It’s Time for Virtual Pride

Not even a pandemic can stop countless nations from celebrating and raising money for the LGBTQ+ community.

Pride Month events and parades are going virtual this year in response to COVID-19 restrictions. Photo by Mercedes Mehling via Unsplash

Every June, the LGBTQ+ community and its allies celebrate Pride Month. While this observance has since gone global, it began as a way to commemorate the riots that took place at the Stonewall Inn in New York City on June 28, 1969, an event that is now viewed as the catalyst for the gay rights movement in the United States. This June marks 50 years of Pride celebrations—so there was no way a global pandemic could stop them. Instead, LGBTQ+ organizations are taking their parades and special events to the web.

Based in Lake Worth, Compass Community Center aims to provide resources and camaraderie to Palm Beach County’s LGBTQ+ population. Its annual Stonewall Ball is the largest Pride Month celebration in Palm Beach County, attracting nearly 500 attendees from South Florida and the Treasure Coast. The impacts of COVID-19 have compromised Compass’ ability to host key fundraisers, such as the Stonewall Ball and its Palm Beach Pride parade and festival in March, that typically support its operations and many services.

Luckily, Compass has created an online event for those interested in keeping the tradition of the Stonewall Ball alive. Instead of an in-person fete, Compass is asking the community to host intimate (10 people or fewer) virtual dinner parties as part of its Stay the Heck Home Ball on June 27. In addition to making tax-deductible donations, Compass is encouraging virtual dinner party hosts and attendees to order in from local businesses that have supported its mission, including Don Ramon’s Cuban Cuisine, Hullabaloo, Joy Noodles & Rice, Big Mama’s House of Sweets, Christafaro’s Catering, Ken Keffer Catering, and New York Grilled Cheese Co.

Compass’ mission is to engage, empower, and enrich the lives of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer people and those impacted by HIV and AIDS. This year, it is aiming to raise $30,000 during Pride Month to support its services, which include medical and nonmedical case management, mental health and peer-support services, and HIV testing and education. Beyond the ball, Compass is presenting additional events, such as a Pride Business Alliance Social on June 24 at 6 p.m., and also accepting donations through its website.

While the pandemic has affected many local rallies, festivals, and events, the LGBTQ+ community in South Florida and around the world has come together to create an array of online resources and experiences. The South Florida Pride Collective is hosting a virtual Pride Month Happy Hour at 5 p.m. every Friday in June. During these Facebook Live events, hosts such as GiGi Diaz from iHeart Radio and other special guests will make appearances, perform, share DJ mixes, provide support and information, and so much more. With this initiative, the South Florida Pride Collective is trying to raise funds for COVID-19 relief for those in the LGBTQ+ community. Text “SFLPRIDE” to 44321 to donate.

NYC Pride and GLAAD will livestream the annual Pride 2020 Drag Fest on its Facebook pages June 19-21 at 6:30 p.m. The festival will showcase more than 100 fabulous drag queens, including many RuPaul’s Drag Race alumnus, and viewers can donate directly to the performers during the stream. Also, on June 28, NYC Pride will honor the fight for LGBTQ+ civil rights and the fight against AIDS with a special fiftieth-anniversary broadcast on ABC from noon to 2 p.m. The show will star numerous grand marshals, including Dan Levy of Schitt’s Creek fame, as well as performances by Janelle Monáe, Billy Porter, Luísa Sonza, and more.

Over on the West Coast, artists Lenore Chinn and Pamela Peniston, who typically curate an exhibition at San Francisco City Hall, have created a virtual experience showcasing 50 years of pride that will remain online through this year. This exhibition sheds light on the local history of the LGBTQ+ population in San Francisco and how the city has evolved to become a globally famous area for pride events and parades.

Gamers can also participate in Pride Month with an innovative initiative courtesy of Ritual Motion and the Stonewall Community Foundation. The Playing for Pride global Super Smash Bros. tournament will take place via Smash GG, YouTube, and Twitch during the weekend of June 20-21. While the winner will receive $1,500, the tournament itself is accepting donations to benefit the Stonewall Community Foundation and its partner organizations. Participants and viewers can also purchase Playing for Pride merchandise, including two special edition gaming skins (gloves) with 15 percent of each sale going toward the cause.

Global Pride will round out the Pride Month festivities on June 27 with a 24-hour celebration featuring musical performances, speeches, and key messages from human rights activists. Volunteers from every region of the world are organizing the event, which will include appearances by Joe Biden, Nancy Pelosi, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, and Carlos Alvarado Quesada, the president of Costa Rica, which legalized same-sex marriage in May. Entertainers such as Laverne Cox, Adam Lambert, Kesha, Rita Ora, the Pussycat Dolls, and the Dixie Chicks are also slated to participate.

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