Celebrities, politicians and activists on Saturday united with Global Pride 2020, a 24-hour virtual event created in light of widespread cancellations of Pride events and festivals due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The event celebrated LGBTQ progress thus far and drew attention to the violence and oppression that Black LGBTQ and transgender individuals endure around the world. Global Pride organizers also collaborated with the founders of Black Lives Matter to amplify Black LGBTQ voices.
Musical acts, dance routines and speeches by drag queens, LGBTQ artists and allies filled the 24-hour special, as well as history lessons on past Pride festivals around the world and the foundations of the LGBTQ rights movement. Testimonials, performances and speeches were submitted by individuals and organizations from 91 countries, with 1,500 entries in total.
Laverne Cox, Olivia Newton-John, Kesha, Adam Lambert, Pabllo Vittar, Deborah Cox, Pussy Riot, the Village People and Ahmed Umar and many other celebrities were featured at the event as performers, speakers and educators. Todrick Hall, an LGBTQ singer, songwriter, producer and YouTube star hosted the event.
“For many of us in the world, Pride is the only time we can visible,” said Hall. “Its the only time we can celebrate as one big glorious LGBTQIA+ family. For all of you, this is your Pride, this is your moment.”
Former Vice President Joe Biden, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Luxembourgish Prime Minister Xavier Bettel were some of the event’s featured politicians and global leaders.
Happy Pride! 🏳️🌈 Even though we can’t march together this year, we can still celebrate together online. After all, Pride has always been about more than a parade – it’s about celebrating our differences and supporting one another no matter who we are or whom we love. #GlobalPride pic.twitter.com/nHKW99J0Ff
— Justin Trudeau (@JustinTrudeau) June 27, 2020
Many headliners referenced worldwide protests against the death of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and countless other victims of police brutality in the U.S. This event took place about month after Floyd, an unarmed Black man, died in police custody when a then-Minneapolis police officer kneeled on his neck for nearly nine minutes.
Alicia Garza, the co-founder of Black Lives Matter, said “it is more important than ever to fight for all Black lives.” Although there have been countless protests and marches, there is still work to be done, she said.
“We don’t want Black lives to only matter when we die,” added Garza. “We want Black lives to matter when we are alive. Black trans lives matter now, not just when Black trans people are murdered”
Many global leaders acknowledged these sentiments: That Pride should act as a platform to continue the fight against systemic oppression and racism, in addition to being a time of celebration.
“This year’s Pride looks different than the Prides of yesteryear,” said Cox. “Let’s not forget the main reason we commemorate Pride. We fight oppression, violence and discrimination … We stand united on a global stage. We make space to advocate, educate and celebrate.”
Biden said this event is a chance to “return to the true roots of Pride.”
“The fight for LGBTQ equality is all our fight,” he said. “We have a responsibility to create a world where who you are or who you love is celebrated, not denigrated. Embraced, not delegitimized.”
Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer spoke on how Pride began as a protest for silenced voices to be heard. Whitmer added at least 172 trans and gender non-conforming individuals have been killed in the U.S. since 2013, with 73 percent of them Black.
Pelosi added Black trans women disproportionately endure higher rates of homelessness, violence and murder.
“It is an annual reminder of the struggle and violence that the LGBTQ+ community has endured for years,” Whitmer said. “That struggle is undoubtedly, disproportionately impacted Black and Brown people in the LGBTQ+ community.”
U.S. Rep. Sharice Davids (D-Kan.), the first openly LGBTQ person elected to Congress from Kansas, also noted how the “fight for equality is far from over,” with many LGBTQ individuals of color and Black trans women still being subject to violence on a daily basis.
Bettel, who is Luxembourg’s first openly gay prime minister, spoke on the need to eradicate hate speech against LGBTQ people and other marginalized communities. Bettel in September 2019 spoke about LGBTQ- specific issues at a U.N. General Assembly, the first person to do so.
“We cannot accept that being a member of a community means to be condemned,” Bettel said.
Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam in his Global Pride video noted he signed the Virginia Values Act, which adds sexual orientation and gender identity to his state’s nondiscrimination law. The law takes effect on July 1.
“This victory shows the world that with grit, determination, heart and purpose, we can achieve the civil rights that LGBTQ people need and deserve,” Northam said.
Global Pride headliners and organizers encouraged users to donate to the COVID-19 Pride Relief Fund, which will be used to provide immediate relief to Pride organizations in financial distress due to the coronavirus, assist global Pride organizations with specific work that addresses inequities and systemic oppression, and help fund Pride events in underserved regions. Global Pride also provided resources and tips for watching the program safely for those who face dangers of entrapment or discrimination based on their identities, like using adblocker software and private browsing tools.
This article originally appeared in the Washington Blade and is made available in partnership with the National LGBT Media Association.