By Shuheb Miah
Pride month, which is also informally referred to as Gay Christmas, says the Financial Times is a month of jubilant celebration and commemoration for members of the LGBTQ+ community and for all who support this. This is a time for individuals and groups of people to feel ‘pride’ in recognising their identities with other people and groups in collective happiness. This year unlike no other is a move from the conventional pride parades, but the solidarity of a community is being lived on in virtual platforms still awakening the inner pride in people if not doing so to a greater extent.
LGBTQ+ pride in Sheffield is using its main page to plan for pride next year in 2021 after its April announcement to cancel the pride parade this year, to prevent of putting vulnerable members of the LGBTQ+ community and communities in general advocating pride month at risk. With the switch to online meetings being held every Monday on zoom, ideas and plans of action are underway and the thrill is apparent. This includes events like bucket shaking- to gather money for charities to support LGBTQ+ people and the euphonious gathering of huskers- plans to assemble for the parade and skilled performers and also food and art stalls. This thinking ahead for future festivity just comes to show the sheer determination and drive to look forward in the excitement and uproar of pride.
By no means does this mean the festivity and celebration would not continue, only in a different fashion. Despite the plug being pulled, The Drum- an online marketing and multimedia site presents how LGBTQ+ celebrations and events have made full use of this unprecedented time to allow a ‘pride for all’ dubbed by Pink News. Particularly using zoom via their respective websites and social media; online events and pride bodies are underway with a ream of events like drag tutorials, music, art sessions, online poetry and photo essays/story reveals and impressively online pride marches as well as sessions with celebrities in a panel, to talk about people’s views during Pride in lockdown. And even the leading pride media brand #YouMeUsWe has moved events virtually like their digital hubs as places of inclusion and expression for different LGTBQ+ groups but centred in the sentience of one big community in bliss together in a shared virtual space.
The spirit of pride and more so the force of a community has always been there and will always be sustained in the hearts of many even in lockdown. It has brought out a greater sense of inner pride in us all while living through a time that may have seemed bleak and full of darkness. But despite this, there is that aperture of light that shines through as hope in the form of community, identity and the rallying of a group in a time like no other.
Furthermore, we can see this as a monumental opportunity to mark the 50th anniversary of Pride month’s golden jubilee and the 51st anniversary of the 1969 stonewall riots- depicted in Ibram X. Kendi’s mesmerising book on How to be an Anti-racist- which was against the barbaric actions and racism of the police in that time and the rising up of the black community. A year later in 1970 New York, came the inaugural pride event led by a march across the city. This was said to be the spark that set in motion the formation of gay rights. These two grassroots events according to the BBC- laid the foundation to two legendary and celebrated communities to this day and the heroes that have lived with us for the last 50 years both in the spirit of pride across two communities and in the fight for equality.
In solidarity with the Black lives matter movement and the rebound to police racism and brutality today, like the Insider’s focus on the heart-breaking deaths of two trans black women in America, the pride lives matter movement stand in solemn cohesion. More than anything in this time of lockdown, human rights have never been clearer. On one hand, it’s important to see pride month as a time of joy and togetherness, but also looking back at the historical roots, laid bare by a journey of adversity, discrimination and difficulty but also defiance led by resistance and a fight for social justice for the black community rights alongside LGBTQ+ rights. The contrast and grounding should act as reminder and message to us all for years to come.