Pride Month During Covid-19
August 1, 2021
COVID-19 has had a profound impact on social gatherings. In 2020 alone: weddings were postponed or canceled; schools went to remote learning, which led to the cancellation of many after-school clubs and events, and many yearly parades were postponed indefinitely. Pride events were not immune to the effects of the pandemic. Social distancing, travel restrictions, and limited gathering capacities made most Pride events impossible.
San Francisco’s decision to cancel their 2020 Pride parade was, as stated in an article by The Guardian, “the first time since it began that there [was] no march along the city’s Market Street.” This was a particular blow for the LGBTQ community, as 2020 marked the 50th anniversary of the event. Boston, Toronto, and New York City were also among the list of places cancelling Pride events that year. While some Pride events are still being held virtually in 2021, there are a number of in-person events taking place, namely NYC pride, which will be held with health and safety guidelines in place.
While things appear to be looking up in 2021, there is still the question of COVID-19’s impact on LGBTQ youth based on the postponement of Pride Events.
To understand the impact of these event changes on LGBTQ youth, we first should look at the issues that impact the community. First, LGBTQ youth face a number of challenges regarding their mental health, as they are at a higher risk for depression, anxiety, and suicidality (Russell & Fish, 2016). Over the years, resources have been introduced to help mitigate this, such as Gender and Sexualities Alliances (GSAs) and counseling at schools. These resources have proven to be vital in many cases since “school can [...] offer access to an LGBTQ community [...] where they can feel empowered, socialize, and receive support.” For some LGBTQ youth, school may be the only source of support and community they experience.
Because of this, school closures have added yet another stressor for LGBTQ youth during the pandemic. According to The Trevor Project’s National Survey on LGBTQ Youth Mental Health for 2021, “More than 80% of LGBTQ youth stated that COVID-19 made their living situation more stressful — and only 1 in 3 LGBTQ youth found their home to be LGBTQ-affirming.” With only a third of LGBTQ youth living in LGBTQ-affirming households, many others in the community have been left feeling isolated due to COVID-19. School closures and virtual learning have left LGBTQ students without the vital support systems they need. The cancellation of GSA meetings and Pride events has exacerbated the issue.
The lack of accessible support is not the only issue to come out of the pandemic. So far, in 2021, over 250 anti-LGBTQ bills have been introduced in state legislatures throughout the United States. These bills would impact students’ ability to use restrooms and locker rooms that are consistent with their gender identity, forbid the discussion of LGBTQ people, sexuality, and/or gender in the classroom, and prohibit transgender youth from being able to access gender-affirming medical care. Legislators across the United States have worked to pass these bills, while LGBTQ youth have been at a loss as to how to engage in further activism due to a lack of in-person events.
But not all is lost. The Equality Act, which was passed in the House of Representatives in February of 2021, “prohibits discrimination based on sex, sexual orientation, and gender identity in areas including public accommodations and facilities, education, federal funding, employment, housing, credit, and the jury system.” While the bill was discussed in a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing back in March, it has not been said when the legislation will be voted on. A total of 60 votes will be needed for the bill to pass in the Senate. It is important that supporters reach out to their representatives to support the bill. Details on how to reach your senator -- by mail, email, or telephone -- can be found on the United States Senate’s website.
The following websites are offering a variety of resources and events that can be accessed online:
1. Arcus Foundation: The Arcus Foundation offers a variety of LGBTQ resources to help LGBTQ advocates during the pandemic.
2. Eventbrite: This website has a series of virtual Pride events taking place throughout the month of June.
3. Q Chat Space: Chat support group for LGBTQ youth from ages 13 to 19. Other suggestions on how to help LGBTQ youth during this time are: reading LGBTQ literature, supporting LGBTQ-run businesses, and staying up to date on the latest surveys and research by foundations like The Trevor Project, Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network (GLSEN), and The Equity Project.
COVID-19 has made navigating life difficult for a large percentage of LGBTQ youths. Despite this, the community has found unique ways to engage in activism via the internet. Virtual events on Eventbrite and social spaces in Q Chat Space have rebuilt the sense of belonging that was lost during the pandemic. Groups like the Arcus Foundation are a reminder that activism is still alive and well even from home. These resources will make it easier for LGBTQ youth and allies to educate themselves while also advocating for change. The pandemic has led to plenty of social distancing, but it has not diminished the LGBTQ community’s commitment to lasting change.
Paul, Kari. (2020, April 14) San Francisco cancels 50th anniversary
LGBTQ+ Pride parade amid pandemic. The Guardian.
The Trevor Project. (2020, April 3). Implications of COVID-19 for LGBTQ
Youth Mental Health and Suicide Prevention.
The Trevor Project. (2021). National Survey on LGBTQ Youth Mental
Ronan, Wyatt. (2021, April 22). 2021 Slated to Become Worst year for
LGBTQ State Legislative Attacks as Unprecedented Number of States
Poised to Enact Record-Shattering Number of Anti-LGBT Measures into
Law. Human Rights Campaign.
United States Congress. (2021, February 2021). H.R.5 – Equality Act.
Quinlan, Casey. (2021, June 22). LGBTQ groups say ‘America is ready’
for the Equality Act. The American Independent.
United States Senate. (2021). Contracting the Senate. Senate.gov.
Arcus Foundation. (2020, May 1) Resources for LGBTQ Communities
and Advocates Navigating COVID-19.
Eventbrite. (2021). Pride.