Raise Your Digital Rainbow Flag

Author: Claire Underhill

It’s been just over eight weeks since our introduction to the coronavirus (COVID-19) in Saskatchewan, and communities around the world have been greatly impacted. From lost jobs to emotional distress, our lives will forever be changed by this nasty global virus. Among other communities, the 2SLGBTQ+ community has also felt the epic constraint—leaving many Pride organizations with the unfortunate decision to postpone or even cancel their Pride festivals this year. I wanted to reach out to some of our community members to get their thoughts on how we plan to transition into the new concept of a digital/virtual pride festival—and, how we can keep engagement alive. After all, this is what it’s all about, right?

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Jeff C says we should use this opportunity to use our time wisely.

I reached out to Jeff C., a fellow event planner in Saskatoon, and he believes that “moving to a digital/virtual stylized Pride [may] possibly [be] our only option for 2020. I feel very sad for our 2SLGBTQ+ communities that gathering is not an option as Pride, for me, is about everyone coming together.” And it’s true—our community was built on coming together and forging ahead through difficult times. I mean, many political, religious and bigoted folks have tried to stop our festivals—who knew it would be Mother Nature themselves who would bring us to a halt… but only in a physical sense. We’re resilient, after all.

As much as we may cringe at the thought of not having the plethora of parties, events, and gatherings for Pride as we normally do, can’t we all agree that given our circumstances in this day and age, we have a need to gather digitally? Jeff C. suggests that we should not only attempt to host an online drag bingo of sorts, which I am totally ‘game’ for, but, we should also take this opportunity to use our time wisely. “Choose to use this time to come out a better person. Start to learn a language {which I’ve heard he’s learning to speak Spanish for his partner}, take a course, learn a new hobby, get into reading, [or even try] yoga.” Namaste.

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Natayla M: “these challenges are opportunities for the community to shine.”

Natalya M. really brought it home when she said “queers have always found really inspiring ways to overcome adversity, [and] these challenges are opportunities for the community to shine”. I love that. Engagement is a hot topic these days, and Natalya mentioned that OUTSaskatoon has been doing a superb job at staying active online.

This transition period for our community is so important, especially for those trying to navigate their way through the world, or find themselves in a safer environment long-term. Elijah G. commented on this “as knowing people that live in problematic households, that it becomes difficult to really be yourself in these situations” – and I couldn’t agree more. Physical events draw like-minded folk, which helps someone who would otherwise feel ‘out-of-place’, feel connected and be themselves. Although creating a safe physical space is unfortunately difficult to create in our current environment — we can create a digital space for those to feel connected in a virtual manner. As an event planner myself, I’ve been challenged in my work life and personal life on how to achieve memorable events through a digital world. It’s tough! And not easy! But, when I asked Elijah G. what he felt would be a viable option for connecting with our community members, he suggested a “virtual event for pride [showcasing] our amazing local queer musicians” – umm… yes, I’m in!

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Elijah suggests a virtual showcase for queer musicians.

With 320 million people (and its rising everyday) online now, it’s blatantly obvious how important online engagement has become for our society. Our Saskatoon Pride organization has been busy working to achieve a wonderful pride-filled year through a virtual platform. We kicked off with “Let’s Get Digital”, a digital show for queer artists, and now coming up this week will be our second online event “Club Sassq – Queer Digital Dance Party” with DJ Zaddy Glitter. And although we can’t give away all our secrets, Saskatoon Pride is coming up with some epic strategies for creating an online Pride year for us all. So, let’s raise that rainbow flag, paint your face in all the beautiful colours you desire, or rock that frock you’ve been dying to put on – cause Pride in a “normal” sense may not be going forward, but what’s normal to us anyways? Good things are coming, folks. Stay tuned. We got your back!

So, stay connected. We’re all in this together.

Be Strong. Be Proud. Be You.