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THE SHOW MUST GO ON!

No global pandemic will stand in the way of Connecticut Pride

By Quinn Roberts

With the Covid-19 pandemic throwing so much into turmoil, it wasn’t totally clear how we should spend our weeks in quarantine. Our concerns ran the gamut from the political to the personal, the universal to the intimate. So much of our calendar was up in the air and, for the first time in what feels like forever, we focused on the present, the day-to-day. Should I order medical masks and toilet paper in bulk? Should I try a new pasta recipe? Should I disinfect my grandmother’s doorknobs? Should I apologize to my ex? Should I finally read Middlemarch? When normal life is suspended, it raises the question of what we truly need.

Therein lies the quandary of our summer calendar. It’s easy to be dismissive, to downplay the importance of recognizing and celebrating Pride season. It’s just a block party, you might think at first, with a touch of pizzazz. But of course, Pride season is more than just a fun afternoon at the park. It’s a time for the LGBTQ community to study our history, support our local talent and businesses, reaffirm our shared values. It’s a time to come together – but how do we come together in the age of social distancing?

At first, for many of Connecticut’s Pride season hosts, the solution depended on good luck and fortune: postpone the event and hope for the best. But as the ban on large gatherings extended later into the year, it became clear that we’d have to come together in a more virtual sense.

“Over 20 local towns and cities in CT may need to postpone events due to the devastating impact of COVID-19 on our local LGBTQ+ communities,” stated the CT Virtual Pride Facebook page. “June is our special month to stand up and be proud of who we are as people. To continue the tradition of Stonewall over 50 years ago, we will come together safely with a virtual event to be broadcast on Facebook, YouTube and Discord.”

Thus emerged our very first Connecticut Virtual Pride. Virtual Pride is hosted by CT Pride, a collaboration of Pride organizations statewide. Not only does Virtual Pride host a celebratory virtual parade and festival, but there will also be summer-long programming presented by LGBTQ+ nonprofits across the state. The goal is to celebrate, but also to organize solutions for our community members who are facing hunger, loss of income, housing insecurity, challenges accessing healthcare, and mental health stresses. Those tuning in are encouraged to contribute directly to those nonprofits we rely on for our needs, such as the New Haven PRIDE Center, Triangle Community Center, Hartford Gay & Lesbian Health Collective, True Colors, and Kamora’s Cultural Corner.

“Our intent is to provide a safe way to express our pride and maintain social distancing through the latest technology,” Hartford Pride committee member Dr. Richard Stillson recently told The Rainbow Times. Indeed, it is impressive how efficiently CT Pride has arranged Connecticut Virtual Pride. The future of technology aside, though, we’re still focused on the past and present: recognizing our queer history, and giving back and caring for the less fortunate members of our LGBTQ+ community.

Still, the sense of community and solidarity may be lost or diminished this summer. One of the greatest parts of Pride season is the opportunity to be with those who share your identity. The experience of sharing physical space has a power that can’t be transferred perfectly onto our computers. Reflecting on this in his forthcoming video project “Pride Before COVID,” Hartford DJ Ephraim Adamz says, “Everybody says stay home, but what if you don’t have a home to go to? This is a chance to dig deeper into the lives of those who are marginalized.”

Maybe the most important thing to remember is the progress that is yet to be made. So, we must continue recognizing Pride, even in the midst of Covid-19.

 

We at Connecticut VOICE are crossing our fingers for summer 2020, and we can’t wait to see you at Connecticut Virtual Pride. Make sure to follow social distancing guidelines and keep checking out COVID-19 resources. And remember that, no matter what, like Lady Gaga once said: “Being gay is like glitter; it never goes away.”


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