BY JANET MANDELSTAM
The level of support for LGBTQ+ people in Bloomington depends on your identity, says Janae Cummings, the chair of Bloomington PRIDE. “If you’re gay or lesbian, Bloomington is welcoming,” she explains. “If you are transgender or on the margins, the community has a way to go.”
Cummings says Bloomington PRIDE, which serves the LGBTQ+ communities of Bloomington and south-central Indiana, faces its own challenges. “We’re constantly educating ourselves on issues that impact people who don’t have a majority voice—people of color, immigrants, transgender and non-binary [those who don’t identify as male or female] people,” she says.
Cummings joined Bloomington PRIDE in spring 2016 and became chair last year. As chair, she leads the board’s oversight of PRIDE programming, outreach, and events.
A native of Anderson, Indiana, Cummings has been in Bloomington for seven years. She began working at Indiana University as a writer and editor in the IT Communications Office, which serves the Office of the Vice President for Information Technology. On loan to the Kinsey Institute for a year, Cummings says she worked to rebuild its website and to develop a new communications strategy for the institute. She is currently a strategic communications specialist in the Office of the Provost and Executive Vice President.
Her role with PRIDE is voluntary. The organization, she says, focuses on education and awareness to fulfill its mission to “serve LGBTQ+ people of all ages through advocacy, safe and inclusive spaces, and arts and culture events.”
In addition to the annual PRIDE Film Festival, programs include Prism Youth Community, a social group for young people ages 12 to 20 of all sexual orientations and gender identities. “It’s first and foremost a support group,” Cummings says.
The Aging and Caring Network supports older members of the LGBTQ+ community. “They get together for breakfast twice a month,” Cummings says. “The important thing is to be there for one another, check on each other.”
The newest PRIDE program is the Trans & Allies Support Community, which was formed last fall and is an advocate for transgender issues.
Cummings, who says she is in her “mid-30s,” and her partner, Jenn Robison, live in Bloomington with two children, two dogs, and two cats.
With a full-time job at IU and hands-on leadership of Bloomington PRIDE, Cummings admits to not having much free time. “But every Sunday, there is a committed brunch with friends,” she says.