By: Juztin Bello, Copy Editor
Due to the ongoing uncertainty around COVID-19, Pride festivities worldwide have either been cancelled or re-imagined into virtual events. These cancellations include New York City’s Pride March, which has been cancelled for the first time in history, and San Francisco’s Pride Parade, which would have celebrated its 50th anniversary.
Although Vancouver’s Pride festivities are not until August, the Vancouver Pride Society has opted to follow in the footsteps of several other Pride organizations and released a statement back in April on the matter. In this statement they expressed heartbreak over the worldwide cancellations, with a promise to do what they can to fill the hole that the cancellations have left, and encouraged a continued celebration of Pride. I know going into Pride month that people are going to be disappointed by the lack of Vancouver’s big, flashy Pride celebrations. What people need to remember, however, is that Pride, and the feeling of pride itself, can continue on without such events happening.
As someone who has attended Vancouver Pride for the last four years, I fully understand those who feel they are missing out on an event that celebrates togetherness — especially physical togetherness. Being amongst the bustling crowds walking the streets with flags in hand, and the bars packed with celebrants dancing as one unit is a feeling of physical connection that I have felt at Prides in the past.
However, just because the physicality that comes with Pride has been lost does not mean we have any less reason to celebrate queerness and pay homage to the LGBTQ2+ community. The Vancouver Pride Society sums it up best in their statement:
What people often forget is that Pride began as a protest. The first Pride was credited more than 50 years ago at the 1969 Stonewall Riots, which saw countless LGBTQ2+ folk fighting back after a bubbling of tension erupted between police and patrons of the gay club, Stonewall Inn.
When we celebrate Pride, regardless of physical space, we’re celebrating the strength and courage to fight back against ignorance and oppression, and to feel empowered in our identities.
We’re paying homage to the movement makers, past and present, who continue to fight or have fought for LGBTQ2+ rights. Whether it’s by donating to causes that support the LGBTQ2+ community, cheering as more advancements are made, or simply loving and fighting for our own voices, Pride can still be celebrated.
Behind the flashy rainbow-clad crowds and the sounds of corporations furiously leaping at opportunities to profit off of rebranding is the true sentiment of Pride — it’s about fighting back against years of oppression and celebrating the entire spectrum of gender, race, and sexuality. And, frankly, these ideas are things we can celebrate and feel without the need of the big, commercialized events that many Pride parades have become.
Pride is something I feel when I see people of the LGBTQ2+ community being celebrated in the media and finding success in a heteronormative, binary driven world. It’s the feeling of serenity when we can openly talk about our identities to friends or like-minded community members, and feel a sense of belonging. It’s a feeling that’s close-to-home, when my parents ask me questions to better educate themselves about LGBTQ2+ issues, and I see them make efforts to learn more about the LGBTQ2+ community. And, it’s a feeling of struggle to push for progress, for those still fighting for equality and a voice within our own community.
Of course, the parties and the drinking are excellent aspects of celebration, but the loss of such luxuries does not and should not denote any less pride in being queer.
So while the parade and the drinks will definitely be missed, I will be continuing my Pride from the comfort and safety of my home; ultimately, Pride is about feeling at home, and right now, home is exactly where this feeling shall be.
In lieu of Pride events being cancelled, there are several alternatives one could take to celebrating Pride Month this year. Global Pride 2020, a 24-hour event, will be conducted on June 27 with performances and speeches. Additionally, from June 19 to 21, NYC Pride will be hosting Pride 2020 Drag Fest which will see more than 100 drag queens performing in support of LGBTQ2+ advocacy organization GLAAD (Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation). While no Vancouver events have been announced, patrons should expect to hear soon once the Vancouver Pride Society’s website goes back up.