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

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Posted at 10:46 PM, May 30, 2024

INDIANAPOLIS — Pride month kicks off across the country beginning June 1 and one gay man is persuading 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 WRTV’s 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 the reason 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.”

And 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 for people to learn about and experience 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.”

And for those of us that may take for granted that we can hear, 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.

It’s being held at Tinker House Events on 16th Street near the Monon Trail from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m.

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There will be performances and other entertainment. It’s free and open to all ages.

For more information, click here.