BY MATT TRACY
The 28th annual Queens Pride March and Festival — generally thought of as the first major event of Pride Month in New York City — will again set the tone for the LGBTQ community in 2020, this year under unprecedented circumstances.
Queens Pride festivities will be held virtually on June 7 and a week of virtual Brooklyn Pride events will kick off two days later. Organizers were forced to change course after original plans for the annual events had to be scrapped due to the coronavirus pandemic.
In social media posts announcing the changes, Queens Pride organizers stated that the event will begin at noon and feature online entertainment, though details are still being finalized.
“Get ready to watch the ‘parade’ of content on our social media,” stated a post by Queens Pride’s Twitter account. “We’re planning performances, videos, and a fun mix of live and recorded content for parade day. Guaranteed to make you feel like you’re celebrating pride from the comfort of your homes!!”
An accompanying graphic posted by Queens Pride states, “Save the date… Queens Pride goes virtual” and “Stay tuned for more info!”
Over in Brooklyn, an announcement posted on Brooklyn Pride’s Instagram page stated, “Even though this year’s theme is ‘Brooklyn Pride: From Bridges to Beaches, all events will be virtual with four currently in planning.”
The Brooklyn events include “Dine with Pride: Home Edition,” set for June 9, which encourages individuals to support local neighborhood restaurants by ordering takeout or home delivery before joining a virtual event featuring “interesting conversation and entertainment.” June 11 will feature “Bed Blanket Bingo” during which individuals are encouraged to wear pajamas, a blanket, or a robe and participate for the chance to win prizes. The main Pride event on June 13 will feature a virtual 5k race, for which participants will be mailed a bib, shirt, and medal. Within a week of June 13, the 5K participants can complete a run/ walk and email proof of their time and a photo and their results will be posted. Further details on that are not yet available.
Queens Pride and Brooklyn Pride are one of many events that have been impacted in the wake of Mayor Bill de Blasio’s April 20 announcement that all non-essential permitted gatherings in June would be canceled due to COVID-19. Heritage of Pride (HOP), which produces the city’s Pride March and related events, has vowed to celebrate Pride in a new way but has yet to unveil concrete plans.
Virtual Bronx Pride festivities will include the annual Pride Flag-raising ceremony at Bronx Borough Hall, book readings, and digital dance parties, while Brighton Beach Pride and Harlem Pride events were canceled without any virtual plans, though Harlem Pride organizers said in an April 20 Facebook post that they “hope to be able to hold some sort of event to bring the community together once this is all over.”
The Staten Island Pridefest was originally planned for May 9, but was canceled. The Pride Center of Staten Island’s website did not specify alternative Pride plans, though the organization has been providing a wide array of virtual service programs for members during the pandemic.
In the meantime, HOP and many other Pride groups are participating in InterPride and the European Pride Organizers Association’s virtual Global Pride event on June 27, which is one day before New York City Pride had been planned.
This story first appeared on gaycitynews.com.