Stonewall Columbus announced today that the 2021 Columbus PRIDE March—the 2nd largest Pride event in the Midwest—will be virtual.
In a press release, Stonewall Columbus Executive Director Densil Porteous and Board President Gerry Rodriguez cited the uneven vaccine distribution and the emergence of COVID variants as contributing factors to the reality in which mass gatherings will still not be safely possible during the summer months.
The letter to the community further announces that there will be a variety of PRIDE month events throughout June, both “live and virtual opportunities for engagement, decreasing large in person moments, but encouraging responsible socially distant moments of togetherness.”
The press release also seeks to reaffirm Stonewall Columbus’ commitment to center PRIDE on underrepresented voices—as opposed to corporate entities, who are being asked to increase their monetary investment—and “to continue doing the systemic change work needed to ensure we are embracing all of our community while centering and uplifting those who are most in need.”
The full announcement reads:
As we head further into the year, with a little more knowledge and a bit of experience, Stonewall Columbus has started to plan for a reality where once again we will not be able to gather in mass without placing our community’s health at risk. While the rate of vaccine distribution for COVID is on the upswing, a fractured system across the country is causing for an uneven distribution rate from state to state, as well as increased variants of the virus popping up do not present for favorable outcomes even during the summer months.
In June 2021 we will present a virtual PRIDE March that will broadcast on June 19th.
During the month we will, safely, activate the Stonewall Center and partner with venues and organizations around town, and across the state, to bring Columbus and the Central Ohio community a variety of PRIDE month events—events that allow live and virtual opportunities for engagement, decreasing large in person moments, but encouraging responsible socially distant moments of togetherness.
This pandemic has given us an opportunity to deconstruct our events and find ways to literally and physically return PRIDE to the community.
Over the last several years underrepresented members of the LGBTQ+ community, BIPOC and Trans members in particular, have called on our community to reconsider how we celebrate PRIDE—to center it around the voices who sparked the movement and not on corporations. LGBTQ+ serving organizations were asked to hold ourselves accountable to the entire LGBTQ+ community we aim to serve—Stonewall is doing the work. In this moment as we consider events under the constraints of a pandemic, we have been given an opportunity to consider how we work with the community, in support of the community, to celebrate PRIDE.
June is celebrated as PRIDE month around the world and we’ve started to work with elected officials in Columbus and across the Central Ohio region to declare June as PRIDE month—a shift from the traditional declaration of PRIDE week in many areas. We’ve asked our corporate partners to continue their support of the community by considering an increase in their monetary investment as well as their social engagement in working to ensure our LGBTQ+ identities thrive in the communities where their companies do business—where their associates live.
We know our community’s PRIDE is 365 days a year and this year in our organization’s 40th year we will roll out initiatives that begin to shift PRIDE from a single moment in June back to a movement; something we embrace and celebrate all year long—we’re excited to partner with the various representation of identities within our LGBTQ+ and allied communities in this initiative!
Stonewall Columbus commits to continue doing the systemic change work needed to ensure we are embracing all of our community while centering and uplifting those who are most in need. As an organization we commit to continue doing the work needed to rethink PRIDE as our region has an opportunity to set an example for the future of PRIDEs around the country as the 14th largest city in the nation and the 2nd largest Pride event in the Midwest—we know people are paying attention.
The LGBTQ+ community’s PRIDE is not something anything or anyone can cancel.
Densil R. Porteous Gerry Rodriguez
Executive Director Board President