by Renee Raketty
Seattle’s “Together for Pride” virtual Pride weekend drew 3,300 average viewers per day over the three-day event, which included Trans Pride on Friday, PrideFest on Saturday and Seattle Pride on Sunday. The producers of the three events, Gender Justice League, PrideFest and Seattle Out and Proud combined their efforts this year to pull off the effort.
The weekend included workshops, performances and presentations with a focus on the voices of Black, Indigenous and other People of Color hosts, presenters and artists. People from 24 states and four countries (Russia, South Africa, Spain and Zimbabwe) participated.
“While creating a first-of-its-kind event from scratch comes with a range of challenges, I think we were able to create programming that was timely, relevant and enjoyable,” said Krystal Marx, Executive Director of Seattle Out & Proud, which produces Seattle Pride each June. “The Board, staff, partners and volunteers of Seattle Pride were thrilled with the three-day ‘Together for Pride’ virtual event and the feedback we have received from the community has been positive as well.”
The virtual event was organized in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, where large in-person events were unlawful due to social distancing requirements. “It was crucial, however, to make sure we continued to provide space for our community to honor the past, celebrate the present and envision the future while also centering the Queer Trans Black Indigenous People of Color community,” Marx continued. “It was important that the Greater Seattle LGBTQIA+ community and our allies know our visibility, rights, identities and personhood is important with or without the typical events.”
Marx added that “out of an abundance of care for our LGBTQIA+ community” SOAP’s signature events, Seattle Pride in the Park and the Seattle Pride Parade had to be cancelled to protect those “at-risk.”
Marx adds she was heartened to receive messages from participants in the event app, Whova. “I received many messages from individuals for whom this was their first ever Pride event and who were grateful to have an event to participate in after all in-person events were cancelled,” she said. “That let me know that what we value most is community and the ability to create it where we can; just like we have always done.”
The “Together for Pride” weekend included tributes to Seattle Gay News publisher George Bakan, who passed away last month at the offices of the weekly paper he shepherded since 1983. In addition to a video tribute, he had additional memorial mentions about him and his LGBT activism during the Sunday programing. Marx said that SOAP has “additional things planned for this year” to honor him.
SOAP plans to incorporate more virtual events from “here on out” into their programming to increase “accessibility” and to provide a more “well-rounded experience for our LGBTQIA+ community.” However, Marx hopes for a return to an in-person Pride event next year.
“I cannot wait for the 2021 Seattle Pride in the Park and Seattle Pride Parade,” she said. “We will have all been apart – in varying degrees – for over 15 months by the time those events occur in June, 2021… and I think it will be powerful to see the resiliency of the LGBTQIA+ community live and in full color.”
PrideFest announced on it’s website, www.PrideFest.org, that it is working on a plan with the City of Seattle to host an in-person event later this summer, but has not given any formal details about the location or scope of the event. Meanwhile, SOAP has made many of its Pride content available on its website, www.SeattlePride.org.