Virtual Pride? It’s No Bad Thing. Here’s How to Celebrate Around the World

Virtual Pride? It’s No Bad Thing. Here’s How to Celebrate Around the World

With parades cancelled and clubs shut, Pride Month is moving online. As a global audience tunes in, we’re spotlighting the headline festivals and fringe organisations hosting radical, virtual conversations about LGBTQ+ culture. Listen up.

Pride Month, though you’re forgiven for not having noticed.
Weekends spent gallivanting around the city have been cancelled,
black squares have proliferated on Instagram in place of
rainbow-flag emojis (quite rightly, we should add) and nightclubs,
those historic cradles of queer culture, are shuttered. That’s not
to say Pride is cancelled; this year, festivals across the world –
from big-hitters like Toronto Pride to smaller, fringe
organisations like O-zine in Russia – are going virtual in an
unprecedented move that could open up queer cultures around the

We know, we know. Pimp your background though you might, parties
held via Zoom simply do not compare to the real thing and a virtual
march doesn’t have the same disruptive quality as a
bells-and-whistles street parade. There’s something a tad
revolutionary, however, about Virtual Pride’s potential to foster
new conversations across international borders, even if those
conversations are mostly between those in free-loving

Perhaps spurred by the Black Lives Matter movement, change is
sparking through the digital ether this year. Live-streamed panel
discussions with frontline activists have replaced rowdy drag shows
while hedonistic champagne brunches have given way to unticketed
webinars on LGBTQ+ workplace leadership. Gulp. It’s all gone a bit
serious, and not without reason.

While there has been plenty of good news this year – the US
Supreme Court ruled against employment discrimination on grounds of
sexuality, homosexuality was decriminalised in Botswana, marriage
equality was passed in Northern Ireland and a host of pop-culture
heavyweights such as Sam Smith and Janelle Monáe came out as
non-binary, further embedding gender fluidity within the public
discourse – each triumph has an ugly counterpart. Transgender
healthcare protections have been rolled back in the US, the
prospect of Trump 2.0 – predicted by political analysts to be more
tempestuous and unpredictable than ever – is looming, corporal
punishment remains the price of self-expression for queer people
around the world and, of course, people of colour remain largely
overlooked in discussions about LGBTQ+ equality.

Indeed, the glaring absence of so many places from Virtual Pride
– China, Chechnya, Malaysia and Jamaica, to name but four – serves
as a reminder that there’s still a long way to go in securing civil
liberties for our queer siblings in less inclusive countries across
the world.

Closer to home, one of many things the global push against
systemic racism has shown is that even when the chips are down
human empathy endures. So, while Pride won’t be taking to the
streets this year, that’s not to say LGBTQ+ campaigns are on pause.
If anything, they’re firing up, with organisers capitalising on the
unusual circumstances to spread their messages to a more global
audience. Freed from the strangleholds of corporate funding and
those cracking hangovers, Pride this year feels more radical than
it has in a while.

Log in to Zoom, mute the mic and listen up. Virtual Pride is
here and it isn’t all that bad.

In Sync: Five Virtual Prides Around the World

Toronto Pride

Throughout June

Events are live-streamed online daily, from drag make-up
workshops to “lunch & learn” lectures on subjects such as how
to foster LGBTQ+ friendly work environments and how to be an
inclusive team leader. For some unadulterated fun, join one of the
Stay Home Saturdays Zoom events, which have been designed to
emulate the more typically raucous feel of
‘s annual Pride festival. Check its website for meeting

Stockholm Pride Summer Stream

31 July – 2 August

long weekend
of virtual events promises to “lift and strengthen
LGBTQ rights in Sweden and the world”. Alongside a digital parade
event, seminars, panel discussions with artists and concerts will
be live-streamed from destinations all over the city. For
Scandi-sexuals left wanting more, there’ll be a one-off
Winter Pride held from 26-29 November, once life has
returned to business as usual.

Madrid Pride

28 June – 5 July

It’s technically all kicking off on 1 July, though it’s holding
a virtual bonanza on 28 June. It’s been 15 years since Spain
approved equal marriage, so this year was supposed to be a biggie
for Madrid.
Organisers say the schedule will incorporate protest, culture and
leisure activities. City dwellers with balconies take note:

Madrid Pride
is calling upon the global LGBTQ+ community to
adorn them in rainbow colours accordingly.

O-zine Pride Festival

Throughout June

When it comes to LGBTQ+ news, Russia provides a year-round
barrage of distressing headlines. Despite the restrictions on
LGBTQ+ freedoms,
-based queer culture magazine O-zine is posting content
every day this month to celebrate Pride. Check in daily for a dose
of queer poetry, music, visual art and an insight into the
underground creative community that calls Russia home.

Copenhagen Pride Week

18–23 August

Solidarity is
Pride Week’s theme this year. Organisers haven’t yet
released an itinerary, but have declared that they’re even more
committed to pushing for LGBTQ+ visibility given the current
circumstances and for online participants to expect activists to
play a central role in their schedule. It is confirmed that a
“digital marking” will replace their iconic parade.
Stay tuned
for more…

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