How to Celebrate When Pride Events are Canceled

pride month

It’s safe to say that, for most of us, 2020 has not turned out to be the year that we all thought it would be. We are living simultaneously with a global pandemic, struggling economy, and more high-profile cases of police brutality leading to Black death. Many of us are also grieving the loss of job security and feeling more isolated than ever before due to social distancing rules and the closures of our favorite venues and public spaces. In the midst of all this, queer people find themselves asking: “how do I celebrate pride this year?”

The pandemic continues to bear down even as we get deeper into Pride month, and spaces and events that openly celebrate LGBTQ identities are likely temporarily closed, have capacity limits, or are no longer able to host large events. We are now forced to grieve with those losses as well — the loss of normalcy, the ability to celebrate in a large, welcoming community, as well as the camaraderie that brings.

We are tapped with the challenge of finding new ways to observe Pride and celebrate safely during this unsettled and unsettling time. If you’re at a loss for how to celebrate Pride when it feels like much of what makes it special has been canceled, here are some suggestions.

Consider Learning More

Pride doesn’t have to be about large-scale events or parties. It can also be something a bit more tame that involves the entire family. Knowledge itself can be a powerful tool in advancing the cause for equality more broadly, and it can also offer respite and validation for queer folks seeking safer spaces in the world. For adults, you may want to delve deeper into queer history with a book like historian Eric Cervini’s new book The Deviant’s War, or Kathleen Archambeau’s Pride & Joy: LGBTQ Artists, Icons and Everyday Heroes, or a number of other books on queer history. You may also want to check out these book recommendations for all ages on Pride related themes.

Get Involved in Important Causes

One way to celebrate Pride is to invest in organizations and businesses that speak out in favor of queer visibility and LGBTQ acceptance. This could mean offering your talents or voice (making phone calls, volunteering to create marketing materials, helping with fundraising campaigns, etc.) or even donating if you’re financially able. Gifting can take on many forms and can range from using your buying power to invest in corporations who have been vocal for LGBTQ equality, or opting to donate to non-profit organizations that provide essential services to the communities. Let’s explore a few places to start:

Sylvia River Law Project

You may want to consider donating to smaller organizations such as the Sylvia River Law Project, which provides programming and legal assistance to low-income people of color who identify as gender-nonconfroming, trans, or intersex. Through their work, they aim to increase visibility and improve access to resources for queer and trans people of color who are low income.

The Black Trans Travel Fund

The Black Trans Travel Fund was created to bring financial assistance to Black transgender women by providing them with the financial resources necessary to travel safely in order to limit risk to street harassment and physical harm.

Marsha P. Johnson Institute

Along with Sylvia Rivera, Marsha P. Johnson is credited with being one of the heroes who resisted police intervention at the Stonewall Riots in 1968 (which eventually became the NYC Pride march). The Marsha P. Johnson Institute provides support to Black trans artists and those who work in community organizing and advocate for equality. Their services include artist and community organizing fellowships that are made available to community members.

The Okra Project

Given that we’re in the middle of a pandemic with a frantically unstable economy, many more people are also struggling with food instability. The Okra Project pays Black trans chefs to visit the homes of Black trans people to provide nutritious, home-cooked meals. The project also hosts an international grocery fund to ensure that their services reach trans people abroad who need better access to food.

LGBTQ Victory Fund

LGBTQ Victory Fund is a pro-equality organization whose mission is to help support the election of openly LGBTQ people in all areas of government. Their candidates have gone on to help successfully advocate for trans anti-discrimination laws and defending amendments to marriage equality in the United States.

Trans Lifeline

Due to the ongoing violence, economic injustices, and widespread discrimination trans people face, they’re also at greater risk of mental health challenges than their cisgender counterparts. Those who reach out to traditional crisis hotlines may have to endure misgendering and a lack of competent providers when they’re at their most vulnerable. Trans Lifeline changes that by providing a mental health crisis line led and run by trans, gender-nonconforming, and questioning volunteers offering support to those same communities.

Attend a Virtual Pride Celebration

Believe it or not, New York City, which is often thought of as the birthplace of Pride, is still holding an event to commemorate the brave acts of defiance of our queer ancestors. While it’s still unclear what events will be happening this month across the world, NYC Pride has most definitely gone virtual! On Friday, June 26, there will be a large-scale virtual event that will stream from 5 PM to 8 PM EDT — on both Facebook and Youtube — hosted by Ashlee Marie Preston and Brian Michael Smith.

There may also be other events taking place online this month to give you the opportunity to observe, learn history, and find community. In addition, there will also likely be ways to participate in-person if you’re OK with managing the coronavirus-related risks. For example, given the increased attention on police brutality and violence against Black lives, LA Pride hosted an All Black Lives Matter demonstration/protest on Sunday, June 14.

No matter what you end up doing to observe Pride, know that ultimately it’s all about being — and loving — yourself. Pride is not only about big parties and advocating for social change, but it’s roots are in the internal journey towards self-acceptance. No matter how you decide to observe, don’t forget to spend at a least a few moments with yourself to appreciate how far you’ve come already and the pride and joy that lies ahead.

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