This article first appeared in the 2022 It Takes A Valley Campaign Impact Report.
Mountain Pride Provides Education, Resources, and Programs
Eagle County’s inaugural Pride in the Park celebration in June 2020 was a significant moment for our LGBTQIA+ community. More than 100 people attended, and it was the first time many felt comfortable and safe expressing themselves authentically. The event was filled with love, laughter, and camaraderie — and also served as the inspiration for establishing Mountain Pride, a nonprofit partner that Vail Health’s Eagle Valley Behavioral Health (EVBH) helped create by providing critical seed funding.
In small towns and rural communities like ours, LGBTQIA+ individuals may face unique challenges when coming out and being open about their identity. Often, there are limited or no resources available locally, forcing them to travel long distances for support. Youth who identify as LGBTQIA+ are at a higher risk of attempting suicide and experience four times the average rate. In Eagle County, 20 percent of middle school students identify as LGBTQIA+, emphasizing the need for adequate resources and support.
Led by Executive Director Madison Partridge, Mountain Pride aims to address these challenges by offering year-round programs in addition to the annual Pride in the Park, fostering a culture in the Vail Valley where individuals can be “proud beyond pride.”
Mountain Pride focuses on establishing safe spaces, promoting family acceptance, and providing access to education, resources, and programs. The organization’s efforts and initiatives have always been community driven. During the second Pride in the Park event, which saw a growth to nearly 500 attendees, Madison and her team listened to the experiences and concerns of Eagle County residents.
“We heard some hard stories about bullying, discrimination, and harassment, as well as expressions of gratitude for how much this event meant to them. Through this storytelling, we realized the impact and the need to do more,” shares Madison.
In 2022, their first year as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, Mountain Pride provided over 5,200 meaningful touchpoints to more than 3,000 persons through their four strategic program areas: community and events, education, advocacy and activism, and resources like peer support, student-led clubs in schools, and suicide prevention support. Their partnerships with other organizations in the valley have allowed them to have an even greater impact.
Local Partnerships Increase Impact
Mountain Pride collaborates with other EVBH nonprofit partners including SpeakUp ReachOut to provide suicide prevention services, My Future Pathways to offer resources and trainings in Spanish, and Mountain Youth to create events focused on the LGBTQIA+ community. Diversity and inclusion trainings have been presented to various organizations in the community, including Eagle County School District, Vail Valley Partnership, Vail Health Foundation, and the Eagle County Sheriff’s Office.
“We are here thanks to all the support, love, and kindness that so many partners and our community has shown,” Madison says. “At the core of our partnerships is EVBH. We would not be here if it weren’t for them.”
Over Mountain Pride’s short existence, Madison has heard countless testimonials of how it has made a profound difference in the lives of our residents and youth. For one individual, getting involved with Mountain Pride gave them the sense of belonging they had always sought, stopping them from moving away to Denver.
“We want to ensure we create a community where our residents feel safe and know they’re not alone. That’s why the work we’re doing and our visibility is so important. We won’t understand other communities unless we take the time to go into others’ spaces and listen and learn from their stories. Together, I believe we can continue creating that truly kind, loving world we all want to live in.”