It was one year ago that we had to announce that Pride as we recognized it was not going to be possible in the midst of a pandemic that had no foreseeable end in sight. I shared these words:
“Pride is not canceled. In-person mass gatherings are canceled. Nothing can strip away our pride. Nothing can deny us the pride our community has built inside ourselves, our community, or the broader world. We will still find ways to raise our Pride flags, celebrate the vibrancy of our community, and bring to light the issues that our movement still faces.”
Today, the same holds true. Over the past year our organization was stripped of its pillar events and funding streams. Thankfully, we had prepared our financial reserves to a place where we could survive a financially catastrophic year. Thankfully, as an organization run predominantly by volunteers across the county, our cloud-based systems allowed us to continue our programming in virtual spaces. Suddenly, without the giant Parade and Festival, what remained were our year-round education and advocacy programs. People began to see that Pride was more than a party.
Pride events and organizations were not born out of pure celebration, but out of a need to fight back against oppression, carve out intentional space, claim visibility, find power, and lift up community. Our annual Pride Parade and Festival, while massive and important, are only two of the ways we engage in our mission to foster pride, equality, and respect for all LGBTQ communities locally, nationally, and globally.
Throughout the last year we were able to reach over 750,000 people with our LGBTQ content and programs; more than we had ever reached in a single year. Through our international partnership with Global Pride, we helped reach over 57 million people around the world. All this amazing work has been a shining example of queer resilience.
We are adapting again. We are planning Pride in a way that slowly and safely begins to bring back our community in shared spaces. We are pursuing joy with cautious optimism as we all attempt to mend the fear and trauma we have all endured over the last year.
We’re not completely out of the woods yet. COVID-19 rates are still on the rise in the US and many places around the world. We cannot get ahead of ourselves. We must continue to abide by public health and safety guidelines. Wear masks, distance, wash your hands, and please take the opportunities available to you to get vaccinated. We’re almost there but we all have to do our part to get pass this.
As we look to celebrate Pride in new ways that are smaller in scale or virtual, depending on your comfort level, know how excited our Pride Family is to bring us together again. We will continue to closely monitor the ever-changing public health and safety guidelines and will adapt our plans accordingly. The first week of June we will announce what all of those in-person events and live streams look like. We truly can’t wait to share! Until then, please stay safe. We can’t wait to see you all again in celebration because we know that together, we are resilient.
P.S. Pride is hosting our second vaccine clinic this coming Saturday, May 1, for our BIPOC-LGBTQ and HIV+ community members. Schedule an appointment here.
Fernando Lopez is the Executive Director of San Diego Pride. Lopez’s years of LGBT advocacy, nonprofit management, public education, diversity consulting, media relations, guest lectures, and organizing have made them a consistent presence ensuring the struggles of the LGBT community are ever visible.