April 20, 2020 at 7:18 pm EDT | by Lou Chibbaro Jr.
New York City ‘in-person’ Pride events cancelled
New York City Pride, World Pride, gay news, Washington Blade
A scene from New York City Pride; this year’s event has been cancelled. (Washington Blade file photo by Michael Key)

Heritage of Pride, the group that organizes New York City’s annual LGBTQ Pride events, announced on Monday that in collaboration with city officials it has decided to cancel all 2020 Pride events originally scheduled for June 14-28 due to dangers posed by the coronavirus outbreak.

“As the days have passed, it has become more and more clear that even with a decline in the spread of COVID-19, large-scale events such as ours are unlikely to happen in the near future,” said Maryanne Roberto Fine, co-chair of New York City Pride.

“We understand that we need to reimagine NYC Pride events – and have already begun to do just that,” Fine said in an April 20 statement.

Among the New York events cancelled for June was the annual LGBTQ Pride March, which was to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Christopher Street Liberation Day March of 1970. That event, which took place one year after New York’s Stonewall riots, became the nation’s — and possibly the world’s — first large-scale march for LGBTQ rights. 

New York Pride spokesperson Cathy Renna said New York Pride’s general membership was scheduled to meet virtually Monday night to determine whether some of the Pride events might be rescheduled for later this year if the epidemic begins to subside. Renna noted that New York City officials would make the final decision if and when any large-scale event could take place in the city later this year based on the status of the epidemic.

The cancellation of the New York City Pride events for June comes less than a week after San Francisco announced the cancellation of its Pride parade, one of the nation’s largest, and other Pride events. Numerous other cities in the U.S. and Europe have announced either the cancellation or postponement of their 2020 Pride events.

Capital Pride Alliance, the group that organizes D.C.’s annual Pride parade, street festival and other related events, announced on Mach 30 that it was postponing its Pride events but did not say when or definitively whether they would be rescheduled for later this year.

“We will collaborate with all the agencies and our partner Prides to identify new dates and potentially new ways that our community can come together in Pride,” said Capital Pride Executive Director Ryan Bos at the time the D.C. postponement was announced. Bos told the Blade late on Monday that Capital Pride will be releasing a statement next week about the future plans for D.C.’s 2020 Capital Pride.

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio issued a statement on Monday emphasizing the importance of the New York Pride events.

“New York City is the birthplace of the modern LGBTQ rights movement,” said de Blasio. “We’ve come a long way since the first Christopher Street Liberation Day March 50 years ago, which is a testament to the bravery and resiliency of LGBTIA+ New Yorkers in the struggle for equality,” he said.

“While this pandemic prevents us from coming together to march, it will in no way stop us from celebrating the indelible contributions that the LGBTIA+ community has made to New York City or from recommitting ourselves to the fight for equal rights,” he said.

Alphonso David, president of the Human Rights Campaign, the nation’s largest LGBTQ civil rights group, issued a statement on Monday noting the impact the cancellation of Pride events will likely have on the LGBTQ community.

“In many places around the country, Pride parades and festivals offer LGBTQ people a chance to gather with their community and feel free to fully express themselves,” he said. “For this reason, it is disappointing – but ultimately appropriate – to see so many of these events cancelled.”

Added David: “As we see our way through the COVID-19 crisis, we cannot be too careful. We know that LGBTQ people are at a greater risk of both the health and economic impacts of COVID-19, so we as a community must do all we can to stay safe and healthy.”

David said HRC would continue to work with other groups to help build “digital community and programming to bring us all together in this difficult time.”

Lou Chibbaro Jr. has reported on the LGBT civil rights movement and the LGBT community for more than 30 years, beginning as a freelance writer and later as a staff reporter and currently as Senior News Reporter for the Washington Blade. He has chronicled LGBT-related developments as they have touched on a wide range of social, religious, and governmental institutions, including the White House, Congress, the U.S. Supreme Court, the military, local and national law enforcement agencies and the Catholic Church. Chibbaro has reported on LGBT issues and LGBT participation in local and national elections since 1976. He has covered the AIDS epidemic since it first surfaced in the early 1980s. Follow Lou

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