The 45th annual Denver PrideFest will now occur online from June 20 – 21, the same time the festival was initially scheduled to occur in person. Reasons for this change include the present (and likely future) limitations on large public gatherings in the city of Denver, and, according to a press release, the need to provide citizens “a safe way to celebrate the culture and heritage of the LGBTQ+ community” while COVID-19 sweeps through the region.
“We exhausted every option before making this decision, including postponing the event to later in the summer, which just wasn’t possible,” explained Rex Fuller, the CEO of The Center on Colfax, Colorado’s largest LGBTQ community center. “Although we will miss the energy of an in-person gathering, protecting the safety and health of the attendees, staff and volunteers who make PrideFest so special is paramount. Instead of just canceling Pride, which means so much to so many, we are working hard to create a variety of opportunities for our community to connect and celebrate virtually.”
The yearly festival in Denver typically draws 450,000 people to Civic Center Park (currently closed) and raises around $1 million for The Center on Colfax, which helps fund programs for LGBTQ youth and seniors, Colorado’s transgender community, and training and legal programs. Denver Pridefest also typically stimulates the local economy in an incredibly positive way, engendering around $25 million for the city.
This year’s online festival is hoping to raise for The Center on Colfax just a 10th of what it usually brings in, but organizers hope that the community will still show up in droves to support each other, albeit digitally. They also hope to offer virtual versions of many of the celebration’s usual features, including the below:
- Virtual parade: The Center will ask community businesses and organizations to enter fun-filled videos that will be live-streamed as a “parade” with live commentary.
- Virtual 5K: People will enter the 5K, run their race and submit their time independently. The Center will reward their efforts with a t-shirt and other prizes.
- Virtual entertainment: The Center is working to gather online entertainment from performers who were previously scheduled to perform live.
- Virtual dance party: DJs from various clubs around town will present a dance party via Twitch.
- Virtual Exhibitor Page: An online marketplace will allow the public to virtually browse a collection of exhibitors who will sell merchandise online.
- Pride Decorating Contest: The Center will encourage the public to decorate their houses or apartment balconies for pride and share their photos online.
- Pride Job Fair: Job seekers will be able to visit an online job board that will post jobs from LGBT-friendly employers.
When The Center on Colfax’s physical location was closed due to coronavirus in March, the organization created a COVID-19 Response Group on Facebook for the LGTBQ+ community to support each other through digital means. Denver Mayor Michael Hancock voiced the importance of this long-standing local institution.
“While we may not be able to host our traditional PrideFest events, I am urging the community to do what they can to support The Center and all the other organizations that benefit from The Center’s services. It’s crucial to do what we can to ensure that nonprofits can survive this time as well,” said Hancock.