For some LGBTQ people, Pride month is equivalent to Christmas: the biggest holiday of the year, a chance to gather with loved ones and a time to reflect on the struggles and values that make the community special.
But what happens when Pride falls during a pandemic and festivals, parades and parties are canceled across the globe?
While the cancellation of Pride events is a disappointment—especially to young people for whom Pride is an integral part of gaining self-acceptance and support—a new campaign from the Trevor Project asks us all to rethink what Pride is really about.
The Trevor Project is a crisis intervention and suicide prevention nonprofit serving LGBTQ youth under 25. Kevin Wong, vp of communications, said the group’s 24-hour text, chat and crisis phone line has seen volume more than double since the pandemic began.
“The underlying challenges LGBTQ youth face every day can be exacerbated,” said Wong. “[It’s hard] not being able to go to school where you might see your one accepting friend every day.”
According to the Trevor Project’s April report on LGBTQ youth during Covid-19 quarantine, only one-third of LGBTQ youth have parents who accept their sexual orientation. For the rest, being forced to stay home with unsupportive family members can have a serious impact on their mental health.
“For many young people being at home is not especially safe for them during this time,” said the Trevor Project creative director Thomas Pardee. “Our primary goal is saving LGBTQ lives.”
Pardee joined the Trevor Project from Understood.org, another organization that works with marginalized youth. Pardee said the Trevor Project’s new “Pride Everywhere” campaign is designed to “encourage everyone to show how they’re celebrating in their world.”
As singer Demi Lovato says in her voiceover for the campaign’s video, the June LGBTQ celebrations aren’t really about parades. They’re about people.
“You see people from all walks of life, owning their power unapologetically and using it for those who need it,” said Lovato, who identifies as ‘sexually fluid,’ in the spot. “You see resilience in a thousand forms. The strength to stand up despite so many reasons to sit down.”
“Pride isn’t going anywhere,” Lovato said, “because Pride is everywhere.”
The Trevor Project said it’s even more important to celebrate Pride this year as many young people are feeling trapped at home in environments where their LGBTQ identity is not affirmed by family or local community. For LGBTQ youth, attending Pride festivals can be the one time of the year they feel truly accepted and see visual examples of out, proud LGBTQ adults.
“Pride isn’t just about parades, it’s about celebrating what makes our LGBTQ community thrive. It’s about finding our strength even in times of challenge, sharing our joy even in moments of pain, and creating space to express and celebrate who we are,” said Amit Paley, CEO and executive director of the Trevor Project. “That’s been true since the first Pride march 50 years ago, and it’s just as true this season.”
The “Pride Everywhere” campaign includes a social media photo filter that people can use to participate, and the Trevor Project encourages the use of the #PrideEverywhere hashtag.
The campaign’s launch partners are Abercrombie & Fitch, Google, AT&T + Warner Media and Twitch, but Pardee said it’s likely even more corporate partners will sign on as well. After all, June is traditionally the biggest fundraising time of the year for LGBTQ nonprofits. “Pride Everywhere” is also designed to help the organization raise money in light of its June gala being cancelled.
“The landscape is shifting,” said Pardee, “and we’ve had to shift along with it.”