For me, Pride Month has always been an important time to connect with my community, reflect on LGBTQ+ history, and engage in issues that are important to me. I wrote one of my first blog posts ever reflecting on last year’s Pride Month—looking back on it now, I can see why this month feels pretty different. With events cancelled and people isolated from each other, I definitely didn’t feel like I could do a lot of the things I associate with Pride Month.
But, this past Saturday, I attended a pride event hosted by the Sexual and Gender Diversity Office- the U of T Pride Strut and Stroll. I was shocked to find that a lot of the U of T pride events that I’d enjoyed so much last year are now online. Though of course they’ll be quite different, I was excited to realize I could still participate in Pride Month and see some of my friends (virtually, of course!).
The first event I decided to participate in was the U of T Pride Strut and Stroll. Typically held on the Saturday morning of Pride Weekend, LGBTQ+ people and their allies will run or walk a 2-5 km course. It’s also a fundraising event for a select LGBTQ+ organization.
Because of COVID-19, the Pride Strut and Stroll was held online—so, instead of walking with a group of people, everyone participating went on their own independent walks and shared photos online with the hashtag #UTPride. Though it was definitely quite different than the usual event, I still found that getting out of my house, taking an intentional walk where I thought about certain things, and also donating to an LGBTQ+ organization felt pretty meaningful and like I was celebrating Pride Month.
For my Strut and Stroll, I went on a long neighbourhood walk and explored some new areas I barely ever go to. I also made sure to think about Pride Month, especially focusing on what Pride means in the context of COVID-19 and the current Black Lives Matter protests. This year, the UofT Strut and Stroll is donating money to Native Youth and Child Services and The 519, an LGBTQ+ community centre and advocacy organization— they’re still accepting donations, and I think a virtual Strut and Stroll could be replicated at any time!
Participating in the virtual Strut and Stroll reminded me that even though things seem very different now that we’re living in quarantine, often the most meaningful parts of events and activities — intentions behind the event and your mind set — can be replicated in a virtual setting.
I’m definitely looking forward to participating in more upcoming Sexual and Gender Diversity Office pride events this month. I’m especially looking forward to their Pride Concert, which features performances by queer, trans, and Two-Spirit Indigenous people.
Will you be attending a virtual pride event this month? Let me know in the comments below!