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Simcoe Pride moving forward in a virtual format

June 12, 2020   ·   0 Comments

Things are running a little bit different this year for Simcoe Pride.

In the wake of COVID-19, Pride organizers say they don’t want to jeopardize anyone’s health with in-person events but will be moving forward in an online fashion. 

“We are planning to go completely virtual, even with things opening up government wise, our board just doesn’t feel like it’s a safe move to make to try and host in-person events,” said Keegan Hobson, Simcoe Pride President.

June kicks off Pride Month, but it’s annual events take place in late July, allowing the organization to gear up amidst massive changes due to the pandemic.

Currently, the organization utilizes Google Meets due to its caption accessibility for it’s monthly socials and is looking at what virtual meeting platforms might be used for this year’s events.

The focus right now is ensuring the annual events that have the largest impact on the LGBTQ community run again this year. 

Townships throughout Simcoe County have flown Pride flags in the past and Hobson said they’re hoping to do virtual flag raisings this year.

Pride Prom, which was hosted last year for the first time is being planned in an online format, which is particularly important for youth who cannot attend their school’s celebration this year due to COVID-19.

“It’s a safer space for folks who maybe didn’t get that experience or couldn’t be authentic at their prom,” Hobson noted.

“I know when I was in high school I wasn’t allowed to bring a same-sex partner, so it’s just a fantastic way to reclaim that celebration, especially with a lot of youth missing it this year.”

As well, the 2020 Pride Awards Gala, which provides an opportunity for community members to be recognized for their work year-round, is shifting to an online space to keep everyone safe. 

Being confined indoors because of the COVID-19 pandemic has been hard on everybody, particularly those in the LGBTQ community who are persecuted at home, according to Hobson.

“A lot of individuals are not in supportive situations and so I think that this year more than ever kind of highlights that need for us to have these spaces where we can be authentic and be around people who understand and are on the same page as us,” he stressed.

With this in mind, Hobson said it’s essential to create safe spaces for people to connect this year.

“I think it is really vitally important right now that we’re socializing the best we can and maintaining those social aspects of our life,” he noted.

Meanwhile Simcoe Pride saw between 1,500 and 2,000 people attend their events last year and organizers are unsure of the level of participation they will see with the 2020 events being hosted online.

“I’m curious what that will look like this year, whether it will be larger or smaller, given a virtual context,” Hobson said.

Since the virtual events are more accessible with people being able to participate from the comfort of their own home, he said there could be an uptick in attendees; however many are hesitant of the new format.

“I think a lot of folks – I know I had these feelings as well – that a virtual setting may not provide them the support or experience that they’re looking for at a Pride event, but I would honestly just suggest that people pop in and check it out because they connect you a lot more than you might think,” Hobson explained.

“I think they can be a really fantastic way…to make those connections in a little bit of a stress-free environment because you can be in your own home, in your PJs and no one knows.”

Simcoe Pride is meeting later this month to determine this year’s official event schedule. Hobson said they hope to make an official announcement towards the end of June.

By Sam Odrowski
Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

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