Sept. 3, 2022, Muncie OUTreach hosted its first Pride festival at Canan Commons Park in downtown Muncie, Indiana. The festival was held from 5-8 p.m. with many vendors lining the street and performers on stage.
Muncie OUTreach itself, had a booth at the event, the Founder and Executive Director Laura Janney manning the table with other members. Janney said she started OUTreach because of her son, who felt “isolated and a little freakish,” and she found it “important that he had peers.”
“We had to go to Indianapolis to find that, so I decided to create a place here,” Janney said.
Muncie OUTreach’s mission is “to create safe spaces for queer youth.” OUTreach has added programs when Muncie’s needs arise. They offer support groups for transgender adults and for parents of children in the LGBTQ community.
Due to COVID-19, the Pride festival was OUTreach’s first “big event,” Janney said.
Ball State University had booths at the festival as well. Ball State’s College of Health and Ball State’s Counseling Practicum Clinic were both present at the event.
Nick Atlas, the director of Ball State Student Services, tabled with the College of Health at the festival.
“I am an out-gay man, and I recently moved here from Washington D.C. to start this position,” Atlas said. “This is my understanding, it's the first in person Muncie Pride, and so, it was important for the work that we do in the College of Health, to make sure that we had a presence here at pride to let our community know that we support them, specifically our services that will support the LGBTQ+ community.”
Atlas highlighted the services the college offered that can help members of the LGBTQ+ community, such as how speech pathology can help members of the transgender community. Atlas found the event to be important for not only the community but Ball State students as well.
“It's important that [students] see that their university supports them if they are also a part of the LGBTQ+ community, that they see that their institution supports them, and they can see themselves represented in their institution,” Atlas said.