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As cities around the world forgo in-person Pride events in June 2020, a 24-hour virtual broadcast, Global Pride, will bring international celebrations online.
There won’t be large crowds waving rainbow flags amid the coronavirus pandemic, but a Global Pride celebration will happen (virtually) in 2020, with the Black Lives Matter movement at its center.
Last June, around 5 million people flocked to New York City to celebrate WorldPride on the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall riots, the 1969 uprising for LGBTQ rights that inspired annual global Pride marches. In 2019, an estimated 20 million people attended Pride events in the United States alone, with millions more participating in global parades everywhere from São Paulo to Tel Aviv. But this year, worldwide Pride celebrations will look much different.
Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, more than 500 Pride events have been canceled or postponed globally, which for many people means missing out on what can be a pivotal moment of queer visibility and acceptance. With this in mind, several global and local LGBTQ Pride events are bringing their 2020 celebrations online.
In April, the European Pride Organizers Association (EPOA) and InterPride, an international coalition of Pride organizations, announced the upcoming Global Pride: a 24-hour virtual event that “will use online platforms to deliver a Pride in which everyone can participate, wherever they are in the world,” marking the first worldwide Pride event to be held exclusively online.
Airing on Saturday, June 27, the all-day international broadcast will feature musical performances and speeches from major artists and LGBTQ icons, including Laverne Cox, Adam Lambert, and Kesha. Political figures such as Carlos Alvarado Quesada, the president of Costa Rica—which in late May became the first Central American country to legalize same-sex marriage—as well as former U.S. Vice President Joe Biden, will also make appearances.
Hosted by American actor, singer, and choreographer Todrick Hall, the 2020 Global Pride event will spotlight more than 350 national and regional Pride organizations in Europe, the Americas, Africa, Asia, and Oceania. Global Pride organizers are also working with founders of the Black Lives Matter movement to amplify Black voices throughout the livestream, in acknowledgement of the ongoing demonstrations for racial justice taking place in cities around the world.
The first-of-its-kind Global Pride livestream will air on Todrick Hall’s YouTube channel, as well as on iHeartRadio’s YouTube channel and on the Global Pride website. (It will be watchable via computer or smartphone of any type.) In addition to celebrating LGBTQ rights and history, the online event will also incorporate a relief fund for struggling queer communities, such as small businesses and independent artists who depend heavily on annual revenue brought on by each Pride season.
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“The unprecedented challenges of COVID-19 mean that most Prides will not take place as planned in 2020, but we’re determined that this won’t stop us from coming together as a united, strong community to celebrate who we are and what we stand for,” said EPOA president Kristine Garina in a press release. “For millions of people around the globe, Pride is their one opportunity each year to come together and feel a part of a community, to feel loved, connected, and to know they aren’t alone. It’s essential this year that as Pride organizers, we ensure there is still the opportunity to connect, even if we are connecting from home.”
In the United States, most major cities have called off or postponed in-person June Pride events, including San Francisco, Los Angeles, Dallas, Washington, D.C., Boston, Atlanta, Chicago, and New York City. Many of these cities will participate in Global Pride, and a number of them are bringing their own 2020 Pride celebrations online—among them New York City and San Francisco, which host two of the country’s largest annual Pride events.
On Saturday, June 27, and Sunday, June 28, from 1 p.m. to 9 p.m. and 2 p.m. to 7 p.m. (PST) respectively, San Francisco will host its “Pride 50” virtual celebration, with 13 hours of afternoon and evening programming, such as live and prerecorded musical performances, speeches from elected officials and celebrities, and reflections on 50 years of Pride from leading LGBTQ thought leaders. The weekend-long virtual event will be hosted by San Francisco drag queens and activists Honey Mahogany, Persia, Sister Roma, and Yves Saint Croissant, with New Orleans–born “Queen of Bounce,” Big Freedia, as Sunday’s headlining performer. All programming will be livestreamed on sfpride.org.
In New York City, 2020 will mark the first time that the annual Pride march won’t take place since its first incarnation 50 years ago. Instead, NYC Pride organizers announced that special Pride programming featuring appearances from musician Janelle Monáe and Schitt’s Creek actor Dan Levy (among others) will air on WABC Channel 7 on Sunday, June 28, from 12 p.m. to 2 p.m. EST. (The virtual NYC Pride programming will also be available to viewers in NYC and the tri-state area on abc7ny.com.)
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NYC Pride will also host a three-day digital drag festival, produced in collaboration with GLAAD, to raise money for more than 100 local drag artists. The virtual Pride 2020 DragFest will be hosted by activist, drag artist, and NYC City Council candidate Marti Gould Cummings from Friday, June 19, through Sunday, June 21. Video events will stream on NYC Pride and GLAAD’s Facebook pages at 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. EST.
From June 18 through June 28, HBO is launching its first ever virtual Pride programming, which will be free to access online. The streaming platform’s daily virtual Pride events will include intimate musical performances from LGBTQ artists such as Janelle Monáe and Kim Petras; a dance and cardio “Sweatfest” hosted by choreographer Ryan Heffington; a queer comedy night starring comedian Cameron Esposito; and a drag brunch hosted by HBO stars Shangela, Bob the Drag Queen, and Eureka O’Hara, from the new hit documentary series We’re Here. See the full schedule on humanbyorientation.com.
To coincide with the 2020 Pride season, Airbnb in June announced a new summer lineup of Online Experiences, which include a collection of virtual activities led by LGBTQ hosts from countries including Thailand, Australia, Germany, Portugal, the United Kingdom, and the United States. Ranging between $1 and $40 per person, the virtual experiences include a queer poetry workshop in Portland, a global LGBTQ bar hop, and a virtual tour of the Stonewall Museum LGBTQ Archives. In the same announcement, the platform also said it will launch a total of 100 Online Experiences “dedicated to representing LGBTQ diversity” over the coming year in partnership with the International LGBTQ+ Travel Association (IGLTA) and the IGLTA Foundation.
From June 26 through 28, tour company Context Travel is hosting a series of live interactive “Context Conversations” for attendees to learn about LGBTQ history from expert guides—via Zoom. The inaugural conversations will focus on topics such as the Stonewall uprisings in New York City and the very first LGBTQ liberation movement in Berlin. Book your spot at one of the Context Conversations, which start at $37 per person.
It’s hard to say what international LGBTQ Pride celebrations might look like in a post-COVID-19 world, but for now, in-person Pride events are still on for 2021, and it seems like the organizers of Global Pride are prepared—and determined—to adapt, regardless.
“We need community and connection more than ever,” InterPride copresident J. Andrew Baker said in a press release. “[Global Pride] gives us an opportunity to both connect and celebrate the community’s resilience in the face of this pandemic and the true spirit of Pride.”
This article originally appeared online on May 27, 2020; it was updated on June 19, 2020, to include current information.
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