LGBT Detroit, the city’s premier black LGBTQ service provider and producer of Hotter Than July, the world’s now longest-running, uninterrupted Black LGBTQ Pride celebration for the last 25 years, is taking its 2020 festivities digital. In light of the novel coronavirus pandemic plaguing the country, the host of the Midwest’s largest Black Pride has determined that the best way to keep its community spirits high and pride flowing, while maintaining safety, is to transition its annual core events to web-based and application platforms such as Zoom and Instagram. Rather than cancel the event, the organization has decided to improvise how it engages its audience. Titled and themed “25th Anniversary Hotter Than July,” the three-day community gathering will run from Friday, July 24, to Sunday, July 26, and includes a range of activities, from its digital picnic and a 25-year retrospective to its candlelight vigil and what may be the nation’s first online house ball competition. Last month, the organization’s board issued a statement in support of the annual event’s transition:
“LGBT Detroit’s Board of Directors recognize the current state of our emergency and its particular impact on African American residents of southeast Michigan. We stand united as a part of the solution by digitally outfitting Michigan’s flagship LGBT+ event, Hotter Than July. The goal of the 2020 ’25th Anniversary Hotter Than July’ schedule is to condense the events and decrease the risks of COVID-19 exposure to our community and the public while maintaining the historic spirit of Hotter Than July. LGBT Detroit will use the available resources of the digital age to honor the tradition set 25 years ago — uninterrupted,” the statement read.
As has been true throughout the history of HTJ, LGBT Detroit is ensuring its constituents are informed and engaged in the current political moment. Throughout the celebration, LGBT Detroit will also mobilize its constituents to do their civic duty by participating in the agency’s get-out-the-vote campaign to combat voter suppression. The agency also plans to do its part to ensure maximum Black LGBT+ participation in Michigan’s U.S. Census drive, a process that determines federal funding allocations for the resources and services on which many members of the community rely.
“It’s critical that our community remain a steady, vibrant and knowledgeable force in Michigan with a voice that is recognized, heard and, most importantly, considered by Michigan’s power brokers,” said LGBT Detroit’s Social Outreach Coordinator and Legislative Advocacy Specialist Jerron Totten.
In addition to his regular role, Totten is also curating activities with dedicated event stakeholders.
“It’s vital that Hotter Than July continues to be an effective and consistent way we engage the public in an ongoing conversation about what issues are necessary and important for us to draw our attention to,” he said. “Particularly as we look to the challenging economic and political picture ahead.”
Moreover, in the spirit of both the Black LGBTQ+ and the broader community’s health and safety, LGBTQ Detroit is supporting the state of Michigan’s COVID-19 identification efforts by offering coronavirus antibody testing at its headquarters during the three-day period, one of the first queer agencies in the area to do so.
“We do what Black and LGBT people in Detroit have always done in the face of adversity: meet the challenge with ingenuity, bravery and creativity,” said Executive Director of LGBT Detroit Curtis Lipscomb. “Protecting one another while still claiming our joy and power has been at the heart of our resistance since the very first Hotter Than July some 25 years ago. This moment is just an extension of what we do and who we are. We will not let the very real ravages of this virus in our community change that for our people.”
The 25th Anniversary Hotter Than July runs from Friday, July 24, to Sunday, July 26. For a full listing of events as well as their dates and times, please visit the LGBT Detroit HTJ webpages at: lgbtdetroit.org/hotterthanjuly.
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Find out more about LGBT Detroit online at lgbtdetroit.org