On Friday, October 6, Spencer Pride president Jonathan Balash spoke alongside 5 other individuals at “Pride Talks.” The event was part of the Indy Pride Educational Series & was presented by Butler University.
“Pride Talks” took place at the Eiteljorg Museum in Indianapolis. The event coincided with the InterPride 2017 World Conference & many attendees were participants from the conference. The public was also welcome to attend. The auditorium was packed!
Each speaker spoke about why they are involved in the LGBTQ+ pride movement & why they continue to be involved. Speakers included: Sylvia Thomas, Kevin Calhoun, Michele Irimia-Bernabe, Emmanuel Temores, Jonathan Balash, & Myranda Warden.
Each individual “Pride Talk” was unique & offered a perspective unlike the others. As a collective group, the talks were emotional & motivational. Throughout the evening there were plenty of tears & laughs in the auditorium.
Balash spoke about his experience growing up in Hobart, Indiana, which he perceived to be a very small town at the time. Little did he know that he’d ultimately live in a community 1/10 the size of Hobart & be a part of establishing one of the most successful rural LGBTQ+ pride organizations in the United States. Jonathan’s presentation focused on two main topics: the importance of visibility & the recognition that we must continue to educate people on LGBTQ+ issues or they will become indoctrinated to less open-minded ideas.
“Change doesn’t happen TO you, it happens BECAUSE OF you,” Balash said during his presentation to the audience.
“Remember that what you are doing is IMPORTANT. The simple things are IMPORTANT. Being there, being visible is REALLY IMPORTANT.”
Additional photos & a small video clip of the presentation by Balash is available on the Spencer Pride Facebook page.
On Saturday, October 7, representatives from Spencer Pride presented “How to Have Pride & Make Change in Rural America” to participants of the InterPride 2017 World Conference. InterPride is the organization of LGBTQ pride organizers. Nearly 300 individuals attended the conference, representing all populated continents & approximately 70 pride organizations worldwide.
The workshop was delivered by Spencer Pride president Jonathan Balash, with assistance from treasurer Judi Epp & secretary Katie Zuber. The workshop began with an overview of Spencer, Indiana, & the unique challenges of organizing a rural LGBTQ+ pride organization. Next, attendees were introduced to the scope of Spencer Pride’s work in the community. The remainder of the informative session was focused on Spencer Pride’s approach/strategy & how they’ve managed to be successful within their community & beyond.
“It was an honor to be selected by InterPride to present this material,” said Balash. “There are so many rural pride organizations popping up all over the world & they need all the help they can get to establish themselves. We want to do all that we can so that they can learn from our experiences.”
The workshop focused on providing plenty of real-life examples of how Spencer Pride’s approach has worked (or not) when put into action. It was a candid presentation meant to give rural LGBTQ+ organizers ways to start & improve their own organizations. It was also intended to help educate non-rural LGBTQ+ organizations about how to be more supportive of their rural neighbors.
Spencer Pride volunteers have been working for weeks to prepare for the workshop. Besides the informative presentation, each person attending the session also received a packet full of information to help further their work in support of rural LGBTQ+ pride organizations.
Participants were very engaged by the workshop & highly complimentary of what was presented. Many of them spoke to the Spencer Pride representatives later in the conference to explain how they would take the learnings from the workshop back into their own communities.
“We were so pleased with the reception we received about what we shared,” said Judi Epp. “It’s exciting to know that we were able to help other organizations in their journey towards LGBTQ+ equality.”
From October 5 – 8, representatives from Spencer Pride will be participating in the InterPride 2017 World Conference, which will be held in Indianapolis thanks to host Indy Pride.
Jonathan Balash, Judi Epp, & Katie Zuber, all directors & officers of Spencer Pride, will be attending the event as well as delivering a workshop entitled “How to Have Pride & Make Change in Rural America.” The workshop focuses on how rural areas pose unique challenges to LGBTQ+ organizations & how Spencer Pride volunteers have been able to be so successful over the past 11 years within their small community. The session, one of many offered throughout the 4-day InterPride World Conference, looks at Spencer Pride’s approach & aims to provide attendees with information to help them establish, improve, and support their own rural LGBTQ+ pride organization.
“It’s an honor to have been among those workshops who were selected for this year’s World Conference,” says Balash. “It’s important to ensure that there is representation of rural LGBTQ+ pride organizations since so many LGBTQ+ people live in rural communities. We are proud to be a part of this event.”