Madison Eker (she/her) is a trailblazer in the LGBTQ+ wellness industry. The founder and CEO of Sum of Us Festival – the first wellness festival for the womxn, trans, and gender non-conforming communities has been featured in magazines, podcasts and is a frequent speaker on wellness, consciousness, and authenticity. Eker is revolutionizing the way wellness manifests within her communities by bringing diversity and inclusion to the forefront.
Long before COVID-19 was a part of daily life, Eker felt strongly about the importance of fostering a supportive community. “I never felt understood until I found my place in the LGBTQ+ community,” she said. “Growing up, I felt like I was in an isolated bubble. I didn’t know another queer person until I was in my 20s.”
She sensed that people ultimately sought one thing, connection. Yet, there was an absence of places that focused on connection (to self and others). “Not only that, but our community sadly has the highest rates of mental health issues, depression, and suicide,” said Eker. The vision of Sum of Us was to begin to combat those terrible statics and revolutionize the LGBTQ+ community.
“I dreamt of a place where we could be our authentic selves and talk about what’s really going on underneath,” she said. “I wanted to create that fun, authentic, safe space where wellness and growth were at the forefront.”
“I never felt understood until I found my place in the LGBTQ+ community”
“Two years of planning and production went into the live festival,” she said. To say that the 2020 live festival cancelation was devastating would be a gross understatement. Sustaining financial loss was one thing. Seeing the safe space of her dreams slip away was almost insurmountable. Almost.
When the pandemic hit, the Sum of Us team pivoted to a virtual event. While not the same, the event was extremely successful. The introduction of new programming met the evolving needs of a community left in peril from isolation, depression, and extreme stress.
With the introduction of Sum of Us Connect, the team channeled the feelings of hope and connection from the virtual festival into a weekly wellness series incorporating a mix of modalities to keep the community together, learning, and growing.
2021 will see more community connection and a continued focus on SUM OF US CONNECT.” It’s an affordable, no-commitment membership that allows you to heal with other womxn, trans, and non-binary community members while having access to mental, physical, creative, and sexual workshops,” said Eker.
The Sum of Us virtual festival is scheduled for early Spring. Eker and team look forward to the day when the live festival becomes a reality. Follow them on Instagram @sumofusfest or for more information, visit sumofusfest.com.
Meet the Sum of Us Team