Twin Cities Pride is moving its parade, party and booths online.
It’s hoping crowds will follow.
The nonprofit will announce Friday a virtual version of its annual, multiday LGBTQ festival, one of the biggest in the country. In early April, as COVID-19 upended events nationwide, local organizers postponed the June 27-28 gatherings.
But rather than hope for autumn, they’ve settled on a virtual celebration. They’re planning online vendors and musical acts, plus a virtual 5K run and lawn signs that say “Stay Proud.”
The parade? They’ll stitch it together using little videos filmed by would-be attendees.
“We can’t be together, but you know what? Show us who you are. Show us where you are,” said Darcie Baumann, Twin Cities Pride’s board chairperson. “Everyone watching, it’ll be like you’re sitting in the grandstand.”
New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco are among the more than 400 pride celebrations worldwide that have been canceled or postponed, according to an ever-updated list from the European Pride Organisers Association. There’s a mega, multicity online Pride in the works.
But some spots are planning their own virtual celebrations.
Minnesota’s LGBTQ community has been gathering since 1972, when a few dozen people marched on Nicollet Mall marking the third anniversary of the Stonewall uprisings, a rebellion against the police raid of a gay bar in New York City that propelled the gay rights movement.
Over the years, it’s grown into a free, multiday festival attracting families and corporate sponsors. More than 350,000 people attended in 2019.
“I think there was a lot of deep grief for a couple weeks,” after this year’s event was postponed, said Dot Belstler, executive director. “It means so much to everyone. ... A lot of people talk about the festival as a homecoming or a family reunion.”
It’s also Twin Cities Pride’s biggest fundraiser, fueling the nonprofit’s events throughout the year and its support of other LGBTQ organizations via its community outreach fund. The organization’s monthly expenses total about $22,000, said Belstler, who has led the nonprofit since 2010.
“We need to raise almost $200,000 over this time period this year in order to be back in 2021,” she said. “So we’re trying to hang onto sponsor dollars, for sure.”
Twin Cities Pride’s board and staff agonized over their initial decision to postpone, its leaders said, knowing that it would affect attendees, musicians and vendors. Each year, some 400 vendors and organizations set up shop in Loring Park.
This year, they plan to create an online marketplace with virtual booths populated by artisans, nonprofits and small businesses.
It’s tough to re-create the feeling of Pride without gathering together in person, Baumann acknowledged.
“There are losses, for sure,” she said. “But I think right now we’re really looking more at the opportunity ... to connect with those who maybe haven’t in the past. Maybe they’re not big-crowd people.
“If they can connect this year, maybe there are pieces they can connect to in the future.”