What Does Virtual Pride in 2021 Mean for the Moderns Gay Rights Movement

It’s easy to forget why protesting and marching continues to be deeply important in 2021.

Pride Celebrate Pride Brian Webb

This article was published on June 9th, 2021

While pride festivities will likely be virtual in a lot of places this year, there is no denying that pride marches are a staple of almost everyone’s pride experience. The first pride was a riot, after all, and taking to the streets to loudly proclaim our pride for our diversity and to fight for change that still needs to happen within our community, including banning conversion therapy completely, implementing more protections for LGBT+ people, trans rights, healthcare, and much, much more, is a deeply important part of pride month for many.

Though due to the continuing COVID-19 global health pandemic, it’s not just the pride marches that will be inaccessible this year — depending on the current restrictions in your area, every single one of your city’s pride events may be held completely online. 

While this may not seem like a big deal to some, it’s best to keep in mind the fact just how much LGBT+ people have been isolated during the pandemic. A majority of LGBT+ people get their socialization through LGBT+ events, as they’re almost guaranteed to be safe spaces. Unfortunately, many of these events happen at bars, clubs, and other small spaces, and while the restrictions put in place on these areas make sense, in the scope of stopping the spread of COVID-19, it means that a lot of LGBT+ people are even more excluded and isolated than they may usually feel. 

Pride marches are about much more than ending that isolation and exclusion some LGBT+ people feel, however, even though the corporate floats decked out in rainbows may speak to a much more capitalist pride march. There is so much more to work towards and fight for in our community, and by not having these protests and marches, issues continue to go unseen and unchallenged. 

“Pride is the most visible symbol of the global movement for LGBTIQ equality, affirming our existence, demanding recognition of our rights, and celebrating progress,” said Jessica Stern, Executive Director of OutRight Action International. “Over the last year, among other wins, Gabon and Bhutan decriminalized same-sex relations, and the new administration in the US re-committed to LGBTIQ equality. However, LGBTIQ people continue to face amplified effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and are too often excluded from recovery efforts. This is a sobering reminder of how marginalized our communities around the world continue to be. As such, we must continue to fight for our rights to be recognized and protected.”

OutRight also shared some sobering facts that prove just how much more we as a community must fight for. As an example, did you know that 67 countries around the world continue to criminalize same-sex relations? That’s over 30% of countries around the world. Furthermore, 13 countries have laws explicitly criminalizing trans people, with 37 more criminalizing trans people through vagrancy, prostitution, morality, public nuisance, or other law. 

In the last year alone, the Parliament of Uganda passed the Sexual Offences Bill — a bill that enhances criminalization of same-sex relations. “LGBT-Free Zones” expanded across Poland. Activists in Ghana were arbitrarily arrested for holding a meeting on protecting the rights of LGBT+ people. Trans women were jailed in Cameroon for ‘attempted homosexuality’. 

These things are currently happening, and yet in places where same-sex marriage is legal, we’re asked what we’re fighting for. Only five countries (Malta, Ecuador, Brazil, Taiwan, and Germany) explicitly a conversion therapy at a national level. That’s five, out of 195 countries. There is so much more to fight for. 

Are you interested in helping the fight for that change? OutRight is holding a Pride for Purpose campaign to “commemorate the history of Pride, to celebrate progress in recognition of the rights of LGBTIQ people to be who we are, and to draw attention to and raise funds for the immense challenges still facing us around the world, especially in light of the continuing COVID-19 pandemic.” 

If you’re interested in finding out more, you can see the Pride for Purpose campaign here. You can also use OutRight’s at a glance tool to get a look at the different circumstances for those who are LGBT+ around the world. 

No matter how you’re celebrating and/or protesting this month, remember to have a safe and happy pride. 

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