Local and regional Pride celebrations postponed due to COVID-19

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Photo: NHC Pride Parade, 2019 via PA Tourism Office

As local and regional governments continue to implement social distancing measures to help stem the spread of the new coronavirus, virtually all public events have been digitized, postponed or canceled for the time being, including some Philadelphia area Pride parades. 

As of March 21, Philly Black Pride (PBP) canceled its annual four-day celebration, which would have taken place this year from April 23-26. On April 1, Philly Pride Presents, run by Franny Price, announced on its Facebook page that while Philadelphia Pride Day events have not been canceled, “we will have to wait to see how things progress with COVID-19.” As of April 7, the Doylestown Pride website showed no updates or plans to reschedule this year’s Doylestown Pride Festival, set to take place in June. 

“Now that we are in the thick of it, the community has been nothing but supportive,” PBP President Le Thomas said in an email. “They are of course disappointed because they won’t get to reconnect, as family always does. What I mean by that, is the idea or the sense of family coming together for a reunion to celebrate one another.”

In a press release, Thomas encouraged any out-of-towners who planned to attend the PBP celebrations and stay at The Cambria, the organization’s host hotel, to cancel their reservations as soon as possible.  

Born out of the COLOURS Organization in 1999, PBP strives to produce “multicultural opportunities that educate, inspire, improve and celebrate the experiences of LGBTQ individuals through programs, policy, advocacy, partnerships and relationship building.”

Thomas told PGN that he and the PBP board have not yet chosen a new date for the celebration due to the uncertainty of when everyday life in Philadelphia will resume.

“What we have decided was to look at the fall and see where we are as a country and community, and possibly introduce a few events to help in connecting us back together again,” Thomas said. Going forward, the PBP team will announce any virtual activities they plan to hold via the organization’s social media platforms and website at www.phillyblackpride.org.

New Hope Celebrates (NHC) announced on its website that it plans to postpone its usual May PrideFest to October 10, 2020. The co-founders of Exit 82 Theatre Company organized the first Toms River Pride in 2019 but are considering rescheduling this year’s mid-June celebration to a later date, according to the theater company’s Strategic Consultant Evan Phalon.  

While NHC rescheduled its celebration to October, the organization’s board is entertaining the idea that some health restrictions may still be in place at that time. 

“We’re cautiously optimistic I guess is the word, because the situation is ever-changing,” said NHC President Matt Hanson. “We’re planning as much as we can plan, but also thinking in the back of our minds that it may not work out, too.”

The NHC team is also working on launching a fundraiser for New Hope businesses, which is in the process of being finalized, Hanson told PGN. “We’re also trying to think about, when things do open up again, what we can do to promote New Hope as an LGBTQIA location for people to come back and visit. It’s a hard one — it’s one of the biggest weekends for the town and all the businesses.” 

Closer to the middle of April, the NHC team also hopes to start planning remote events. A virtual Drag Queen Story Hour has been in discussion, Hanson said.  Hanson encouraged members of the community to reach out to NHC at [email protected], “if they just want to talk to someone, if they need food,” he said. “Anything anyone needs, we’re telling everyone to reach out to us, and we’ll connect them with the right people or get it done. In this time, we really just want to wish the whole LGBTQIA community well.”

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