In countless cities around the world, June is normally marked by festivals and parades that celebrate the LGBTQ+ community. This year, however, things look a little different. To see how meeting professionals are celebrating Pride month, we checked in with Derrick Johnson, secretary/treasurer of the LGBT Meeting Professionals Association (LGBT MPA).
When asked about the obvious challenges facing those wishing to celebrate Pride this year, Johnson began by saying, “Our community celebrates Pride 365 days a year.”
Although traditional parades have been cancelled, many cities around the globe will join a Virtual Global Pride on June 27 instead. San Francisco usually hosts one of the biggest Pride parades in the world, and this year, on what would have been the parade’s 50th anniversary, the city was expecting upwards of a million attendees. The shift to a virtual Pride will offer planners interesting insight into engagement and attendance levels at virtual events.
More: This is what Pride month looked like last year.
From Riots to Rights
In light of BLM protests that continue to sweep the country, Johnson reminds us that “the first Pride parade was a riot, and in the wake of the BLM movement, it’s been important for the LGBTQ+ community to stand with, and support, the marginalized to help shape an accepting and inclusive world.”
Johnson continues: “As a black gay man, one of my personal goals is to help cultivate the relationship between the LGBTQ+ and black event community. We must strengthen all minority voices. It’s vital for organizational leadership to be diverse and be inclusive of all people.”
So, June is still a month of opportunity for the advancement of LGBTQ+ rights. This week’s landmark Supreme Court ruling protecting sexual orientation and gender identity under the Civil Rights Act is an example of the opportunities that still exist for advancement of minority rights and the intersectionality of black and LGBTQ+ lives under the Civil Rights Act.
“The meetings and events industry,” Johnson says, “has the power to drive social and economic transformation within communities, and it’s time to leverage that for the good of humanity.”
As Pride planners are busy making this month’s celebrations virtual, LGBT MPA is launching a new digital strategy to increase member engagement and provide its partners with a platform to disseminate relevant and timely information.
One such aspect of this platform is a new podcast series, SPIN. An upcoming SPIN episode, “Have a Little Pride…Or Not,” was designed to showcase the importance of Pride events to global communities and simultaneously serve as a how-to for canceling and then reimaging large-scale events. In a conversation with the Copenhagen pride committee, LGBT MPA will discuss how events as large and elaborate as a Pride parade will go virtual, especially considering the importance Pride events play in revitalizing support for the LGBTQ+ community every year.
Within the meetings industry, LGBT MPA acts as a locus of sorts for LGBT meeting professionals. Founded just a few years ago, the association has grown tremendously during its short existence. Nonetheless, as Johnson notes, “We still have a long way to enhance the industry impact and influence we’d like to have.”
While this month will be sadly lacking in the glittery, extravagant events that have the ability to bring people together, the real importance of Pride month is more pertinent than ever. From widespread LGBTQ+ support of BLM to the Supreme Court ruling, June 2020 has already been a month full of action—which is, after all, what Pride month, and the meetings industry, are all about.