On the 51st anniversary of the Stonewall uprising, Pride parades have been cancelled worldwide due to coronavirus restrictions
In the early hours of June 28, 1969, a police raid at Greenwich Village’s Stonewall Inn turned into the vital, era-defining demonstration for LGBTQ+ rights that is still celebrated across the world. This year, however, coronavirus restrictions have led to the cancellation of around 500 Pride parades worldwide (as well as threatening to shutter the Stonewall Inn itself, which has established a fundraising campaign to deal with the impact of the pandemic).
Over thirty demonstrators in Russia have also been arrested this weekend for one-person protests in Moscow, against the arrest of LGBT activist Yulia Tsvetkova for her alleged dissemination of “propaganda” and “pornography”.
While these arrests haven’t been explicitly linked to either lockdown rules or previously-enforced “gay propaganda laws” – police have declined to comment on the detentions, according to The Guardian – they serve as yet another restriction on Pride celebrations in the country this year.
As a result, the non-profit organisation All Out, which focuses on advocacy for LGBTQ+ rights, has launched a new online tool to try and counter the inability of many activists and supporters to gather in person today.
Called “Tag your Pride”, the tool allows users to plant a virtual rainbow flag in the Russian city of St Petersburg, along with detailing the country from which they’re showing their support.
“I see the geo-tagging action as a way to show support and solidarity, and to see it at the same time,” Svetlana Zakharova, an activist and board member of the Russian LGBT Network, tells Dazed. “In countries like Russia, (LGBT) people often feel lonely. And I think that the wave of solidarity can help people to understand that there are many people around who believe in equal rights for everyone.”
“We wanted to remind people that they are not alone,” adds Stana Iliev, Campaigns Manager for All Out. “That there is a community out there that loves them and will fight for them.”
Since the project launched June 28, it has seen flags planted by over 3000 participants, from a reported 93 different countries. “I think many people are very eager to help,” adds Iliev.
Besides the geo-tagging action, All Out will host an online panel on “the fight for love and equality in Russia” this evening (5pm UK time), as part of its ongoing #UnDistanced Festival. The organisation is also running a COVID-19 emergency response fund, and maintains a petition platform to support individual activism and campaigning.
“Being able to focus international attention on national or local policymakers – where international diplomacy is reluctant to step in – is a huge advantage,” says Iliev, on the power of the internet, which is especially relevant now, as many people are still social distancing or remain in various stages of lockdown due to the pandemic.
As Svetlana Zakharova adds: “During the pandemic it is important to take care of people next to us and ourselves. Community and sense of belonging is a beautiful thing.”
“And even though there are many things that cannot be done online, there are numerous ways to support the global LGBT+ community online: to speak up publicly, to participate in discussions, to listen and to learn, to donate and volunteer.”
View the “Tag your Pride” map – and show support by adding your own tag – here.