“According to the European Pride Organisers Association, at least 23 Pride events have been cancelled or postponed”
BY GRACE PRITCHARD
The spread of COVID-19 has sent shock waves internationally, and with world famous events – including the BFI Flare LGBTIQ+ Film Festival, Glastonbury and Eurovision – and smaller, community gatherings being cancelled every day, the summer is now looking like a very different landscape for most people.
Key to this, is that much uncertainty still lies around how the coronavirus/COVID-19 will continue to spread.
Typically in March, many in our community begin to plan their attendance of Pride events up and down the country. However this year, instead of looking for accommodation and endlessly scrolling through colourful parade outfits, many are checking for updates on the status of Prides, globally.
This year’s Pride celebrations were set to begin with Trans Pride Scotland on 28 March 2020 – now cancelled – with the vast majority kicking off from the beginning of May and on into June, July and August.
While it’s clear that postponing and cancelling Pride events is in the best interest of public health, such unprecedented changes to the Pride calendar are bound to impact significantly on the LGBTQI+ community.
On 11 April 2020, the first Muslim Pride event was to be hosted in London, by LGBTQI+ organisation, Imaan. The event was organised after the charity successfully raised £10,563 and gained 467 supporters for the event in just 42 days in 2019. Now postponed, it’s clear that the cancellation of events such as this will continue to affect LGBTQI+ people.
Speaking about Muslim Pride, Ali Mohammed Alfarsi, 22, who had hoped to attend the historical event, told DIVA:
“Muslim Pride will bridge the gap between my sexuality and religion. I can also convince my mother that it is okay to be gay and Muslim because of Muslim Pride, so she doesn’t think I have totally abandoned my beliefs by being gay.
In the Muslim community, we are missing a positive description of LGBTQIA persons, Muslim Pride is just that! I am really excited for the event, it will help a lot of Muslims with coming out and accepting themselves.”
According to data from the European Pride Organisers Association, at least 23 Pride events have been cancelled or postponed in the UK, (at the time of writing) with the number of cancellations increasing daily.
Still, it’s hoped that many celebrations will still go ahead in the slightly cooler autumn climate – a silver lining for those for who Pride celebrations are their only chance to spend time with others from the community.
Seasoned Pride-goer, Ella, 22, says for many, Pride events offer the only time for visibility: “Sometimes the battle isn’t just against societal homophobia but internal homophobia, and Pride can be the only place where people feel accepted and truly themselves.
“The current situation could have a massive effect on people’s self-esteem, this is for some people the only time in a whole year when they can be authentically themselves.”
Changes to Pride celebrations are not only impacting individuals, however. Founder of a Leeds based charity, Angels Of Freedom, Rob Wilson added:
“We’re already hearing of Pride events in the region being cancelled, with the first today being in Bradford.
“Although it’s understandable, it’ll have a knock-on impact on many young LGBT+ people who either witness the celebrations or who participate and feel empowered to accept themselves.
“Many community Pride events provide an opportunity for people to find out about non-bar scene activities and groups, so over the coming months we need to respond to filling this gap to ensure the awareness is there once the social restrictions are removed.”
Whatever happens over the coming months, let’s hope that we come through this an even stronger community – until then, look after one another.
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