It’s hard to believe that March is already half over, and soon it will be springtime. With the warm weather our thoughts turn to hot guys, and summer, and this year, hopefully, to Pride celebrations.
With June traditionally the start of Pride festivals, commemorating the 1969 Stonewall Riots in New York City, there is still uncertainty in many cities whether the parades and associated Pride festivities will go on as in years past.
On March 15th PinkNews reported that Liverpool, England, cancelled their annual up-coming celebration out of uncertainty with the British government’s management of public vaccine distribution and ability for large crowds to congregate.
As of March 16th, New York City Pride March is still scheduled for June 27th (themed “The Fight Continues”) with some events being planned as “virtual.”
Likewise World Gay Pride seems to be moving forward and not cancelled for this year as it will be held in Copenhagen in conjunction with the Euro Gay Games from August 12 – 22.
As you can imagine, putting together such an extravagant festival includes a myriad moving parts, requiring city permits, close coordination with police, and other city and county agencies, finding corporate sponsors for financing the entertainment, booking the entertainment, and on top of all of that is the uncertainty around the COVID pandemic. With 2020 largely a lost year for in-person celebrations, most of us are ready to move forward and have a great time in 2021.
But these events take months of preparation, and require volunteers to help run the behind the scenes apparatus. So I was curious to see if my home state of South Carolina was going to be able to celebrate their “Famously Hot” Pride this year.
For many of us who come from rural and small town America, finding other LGBTQ IRL (In Real Life) is a difficult task. For instance, the town I grew up in didn’t have any gay bars or any LGBTQ visibility anywhere. It was as if we didn’t exist. I would have to drive over an hour away up to Columbia where the university was, and there one could find a dance club as well as one gay bar. So for us, Pride is a huge event. It not only brings visibility to the larger community that we are here, but it brings visibility to each other, to find kindred spirits.
I contacted the president of South Carolina Pride, Jeff March, to find out that yes, indeed, pride is coming roaring back to the state capital, Columbia, in October 2021. The first Pride in the state happened in 1989 when 1,500 people gathered in a downtown park. Since then SC Pride has grown to a weekend-long affair attracting 125,000 attendees. For the big Saturday festival they have been able to bring big name entertainers as well, with such A-list celebrities as Li’l Kim and D-list celebrities as Kathy Griffin.
While going to big city Pride events are fun, the truly best ones are those smaller festivals which happen in “blue states” where to be out and proud is still a political stance, an act of courage. Attending these Pride Parades we see ourselves, we find solace in not being alone, and we can join in the fight for equality by volunteering.
What Pride events in smaller cities have you been to? Are you planning on going to any this year? Let us know!