The coronavirus pandemic has canceled a lot of things, but your summer vacation doesn’t have to be one of them.
Today marks the start of LGBTQ+ Pride Month — typically a time of merriment, with rainbows and glitter galore, and reflection. The first Pride was a protest outside the Stonewall Inn in New York in 1969, led by black transgender women.
But the coronavirus pandemic has led to change in plans for this year’s Pride celebrations given the inability and reticence to travel and restrictions around gatheringin large groups, key components in honoring the occasion.
None of this, however, means Pride is truly “canceled,” whether you’re queer yourself or an ally. Celebrations are alive and well — they will just happen virtually, and where possible, in small and distanced groups. Pride also comes as many around the country are protesting the death of George Floyd, police and systemic racism: further opportunity to remember Pride’s roots of protesting inequalities.
Attend a virtual Pride celebration
Millions flocked to New York last year for World Pride and the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall riots, but given both international travel restrictions and domestic quarantine requirements, that type of coordination never stood a chance this year.
Organizations are opting for virtual events or campaigns this year instead: The Trevor Project, for example, launched a #PrideEverywhere campaign, encouraging people to add a #PrideEverywhere filter to photos and share them on social media with stories of what Pride looks like in their world. NYC Pride is partnering with GLAAD to host a virtual drag festival June 19-21 featuring more than 100 performers.
Speaking of drag: Consider hiring a queen to perform for you and your friends over Zoom, like at Michael Del Moro’s bachelor party earlier this year. Drag queen ROSÉ made an appearance during the event, performing and cracking jokes. This works as a way to provide support to struggling entertainers during the pandemic, too; the group sent tips via Venmo during the performance.
Something extra simple you can do: Put a rainbow Pride flag (with black and brown colors, too) outside your home or on your social media profiles. But know that your support shouldn’t stop there.
Educate yourself on the history of Pride
Transgender activist Marsha P. Johnson may have thrown the first brick at Stonewall (at least, that’s the consensus of most of the community; Johnson said she didn’t get to the bar until the rioting had started already). Activists rioted after a police raid at the bar; New York had refused to give licenses to bars that served gay people. Police entered Stonewall with a warrant and arrested 13 people. If it weren’t for black transgender women and others protesting outside Stonewall, we wouldn’t have the parades we look forward to every year.
“We were at a point where particularly the story of Stonewall was very whitewashed for so long, and now we’re going back and people are deliberately reviewing the stories of people like Marsha P. Johnson and Sylvia Rivera,” Peppermint, a black transgender drag queen, told USA TODAY last year ahead of the 50th anniversary of the uprising.
This year, Peppermint took to social media to advertise a vigil near Stonewall to honor dead queer and transgender people. “Tonight. Let’s continue to focus on the black folks who were murdered this year that YOU HAVEN’T HEARD OF. It’s officially Pride month. If you Support #lgbtqia+ Equality, BE THERE,” Peppermint wrote.
Go to a socially distanced Pride gathering with a group of friends
Just because you can’t go to a large parade or party doesn’t mean you can’t spend time with your queer friends. If you feel OK doing so — and your city or town has allowed small gatherings to resume — consider hosting a small picnic where people socially distance from each other and talk about what Pride means to them. It may not be the same party you planned on going to, but a more low-key event could leave to fruitful conversation.
Aren’t comfortable with that? Plan a Zoom catch-up instead.
Donate to queer causes
Read up on queer causes you care about and consider donating your time and/or money. A helpful list can be found here, from Funders for LGBTQ Issues, that is specifically related to the coronavirus pandemic.
Organizations specifically meant to help the black LGBTQ+ community needed you before this current moment and need you now, too. In addition to reaching out to your local community organizations, consider researching and donating to groups like the National Black Justice Coalition and TransWomen of Color Collective.
Make your voice heard in the name of Pride and the black community
Protesting injustice is at the heart of Pride. With people all around the country protesting in the wake of Floyd’s death after a white police officer kneeled on his neck, there are many ways you can join in if you aren’t comfortable attending a protest in person.
In addition to donating to organizations as mentioned above, you can support black businesses in your communities, read queer and anti-racist books and encourage others to follow your lead both on social media and in person with your friends and families (especially those who need to hear it).
In case you missed: ‘RuPaul’s Drag Race’ crowns Season 12 winner in vibrant, virtual finale
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