DIVA Publisher, Linda Riley, shares why DIVA Pride is so important for the LGBTQI community this year
BY LINDA RILEY
It feels strange to be starting the day of DIVA Pride knowing I won’t be heading into London to the DIVA Women’s Stage. Knowing that I won’t get to look into a crowd full of LGBTQI women celebrating Pride with beaming, rainbow painted faces. I’m not the only one. So many women have missed out on the incredible support and connection that comes from our DIVA Women’s Stage that we host at Pride In London every year. That’s why it was important to me that we translated that feeling online this year.
The pandemic has not been kind to people working in the arts: actors, singers and musicians have seen their work dry up overnight, with theatres and music venues unlikely to open until 2021. And because most people working in this sector are self-employed, and have therefore received very little financial help from the government, times have never been tougher for those who dedicate themselves to keeping us entertained.
Many LGBTQI women artists fall into this group, which is why I am proud and delighted that – thanks to our sponsors – we’re able to give these artists a platform to share their work at DIVA Pride on 11 July. So, I’d like to give a massive shout-out to the following organisations who, despite COVID-19, have gone the extras mile to support us and the amazing women who will be performing for us.
We’re particularly grateful to Facebook who have asked us to ask you to fill in a short survey here to support women LGBTQI business owners. Anyone completing the survey and adding their email address will receive significant support from Facebook – a fantastic gesture in the current climate.
By taking our Marketing and Me survey you will be helping us to discover what LGBTQI women want from advertisers, and helping to inform Facebook’s wonderful Boost platform, which enables small businesses to grow, innovate and connect. It’s a service I would recommend to any LGBTQI owned businesses as a way of moving forward during this challenging time.
We are delighted that the event will be a fundraiser for Kaleidoscope, the trust that since 2011 has worked to uphold LGBTQI human rights around the world, especially in those territories with oppressive, homophobic legislation and practices. If you’d like to support Kaleidoscope, please click here.
Of course, it’s not only performers who have suffered. It’s well documented that the LGBTQI community is seeing a higher-than-average spike in incidences of depression, anxiety and isolation. Many of us have been forced to quarantine with family members who disapprove of our sexuality and lifestyle without being able to access our support network of friends.
Hanging out at the Women’s Stage in Leicester Square at Pride In London was – and remains – one of the few occasions when LGBTQI women can truly be themselves without fear of harassment or judgement, and I know from correspondence received by DIVA that our annual central London takeover has been sorely missed. So, I hope that DIVA Pride goes some way to recreating the fantastic atmosphere of the Women’s Stage and lifting the spirits of everyone who logs on.
I understand that a one day virtual event can’t provide all the support I’d like to be able to offer, and that’s why we at Team DIVA (with special thanks to Polly Shute) set up the DIVA Community, a private Facebook group where members – and we have 6,000 already! – will find a totally safe space. As well as being able to make new friends, members of DIVA Community will also be able to enjoy The Riley Interviews (dubbed The Riley Grilling by Alison Camps, co-chair of Pride in London) where I interview some of the leading lights from our wonderful rainbow community.
Guests include BBC newsreader Jane Hill, actor Denise Welch, model and singer, Sam Fox, UK Black Pride supremo Lady Phyll, photographer Lola Flash, Dawn Butler MP, music legend Horse McDonald, actor and singer Heather Peace, singer and LGBTQI ally Sinitta and many more, all available exclusively to members of the DIVA Community.
I hope that, in 2021, we’ll all be able to dance together, laugh together, protest together and take Pride together but, for the moment, my message to the DIVA family is stay strong, remember that you’re not alone and we’ll “see” you at DIVA Pride today!