Mountain Pride reflects on 2022, looks ahead with growth mindset |

Mountain Pride reflects on 2022, looks ahead with growth mindset

In its first year as a formalized nonprofit, the LGBTQ education and advocacy nonprofit celebrated many successes

Mountain Pride's third annual Pride in the Park parade through Nottingham Park in Avon. After its first year, the organization is looking back and ahead at ways to grow its programming.
Chris Dillmann/Vail Daily archive

In 2022, a new nonprofit based in Eagle County spun up to create year-round opportunities for community, advocacy, education and support for LGBTQ communities in the mountains. And in its annual report, Mountain Pride shared that it was able to create 5,200 touchpoints to over 3,000 individuals in its first year.

“We are proud of so many things that have happened in 2022, but one of the things that we are proud of is how our community has stepped up,” Madison Partridge, Mountain Pride’s executive director said. “They have stepped up loud and proud, whether it was at Pride in the Park, a community event, a question at a training, sponsoring us, or speaking at a council meeting.”

“For what feels like the first time for many, our community is proud to be visible, seen, and has made it a priority for their voices to be heard,” she added.

The origin of Mountain Pride can be traced back to 2020 when Britny Rose started Eagle County’s first Pride event, called Pride in the Park. The organization rose out of this effort, with the goal of providing the tangible benefits of Pride all year long.

This is reflected in the title of its annual report, “Proud Beyond Pride.”

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“We are ‘Proud Beyond Pride’ because our community needs us more than one month a year,” the report reads. “We have a steadfast commitment to embracing, strengthening and celebrating the diversity of our LGBTQIA+ communities across the mountains of Colorado by building community, providing opportunities for education, advocating for issues affecting queer people and providing access to resources.”

In 2022, thanks to an initial development grant from Eagle County Behavioral Health, Mountain Pride was able to form and establish itself as a 501(c)(3) with Partridgeas its executive director and a seven-member board.

A big first year

This allowed the nonprofit to focus on expanding opportunities in four programmatic areas: community, education, resources as well as advocacy and activism. Its 2022 report details the ways in which it created touch points for the community toward these four purposes.

In seeking to create new access to building community, visibility and support, Mountain Pride hosted 18 events in 2022. This included a Friendsgiving celebration, community game nights, outdoor activities as well as four “Big Gay Give Back Days” of volunteering. Overall, the report holds that over 500 community members attended these events.

The idea behind this “community” pillar, as stated in the report, is to build a stronger sense of belonging for the LGBTQ community, which in turn supports positive health outcomes. In the 2021 Colorado LGBTQ+ Behavioral Health State of the State survey, nearly one-third of respondents reported that they did not feel like they had a community to which they belong.

The second pillar of Mountain Pride is education. And in 2022, it was able to host a number of events such as trainings, workshops and seminars to support this goal. It hosted the first community-facing event of this kind in August, to support LGBTQ kids and families as they prepared to return to school. 

The report states that this included training over 150 educators in schools around creating inclusive classroom practices. While the report highlights staff trainings held at both Eagle Valley and Battle Mountain high schools, it also held similar trainings for local health care workers and organizations as well as a community-wide Ally Training with The Trevor Project.

This pillar included community-wide speaker events, including, most recently, in December an event with Schuyler Bailar, the first trans NCAA Division 1 men’s athlete to talk about advocating for inclusion in sports.

According to the annual report, these were seen as useful tools to promote acceptance and understanding for the LGBTQ community, with 86% of training attendees reporting they would try to incorporate at least one thing they learned into their lives.

The organization’s advocacy and activism efforts were seen through various actions in 2022, including the distribution of 1,500 educational posters to teachers, businesses and behavioral health providers as well as 85 “Pride Lives Here” yard signs in Eagle County.

Perhaps its largest organizing effort was around the support of Pride flags around the county. Specifically, it helped organize calls to action for increased visibility via the Pride flags at Mountain Recreation. Initially, in March, this included rallying support for the rec district when it put up the flags. And in the fall, it included expressing the importance of these flags for LGBTQ visibility and acceptance as Gypsum Rec Center took its down.

The fourth and final pillar, resources, is centered on overcoming barriers to accessing sexual health services, suicide prevention, mental health resources, peer support, gender-affirming resources and more. By providing peer support groups and information about many of these services, the organization is aiming to improve overall well-being.

In 2022, the organization hosted five monthly support groups through Eagle Valley Behavioral Health as well as seven in-school gender and sexuality alliances. The support groups served various community needs including those for members of the community (as well as specific ones for transgender and nonbinary individuals, family members of LGBTQ community members and Spanish language groups.

While 2022 was a year of programmatic growth for the organization, Mountain Pride also maintained a critical part of its inception. In June, it hosted the third annual Pride in the Park in Avon. According to the report, the event drew over 1,500 attendees, generating $20,000 in revenue for its 40-plus vendors.

The 2022 Pride in the Park was one that featured many of the same activities as previous years — including family-friendly activities, speakers, performances, drag shows and more. However, this year, there were many additional activations of Pride around the community throughout the week leading to the event supported by community members and local businesses. This included the Eagle County commissioners signing a proclamation, dedicating the entire month of June as Pride Month.

Throughout its first year, Partridge expressed “overwhelming” support and response from the community since Mountain Pride began to formalize. This included continued support from its “largest and cornerstone” funder, Eagle Valley Behavioral Health.

“They believed in the importance of our mission and stepped up with financial support to ensure the sustainability of our work,” Partridge said. “Thanks to their support, we were able to take Mountain Pride to a whole new level this last year growing from a volunteer grassroots organization to a professional 501c3 nonprofit.”

In addition, the organization received new funding from Colorado Health Foundation, Vail Valley Cares, Rocky Mountain Health Partners, and the town of Avon as well as $20,000 raised through its Colorado Gives Day and end-of-year funding push. This, Partridge added “enable us to continue offering free and accessible events, education and resources for the community and grow to serve all members of the community.”

Looking ahead

In 2023, Mountain Pride is looking forward to carrying on and growing its impact. Already, it has its fourth annual Pride in the Park scheduled for June 3 at Nottingham Park in Avon, which Partridge said will be “bigger and better.”

Additionally, Partridge expressed the organization’s desire to continue to increase its programming around its four pillars as well as expand and serve more individuals this upcoming year.

While we are proud of what we have accomplished, we know that our work is not done. The anti-LGBTQ+ rhetoric that fills our country and community is a humble reminder of the importance of our mission,” Partridge said. “In 2023, we will continue to fight for a world and community where LGBTQ+ people are able to be fully celebrated in life and remembered for joy.”

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