New York City held its inaugural Pride March in 1970 and has had a parade every year since. However—for the first time in its history—the in-person parade is canceled due to the Coronavirus pandemic, but to continue celebrating the 50th anniversary of the first official parade, NYC Pride is going virtual. On June 28, the city is hosting a socially-distanced parade to be broadcast online and on TV through New York’s local channel, ABC7. The parade has four “grand-marshalls”—including activist Yanzi Peng and Schitt’s Creek actor Dan Levy—as well as performances by Billy Porter and Janelle Monáe. In addition to the virtual parade, NYC is kicking off the main weekend’s celebration with a virtual Pride rally on June 26. The rally will be held on Facebook and YouTube and includes a salute to Coronavirus frontline workers and a protest against police brutality and discrimination.
The theme for NYC Pride’s celebration this year is “The future is…”, with supporters encouraged to share their hopes for the LGBTQ future on social media using the hashtag #TheFutureIs. Across social media, fans can also connect during virtual Pride events using the hashtags #NYCPride and #NYCPride2020. Fans can attend various virtual events, including the Human Rights Conference on June 25 and virtual LGBTQ workshops and conversations happening online throughout the month of June. All of NYC Pride’s events are free, but attendees are encouraged to RSVP beforehand. The company is working with GLAAD, the LBGTQ media-monitoring organization, and social justice non-profit The National LGBTQ Task Force, to organize all of the Pride Month events. By working with a number of celebrities and organizations, NYC Pride could capitalize on increased engagement with their fanbases and reinforce its pride-focused messaging across social and digital media, according to a Gartner report.
NYC Pride is not letting a pandemic get in the way of celebrating Pride month. By moving its parade online, the brand could further focus on spreading its educational and activism-minded messaging, potentially engaging with more fans from around the world than would be possible through a traditional, in-person parade.