Despite COVID-19 pandemic, there's still lots to do during Halifax Pride
With many panels and performances moved online, festival is on now until July 26
Despite a global pandemic, the 33rd annual Halifax Pride Festival is moving forward this year with both in-person and online events.
The festival officially kicked on on Thursday with a flag-raising ceremony at Grand Parade. While the parade, which has drawn upwards of 150,000 people in years past, isn't happening this year, executive director Adam Reid said there are still a lot of ways people can get involved.
"We decided that we would move to some online activities, but we also really wanted to include a lot of in-person, outdoor, socially distant activities as well," Reid said.
"So we've been really working hard to follow public health guidelines, working with public health officials to create outdoor spaces where our community can still gather to celebrate and recognize Pride."
Over this weekend and next weekend, Reid said there will be a social site set up at the Garrison Grounds that will allow people to come together with hand sanitizer, free masks and music.
Our Flag Raising was a success as usual! Happy Pride, Halifax! We are excited to spend the next 11 days with you 🏳️🌈💜 <a href="https://t.co/YOS3OyKgvy">pic.twitter.com/YOS3OyKgvy</a>—@HalifaxPride
The noon-hour panel discussions and events normally held at the Bus Stop Theatre will be held online, along with other performances, Reid said. The panels can be viewed on Halifax Pride's website.
Reid said despite all of the changes, people have been understanding.
"Our queer community recognizes that Pride is much more than a parade. Pride is a protest, it is a community gathering. So while it's unfortunate the parade is not happening, it is just one small element of what we do at Pride," he said.
More events planned this year
Reid said Halifax Pride is hosting more events this year than in the past, including morning and evening meditation, a variety of outdoor yoga activities, aerobics, site hangouts, closed spaces and online activities.
"We're definitely taking a cue from QTBIPOC (Queer, trans, Black, Indigenous and people of colour) community in those discussions, doing some reflecting, thinking about how we can take action and we'll see that throughout the programming of this year's festival," he said.
One of the focuses for Pride this year is to call for an end to systemic racism and police violence. Reid said the anti-racism activist group GameChangers902 are the 2020 Pride ambassadors.
"They are an incredible force who are using their platform, their voice to call for society change and improvement. We are honoured to lift up those voices and shine a spotlight on them," Reid said.