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Coronavirus: Pride London Festival wraps 40th anniversary with virtual celebration instead of parade

The festival ran virtually from July 16th to 26th this year, and concluded with a Virtual Pride Community Celebration on Sunday.
The festival ran virtually from July 16th to 26th this year, and concluded with a Virtual Pride Community Celebration on Sunday. Stoughton Central School / Facebook

London, Ont., wrapped up 11 days of Pride celebrations on Sunday in spite of the novel coronavirus pandemic.

Pride London Festival took a virtual route this year to deliver its annual celebrations and events in order to keep participants safe from the risks of COVID-19.

The festival ran virtually from July 16 to July 26 this year and concluded with a Virtual Pride Community Celebration on Sunday.

Read more: 40th Pride London Festival launches virtually

“Over the last 40 years, Pride in London has offered us a chance to come together,” Andrew Rosser, the president of Pride London Festival, said during his opening remarks at the virtual event.

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“For some people, Pride is the only opportunity to be their authentic selves, and for many of us, Pride is the only opportunity we get to see our Pride family.”

The virtual event saw video clips of local artists and drag queens performing music and dance, and messages of support from community partners.

For the past 25 years towards the end of July, a Pride Parade would march through downtown London as a way to cap off another year of Pride celebrations.

Last year’s parade drew 25,000 people, painting downtown a sea of rainbow.

But this year’s parade was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, so Pride London Festival introduced its Virtual Pride Community Celebration as a way to celebrate virtually and safely.

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Read more: Black Lives Matter London cancels joint event with Pride London Festival

Londoners had the opportunity to enjoy and experience more than two dozen Pride events over the course of 11 days online.

Some of these events included favourites from previous years such as Drag Queen Storytime and bingo, and others were newer such as a virtual heels workshop.

“Having these [events] virtually, we were [able] to do more,” Rosser told 980 CFPL.
“We tend to forget that it’s great to have in-person events, but not everyone feels comfortable coming outside. People [may not] be able to physically get to spaces, or maybe they’d rather watch [an event] in the privacy of their own home.”
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Rosser adds he’d be happy to keep some things virtual in upcoming years once the pandemic passes to reach more people and ensure everyone is feeling comfortable.

Click to play video 'A unique approach to showing Pride' A unique approach to showing Pride
A unique approach to showing Pride