It’s well said that “love recognises no barriers. It jumps hurdles, leaps fences, penetrates walls to arrive at its destination full of hopes.”
In the wake of an unprecedented gruesome COVID-19 pandemic, 2020 has so far been bitterly tormenting amidst all distressful situation yet mankind across the globe chose to come together and celebrate the month of unconditional love and friendship digitally.
In the month of June 2020, the LGBTQIA community celebrated the 5oth anniversary of global Pride Month.
A month-long series of events which commemorates and honours the unsung heroes of the 1969 Stonewall Inn riots in Manhattan. The Stonewall rebellion was thus a tipping point for the Gay Liberation Movement or LGBTQ+ activism in the United States when a crowd of homosexual protestants took to the Christopher streets demonstrating against centuries of abuse demanding inclusivity and accepting sexual diversity.
During this time the happy and dignified crowd run down the streets of different countries, all over the world, doused in glitter and rainbow colours proudly fluttering The Pride flag joining in the chain of fun events including pride parades, community events, street festivals, picnics, street parties, concerts, poetry readings, public speaking, workshops and educational sessions attracting millions of participants.
However, this year things went a bit offbeat when a major part of The Pride month was celebrated virtually or online. Nearly all events got cancelled taking in consideration of public health and adhering social distancing norms.
Globally, different pride organizations built and launched virtual platforms for the celebration which enrolled participants all over the world free of cost. The broadcasting media and social media, of course, eased the process by opening gates for all the celebration and events to spread worldwide.
The varied types of events included live online parade sessions with millions of people connecting for a one-o-one conversation with prominent activists, LGBTQ+ community members, elected members and celebrities through social media handlers like Instagram, Facebook, Youtube, Twitter etc. Events of live or recorded performances too were a part of the celebration wherein people left no stone unturned in showcasing their talents and things that they’re good at.
Here’s glimpse of Pride Month globally
- NYC Pride – NYC Pride hosted a series of Pride-centered events throughout June. These include a virtual rally on Facebook and YouTube hosted by transgender journalist Ashlee Marie Preston and transgender actor Brian Michael Smith on June 26. The event also featured performances by Dan Levy, Janelle Monáe, Deborah Cox, Billy Porter, Luísa Sonza and many more.
- Global Pride – a program hosted by the European Pride Organisers Association and InterPride in partnership with other LGBTQ organizations around the globe, this worldwide virtual event featured 24 hours non stop streaming of musical performances, speeches from world leaders and messages from human rights activists. Singer Ava Max, Brazilian pop-star Pabllo Vittar, Australian drag queen Courtney Act, President of Costa Rica Carlos Alvarado Quesada and the first openly gay prince of India, Prince Manvendra Singh Gohil, were all among the many people who appeared in a virtual pride celebration.
- HBO (Human by Orientation) – HBO hosted a series of digital Pride events on its pride-dedicated website. The daily online events included brunches and storytimes with drag queens, town hall discussions and performances by known queer personalities. Many others like the Seattle PrideFest, The Cincinnati Black Pride, San Francisco Pride, Broadway Plus Pride too had events planned for the 2020 pride month celebration.
Also, some LGBTQ organizations like European Pride Organizers Association chose to use this time to stand in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement.
Pride Month celebration in India with with full of high-spirit
‘Where there’s a will there’s a way’ and thus India’s pride circle didn’t stand behind in celebrating the 2020 pride month digitally as well-
- Dragvanti is one such pride community website launched by the drag queen Patruni Chidananda Sastry, who felt it a need to launch an online hub, full of information, opinions, speeches and statements of the for India’s drag community. The website also has a drag dictionary and serves a helpline platform where one can get every answer about the desi drag. This year they celebrated pride month by hosting an ‘All About ME’ event on June 18 and 25, which included live sessions, dance performances, on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and YouTube.
- #21DaysAllyChallenge, an online event which brought together influencers and members of the community to host mini task-based challenges including wearing pride colours, reading books and watching movies related to the LGBTQIA community for 21 days.
Kashmir Youth Movement comes under scanner, earns death threats from Islamic fundamentals
On one hand, where the Indian LGBTQ+ can freely enjoy all liberty and rights celebrating pride month ever since homophobia was decriminalised in September 2018 in India while, on the other hand, the same community were disallowed to celebrate Pride Month. Kashmiri Youth Movement (KYM) who announced the Pride March in favour of LGBTQ community of Kashmir at Lal Chowk comes under the scanner of radical Islamists, received death threats and hate crimes by Islamic fundamentalists on socialising people to gather in commemoration of the Pride month.
Meanwhile, the state experienced clashes between the two groups working for the homophobic community wherein an NGO, Sonzal Welfare Trust, which works for the welfare of the LGBT Community in Jammu & Kashmir, condemned one of its own kind Pride Kashmir announced by KYM.
As per the NGO, Pride Kashmir is being run by a “communical Cishetero group to divide people on the basis of religion and political ideology”. But in our understanding, Pride Kashmir and Kashmir Youth Movement (KYM) comes under the scanner as they were earlier supporting the abrogation of discriminatory Article 370.
KYM whose this initiative was appreciable and worthy received death threats sent to them by one Aqib Dar. He abused KYM member in foul language and glorified Pulwama terror attack and martyrdom of CRPF jawans. (KYM uploaded his voice message on Twitter. Attached below)
Death threats issued to Kashmiri Youth Movement for initiating #PrideKashmir on International Pride Month. Full audio: https://t.co/B0lR7ynyAe @JmuKmrPolice @ZPHQJammu @KashmirPolice @HMOIndia pic.twitter.com/e8ikXoGPdr— Kashmiri Youth Movement (@KYMchannel) June 3, 2020
Just a beginning, long way ahead
Although the oppressed homophobic communities got their fair rights to come out of their shell and accepting who they are, these horrifying accounts surely petrify and picturise an image that though article 377 was abolished in India, a mere scraping of constitutional law can never make space to change the mindset of people and as a result, the question remains unanswered whether we really could unshackle the ties of Homophobians who struggled and are still struggling to gain acceptance in society over sexual preference.
Since the celebration is not limited or confined to the pride community only, as the parades are collectively enjoyed and supported by straight people as well, who fight against prejudice that LGBTQIA community faces in social, political, and cultural spaces and promotes self-affirmation, dignity, equality, and increased visibility of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people as a social group. It calls for people to remember how damaging homophobia was and still can be. It creates awareness about accepting proudly who you are and no matter who you love.
Commemorating the Pride month, tech companies including Apple, Microsoft, Facebook, Nintendo and Snap too launched Pride-themed accessories and new features. From Apple launching Pride-themed Apple Watch bands to Microsoft unveiling Pride Collection which includes skins for Surface devices and Pride t-shirts etc.
Pride in pandemic
Overall, the 2020 Pride Festival was indeed a new experience for the LGBTQIA community which proved that no matter where you are, you can still find pride and enjoy the gala time even during the worst crisis that the world’s facing right now.
(Ankita Baidya is an exuberant learner, creative thinker and Journalism undergrad at D Y Patil International University, Pune. Her interests revolve around content writing, digital marketing and photography)