People won’t take to the streets this month to shower the city with acceptance and visibility for the LGBTQ community as they normally do each June, which is Pride month. But local organizers are hosting virtual celebrations to fill the gap until, they hope, the normal festivities can take place this fall.
Spokane’s Rainbow and Pride Festival has been moved to Oct. 17 because of public health and safety concerns amid the pandemic, said Steven Herevia, organizer for Out Spokane .
“When we think about living here in the Inland Northwest, it’s not easy being LGBTQ+. This is not the most accepting area in the state, but we’re getting there,” he said. “We’re really trying to give people the ability to express themselves right now, even if it’s not in person.”
The decision to move the festival was a hard one to make, Herevia said.
“Spokane Pride is literally the one day many people in our community get to really express their full selves in public,” he said. “They get to wear the outfit, they get to identify how they identify and not getting to have that one day – it’s a hit for people.”
Virtual events to celebrate the community kicked off Monday and can be found on the Out Spokane virtual Pride website . LGBTQ community members and allies can tune into Out Spokane’s Facebook page to participate in the celebrations, Herevia said.
A fundraising event with an array of artists, musicians and magicians will raise money for LGBTQ nonprofits today.
Events continue Friday with a virtual Art Walk, where artists from the surrounding area will grace viewers with their artwork.
To continue Pride month celebrations and bring awareness to the Black Lives Matter movement, Spokane Pride and Northwest Business Alliance organizers have arranged an LGBTQ Lives for Black Lives Matter car parade at 2 p.m. Saturday, Herevia said.
The Stonewall riots and the work of Black trans women propelled the LGBTQ community to where it is today, Herevia said.
“Right now we have protests and riots calling for reform and justice, and our community also wants to see justice happen,” he said. “It’s hard to not feel like it’s far way, but it’s important to remember that this is crucial.”
Saturday will continue with a virtual Pride party at 7 p.m., led by Spokane Pride and other LGBTQ organizations. Local and nationally recognized bands will perform as well as other artists, including a “top Cher impersonator”, Herevia said.
Spokane Pride organizers will share videos community members submit of their Pride month celebrations from wherever they are, Herevia said.
As the month progresses, local organizers will be putting on more events for the community and plan to celebrate global Pride day June 27 in conjunction with the World Pride Enterprise, he said.
“We understand not everybody in the community can participate in very significant ways, but hopefully they’ll be able to watch and still feel pride at home,” Herevia said.
Managing and organizing virtual celebrations is unknown territory, and it has become apparent not everybody has access to technology, he said. Organizers are working on ways to bring the celebration to everyone in the community, he added.
“It’s important for people’s well-being to know that they’re affirmed in their identity, to know that they belong, to know that they have worth,” Herevia said. “We’re doing the very best that we can to ensure that our community is still visible every day.”
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