The BDN is making the most crucial coverage of the coronavirus pandemic and its economic impact in Maine free for all readers. Click here for all coronavirus stories. You can join others committed to safeguarding this vital public service by purchasing a subscription or donating directly to the newsroom.
BANGOR, Maine — Bangor Pride will go virtual this year, complete with a live streamed Pride Parade. But with contributions to the virtual parade from community members statewide, this year’s event has become Pride Across Maine.
Typically, individual communities plan their own events for Pride month. Realizing the usual in-person celebrations couldn’t happen the same this year with the coronavirus pandemic, organizers from around the state created a new kind of Pride celebration.
“This is different than anything we’ve ever done before,” said organizer Sarah Haas of the Health Equity Alliance.
[image id=”2983122″ size=”full” pos=”center” /]
“We were devastated when COVID-19 began pulling our community apart. Cancellations of support groups, social events and fundraising dinners affected all corners of the state, and made folx feel isolated from their community,” Pride Across Maine announced via Facebook.
“When it became clear that pride celebrations would not be able to be held this year, organizers began looking for another solution. Pride Across Maine is what came out of our meetings, a way for us all to reconnect and show our pride while still keeping our community safe and healthy.”
For Haas, part of the fun of the Pride Parade is getting to see people from the LGBTQ community dressed up and celebrating with their loved ones — which they can still do, just in a different fashion.
“We want to see everybody,” Haas said.
Even though gathering in person is not possible, people can livestream the parade at home and share how they’re celebrating Pride in their own ways by submitting a pre-recorded video by June 20 to be played during the event.
The virtual parade is expected to begin at noon on June 28, and can be streamed on Coast 93.1.
[image id=”2983121″ size=”full” pos=”center” /]
This year’s Pride Month comes not only during a global pandemic, but also as protests over the death of George Floyd rock the nation.
Floyd, a black man, died May 25 after a Minneapolis police officer kneeled on his neck for more than 8 minutes. His death has since become a rallying cry across the United States against police brutality of black Americans.
The alliance had initially postponed its Pride events back in March, but after joining with other statewide organizers to create Pride Across Maine, it wanted to find a way to give the LGBTQ community — especially Queer People of Color who are a part of both communities — a chance to remember their own history, while also offering space for them to mourn Floyd’s death.
Like the protests happening around the country now, queer and transgender people of color were also involved in the fight for gay rights, Haas said, referencing the Stonewall Riots in 1969 that led to the liberation of the LGBTQ community — events that remain an important part of their history.
Still, communities can decide for themselves how they want to advertise Pride, and can use their social media platforms to advocate for the Black Lives Matter protests during this time instead, Haas said.
In addition to the virtual parade, Pride Across Maine is planning to kick off a Pride Passport activity, which is tentatively planned for the entire month of August.
The passport will mark significant places in Maine for LGBTQ people to visit, such as the Bangor memorial for Charlie Howard, a 23-year-old gay man who was killed in 1984.
People can follow the Pride Across Maine Facebook page for more updates about the events, or visit prideacrossmaine.org.
Watch: Bangor still remembers Charlie Howard