There are many questions surrounding how and if we should celebrate Pride in 2020. First we saw the cancellation of most Pride events because of the coronavirus and the fear of big gatherings spreading the virus. But since those cancellations we have seen a different concern and that is how do we celebrate Pride during a time of Black Lives Matter protests?
One way some will celebrate is Global Pride a virtual celebration on June 27 as reported in the Los Angeles Blade. “About 500 Pride events have been canceled or postponed, according to data collected by the European Pride Organizers Association. These widespread cancellations pushed European Pride, InterPride and other organizations to develop Global Pride 2020 to ensure “the spirit of Pride will live on.” There will be music and politicians galore with Joe Biden and Justin Trudeau recently added to the line-up. So much easier than marching down separate streets around the world people can sit on their couch at home and enjoy the show. But will it be the same?
The bottom line this year is typical Pride events will not happen. What does that mean for the LGBTQ+ community and for Pride organizations around the world that are often funded for the year with these events? Does it mean there is less focus on the LGBTQ+ community while we are all focused on COVID-19 and on Black Lives Matter protests? What does it mean that on the anniversary of the Pulse nightclub massacre the Trump administration ended health care protections for the transgender community? Will we see other setbacks this year because we don’t have a focus on the celebrations of Pride and how those events demonstrate the strength of our community around the globe?
Will this change of focus to Black Lives Matter during Pride month in the LGBTQ+ community begin to recognize and change the racism existing in our community just as it does in the rest of the world? The answer to that question won’t come quickly as to really change and fight racism requires not only a change in the law but a change in how we look at ourselves. We know that from the changes in how people discriminate against the LGBTQ+ community. We are seeing rollbacks not only in policy but in public discourse with the Trump administration’s tacit permission for people to once again voice their feelings against the community out loud. We are seeing the rise in white nationalism, neo-Nazism, and hate voiced aloud across the world. We are realizing these sentiments have always existed and they were only held in check by leaders who moved us to the point of making it unacceptable to voice them in public. That took decades and has been undone by Trump and his sycophants in three short years. The question we have to ask is if we rid ourselves of Trump will it take decades to bring us back to where we were before he became president?
I support the protests that have occurred around the world in the name of Black Lives Matter. I have participated where I could in D.C. with the only caveat holding me back from some being my vulnerability because of age and health to the coronavirus. I am also in favor of us turning Pride events to a focus on Black Lives Matter this year. That is the right thing to do. It is the important thing to do. The question will be whether as we move forward after 2020 can we do both together or will we return to the debates on whether Pride events should be sponsored and whether openly gay members of the military and police forces can march and participate openly in Pride events? I don’t know the answer to that and we will most likely only find that out in June 2021 as we plan Pride events around the world.
In the meantime, let’s remember that Pride events are one thing but having Pride in who you are is another. Let us take June 2020 Pride as the time we work on ourselves and strive to be the best people we can be, which will let us take Pride in ourselves.
Peter Rosenstein is a longtime LGBTQ rights and Democratic Party activist.