In the midst of preparing and organizing rehearsals for a spring and summer Pride tour, my life was turned upside down as COVID-19 began its trek across the globe. As a Pop/R&B singer and performer, I was, perhaps, among the earliest of those in the country who suddenly found themselves without work. COVID-19 has impacted every imaginable facet of our lives since its emergence, especially our mental and emotional wellbeing. A lot of us have been confined to our homes, due to physical and social distancing, and are in need of connection, support and encouragement to get through this pandemic. For the LGBTQ+ global community, COVID-19 has led to the cancellation of in-person Pride festivals and events during the summer months, which is our most active time of the year, and it has presented a number of challenges for us to remain active, vocal and maintain our visibility during these crucial times.
Resolute and resilient in keeping the spirit of Pride alive during a time we need it most, the LGBTQ+ community has enlisted the help of technology to see Pride through this year. We may not be able to physically gather this year but we can continue to celebrate and uplift each other by coming together virtually as a community, taking action and sharing information and resources with each other.
Coming Together Virtually
Pride season is our time to amplify our voices and come together in solidarity to celebrate our differences and spread the powerful message, “Love is love!” Cities across the world are innovatively creating virtual Pride festivals and events featuring performances, celebrity guest appearances, educational seminars and panel discussions hosted by activists, politicians, motivational speakers and others. In comparison to in-person Pride celebrations, which most people generally attend once a year in their local community or city, virtual Prides have expanded the potential for us to experience multiple Prides and “Pride Hop” all over the globe, experiencing Prides across the US, Europe, Asia, Africa and more. It also opens the door for those who may not be out, have the courage, or access to attend a Pride event in person. This extends an opportunity for them to experience Pride; learn about our history and progress; and get a sense of the camaraderie and solidarity that keep us coming back year after year.
Pride season is also a time for us to increase our efforts in taking action. We can stay active and continue to contribute to our community by raising awareness for our local LGBTQ+ organizations and donating funds or our time. Philanthropy has always been a huge component of Pride and doing all that we can during these times to help others in need will go a long way. Through social media, it’s easier than ever to raise awareness and funds for charities that are near and dear to us. Also, look into organizations that are making contributions to those within our community impacted by COVID-19 and support groups that are creating safe spaces to voice our concerns, thoughts and anxieties during this pandemic. Even the smallest of gestures can help to ensure that these charitable LGBTQ+ organizations are able to continue doing the great work that they do for our community.
Now that there are virtual events and online support systems in place to fill the void created by this pandemic, the biggest challenges we face as a community are ease of access to resources and centralized places for information that’s pertinent to our LGBTQ+ community. I was over the moon when I was asked to be the host of “Gay Travel Today” by Sagitravel Friendly, who is a leader and innovator in LGBTQ+ travel. It immediately became an incredible opportunity for me to connect with the LGBTQ+ community everyday, share tips, current travel news, Pride events and updates, inspiration and encouragement to uplift others especially during this crucial time of need. Being able to reach out through these daily Amazon Alexa flash briefings and provide purposeful information in a quick consumable format with easy accessibility brings me absolute joy, and I want to encourage everyone to tune in to “Gay Travel Today” to learn more ways to stay active, inspired and celebrate Pride all summer long.
Although we may face a number of challenges this year and our celebrations will be different from what we’re used to, let’s make one thing clear: COVID-19 won’t keep us down, silence our voices or dim the light on the spirit of Pride.