Virtual Pride Events Will Focus on Black Lives Matter

Author: Michelle Russell       

Supporters march June 14 in the “Drag March for Change” in Chicago’s Lakeview neighborhood. Like many upcoming virtual Pride events, the rally focused on police violence and other issues surrounding the Black community in the city and in the nation. (Nick Tann photo)

This month’s LGBTQ Pride events won’t look like last year’s events — not by a long shot. As a recent New York Times story reports, that’s not just because COVID-19 is pushing Pride events online, since traveling and gathering in groups are not possible for many. The mission of Pride is to “remind community members and allies that they are not alone, but part of a greater push for equality, and to elevate the voices and causes central to LGBTQ people and other marginalized groups,” according to the article. As such, the recent uprisings in response to the deaths of George Floyd and other Black people by the police is lending greater significance to Pride events taking place from June 19 to July 5.

virtual Pride

Demonstrators show their support for the Black community June 14 during the “Drag March for Change” rally in Chicago. (Nick Tann photo)

“It’s more important than ever that every LGBTQ person in our community — many who are also people of color — raise their voices in protest,” Cathy Renna, the interim communications director for the National LGBTQ Task Force, told the Times. The gay rights movement was sparked by an uprising at New York City’s Stonewall Inn 51 years ago: “Protest has always been a part of Pride,” Renna said.

Pride networks from around the world that may not be planning their own online events have joined together to organize Global Pride on June 27. The live-streamed, 24-hour event will feature music and artistic performances, speeches from activists and campaigners, and addresses by public figures. Global Pride organizers have announced that Black Lives Matter will be at the center of their event, which is expected to attract 300 million viewers.

“The Pride and Black Lives Matter movements share histories of being founded by LGBTQ people of color, and being founded to fight systemic, cultural, and institutional intolerance and discrimination,” one of Global Pride organizers, Steve Taylor, told Forbes. “It’s only right that we use Global Pride to raise the voice of people of color from within our community, and so many Prides have already provided content that really shouts the Black Lives Matter message loud and clear.”

If there’s any silver lining to moving the in-person Pride events online, it’s that it gives “an opportunity for individuals who would never have the chance to attend a Pride march — say in New York or Chicago or San Francisco — to be able to be part of it. You can be an isolated kid in [a] small rural town in Mississippi or you could be in Eastern Europe or you can be in a country where it’s illegal to be LGTBQ,” Renna told the Times. “All you need is an internet connection.”

The Times article offers “a digital online digest” for Pride month events from around the world.

Michelle Russell is editor in chief of Convene.