It's Pride Month! And as more of us are fully vaccinated and able to spend time in public and community spaces, I find myself wondering how we can restart movements that have lost in-person numbers and momentum during the COVID-19 pandemic. What do we do when the spaces we used to gather in are now gone? These matters are especially important for folks in marginalized communities, including many members of the vibrant and diverse LGBTQ+ community.
Many queer bars and volunteer organizations were already struggling before the pandemic, and some weren't able to stay open during this difficult period. Now, others are only hanging on by a thread. Do we resurrect and revitalize these spaces and organizations? Or do we build new organizations and create new spaces?
For that matter, how do we rebuild our personal relationships with people we may not have seen in more than a year? And how can we re-engage and re-energize our support systems and local communities?
This is a unique opportunity to start fresh. Since we need to rebuild anyway, why not work to rebuild movements and spaces to be more welcoming, inclusive, and accessible?
Building a More Accessible, Inclusive Community
The pandemic has been incredibly isolating for many people, while others have reported that new online spaces have allowed them to be more present and involved in their communities during the pandemic than before. For the first time, folks with anxiety or mobility issues found that, rather than being on the sidelines, they had an equal opportunity to engage. Without the geographic and financial barriers presented by in-person events, more people were able to access community groups, discussions, and events than ever before.
As we restart, I believe we can and should think about how to maintain that access and nurture these new connections. Our collective experiences over the past year have showed us that we can make it work.
As a speaker and performer, I am looking forward to the return of live events with in-person audiences. But why not also stream those events to folks who can't be there? We could even set up Zoom calls and multiple volunteer screens so remote participants can join in live discussions and panels.
Before the pandemic, solutions like this were mostly used in corporate boardrooms, but we know now that we can use them too, especially if we are all prepared to pitch in as much as possible—whether that means donating financial resources or equipment, or volunteering our time and technical skills.
We can rebuild by working together, standing up for each other, and listening to those who know their own needs best. We can work to be kinder to each other. When people make mistakes, we can consider whether it's possible to practice "calling-in" instead of "calling-out." Not everyone can be called-in, but for those who are sincerely prepared to do the work and engage in good faith, we can address missteps in a way that strengthens our connections to each other.
Standing Strong, Together
If our history has taught us anything, and if there is a lesson to be remembered during Pride Month, it's that when we stand together, we are strong. And though there are those who would oppress us, we will not be held back. When we lift up the voices of those who are most oppressed and listen to what they tell us, they will lead us true.
These are just ideas—seeds I hope you will nurture. But you may be wondering what immediate actions you can take to support the LGBTQ+ community at this critical time, when trans youth are under attack and queer people of color are fighting for their very survival.
One place to start is supporting Trans Resistance, an organization that was started during the pandemic by a collective of Boston-area trans and queer activists. Building on the work of the Transgender Emergency Fund, they are dedicated to supporting low income and homeless transgender people in Massachusetts.
If you are in the Boston area or able to get there, you can join them for the second Trans Resistance March and Vigil at noon on June 12th. You could even volunteer to help. And if you can't be there in person, you can still support the march and the important work that Trans Resistance does by donating or even just spreading the word.
This Pride Month, Join Us for Good and think about how we can all work together to rebuild and recharge our relationships and our communities. You can start by supporting the Trans Resistance March and Vigil in Boston on June 12th!