022. 

"I've been running it with my wife, who helps me a little bit, she helps with the music side. And I do more of the vendor organizing side. I just wanted it to continue because I was a vendor from the very first one,” Hadley-Maxwell said. “It was really the first time engaging with our community and claiming our queerness. So it's crazy that I’m now running it. But I think, because it was so meaningful to me, that's why I wanted to help make sure it still happens.”

Big Gay Halloween was their first two-day market event where there were 50 unique vendors participating in the each day.

“It's really exploded over the last year. And I realized that there are so many people that want to be involved. And we don't have event venues that are big enough or that space,” Hadley-Maxwell said.

In keeping these markets alive, Hadley-Maxwell hoped to create a space that showcased and supported Indy's already existing queer community, as well as creating opportunities for small business owners to grow their businesses.

“I feel like we really want to create a queer community that isn't centered around nightlife or drinking, but around people's interests and passions. I feel like this is a place where people can be themselves,” Hadley-Maxwell said. “Also, creating a networking opportunity for vendors. A chance not only for vendors to sell their stuff, but for vendors to meet other vendors that are similar to them. They can make friends and they can have a support system within a community here.”

While they don’t have the capacity to do markets every month yet, they still try to do markets as often as possible.

“So we kind of just figured out a seasonal schedule, because we don't totally have the capacity to do it every month yet, but we want to do it at least every couple months. A lot of people rely on it for income, and it's just a really great opportunity,” Hadley-Maxwell said. 

Christina Ortiz-King (she/her), owner of O_King_Art and first-time vendor at Indy Gay Market, shares her experience of becoming a vendor after spending much of her time creating art recreationally.

“I did a lot of art in my undergrad. And recently, I just started making a lot of art outside of school. And I decided that if I'm making so much art, I should probably start trying to sell it. And I knew that this is such an inclusive space. So I decided to try and get in here. And I was so excited when I was and, I mean, it's been so much fun getting everything together, hectic and a little scary, but so much fun,” Ortiz-King said.

In addition, Ortiz-King recognizes the kind of impact inclusive spaces like this can have for people like herself who are just starting in a business capacity.

“Well, I think Indy is just a unique city because there's so many different cultures that come together here and it is capable of having inclusive spaces like this, which is really an amazing opportunity to help people shop local and let small businesses flourish,” Ortiz-King said.

Victor (he/him) and Ace (he/they) are co-owners of their shop Vace’s Designs, and they have vended previously at Indy Gay Market. According to Victor, vendors start to build a sense of community with their fellow vendors at these events.

“I like the community. When you do enough of the shows, you start to remember people the people around you or next to them at another show. And there's a group of people that at like every event we've gone to, they've been at, not just the ones here. It just builds a sense of community,” Victor said.

Ace appreciates the creativity of the market.

“It's been a super fun way for us to express our creativity and also make money from it. It's such a fun thing to do on the weekends, away from school and stuff, but we do get to come here and hang out with gay people,” Ace said.

Beyond supporting small businesses, attendees also have the opportunity to immerse themselves in Indy's queer community.

“Obviously, you go to support small businesses. Less obvious answer is that it's just a fun environment. And you get to see people that are centric, and they can make you feel more comfortable in yourself. And you can see fun things that you wouldn't normally find,” Victor said. “Even if people aren't (selling what you are looking for), it’s still good to see the artistry and the queer community.”

Indy Gay Market’s next event, Big Gay Holiday, will be held Dec. 8 and Dec. 9 at AMP at 16 Tech from 4 p.m. - 8 p.m. For those interested in attending, event updates can be found on their Instagram @indygaymarket.

Abigail Godsen (she/her) is a sophomore majoring in Applied Information Sciences with a minor in Classics. She is a reporter, podcast co-host and Copy Editor for The Campus Citizen. When she isn’t writing, Abby likes to cook, do crossword puzzles and drink a lot of tea. She can be summoned using tea, cardigans and books (according to her roommate Jackie).

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