It’s been half a century since the modern LGBTQ rights movement was born, so this year brings the need for a particularly special celebration. The global pandemic has decided otherwise, and this pride month will definitely stay in our memories as an extraordinary one, whether for positive or negative reasons.
An Increasing Vulnerability
It is indeed a crucial moment for the community, as this pandemic enhances the already existing vulnerability of LGBTQ individuals because of mediocre access to health care, difficult access to livelihood, youth isolation at home in hostile environments, not having access to safe spaces or supportive community, etc. According to the United Nations’ report focusing on COVID-19 and the Human Rights of LGBTQ people, “there are reports of police using COVID-19 directives to attack and target LGBTQ organizations. In at least one country, the State of Emergency has been used to propose a decree that would prevent transgender people from legally changing their gender in identity documents. A few countries have put in place restriction of movement based on sex, with women and men allowed to leave their homes on alternate days, which have put non-binary and trans people at risk of heightened discrimination, as they may get stopped and questioned”.
The Scapegoats of the Pandemic
LGBTQ people have previously been blamed for disasters, both manmade and natural, and there are many examples of this happening in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic. It takes the shape of finger-pointing, enhanced stigmatization, discrimination, hate speech, and attacks on the LGBTQ community. For example, Iraqi political leader Muqtada al-Sadr posted on his Twitter account: “One of the most appalling things that have caused this epidemic is the legalization of same-sex marriage”.
What about Pride?
More than ever, LGBTQ people have to be loud and proud! Hundred of prides are being canceled or postponed around the world. This consequence of Covid-19 is truly tragic for all those who see in pride a moment for visibility, advocacy, fundraising, a safe place where they feel valued, and loved for who they are. But as we know, queerness is not something that can stay silent for long. The community is now surpassing itself and shows creativity on the organization of alternative initiatives like “make your own pride banner” where people are encouraged to make signs to be displayed outside of homes which locals can then see from their cars or on foot. The internet makes possible the creation of zoom parties, virtual raising of rainbow flags, virtual events featuring celebrities, music, performances or even videos of LGBTQ people and allies celebrating Pride in their homes. On June 27th will also happen the 24-hour online Global Pride. The virtualization of the prides can also be a way to bring pride to regions that are hostile to the existence of LGBTQ people, such as Poland, or Subsaharan Africa and the Middle East where it is mostly illegal to organize this kind of event.
Internet, a breeding ground for Hate Speech
As we saw it with hate speech on tweeter, the internet isn’t immune to homophobia, and transphobia. We can, therefore, have some concerns about organizing pride online. Most of the events are or will be in video format, with a chat box or comment system that allows participants to send messages or photos.
Unfortunately, that opens the door to potential haters. A trend of “Zoombombing” have appeared during the pandemic, where unwanted homophobic and transphobic people crash an online event to harass participants with hate speech. Online pride organizers are trying to prepare for that possibility and have people from the community moderating those comments, to make these events as safe as possible.
Facing this unexpected challenge, the strong as ever queer spirit of the LGBTQ community has united to say: we are here, we are queer, and the magic of pride will live on!
Aritcle written by Maëlle Julou, USB.