Last year for Pride, instead of waving flags of resistance and dancing in the streets, we stayed home, hidden behind masks and unsure of when we’d be able to be together again. For older generations of LGBTQ folks, it brought back shockwaves reminiscent of the frightening early days of the AIDS epidemic, when gay people were left to care for each other while no one else, including the government, would.
The mood for Pride is usually bright and cheery, but its origins are anything but. It commemorates a riot where gay, lesbian, bisexual, and trans people fought back against a violent police raid on the Stonewall Bar in the late-night hours of June 28, 1969. At the time, raids by cops on the few gay clubs that existed were commonplace and antigay laws were on the books from coast to coast. The confrontations lasted for several more days with the crowds growing in size and ferocity.
Over the years, Pride has grown in size. More than 5 million people in New York City celebrated the 50th anniversary of Stonewall in 2019. That year an estimated 150,000 people marched with 700 groups in a parade through the streets of Manhattan that lasted for 12 hours. Of course, the Covid-19 pandemic forced the cancellation of events worldwide that were planned for 2020.
The good news in 2021 is that vaccination rates are moving faster than anyone imagined, with half of Americans having received at least one dose. It is a bright spot in what has been a dark time, but it comes a little too late for event organizers who need months to plan festivities. This means there will be few in-person activities this month for the millions of recently vaccinated people with pent-up queer energy bursting to get out.
This year, there’s still some uncertainty with the ongoing pandemic about who can and can’t go out. Luckily, there’s a lot of amazing stuff happening online that you don’t have to go out to experience. “We have something for everyone,” said Dan Dimant, who became media director for NYC Pride last September after serving for years as a volunteer. “Everything is listed on nycpride.org. There are events for youth, for families, for people who like to cook, for film enthusiasts. We’ve tried to hit on a range of different interests and segments of our community.”
Here’s a taste of the online glitter, glamour, and gloriousness planned for what will hopefully be the last pandemic Pride. Most of the events are free of charge.
Kicking off LA Pride is a free “Thrive with Pride” concert featuring pop sensation Charli XCX and up-and-coming LGBTQ artists. The performances will be presented by and livestreamed exclusively on TikTok, making it easy to join in the fun from your phone. For updates on the lineup, visit the LA Pride website. LA Pride also suggests you follow @tiktokforgood for updates.
I’ve been a fan of the world-renowned New York Gay Men’s Chorus and Youth Pride Chorus for years, so I am excited about the premiere of their new video “Outside Voice,” about the experiences of queer youth. It will be followed by a talkback session with composer Julian Hornik and artistic director Gavin Thrasher. You can watch live at 8 pm ET on their YouTube channel.
NYC Pride will present its fourth annual Human Rights Conference June 21 to 23. This year’s conference will feature a series of interactive Masterclasses with transformative experts in activism, fashion, culture, and queer history sharing their insights with guests through live seminars. You can sign up for the Masterclasses here. Tickets are approximately $5.
The symposium will offer free main stage open conversations on a diverse range of topics designed to connect communities including trans empowerment, mental health and wellness, and collective power for people of color. You can register for the free Mainstage discussions here.
NYC Youth Pride, a celebration of and for LGBTQ and ally teens, is back as a virtual gathering. For this year’s experience, NYC Pride has partnered with youth-focused centers, organizations, and programs nationwide to present the annual Youth Pride virtual event.
You can register for the free event here.
Also on June 26, Front Runners New York is partnering with New York Road Runners for its 40th annual Pride Run. This time it’s a hybrid event with an in-person 6K (capacity is limited), as well as a virtual 5K. The virtual run will enable runners from anywhere in the world to participate.
Trophies will be awarded to in-person and virtual finishers for first, second, and third-place finishers for female, male, and nonbinary people. A portion of the proceeds will be donated to New Alternatives, a nonprofit focused on increasing the self-sufficiency of homeless youth by enabling them to transition out of the shelter system to stable adult lives.
For more information, visit the event website here.
The NYC Pride March will broadcast live from 12 pm to 3 pm ET. The livestream will include live performances, on-air interviews, and exciting street-side activities featuring groups who would normally march and spotlights of this year’s grand marshalls. It will air on ABC-7, ABC7NY.com, and ABC7 New York’s connected TV apps on streaming platforms Amazon Fire TV, Android TV, Apple TV, and Roku.
Pride Island Home is the new virtual format for NYC Pride’s legendary event. The centerpiece will be four hours of programming that includes two hours of performances by DJ Lina Bradford and other soon-to-be-announced artists from around the city, followed by two hours of a music mix to a rolling screen of footage from 35 years of the Pier Dance.
Pride is as much a chance for LGBTQ people to see and be seen as it is an observance of our history and celebration of our future. For young people, it’s an opportunity to be introduced to the glory of the wider community. For seniors, it’s a chance to see friends old and new and to wonder at the progress we’ve made.
“My hope is that these festivities allow us to build common ground,” said Dimant. “We are being threatened by people who don’t support any of us. We are at our strongest when we are united.”
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