Welcome to the town of Spencer, Indiana — the smallest town in America with an LGBTQ+ Community Center (population 2,050), nestled by the White River in Owen County.

Here, a group of LGBTQ+ folks and allies have built Spencer Pride, a thriving all-volunteer organization that’s brought people together,  helped revitalize the town and become a leader in the LGBTQ+ movement in rural America. They host a Pride Fest that draws thousands to the town square, celebrating diversity and boosting the local economy. Year-round, they provide a community space open to the public. with a retail space for local artists, free health and wellness services, LGBTQ+ educational resources, dance classes, and more.

It’s a surprising story. But how did they do it, especially when faced with opposition? Like when the County commissioners tried to ban them. When a “Moral Majority” Facebook group tried to smear them. When renegade teens vandalized the founders’ home. How they won over the hearts and minds of their neighbors is part of the story (Hint: love wins out over fear).

At a time when the country is more polarized than ever, this is a hopeful story from the heartland, that shows how Americans can work together to make their town better. We think it will debunk some stereotypes about rural communities, help bridge the urban and rural divide, and provide a blueprint for positive change.

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