How to Celebrate Pride In 2020 Amidst Protests and a Global Pandemic
You can still honor Pride this year even without a formal parade. Check out these tips for supporting and celebrating the Black and LGBTQ+ community all year long.
In years past, you may have used Pride as an excuse to slap on rainbow pasties, glitter, and tutus and gallivant through the streets alongside your LGBTQ community (*raises hand*). But this year, Pride month falls smack-dab in the middle of protests against police brutality and systemic racism, as well as the global COVID-19 pandemic, leaving many LGBTQ+ folks wondering how to—and even if to—observe Pride this year. That's why we put together this guide.
Scroll down for ideas on how to honor and celebrate Pride in 2020—plus, ideas for supporting the Black and LGBTQ+ community all year long.
Learn the Real History of Pride
You'd be forgiven for thinking Pride was always about banners, boozes, and bands. But the first Pride "parade" wasn't a parade at all, but a riot. The Stonewall Riots.
The Sparknotes version, courtesy of We Are Everywhere: Protest, Power, and Pride in The History of Queer Liberation: On the night June 28th, 1969, at a time when homosexuality was illegal and LGBTQ+ folks were arrested for kissing in public or even just ~existing~, police showed up unwarranted to raid The Stonewall Inn, a gay bar in New York City. But under the leadership of Black and POC queer and trans womxn, drag queens, and lesbians (notably: Marsha P. Johnson, Sylvia Rivera, and Miss Major Griffin Gracy), the patrons resisted, rioted, and made it loud and clear that they were not going to be silenced. This led to six days of protests, which are now known as Stonewall Uprising.
Unfortunately, much of this history—and the work these Black and POC activists and LGBTQ+ icons continued to do in the years and decades that have followed—has been replaced with a white-washed version, popularized by movies like Stonewall and incomplete or inaccurate history textbooks, says Nefertari Sloan, radical sex educator and LGBTQ+ activist.
Amidst the current protests, and this year in particular, "I urge folks to reflect on the original 'parade' as a riot, and the importance of protest in today's current political climate in terms of civil rights," says Sloan.
To learn more about the history of pride and Stonewall Uprising, check out:
- Books: We Are Everywhere: Protest, Power, and Pride in The History of Queer Liberation or The Stonewall Reader.
- Social media: If you don't want to plop down with a textbook, there are a number of tech-savvy queers curating LGBTQ+ history on their Instagram feeds. To name a few: @lesbianherstoryarchives, @h_e_r_s_t_o_r_y, @queerapalachia @LGBThistory, @blacklesbianarchives, @bayarealesbianarchives, and @butchcamp.
- Podcasts: Making Gay History, Always Here, Queer as Fact, and History is Gay.
Donate to Black LGBTQ+ Organizations
To put it bluntly: Learning about the Black queer and trans womxn icons who started pride is not enough. Black LGBTQ+ individuals still disproportionately face violence and harassment, health inequity, religious intolerance, and criminal injustice, according to the Human Rights Campaign, the largest LGBTQ+ civil rights organization in the U.S.
So what can you do? Set up regular donations to what Sloan calls "intersectionally aware LGBTQ+ organizations." "In some cases, there are non-profit institutions that can be structurally just as racist as the country we live in," they explain. Before donating, they recommend asking: "Is there representation of BIPOC in leadership? Equitable pay? Opportunities for advancement to the 'corporate' level?"
Some organizations to consider donating to: Black AIDS Institute, Solutions Not Punishment Co., The Transgender District, The Okra Project, House of GG, BreakOUT!, LGBTQ Fund, Trans Justice Funding Project, Sylvia Rivera Law Project, Black Trans Travel Fund, Queer The Land, and The Brown Boi Project.
If you don't have the funds—heck, even if you do!—another way to support Black LGBTQ+ folks is to donate your time: Attend protests, engage in discussions about white fragility, racism, and implicit bias with family members, read/watch/stream anti-racist books/movies/podcasts, watch stream-to-donate YouTube videos (that donate the ad revenue from every view to relevant charities; find them by searching YouTube and looking for the green "fundraiser" tag), follow Black LGBTQ+ leaders on social, volunteer for Black-led LGBTQ+ organizations, contact your congressional representative, and vote.
Learn About Intersectionality
In the wake of the inhumane murder of George Floyd (and others) and the protests that have followed, the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD)—one the best-known LGBTQ advocacy groups devoted to countering discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) individuals in the media—released a statement that reads: "There can be no Pride if it is not intersectional." But if you're white, odds are you haven't heard the term before (hey, you're willing to learn now!). So what the heck does intersectionality mean?
Legal scholar Kimberle Crenshaw originally coined the term in 1989 in the article Mapping The Margins: Intersectionality, Identity Politics, and Violence Against Women of Color. She used the word intersectionality to explain the ways all our different identities come together to impact our experience in the world—more specifically, the ways that Black womxn's experience is not the summation of the experience of being Black plus the experience of being a womxn, but a different experience altogether. (While you're at it, learn about implicit bias, too.)
To explain intersectionality, queer African American anthropologist Bahiyyah Maroon, Ph.D., points to the work of Audre Lorde (an American writer, feminist, womanist, librarian, and civil rights activist who penned Sister Outsider among many other important works). "Audre Lorde calls herself a Black lesbian warrior mother poet, all without an 'and' in between," says Maroon. "Intersectionality is like that. It's about naming every single marker of your identity, naming it, owning it, claiming it, and doing so joyfully."
Understanding intersectionality can help you both better understand your own experiences as an LGBTQ person and help be a better ally to all folks in your community. To learn more, Maroon recommends checking out The Audre Lorde Project (an LGBTQ+ POC community organizing center in the New York City area), which "gives you the routes and then sends you into intersectionality," she says. And Feminist Freedom Warriors, a "digital video archive documenting cross-generational conversations about justice, politics and hope with feminist scholar-activists" which Maroon says, "allows you to enter into this knowledge base without reading long articles."
Find An Online Pride Event
After years and even decades of closeting, denying, or internalizing shame around their queerness, actively celebrating their queer identity can be life-changing (and in some cases, life-saving) for many queer folks. "The shame that many LGBTQ people feel can take a toll on mental and emotional well-being," says Sula Malina, a therapist in training at The Gender & Sexuality Therapy Center in New York City. "[Pride is] generally a place for LGBTQ folks to build a sense of community, be reminded that other folks have similar experiences, desire, and struggles, and can bring us a sense of pride, inspiration, and comfort in who we are."
So for that reason, many LGBTQ organizers have still decided to host their pride celebrations—but this year, in respect of social distancing protocols, they're doing so virtually. A few events to add to your calendar below:
- Black Queer Town Hall: Friday, June 19th through Sunday, June 21st starting at 6:30 pm (EST) each day
- Bi Pride UK Festival: Saturday, June 20th, starting at 10 pm to 2 am (EST)
- Them Out Now Live: Monday, June 22nd, starting at 8 pm (EST)
- San Francisco Virtual Trans March: Friday, June 26th, starting at 2 pm (EST)
- NYC Pride Virtual Rally: Friday, June 26th, starting at 5 pm (EST)
- Global Pride Livestream: Saturday, June 27th starting at 10:30 am (EST)
Of course, this is a non-exhaustive list. To find an online Pride event for your local LGBTQ+ community, search, "online pride events near me" or "[insert nearest city name here] pride events 2020."
If your local community's social distancing guidelines allow small groups of people to gather, link up with any LGBTQ+ community members or allies to stream one of these virtual events and celebrate, albeit in a smaller way than usual. Take time to cherish these important connections—if quarantine has taught us anything, it's that having a supportive network is paramount.
Fill Your Instagram Feed with People In the LGBTQ+ community
"Cisgender and heterocentric messages permeate the media and institutions of daily life," says Malina. If you're not a sociologist that may sound a little heady, so to understand what that means, turn on the TV and scroll down the list of shows. Ask yourself: How many of these feature queer main character roles? If you're lucky, Glee, Skins, or Degrassi will be on and the answer will be one. But typically it's a big whopping zero.
"Filling your Instagram feed with queer and trans folks can help push back on those dominant narratives and queer the messages we're getting on the daily," says Jesse Kahn, L.C.S.W., C.S.T., director and sex therapist at The Gender & Sexuality Therapy Center in NYC. Thanks to the DM-slide, like, re-tweet, and heart functions, doing so can also help connect us to online queer and trans communities that celebrate queerness and gender fluidity, he says.
If you're not sure where to start, check out:
Make a Lex Profile
Classic dating apps like Tinder and OkCupid may have expanded their sexuality and gender options to be more accessible to the LGBTQ+ community. (Just last year Tinder released an Orientation feature.) But there's something to be said about an app specifically made for the queer community, like Lex.
A text-based dating app that originally lived under the Instagram handle @personals (which has since changed its name to @lex.app). Instead of introducing yourself to the eligible with pics, Lex forces you to write a little blurb about who you are and what you're looking for—very similar to newspaper ads of the '80s, which can you can find archived on the aforementioned IG account, @h_e_r_s_t_o_r_y, and through #HERSTORYpersonals and #onourbackspersonals.
Boo-ed up and monogamous? Fear not: You can use this platform, too. Posted alongside babes looking for makeout buddies, wives, and FWBs, you'll see ads of reader-types trying to start a queer book club, activists looking for a group to go to local BLM marches with, and more.
Make An Older LGBTQ+ Friend
"Many older adults face the risk of social isolation, but this risk is even more pronounced in LGBTQ+ older adults," says Bill Gross, assistant director of special programs at SAGE Center in the Bronx, New York, an advocacy and services center for LGBTQ+ people over the age of 60. That's why he recommends becoming a volunteer through a program like SAGE's Friendly Visitor Program, which matches volunteers with LGBTQ+ adults for weekly IRL or virtual visits. Or the SAGEConnect program which is a new national phone buddy program.
But don't read it wrong: This isn't *just* beneficial to the elders. "Many younger LGBTQ+ people are disconnected from elders in their family of origin," says Malina. But even among those who have strong relationships with their family of origin, few LGBTQ+ people have older relatives who share their identities and who can offer support and wisdom on their journey, they say. "Intergenerational community is a fantastic way to celebrate pride month, support aging LGBTQ populations, and connect with those who've experienced earlier, pivotal moments in LGBTQ movements," says Malina.
Get An LGBTQ+ Penpal
Personally, the first time I came out as queer was through a letter I wrote to a penpal I met on Tumblr (#TBT). While at present-day, DM-slides and email have replaced snail mail, Malina calls out that writing letters is still a wonderful way to connect with other people in the LGBTQ+ community. In fact, for many writing and keeping (!) those letters can feel like an act of reclamation. Historically, many queer lovers communicated with each other via letter, but either burned the letters as soon as they received them or cut the names out for fear of being "found out." (Need proof? Just watch Netflix's latest documentary A Secret Love.)
Tumblr page Pen Pals For LGBT and LGBT PenPals are both good avenues for finding a penpal. But Kahn also recommends participating in Black and Pink's pen pal program or the Prisoner Correspondence Project, both of which connect incarcerated LGBTQ+ folks with penpals outside of prison who correspond, build relationships, and link them to the larger community.