May 29, 2020 6 min read
For the last 50 years, Pride Month has been celebrated in June to commemorate the Stonewall Riots of 1969 and to mark the emergence of the pride movement. Prior to the pandemic and wide sweeping stay-at-home orders, Pride Month was perhaps best known for its unapologetic celebrations and parades where the LGBTQ+ community could gather. Glitter heavy, face paint galore, and every imaginable interpretation of the rainbow in bright outfits (or lack thereof), it is safe to say that many people saw this as an opportunity to go all out.
It is more than just a giant party. It is symbolic and representative of the social progress and change that has been accomplished. Additionally, for some, it is a chance to exercise self expression where they may not normally be able to. A chance to come together with allies and other people in the community. An opportunity to push the envelope and bring awareness to issues that continue to persist.
Suffice it to say, with the social distancing orders in place and the presence of the Coronavirus pandemic, celebrations in 2020 are going to look much different. Although parades and packed parties are out of the question, that doesn’t mean it should impact your ability to celebrate! In fact, if there was ever a community that collectively has endless creativity, it is likely the LGBTQ+ one. Whether you are an activist in the community looking to bring awareness to a cause or simply an individual who was looking forward to connecting with like minded people, there are still ways to make the most of the month.
Before the street parties, parades, bar crawls, drag shows, and so forth, it is worth recalling the roots of the movement and its culmination into the Pride Month that we know today. Following a police raid of the Stonewall Inn (a gay club) in New York in June 1969, protests and riots broke out and persisted close to a week, demanding that LGBTQ+ people have safe spaces where they could be open about their sexual orientation without worry. This event is noted as the kick off point for the pride movement. Even then, it took nearly 30 years before Pride Month was officially recognized by a US President (1999, 2000 by Bill Clinton).
At the heart Pride Month is the activism and the push for legislation in support of the LGBTQ+ community. With that in mind, the shutdown of the normal festivities could actually be a blessing in disguise. Common critics of pride events in the past have denounced individuals who view the celebrations as excuses to party and take part in the extravaganza without care for the causes behind it. The fact that these large scale events are restricted could help shift the focus and the conversations around pride back towards the core of the movement.
Although there have been significant strides over the years, it was still fairly recent that any major legislation was actually changed. For example, it wasn’t until 2015 that the U.S. Supreme Court legalized same sex marriages in all 50 states. That was only five short years ago, which is pretty astounding to think about. In some ways, celebrating only virtually levels the playing field once more and takes away all the typical noise that comes with the events. After all, in the bells and whistles of the large scale parties, it is easy to forget that there are still many members of the community who may be dealing with acceptance issues or are still being targeted for their identities.
COVID-19 has swept across the globe and impacted people from every walk of life. It is worth mentioning that in more marginalized communities, this impact may be greater felt. Specific to the LGBTQ+ community, there are individuals that may have found themselves unemployed, forced to move home, or otherwise unable to maintain their livelihoods. While this has impacted everyone, it can be easy to forget that members of the community do not always come from fortunate environments or supportive households.
There may be anxiety and extra stress if someone is out of options and forced to return to an environment where they have to hide their sexuality, is not accepted for who they are, or worse. This is part of the reason why there is still a large movement pushing to make progress in this arena. At the individual level, it may be too overwhelming to think of any activism if someone is struggling to get by day-to-day in the current circumstances.
Mindfulness and overall well being is just as important. Celebrations don’t have to be loud and bold, they can be quiet and simple. Not allowing negative factors to bring down your sense of self. Maintaining a positive outlook during hard times. Whether you identify as an ally or an active member of the community, this is a gentle reminder to check in on your peers. Emotional and mental health is key before any talks of celebration.
On a lighter note, as a community that has been consistently resilient over the years, it should come as no surprise that the pivot to virtual events came quickly. Despite parades and marches having been cancelled, organizers have assembled a number of digital events to look forward to such as Global Pride 2020, a live-streamed event that will run 24 hours. If you are looking for something to look forward to, the line up will be announced in June and the event will take place on the 27th.
There’s no need to hold back just because the event is digital. Make Pride-Quarantinis or Margaritas, put it up on the big screen, put together your best outfit, Zoom your 30 closest friends, and make an ordeal out of it! Or don’t! Keep it low-key with some you, yourself, some booze, and some CBDto keep things chill. Meditate, reflect, get introspective. Look yourself in the mirror and verbalize self-affirmations. At the end of the day, it is about a celebration of self and a reminder of how far we have come, and the work still to do.
Depending on your area, there are also localized organizations that have smaller digital events throughout the month of June, along with resources.
Pride Month is an event many individuals in the LGBTQ+ community look forward to each year. It is a way to connect to others that are like-minded and identify with one another. It is an opportunity to showcase an unapologetic display of self expression. It is a chance to peacefully protest and advocate for social causes. It is a time to come together and rejoice in the sense of community. For some, it is the only time they are able to fully be themselves, if only temporarily. For others, the large scale events have been the final encouragement needed to come out. Suffice it to say, it can be disappointing to not have the traditional pride celebrations this year.
With Coronavirus remaining prevalent, some individuals may be too caught up in their personal circumstances to even think of celebrating. Given the current situation, it’s important to recall that the heart of Pride Month is rooted in activism and fighting for legislation changes to support the LGBTQ+ community. Because of the pandemic, there are a number of individuals who may be directly impacted and find themselves in less favorable circumstances i.e. having to return to a household where their identity may not be accepted. While it is easy to mourn the cancellation of events, we should not forget the reason for the events in the first place.
Take this time to check in on your allies and maintain a level of self-care. General well being, emotional and mental stability during this difficult time should take priority over anything else. If that has been addressed, there are plenty of local and national organizations that have pivoted to celebrating Pride virtually with digital events taking place throughout the month of June. Most local organizations will also have various resources to support connection and well-being on their respective websites.
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