Pride celebrated amid COVID-19 and protests

Published On July 1, 2020 | By Rachael Dyal | COVID-19, Life
Protesters march in Silver Spring, Md., on June 13 for LGBTQ+ Pride Month and against the death of George Floyd. (REUTERS/Erin Scott)
Rachael Dyal

The COVID-19 pandemic may have cancelled many events this year, but it did not stop LGBTQ+ organizations from celebrating Pride this month.

The virus put a halt in many summer activities that were supposed to run this year, and Pride was one of them.

However, organizations such as Pride Toronto, a non-profit LGBTQ+ group, still hosted various events in celebration of Pride Month online.

People were able to support those within the LGTBQ+ community and social-distance at the same time through these online events.

Jasmine Patrick, the media relations coordinator for the City of Toronto, said in an e-mail interview that this year’s Pride celebration is a new and creative way of honouring people in the LGBTQ+ community.

Pride Toronto released a statement early May noting that despite current events people would still be allowed to join the Pride Parade, however, it would be online this year.

LGBT Youth Line, a youth-led organization that aspires to celebrate and support young adults no matter how they identify themselves, also hosted several events despite the pandemic making things difficult.

Liz Hawksworth, the communications coordinator at LGBT Youth Line, and Berkha Gupta, the executive director, said in an e-mail that Pride for them moved to virtual spaces as well.

“Given that there were no in-person festivals this year, YouthLine developed an online campaign to create visibility and build a community for 2SLGBTQ youth across Ontario,” they said.

“Over June, we ran a 30-day photo challenge focusing on various themes, including Activism and History. We found people were interested in participating, which was great,” the team said.

Pride for the LGBT Youth Line was more than just a virtual celebration this year. It was also a space to help those feeling isolated or enraged during this time to come forth and be proud of who they are.

“This Pride Month we were able to focus more on the injustices in our community and focus priorities on advocating towards building a future that’s safer, more equitable, juster, and more affirming,” the LGBT Youth Line team stated.

“Black and Indigenous community members have had to experience rage, grief, and loss while navigating COVID restrictions. It also felt like a year where Pride moved closer to its roots,” they said.

Hawksworth and Gupta further said it was Black queer and trans people that led the movement for change since the beginning, whether it be the Stonewall Riots, the Toronto Pride Parade in 2016 or present-day advocacy.

“Our arts and culture are still heavily influenced by Black queer and trans people, and Black communities broadly continuous conversations are needed about the appropriation of Black culture in mainstream 2SLGBTQ communities,” they said.

“Black queer, trans youth are the frontlines of demanding change and dreaming of a better future for all of us,” they said.

The LGBT Youth Line had to make difficult decisions with regards to attending rallies to support those within the community, while still exercising safety precautions.

Nonetheless, efforts through online activities still proceeded to show support and celebrate those within the community who may have been feeling isolated during this time.

There were many online Pride celebrations from different organizations that continued to proceed this year. Down below is a timeline of organizations who still celebrated Pride Month virtually.

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