In the United States and some other parts of the world, the month of June is recognized as Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer (LGBTQ) Pride Month. The U.S. Library of Congress describes Pride Month as a “month-long celebration [that] demonstrates how LGBTQ Americans have strengthened our country, by using their talent and creativity to help create awareness and goodwill.”
In central Indiana, the Indy Pride Festival is a major staple of Pride Month celebrations, dating as far back as the 1980s. Every year, tens of thousands of participants gather at Historic Military Park in downtown Indianapolis to celebrate the LGBTQ+ community and their contributions to society.
Unfortunately, the COVID-19 pandemic led to the festival’s cancellation in 2020. This year, with the virus under better control in Indiana but by no means defeated, Indy Pride, Inc. has made the decision to hold an all-virtual festival. Although attendees won’t be able to gather in person, they’ll still be able to connect with entertainers, vendors, and community organizations through platforms like Twitch and Zoom.
We’re excited to share that Cummins Behavioral Health will have a virtual booth in the Community Resources Vendor Village at this year’s Pride Festival! We believe this is an excellent opportunity to engage with our community and provide support for anyone who may be struggling with their mental health.
Jessica Hynson, our Director of Operations for Marion County, is in charge of organizing our presence at Pride Festival. We spoke with her to get a sense of why someone should consider attending Virtual Pride and what they can expect to find at our booth.
Why Attend Virtual Pride?
Anyone who has been to Pride Festival knows what a fun, exciting and uplifting experience it can be. As Jessica puts it, “Pride is a fantastically, amazingly fun event. The things you see at Pride will leave you speechless. It’s just a celebration of humanity, of being who you are and not being afraid. It’s kind of awe-inspiring.”
While it’s unfortunate that an in-person event isn’t possible this year, there are plenty of great reasons to tune in virtually! Rather than exploring Military Park on foot, attendees will be able to peruse a digital map for events and activities. In many cases, you’ll be able to speak with booth representatives and other festival attendees via video chat. Some noteworthy events include the Community Conversations panel series, hair and makeup tutorials at the Peabody’s Parlor Beauty Hub, and the LGBTQ+ career hub.
Of course, Pride Festival wouldn’t be complete without the main stage entertainment, and this year’s event won’t disappoint. Non-stop entertainment will be livestreamed on Twitch from 12:00pm–8:00pm, including a drag show and performances from more than a dozen musical artists.
You can watch the videos below to get a preview of what the virtual festival will look like and see the full lineup of entertainers, or read more on the Guide to Virtual Pride page.
Reasons to Visit the Cummins Pride Booth
With so many exciting things to see and interesting people to talk to, it might be hard to understand why you’d want to spend your time speaking with a mental health representative. Why should you be concerned about mental health and wellness, anyway?
For starters, we know that nearly 1 in 5 adults live with a mental illness or disorder of some kind, and that the average delay before they receive treatment is more than a decade. We also know that many people who identify as LGBTQ+ face serious challenges to their mental health and well-being. For example, at least 1 in 4 LGBTQ+ people report experiencing some form of discrimination in their daily lives. And according to a 2019 survey conducted by The Trevor Project, 71% of LGBTQ+ youth reported feeling sad or hopeless for at least two weeks in the past year, and 39% of LGBTQ+ youth seriously considered attempting suicide, with more than half of transgender and non-binary youth having seriously considered suicide.
Our volunteers at Pride Festival will be there to let attendees know they can get help for any mental health challenges they may be facing, if they want it. “We’ll be there for anyone who comes in to answer questions about how to get into services and what kind we offer,” Jessica explains. “I think there are so many people who don’t know how to access services, or don’t know that they should or that they can, or think that whatever they’re dealing with is too big of a problem.”
We also think that Pride is an excellent opportunity to show our support for the entire LGBTQ+ community. Jessica says, “We just want to let people know that we’re here for them, that we’re allies, and that we welcome everyone. It’s really important for us to show them that we’re not here to judge them for who they love, or how they identify, or how they want to dress, or anything like that.”
Above all, our hope is to facilitate deeper personal connections through honest discussion of mental health—because mental health is human health, most of us struggle from time to time, and no one should feel ashamed of any struggles they may have. As Jessica says, “Even if all we do is connect two people at our booth who are like, ‘I have depression’; ‘Oh my gosh, I have depression, too. I’m not alone”—if that’s all we do, then it’s worth it.”