Coronavirus Wipes Out Pride Events Across Metro New York

Third Avenue and 149th Street at Bronx Pride in 2019.
Matt Tracy

A wide array of Pride celebrations planned across the city and region were canceled or postponed following Mayor de Blasio’s announcement on April 20 that all non-essential events requiring permits, including the main LGBTQ Pride March, would not be allowed during the month of June due to the coronavirus outbreak.

The organizers of Brooklyn Pride, Harlem Pride, Bronx Pride, and Brighton Beach Pride confirmed that their in-person events for June have been scratched. The in-person Pride festivities in Brooklyn, Harlem, and the Bronx were all canceled outright, though some vowed to proceed with virtual offerings. Jamie Farnam, co-chair of Brooklyn Pride, told Gay City News in an email that her team is “working to make our annual 5K a virtual run and hope to add a few more virtual events during Brooklyn Pride Week to keep our community connected with each other…”

The Bronx Pride celebration, which usually features a march along with stages full of live performances in late June, “will go digital complete with the annual Pride Flag-raising ceremony at Bronx Borough Hall, book readings, and digital dance parties for our LGBTQ community,” organizers noted in a separate email.

“This year’s framework of LOVE and LIFE responds to the attacks the LGBTQ community has experienced under the Trump administration and provides a path to organize and continue the movement forward for generations of LGBTQ individuals,” the email continued.

Harlem Pride’s board of directors, meanwhile, stressed in an email announcement that there is a need for donations to the group because a majority of the funding to keep it going from year to year is generated via the annual in-person celebration.

Yelena Goltsman, co-president of RUSA LGBT, a Russian-speaking LGBTQ group that organizes the annual Brighton Beach Pride March on the Riegelmann Boardwalk, told Gay City News on April 20 that Brighton Beach Pride will return again next year.

The 28th annual Queens Pride March and Festival, scheduled for June 7, will also not go on as planned. Organizers announced on April 21 that Queens Pride will instead be transitioned into a virtual celebration. Details surrounding the virtual Pride event will be announced at a later date.

The Staten Island Pridefest, slated for May 9, will also not be allowed to move ahead as planned, but the Staten Island Pride Center’s website does not specify whether it would be postponed or canceled altogether and the Pride Center could not be reached on April 20. The Pridefest will, however, move ahead with a pair of virtual events: “Spectrum — Transgender Open Mic” is set for May 6 at 7 p.m. and a youth prom is scheduled for May 16 at 7 p.m.

The flurry of announcements followed other local Pride events that were already put off, including Long Island Pride, which was scheduled for June 14 at Jones Beach. Organizers at the LGBT Network, which produces Long Island Pride, are planning a virtual Pride celebration in the near future.

“Postponement does not mean cancellation and we are and will continue to work with New York State and health authorities to reschedule the in-person Pride celebration when it is safe to do so,” LGBT Network president and CEO David Kilmnick said in an April 17 announcement.

Yonkers Pride, also slated for June, has been postponed to the fall and could be canceled altogether depending on the situation in the coming months.

Some other local Pride events are slated for later dates, giving organizers some more time to weigh a decision during the play-it-by-ear coronavirus era. One year after the LGBTQ community in the Rockaways held its first-ever Pride celebration on July 13, Jim Burke of OutRockaway acknowledged to Gay City News over the phone on April 20 that “July is looking less likely,” but he remained hopeful that some sort of event could be held this year, whenever that may be.

There have also been no announcements about the annual New York City Black Pride festivities, which takes place every August and entails a week-long slate of music, film, dance, and a Pride at the Beach event in Coney Island.