Pride 2021: How to Celebrate Amid the Pandemic

Published on: May 28, 2021fb-roundtwitter-roundemail-round
Pride flag being wavedGetty Images

For years, June has been celebrated as Pride Month to honor the Stonewall riots. On June 28, 1969, police raided the Stonewall Inn – a popular gay bar in NYC. But customers fought back, leading to days of riots. (More here on the people behind the Stonewall revolution.) The uprising was a major turning point for the modern gay rights movement – and a year after, the first gay pride parade in the US went down in NYC. Over the years, pride parades and celebrations have been happening around the country and world, from NYC and San Fran to London to Sydney. 

Last year was supposed to be a milestone year, marking the 50th anniversary of the US’s first-ever gay pride parade. Then the pandemic hit. And as the world came to a halt, so did the usual pride celebrations, with many getting canceled or turning to virtual events. But things are looking up for 2021: half of all US adults are fully vaccinated against COVID-19. And as of late May, cases have dropped to their lowest level in nearly a year. Now, celebrations are picking up again, though some orgs are still planning scaled-back events.

Here’s how to stay safe…

The CDC says that fully vaccinated people don’t need to wear masks indoors or outdoors, with a few exceptions. But the agency suggests that people who are not vaxxed should avoid large gatherings to prevent getting infected with or spreading COVID-19.

States are also making their own calls on safety precautions – so before you make a Pride game plan, check to see the restrictions in your state or city by checking your local health department website.

If you’re unsure of what to do, it doesn’t hurt to wear a mask and social distance at events. Or plan to celebrate virtually – whether that’s with friends and family, co-workers, or your community.

Here’s how Pride Month is being celebrated around the country …

  • In Atlanta…Atlanta Pride is planning to host a festival in October. But in June, a couple of events are going down. Like a 5K run and an OUT night at the Georgia Aquarium.

  • In Boston…the city’s parade and festival are being postponed until the fall. But there’ll be virtual activities going on throughout June. Like: a forum with the six major candidates running for mayor, as well as a virtual park lighting ceremony. Get more details here.

  • In Chicago…the Pride Parade isn’t happening until October 3. But on June 26 and 27, there'll be a live, outdoor festival called Pride in the Park. Expect to see some big names there like Chaka Khan and Tiësto – who are both headlining. The organizers suggest that those who aren’t fully vaccinated get tested prior to the event.

  • In Dallas…the city won’t have a parade or festival this year, and says it hopes for them to return in 2022. On June 4 and 5, Dallas Pride is hosting a two-night outdoor event at Fair Park that’ll include variety shows to raise awareness of and celebrate the LGBTQ+ community. Those attending will need to wear a mask and social distance, and the event will be streamed online for people who don’t want to go in person.

  • In Los Angeles…for the second year in a row, the LA Pride parade was canceled because of the pandemic. But that doesn’t mean flags won’t be flying. LA Pride will be hosting smaller and virtual events, including a concert streamed on TikTok, a night out at Dodger Stadium and volunteer opportunities throughout the month. You can find out more here.

  • In Miami…Miami Beach Pride has reportedly always been celebrated in April. This year, the main event – a festival and parade – will happen on September 18 and 19. But according to Miami Beach Pride’s website, there are some smaller events happening in June, like a bar crawl and pool party.

  • In NYC…the Big Apple is holding a Pride March on June 27 – and it will have both in-person and virtual components. There’ll also be a street fair, family movie night, and virtual culinary experience during the month. More details here. What might also be different this year: fewer police officers. In May, event organizers said they’re reducing the presence of police officers at events and banning law enforcement and correction officers from participating in events until 2025. They say that “the sense of safety that law enforcement is meant to provide can instead be threatening, and at times dangerous” to people in the LGBTQ+ community.

  • In San Francisco…like other cities, San Fran Pride also hit pause on its parade plans. It was planning to hold a Pride Expo, but that was canceled. There’ll still be Pride Movie Night at Oracle Park on June 11 and 12 instead. Expect snacks, live and virtual entertainment, and special appearances before the screenings of “In The Heights” and “Everybody’s Talking About Jamie.”

And for those that want to participate from home, Them – an online LGBTQ+ publication – is hosting a virtual Pride Parade on June 22. Their editor-in-chief Whembley Sewell said, “I think one of the amazing things about the way we've been approaching pride at them and from other organizations is that it’s for the virtual lens. Whether you're someone who maybe isn’t out or someone who can't make it to pride or doesn't like large crowds, it definitely is much more accessible.”

How to support the LGBTQ+ community this month and beyond… 

June is an exciting time to celebrate the LGBTQ+ community. But that doesn’t mean everything comes to an end on June 30. It’s important to keep the momentum going all year long. And here are some ways to do that:

  • Consider donating to impactful LGBTQ+ orgs. Here are some ideas (and tips to help you vet charities)...

    • The Ali Forney Center: Them recommends supporting them, with Sewell calling it "one of the most essential organizations.” It aims to help homeless LGBTQ+ youth find housing and gives them the tools they need to live on their own.

    • The Trevor Project: provides crisis intervention and suicide prevention services to LGBTQ+ youth.

    • National Center for Black Equity: empowers the fight for economic, social, and health equity for the Black LGBTQ+ community.

    • National Queer Asian Pacific Islander Alliance (NQAPIA): develops leadership, promotes visibility and educates the AAPI LGBTQ+ community.

    • Lambda Legal: works to achieve full recognition of civil rights of the LGBTQ+ community and people living with HIV.

    • The Okra Project: brings home-cooked, healthy, and culturally specific meals and resources to the Black Trans community.

    • Human Rights Campaign: partners with people across demographics, industries, and governments to help create a world where the LGBTQ+ community is treated equally. 

  • Make your voice heard on LGBTQ+ issues. Reach out to your elected officials, including your US senator – because the chamber hasn’t voted on the Equality Act (which the House passed in February). The bill would ban discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity when it comes to things like jobs, housing, education, and public spaces.

  • If you see something, say something. According to the FBI, nearly 1 in 5 hate crimes victims in 2019 were targeted because of bias against their sexual orientation or gender identity. You can help prevent incidents like these from happening by being an active bystander and protecting someone who’s being targeted – whether it’s in the workplace, at the grocery store, or among friends. We explain how to be an active bystander here.

  • Listen. Yes, it’s as easy as it sounds. Let your family, friends, peers, and neighbors know that you can provide a safe space for them to talk about what they're going through.

theSkimm

Like pretty much everything else in life, COVID-19 impacted last year’s milestone Pride celebrations. Now, as pandemic restrictions lift, many people are excited to get back to the usual Pride festivities and celebrate the community. But remember that Pride goes beyond June’s 30 days – and society should be working to support people who identify as LGBTQ+ all day, every day.

Skimm'd by Maria Martinolich and Kamini Ramdeen


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