By Matt Tracy
Heritage of Pride has planned a virtual slate of Pride festivities in New York City after canceling the original in-person plans due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Also known as NYC Pride, HOP, which produces the city’s main annual Pride March and related festivities, is holding a Black Town Hall series June 19-21, a human rights conference on June 25, a rally on June 26, a 5k run, and a special television broadcast event on June 28 that will replace the usual Pride March.
There are also events on the agenda that are not being produced by NYC Pride — most of them, but not all, virtual. The Reclaim Pride Coalition has planned a June 28 street march focused on Black justice issues.
Due to COVID-19, slate of annual events are being held largely online
The LGBT Community Center is hosting its annual Garden Party in virtual fashion on June 22.
The Dyke March, though, is planned as a street action, but is being transformed this year in response to protests targeting white supremacy and police brutality. Rather than having a regular march, organizers are asking participants to assist in protests led by Black New Yorkers. The team at the Dyke March will participate in the Break the Chains With Love March, a Juneteenth protest on June 19 at 6 p.m. at Brooklyn Bridge Park. Learn more at the Dyke March website, nycdykemarch.com.
The star-studded Black Queer Town Hall series, being produced in a partnership between NYC Pride and GLAAD, will be hosted by Peppermint and Bob the Drag Queen at 6:30 p.m. nightly beginning on June 19 through June 21. There will be performances, roundtable discussions, and appearances featuring celebrities including Mj Rodriguez, Laverne Cox, Angelica Ross, Isis King, Todrick Hall, Alex Newell, Basit, Monet X Change, Tiq Milan, and Shea Diamond.
The series is replacing the 2020 Drag Fest, which was swapped out in an effort to center Black queer voices and allow for healing, rejoicing, mourning, and love.
The June 22 Garden Party virtual event will begin at 6:30 p.m. and focus on activism and advocacy. Kalen Allen, Justin Vivian Bond, Don Lemon, Lea DeLaria, Leo Sheng, Marti Gould Cummings, Jacob Tobia, the New York City Gay Men’s Chorus, and others will participate in the event. Registration is free at gaycenter.org/gardenparty/registration, and attendees will be provided with a curated food and cocktail menu they can prepare, a Pride-themed playlist, and a digital dance floor featuring DJ BBARI.
NYC Pride’s Human Rights Conference, which will have a focus on activism and issues in the community, is slated to be an all-day event on June 25, beginning at 9:30 a.m. and wrapping up at 6:30 p.m. on YouTube and Facebook. Registration is free.
Only some of the panels have been announced to date and specific start times are not yet available. The panels include “Health Panel: Impacting Our Communities: COVID 19” focusing on the disparities faced by queer communities of color and immigrants; “Anti-Trans Violence and the Role of Guns” centering on the effects of gun violence on trans, non-binary, and gender non-conforming people, particularly Black transgender folks; and “State of the LGBTQIA+ Media.”
The media panel will be moderated by Brooke Sopelsa, editorial director at NBC Out, and include Mike Doyle from Ketchum, a global public relations firm, Monica Trasandes, director of Spanish-language and Latinx media at GLAAD, and Raquel Willis, the noted Black transgender activist, writer, and media strategist.
There will also be a fireside chat led by Ashlee Marie Preston, who became the first trans woman to lead a national publication, Wear Your Voice Magazine, as well as Jonathan Van Ness of “Queer Eye,” though the specific time for that event also has not yet been announced.
The following day, June 26, will be the Friday evening NYC Pride Rally that will take place from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. on YouTube and Facebook. The event will be hosted by Preston and transgender actor Brian Michael Smith, who has appeared on shows including “Queen Sugar” on OWN, as well as “Chicago PD,” “Girls,” and “Homeland.”
Among many speakers on tap to participate in the event include Ceyenne Doroshow, Annie Segarra, Edafe Okporo, and Leandro E. Rodriguez Ramos. The teams at GLAAD and the National LGBTQ Task Force will also discuss why it is so crucial for queer people to participate in the Census and to register to vote.
The Runstreet Virtual 5K Art Run encourages folks to wear their favorite Rainbow-colored attire during a run throughout their neighborhood. Those who participate are asked to snap a selfie or a photo of the scenery on their run and upload the photo to Instagram. Tag @Runstreet in the post to enter a photo contest. Those who would like to take part in the run can purchase tickets, which cost $10, at runstreet.com/events/nyc-pride-art-run, and should complete their run between June 20 and June 28.
What was supposed to be Heritage of Pride’s main event on June 28 will instead be a two-hour program on ABC 7, which usually airs the annual Pride March. This event will focus on front-line workers during the coronavirus pandemic and feature a handful of grand marshals: Dan Levy, creator of “Schitt’s Creek,” the Ali Forney Center, Yanzi Peng, a Chinese LGBTQ activist, and Victoria Cruz, a retired domestic violence counselor at the Anti-Violence Project. There will be performances by Janelle Monáe, Deborah Cox, Billy Porter, Luísa Sonza, and more. Also making an appearance will be Wilson Cruz, Miss Richfield 1981, and Margaret Cho, among others.
Regarding the annual Trans Day of Action, the Audre Lorde Project said in an April 27 announcement that the team has instead decided to “do a cyber shift” this year by focusing on connecting folks to resources, helping folks get released from prison and detention centers, and ensuring that members have food to eat and places to stay.
The Criminal Queerness Festival, produced by Adam Odsess-Rubin’s National Queer Theater and Dixon Place, is featuring a range of virtual play readings, panels, workshops, and cocktail parties. The festival, which spotlights the work of playwrights and other artists from around the globe who are facing censorship, began June 9 and continues until June 29.
This story first appeared on gaycitynews.com.