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How To Support Pride Month From Home

Pride is different this year, but that doesn’t make your support and presence any less impactful or necessary…
 
By Bobby Box
 
Pride is going to be a lot different this year. Church Street won’t be bustling with our colourful community and allies. Instead, we will be quarantined in our homes, attending the month’s events online.
 
“This year the festival is themed Virtual Pride Month as all events and programming will be offered virtually,” Toronto’s mayor, John Tory, announced June 1 in the official Pride proclamation. “While Pride has had to go virtual due to COVID-19, programming will keep the LGBTQ2S+ and broader communities connected throughout the month.”
 
Making the best of a bad situation, Toronto Pride will still feature key events like Trans Pride, the Dyke Rally, the Drag Ball and the Pride Parade, as well as regular weekly activities like trivia, how-to workshops, and lunch and learns.
 
“Virtual Pride is an opportunity to use technology as a platform to showcase the many talents of our diverse LGBT2Q+ community members in new and exciting ways,” according to the Toronto Pride website. “You will be able to experience the performances, passions and energy of our many amazing artists like never before. The show must go on!”
 
But what does this new format say for organizations that rely on Pride for funding? For most LGBTQ2S+ organizations, Pride Month is a key source of revenue to fund their year-round programs, services and operations that benefit the community.
 
“For the past 12 years, we have been running a fundraising music festival during Pride, called Green Space Festival [GSF], that in recent years typically raises in the range of 15 per cent to 20 per cent of our gross operating revenues,” explains Stacy Kelly, director of philanthropy at The 519, an organization committed to the health, happiness and full participation of the LGBTQ2S+ communities. “In 2019, we raised $1.5 million through the GSF.”
 
In addition to its popular four-day festival, The 519 normally organizes in-house events, such as LGBTQ2S Family Pride, LGBTQ Newcomers Pride, LGBTQ Refugee Pride, Trans Pride and Seniors Pride, and supports other events like the annual Toronto AIDS Vigil, during Pride Month.
 
Individuals, organizations and companies that are running third-party fundraisers during Pride further add to The 519’s revenue and, therefore, to its ability to provide services and programs for our communities throughout the year. Only time will tell how organizations will be impacted by the switch to digital.
 
Fortunately for The 519 (and for our entire community!), the organization has been selected by Pride Toronto as an ‘Honoured Group’ and ‘Charity of Choice’ for Pride 2020, meaning it will be promoted throughout Digital Pride as a charity worth supporting. The 519 is also exploring options in offering a digital version of its Green Space Festival.
 
“The pandemic has had devastating social and economic impacts on our communities, which have dramatically amplified already existing systemic barriers to health, economic inclusion and participation,” Kelly says. “Beyond the urgent response we must provide for our most marginalized and vulnerable community members, we must also continue to advocate for change to advance human rights and the potential of our communities during this time, and in the times that follow.”
 
Giving back
 
You can support most LGBTQ2S+ organizations online or by phone; you don’t even have to leave your home. Some wonderful local organizations to consider are The 519, LGBT Youth Line, Glad Day Lit and The Pink Basket.
 
Tip your local queens, who will surely be broadcasting live on Instagram. Hire a queen to perform for a group of friends on Zoom. Buy a queen’s merch. Study queer history. Read and share stories written by queer writers, poets and journalists. Purchase works from queer artists and clothes from queer designers. Buy from queer-owned businesses. Check in with the queer people in your life. Attend Digital Pride events, and tip if you can. Show your support through hashtags and filters. Amplify the voices of queer people through retweets and shares.
 
Pride is different this year, but that doesn’t make your support and presence any less impactful or necessary. Without physical spaces, Pride will be less of a party this year – but that leaves room for activism and impact, bringing us closer to our roots and the real meaning of Pride.
 
Stand against racism
 
In light of recent events impacting the black community, please consider donating to regional chapters of Black Lives Matter, like Black Lives Matter Toronto and Black Lives Matter Vancouver; they are seeking donations, volunteers and support.
 
Other national Black and anti-racism organizations to consider are: Black Liberation Collective, Black Health Alliance, Black Legal Action Centre, Black in BC Community Support Fund for COVID-19, Nia Centre for the Arts, Hogan’s Alley Society, Black Space Winnipeg, Black Women In Motion and Black Youth Helpline.
 
Sign petitions. Attend protests. Amplify the voices that need to be heard. Donate to bail funds for those who are protesting. Let people know #BlackLivesMatter.
 

 
BOBBY BOX is a prolific freelance journalist in Hamilton, Ont. He currently works as contributing editor at Playboy.com and has had the privilege of speaking with the world’s most recognized drag queens, including, most recently, Trixie Mattel and Alaska Thunderfuck. While proud of his work, Bobby is not above begging. He asks that you follow him on Twitter at @bobbyboxington.
 

 

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