Pride Month looks nothing like we imagined.
Earlier this year, many of the parades and gatherings dedicated to celebrating and uplifting the LGBTQ+ community were canceled due to COVID-19. In fact, originally, this article was meant to be about how organizations and cities were celebrating Pride virtually — the Zoom get-togethers and Instagram Live parties you could log into, in lieu of attending the usual in-person versions.
Some of those events are still happening, of course. But a few weeks ago, everything changed once again.
Days before June 1, protests erupted across the country in response to the violent killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and other Black people. In the following weeks, thousands have protested against the systemic racism and police brutality that have created an epidemic of Black deaths in the United States.
In the midst of the turmoil, much of the queer community has rallied around the Black community. Black queer people have always been hit hard by the issues at the forefront of the Black Lives Matter movement: police violence, dangerously limited and unequal access to quality healthcare, discrimination in the legal system, microaggressions and overt aggressions in the workplace. In the past week alone, two Black trans women were killed in the U.S. They are thought to be at least the 13th and 14th violent deaths of trans people in 2020.
For some, the current Black Lives Matter movement recalls the origins of modern-day Pride. “In the wake of the murders of Tony McDade, George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, and Breonna Taylor, many people asked if Pride would be postponed to honor the movement around the world against police brutality,” Carolyn Wysinger, board president of San Francisco Pride, tells Refinery29. “My response is always the same: If you know your Pride history, then you will recall that Stonewall was started by a Black trans woman in defense of a Black butch woman. Stonewall was a defense of Black bodies. In honor of this, Pride will use this moment to lift up and center our Black LGBTQ community members. They are my siblings. Remember, when you solve it for Black people, you solve it for everybody."
Many are struggling to figure out how to honor Pride this year. "To be honest, it's difficult to celebrate Pride when I'm also mourning the deaths of Tony McDade, Breonna Taylor, George Floyd and so many others lost to police brutality and white supremacy," notes A.L. Major, a writer based in Oakland, California, in a conversation with Refinery29. "But I do believe joy is a form of resistance, a right that I deserve in spite of a world that doesn't want me to exist. So I'm going to try my best to laugh with friends, to be in community at virtual events like WoCW 2020 Virtual Vibrations, to eat as many waffles as possible, to dance in my living room until my feet hurt, to love on my partner, to be abundant, to thrive, to stay hopeful against all the odds."
Laughing with friends and dancing in your living room is a fantastic place to start. For more ideas on how you can observe Pride this month — and support the Black LGBTQ+ community going forward — keep reading.
Tune into the big parties
Gathering together is essential for the mental health of many in the queer community. "Pride is typically a time when LGBTQ+ people, especially those in rural communities where they don't feel accepted or affirmed, come together as a community," Rich Ferraro, Chief Communications Officer at GLAAD, points out. "This year for Pride month, we're seeing that our safe spaces such as bars and nightclubs and LGBTQ+ community centers are closed." So by necessity, many celebrations are still taking place — just online. What better way to celebrate Pride than to tune in?
A good place to start: Black Queer Town Hall, hosted by GLAAD and New York City Pride. This virtual celebration will run from 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. EST on Friday, June 19 through Sunday, June 21, 2020, on GLAAD's Facebook and YouTube channels.
The virtual event will be hosted by Bob the Drag Queen and Peppermint, who are both drag queens and Black LGBTQ+ advocates. It will feature drag performances; appearances from guests including Laverne Cox, Mj Rodriguez, Angelica Ross, and Isis King; roundtable discussions; and fundraising opportunities for #BlackLivesMatter, Black LGBTQ+ organizations, and local Black LGBTQ+ drag performers, many of whom have been out of work due to COVID-19 shutdowns. The hope is that people can tune in with their quarantine buddies or solo, and still feel connected to the queer community at large.
"During this time, I've been seeing a lot of Black tragedy," Bob the Drag Queen said in a GLAAD press release sent to Refinery29. "People need to see that. But it's also important that we share Black success, Black victory, and Black lives. Especially queer Black lives. Especially trans Black lives. This is an opportunity to get together and rejoice in all things that are beautiful, black, and queer."Also worth mentioning: Many out of work drag queens are putting on virtual shows. This list put together by Urban Matter can help you find one.
Find local celebrations too
Of course, New York City isn’t the only place putting on a next-level online Pride event. A ton of cities have transitioned their annual Pride happenings online. "We have a responsibility to make sure that we still celebrate Pride, whatever way that is," Wysinger explained to Refinery29. "We have to make sure we are making our community visible."
Wysinger says that SF Pride is putting on virtual celebrations over the weekend of June 27. You can expect live and pre-recorded performances, speeches from LGBTQ+ community members and celebrities, DJ sets, and more, all streamed via SFPride.org.The New York Times put together a comprehensive list of local virtual celebrations. Check out your city’s activities, and tune into other cities’ events too. "Regardless if it's in person or online, you can't cancel Pride," Ferraro says. "That spirit lives on for LGBTQ people throughout the year."
Support Black Lives Matter
Donate, spread the word, attend a protest, or do whatever you can to support the Black Lives Matter movement locally and nationally this Pride month. That’s what Samantha Williams and Sadé Randall, co-founders of LGBTQ+ travel brand Away In Love, are planning on doing."
Continuing to advance the Black Lives Matter movement has become our main focus over the upcoming weeks. We intend to support the movement by attending the local protests in Washington, D.C., educating ourselves, and having the tough conversations within our sphere of influence to create change," Williams and Randall tell Refinery29. "We’re also donating to organizations that are supporting the movement, particularly those that are standing up for Black Trans and queer people. Representation matters and we want to be visible. We stand with the Black Lives Matter movement, but we need to make sure all Black Lives Matter, including queer and trans black folk."
Educate yourself on intersectionality
"There can be no Pride if it is not intersectional," GLAAD said in a recent statement. This Pride, you can commit to educating yourself about intersectionality, in part by reading Black queer books, listening to Black queer podcasts, and staying informed about the way oppression is eperienced differently by everyone.
Buy from Black and LGBTQ+-owned or allied shops
One of the best ways to make your voice heard is to let your dollars do the talking. If you're looking to buy absolutely anything — books, flowers, clothes, gifts — search for Black and LGBTQ+-owned or allied businesses that you can support.
Unfortunately, finding shops might require some legwork. The 2016 National Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce (NGLCC) report revealed that 80% of LGBTQ+ businesses were owned by Caucasians, and only 4.3% were owned by Black people. The report also notes that just 2% of the LGBTQ+ businesses registered were owned by those who identified as transgender.To find Black and LGBTQ+ businesses to support, scroll through Support Black Owned, a free directory to find Black-owned businesses, and the Gay Lesbian Directory, which has an enormous list of LGBTQ+-owned shops. And for what it’s worth, two Black, queer Etsy shops we love are QMadeIt and JamieandJones.
Donate to Black and LGBTQ+ groups
"We plan on making a donation to the Trevor Project, which is a national organization providing crisis intervention and suicide prevention services to LGBTQ+ youth," says Sam Williams and Sadé Randall. "We know Pride events typically raise so much money and awareness for great causes just like this, so we definitely want to do our part."
Stream Black, queer shows and movies
Tune into LGBTQ+-inclusive television shows and films, solo or with friends, IRL or via Zoom. "There are some great premieres happening in June," says Ferraro. He names Queer Eye, Drag Race All Stars, Love Victor, and Welcome To Chechnya. Another one to add to the mix: Disclosure, a film that’s hitting Netflix this weekend and takes a look at Hollywood’s depiction of transgender people and how it’s affected American culture.
"My group of queer friends has been watching movies together throughout quarantine," says Hannah Rimm, 27. "I would totally recommend watching Hannah Gadsby's new special, Douglas, which just came out. And I'm also loving Never Have I Ever, which has a great queer storyline."
Pride.com offers a great list of television shows with Black queer story lines that you can stream now too.
Advocate for Black and LGBTQ+ communities
Stay true to Pride’s beginnings and practice some much-needed activism. On the fourth anniversary of the Pulse nightclub shooting, the Trump administration rolled back an Obama-era policy that protected LGBTQ+ healthcare patients from discrimination. Government actions like these — and their lack of actions for other needed legislation regarding Black and Black LGBTQ+ lives — are inexcusable. Call your senators, call your representatives, protest, register to vote, and advocate for action to be taken immediately.
Share your story
If you’re comfortable, send a tweet, write a blog post, post an Instagram. These actions might feel small or even performative, but sharing your experiences can help others in the LGBTQ+ community, who may see themselves in your story.
And, if you’re an ally, it's also important to listen and amplify these voices — not just for Pride month, but forever.