For the first time ever, Denver’s annual PrideFest will likely be virtual this year to help curb the spread of the coronavirus.
It wouldn’t be the first Pride celebration to go digital. LGBTQ celebrations are being canceled or postponed in major cities across the country, including Los Angeles, New York City, San Francisco and Seattle, and many metros are exploring or proceeding with plans in the virtual realm.
It’s “all but certain at this point that we will not be able to have an in-person Pride event this year,” said Rex Fuller, the CEO of the Center on Colfax, which organizes Denver’s June event. “However, we’re going to try and make as much lemonade out of lemons that we have.”
He made the announcement on Tuesday evening during a virtual town hall focused on the city’s COVID-19 strategy and its impact on the LGBTQ community. The meeting was organized by Denver City Council’s first out member, Councilwoman At Large Robin Kniech, and Mayor Michael Hancock.
Fuller said the Center’s decision, which will be formalized by early next week, isn’t an easy one to make, despite standing in unity with the hundreds of other Pride organizers across the country facing the same fate.
It’s the Center’s largest fundraiser and generates an estimated $25 million a year for the city.
During the call, Hancock said “one of the hardest calls” he’s ever had to make was to the St. Patrick’s Day parade organizers to cancel the parade.
“I know what the St. Patty’s Day parade means in the life of our city, just like I know what the Pride parade and the Pride weekend events mean to the life of this city,” he said.
Canceling or postponing events like these, he said, “disproportionately impacts” nonprofits.
“I just ask everybody who’s listening in to spread the word,” Hancock said on the virtual call, “that though we may not have Pride weekend events, do what you can to support the Center and all the other organizations that are beneficiaries of the organization. I think we can go a long way to make sure our nonprofits can survive this time as well.”
Fuller said the Center plans to announce updated festival plans as early as this week.
Then, he unveiled a key detail: “We’re working on a plan for a virtual parade.”