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Deaf Pride aims to connect LGBTQ+, deaf communities and raise awareness

It's a night where the community can come together to be their authentic selves. The public is welcome, to learn about and experience a mix of deaf and gay culture.
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Posted at 10:58 PM, May 31, 2024

Pride month kicks off across the country beginning June 1 and one gay man is urging communities to come together and learn about each other.

Ben Benton may be hard of hearing but it’s easy to see he’s feeling the pride that comes with living as his authentic self unapologetically.

“All I do is keep positive every day. Be myself, be who I am truly and authentically, and I don’t care what people say,” Benton said.

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Benton is from Kentucky where he attended the School for the Deaf, and came to Indianapolis 14 years ago.

“It was not easy to do that at first but luckily, I have some friends that I already knew. They lived here when I first moved so it was a little bit easier for me to acclimate the environment,” Benton said.

Benton spoke with Scripps News Indianapolis reporter Marc Mullins, with the help of interpreters Mackenzie Rhyno and Logan Thompson.

As both a gay and deaf man, Benton is now leading the charge to bring awareness and remove the barriers that keep people from communicating, which is why he is looking forward to Deaf Pride.

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“Not only in Indianapolis, but really all over the U.S., we’re having a tough time with gay and deaf pride — and the deaf community and the gay community being so separate,” Benton said. “I think right now, it’s going to be a long process for those two groups to interweave with each other because it’s going to be one step at a time, almost baby steps.”

One of those steps is now in its seventh year. Deaf Pride is a night where members of the LGBTQ+ deaf community come together to be their authentic selves.

The public is welcome at the event with the aim of people learning and experiencing a mix of deaf and gay culture.

“I started learning sign language when I was a kid. I had some friends who were deaf, so I picked it up,” Rhyno said.

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Globo Language Services, an organization Rhyno works with, will provide American Sign Language interpreters at the event.

“It’s so important to see the two communities come together,” Rhyno said. “Our deaf community and our queer community and recognizing the intersectionality between the two. That there are many queer deaf individuals out there.”

For those of us that may take our hearing for granted, Benton has some advice to break the ice, make a new connection and appreciate a different experience.

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“Every time, paper and pencil are always ready. You can use your cell phone to type back and forth with somebody or you can ask for an interpreter,” Benton said.

Indy Pride and the Hoosier Rainbow Alliance of the Deaf are hosting Deaf Pride this upcoming Monday, June 3.

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There will be performances and other entertainment. It’s free and open to all ages, and for those who can be in Indianapolis to attend, everyone is welcome organizers say,

This story was originally published by Marc Mullins at Scripps News Indianapolis.