How to Plan for Pride 2021

What will pride 2021 look like? It’s the question on the mind’s of many in the LGBTQ community and the sponsors that participate in the festivities. While nobody can give a definitive answer on the matter, this blog post will outline a few possible scenarios and how to best prepare for them.


Scenario 1: No Viable Vaccine Developed – Social Distancing Measures Remain in Place Through 2021


For most of us, this is the worst possible scenario for 2021. If scientists are unable to develop a safe and effective vaccine by Q1, many historic LGBTQ bars and queer spaces could end up shuttering for good and no pre-COVID style pride events will likely be held for the year. With such a scenario, the queer community will need to come together support one another.

How the Queer Community Can Respond:

Be sure to support one another emotionally. The community already suffers higher rates of mental health issues than the general population does and these conditions will likely worsen across the board as COVID restrictions drag out. We must show our authentic selves and speak out for change - not just in Pride month but the whole year.

How Potential Pride Sponsors Should Respond:

Consider donating to Pride organizations, no matter what the event, or lack thereof, looks like. Many of these organizations are on the brink of closing shop from not operating in 2020, and may not survive another year without revenue. Sponsorships can help ensure the pride event stays afloat and can distribute money to community resources that need them most. While sponsorships should always be about helping the community first, Pride events will likely be more prepared in 2021 for how to make corporate donors happy in the absence of physical events.

Scenario 2: A Vaccine Is Developed but Many Americans Refuse to Get It and the Virus Still Exists


Based on polling data, and projections from experts on vaccine development, I think this is the most likely scenario. Decisions about businesses reopening and large events taking place will likely be politically motivated and vary by jurisdiction and how the November election shakes out. It’s very likely in scenario 2, that many pride events in the summer and fall will take place, but not on the same scale as prior to COVID.

How the Queer Community Can Respond:

First and foremost, people will have to decide if they want to personally get vaccinated. Due to political beliefs, it’s likely vaccination rates will be high in the community. However, certainly not everyone will choose to go this route. While we may have disagreements with one another on this issue, don’t let it divide us. In this scenario, it’s also likely that some pride events decide to operate while others decide they still don’t feel comfortable operating. Many regular Pride goers will likely keep a close eye out and travel domestically to these places. DMO’s should keep a close eye on this.

How Potential Pride Sponsors Should Respond:

Do your research on different events and be aware of various offerings. Don’t just sponsor the same events you did in 2019, there may be tons of other markets for you to reach. COVID cases may also vary widely by state and even country, so consider if international pride events may work for you. Finally, be aware of where your money is going and who it’s going to support. There may be more opportunities than ever to help out with health related matters that are so important during this time. Try donating directly to these organizations or work with Pride organizations to find ways to make your community support matter to you.

Scenario 3: A Vaccine is Developed in the near Future and Made Widely Available by the Beginning of 2021


Obviously this is the scenario that we are hoping for. Besides for many saved lives, early news of an effective vaccine will likely yield confidence in the economy and funnel more money into Pride.

How the Queer Community Can Respond:

Brands will be reaching out to the community in huge numbers. Many of them missed out on their community outreach in 2020, and have money saved for this audience. On the back of the BLM movement, it’s very likely many pride events will want to incorporate some of these ideals in their pride events. If not, reach out to your local pride organization and ask how they are supporting racial equality.

How Potential Pride Sponsors Should Respond:

The market for pride sponsorship was super saturated pre-COVID19. And pride events got lots of slack for being ‘corporate sellouts’. While I tend to disagree with the notion that corporate sponsorship is a bad thing for these events, I understand where people are coming from. Definitely use your sponsorship as a way to reach the LGBTQ community and tell them why you support them. BUT also use it as a method to promote social change that you believe in. This will help you stick out from the crowded field of sponsors.

Here’s the Bottom Line

Despite claims to the contrary, right now, nobody actually knows which one of these scenarios will play out, or if any of them will be accurate. So here’s what I would recommend. Be prepared for all scenarios. Be prepared for heightened tensions in America. Be prepared to have discussions about LGBTQ rights and the importance of their voice. Fight for what you believe is right, and don’t let the craziness of 2020 or COVID-19 concerns get in the way of finding a way to support the community.

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Steven Cortese
Written by Steven Cortese
Geography buff, Big Brother fanatic, unofficial world record holder for the fastest human crab walk.

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