The first Pride was a riot, led by trans women of color like Marsha P. Johnson and Sylvia Rivera. “We celebrate Pride because of the Stonewall Riots in 1969, a six-night series of demonstrative, violent protests that occurred between the LGBTQ community and the police, led by black and brown trans folks,” says Michael Venturiello, an LGBTQIA+ historian and founder of Christopher Street Tours.
This year particularly recalls Pride’s revolutionary origins: As global Pride celebrations were being pushed online due to COVID-19, protests erupted around the globe against police violence in response to the killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and countless other Black Americans.
Much like the pandemic, the growing protest movement will have an impact on how Pride is observed this year. “While June typically commemorates this important event in a celebratory manner,” Venturiello says, “I encourage you all to reflect on the original meaning of ‘Pride’ — a radical, political stance on liberation for all people.”
Venturiello is among a dozen-plus queer event creators taking part in Eventbrite’s We’re Still Here: Celebrating Pride in Solidarity, an online pre-Pride festival on June 12 curated with the help of such LGBTQIA+ leaders as SF Pride and NYC Pride. The virtual festival’s 12 hours of programming spans the globe and includes dance parties, discussions, drag shows, trivia, a mental health moment, and more. Here’s a rundown of what you can expect from five of the events during Friday’s festival. You can find the rest of the lineup (and register for each event) here.
British collective, Queer House Party are camp, sexy, inclusive, and they are live-streamed to your living room. After taking a break to focus their energies elsewhere, they’re back with something slightly different. This week they are working in solidarity with black performers, artists, and DJs to bring you a QHP special which will raise money for African Rainbow Family and Black Lives Matter UK.
“Being queer is political. Queer parties have historically been spaces of resistance, where our community can come together and organise. They are a place where radical ideas are created and we should work to retain this. Pride has become something that we are not proud of, the pink pound has never been so valuable and for too long organisations have profited from our struggle whilst actively harming our community. Now is our time to reclaim our Pride and our identities,” said Harry from Queer House Party.
When bars, clubs, and venues were suddenly shuttered in March, the San Francisco Bay Area Queer Nightlife Fund was quickly born to raise money to keep these spaces alive. One of the first orders of business was staging Sunday afternoon Quaran-Tea dance parties as “a chance to feature a broad range of local DJ talent, raise money for the Queer Nightlife Fund, and build community,” says Mark O’Brien, an event producer who is on the fund’s steering committee. These parties, streamed on Twitch with a Zoom meeting for attendees to dance and flirt on camera, like at a real club, feature a mix of queer DJs throwing down a variety of musical styles. “In just a few weeks, Quaran-Tea established itself as a gathering place for diverse members of the LGBTQIA+ community to come together, blow off some steam, and enjoy a wide range of great music,” O’Brien says. The fund will offer a taste of Quaran-Tea during the We’re Still Here festival, with the hope that donations will help keep queer nightlife businesses and workers in San Francisco afloat. “Our goal is to contribute to some level of stability which will allow them to remain in the Bay Area and continue to contribute to queer nightlife as it comes back to life here.”
Laqwanda Roberts-Buckley created the social media platform Healing Black Women after recovering from a depressive episode. As someone who suffers from Bipolar I Disorder and PTSD, Roberts-Buckley “wanted a space I could go outside of therapy to connect with others who understood what I was going through.” Roberts-Buckley now has a team of contributors who share tips and keep up a dialogue on Healing Black Women’s Facebook group. For this event, Roberts-Buckley will teach attendees how to centre themselves. “Maintaining mental wellness is an ongoing process that takes work and practice as it’s not always natural for us to do so,” Roberts-Buckley says. Donations from the event will go to the nonprofit N.O.M.O. Organization, which empowers and supports trans women of colour. “Pride for me is an opportunity to join with others of shared experience and share who I am with the world,” Roberts-Buckley says. “During this time, I am reminded that I am a proud Black queer woman, and I acknowledge my journey in becoming the truest form of myself.”
The Stud, San Francisco’s oldest LGBTQI+ bar, recently announced the closing of its physical location, but the co-op lives on virtually with the ongoing “Stud in Exile” streaming series, which has been showcasing the city’s finest drag performers during shelter-in-place. “People can expect weird-ass SF drag and amazing DJs,” says Mica Sigourney (aka VivvyAnne ForeverMORE), who hosted the Stud’s in-person drag shows and is one of the bar’s owners/workers. “We want to highlight the diverse styles, identities, and communities that come through our doors and stomp on our stage.” Proceeds from the Stud’s event go to the Save Our Stud fund to bring the bar back in a new location post-COVID-19 — a task that may not be as daunting thanks to the Stud’s growing fanbase outside of its home city. “While we are a local venue we have a very wide outward focus welcoming performers, DJs, and guests from around the world,” Sigourney says. “This event gives us a chance to reach beyond our physical walls and encounter like-minded and inspiring folks from all over.”
With his faux documentary webseries “The Fathers Project,” Mexican filmmaker and activist Leo Herrera imagines a world where AIDS never happened and in its place, queer utopias bloomed and blossomed. For this event, Herrera will present a rare full-length screening of “The Fathers Project,” featuring raw and unreleased footage. “Folks can expect a psychedelic stroll down memory lane and a vision for the future,” Herrera says. The filmmaker is also dedicated to traveling across America to document queer utopias that do exist, but may only last for a short time. “You can find examples of utopia anywhere, especially in a virtual space where people might be more comfortable to express themselves and their art,” Herrera says. Donations from this event will help fund The Fathers Archive, a home for Herrera’s documentary work.
Australian nightclub collective POOF DOOF is an example of the power of reclaiming derogatory language. “Years ago, ‘Poof’ was a derogatory word for being gay,” says Anthony Hocking, aka Hockers, POOF DOOF’s event and brand custodian. “In recent times, the community has reclaimed this once negative and hurtful word as our own. We Now use it with Pride.” “Doof” is Australian slang for party, thus “POOF DOOF” means “big gay dance party,” Hocking adds. When Australia went on lockdown, POOF DOOF immediately moved its dance and drag parties online with great success, live streaming from Sydney and Melbourne. For this event, POOF DOOF will broadcast from Sydney with two resident DJs: Troy Bemen and DJ Sveta and a mid-stream appearance from the country’s drag legend Coco Jumbo. “We serve up future forward house and techno with a little sizzle thrown in,” Hocking says. “If you like to dance, then POOF DOOF is for you!”