Of the many tragedies and disappointments of 2020, the cancellation of Pride events isn’t at the top of the "terrible things" list... but it’s still an enormous bummer, especially for newly out young people who may have been looking forward to celebrating LGBTQ people for the first time.
Even though Pride has been sanitized and co-opted by capitalism over the years, there's still a lot to love about a month devoted to queerness, visibility, community, joy, and our shared history. We're incredibly sad to not get to be out out this month: In Rachel's case, to host the party she'd been planning pretty much since the camp-themed one she and her girlfriend threw last year ended. Or, in Amy Rose's case, to get spur-of-the-moment enga(y)ged to a sweaty stranger in a queer bar while wearing regrettable rainbow tube socks. (In whatever sense makes sense to you: We feel that if you're going to do Pride, DO PRIDE.)
As the saying that we just made up goes, gay finds a way. The fact that we can’t safely celebrate together in person doesn’t mean we can’t celebrate at all. We’d argue that it’s even more important to find ways to party, be visible, and (virtually) spend time with your people at a moment when marginalized people are at particularly high risk and when folks are feeling especially isolated and lonely.
Here are some ideas to help make your June feel exuberantly, decidedly, defiantly queer, no matter what.
1. If you’ve celebrated before, think about your favorite aspects of Prides past, and find a way to recreate them this month. (If you've never been, look up photos here and here for inspiration.) Do you have really fond memories of dance parties? Plan to do it up at Club Quarantine. Is there a particularly special brunch that stands out in your mind? Invite the same group of pals to feast on pancakes and mimosas on FaceTime this month. Were you moved by an art exhibit? Look at more of that artist’s work, or create your own in-home gallery with your own pieces inspired by theirs.
2. Set a theme or intention—or even just choose a color palette—for your at-home Pride celebrations. Some free ideas to get you started: space, nature, history, protest, nostalgia, Black Queers Matter, queer icons, music, sports, superheroes. Not only will having some parameters make planning activities and events easier, but also… themes are campy and good!!! (If you aren't convinced we believe in this concept with all of our queer hearts: Please see the earlier point, where Rachel created a gay summer camp with her girlfriend and LGBTQ loved ones at her apartment. They made pronoun koozies.)
3. Create a Pride playlist (or just follow someone else’s), and blast it liberally (while respecting your housemates/neighbors, of course). Some suggestions: Orville Peck, Shamir, Young MA, Elton John, t.A. T.u., Hayley Kiyoko, Ricky Martin, Arca, Johnny Mathis, Kim Petras, Rufus Wainwright, Christine and the Queens, Le1f, Big Freedia, Antony, Mykki Blanco. Arthur Russell and Syd. And: If you need someplace to get started, here's a mix that is six and a half hours long.
4. Make Pride posters using whatever supplies you have around—markers, paint, glitter, deconstructed paper bags or cardboard boxes… anything, really! Hang them in your windows, or just decorate the walls of your room with them.
5. Make Pride friendship bracelets—out of embroidery floss, or beaded with letter beads. Adorn your arms and/or mail them to your queer friends. (You can do this via a regular envelope with extra stamps so you can avoid the post office.)
6. Make your own 2020 Pride Bingo board with spots for everything from “thirst trap” to “unexpected celeb comes out” to “cute queer couple.” Put it on IG or text it to your friends, and mark things off as you see them IRL or online.
7. Start dressin’. Whatever that means to you! To Amy Rose, it means "young British boarding-school guy on the cusp of expulsion," "greaseball New Jersey uncle," and "Madonna is having a problem today." Sometimes all at once! To Rachel, it means rose gold hair, cute swimsuits in non-beach situations, neckerchiefs, and all-pastel 'fits. Go a little butch, wear an outrageous print, put on a wig, get into gentle or extreme drag. Or just slick your hair back. There you go; you're looking good.
8. Host a long-distance art/DIY session for your queer pals on Zoom or FaceTime; use the time to glue sequins to a cloth mask, make your own Pride T-shirt, or paint your nails.
9. Carly Rae Jepsen—that's it, that's the whole suggestion!
10. Send a letter to a queer person who has meant a lot to you—a hometown hero, a celebrity, an activist, whomever—because everyone should know how much they mean to other people, especially those who are really, personally meaningful to you.
11. Mail postcards or homemade greeting cards to your queer friends. Rachel is a fan of these lesbian pulp novel postcards; if that’s not your cup of tea, consider the many other options, or design your own.
12. Speaking of lesbian pulp novels, this is a great time to read one. (Bonus: start a queer book club and read one with pals.) Amy Rose's favorite, Beebo Brinker, was published by the writer Ann Weldy under a pseudonym in 1962 and is… adequately racy!! Maybe start there; God knows a lot of other people did!
13. Write a memo—in the voice of a traditional family Christmas year in review letter—with all the queer highlights/updates on your life since Pride 2019. (Like this: “What a year it’s been! I hooked up with a butch dyke in a McDonald’s bathroom, saw Juliana Huxtable DJ, and came out to my work friends... From my gay-ass home to yours, I'm wishing you a peaceful and bright queer season!”) Send copies out, or keep it for yourself.
14. Related: Take a Pride 2020 “holiday card” photo with your housemates, partner, family, or pet. Tag us in it when you do.
15. Write your queer autobiography. Look through old photo albums and diaries and maybe talk to relatives who have known you since childhood, and put together a timeline of Great Queer Moments in Your Beautiful Queer Life.
16. Assemble your personal queer canon: the most influential books, poems, song lyrics, movies and TV shows, and Tumblr posts over the course of your life. If you’re feeling generous, pass it onto a younger queer now (or some day in the future).
17. Host a Pride-themed PowerPoint party with friends: Invite everyone to put together a presentation on whatever queer topic they feel most passionate about. Or, make it more personal—have everyone give a toast to their queer hero, or tell a defining story from their own life.
19. Learn something new about one of your queer relatives—the cousin, aunt or uncle, sibling, parent, etc. who you have a little bit of extra shared history with.
20. Support queer art; if you have room in your budget, buy a T-shirt, print, or something else from a queer artist whose work you love. If you can’t do that now, make a point to follow 10 new-to-you queer artists this month.
21. If possible, show a little love to the queer bars and restaurants and entertainers you’d normally be patronizing during Pride. Buy merch, order to-go drinks, attend an online event—whatever you can do to keep them, and the people who depend on them, going, do that. If you're not able to give money, you can write them a fan letter or RT their initiatives, donation accounts, and virtual events.
22. Have a queer movie marathon, and make a point to watch some classics that you’ve never seen before. Amy Rose's world was wholly combusted—in the best sense—when she saw the documentary The Ballad of Genesis and Lady Jaye , for example. Maybe try that! Meanwhile, Rachel is gearing up to rewatch Brokeback Mountain for the first time in 15 years (and with fresh, gay eyes).
23. Discover a new-to-you queer author and devote some time to reading their work, interviews they’ve given, etc. Amy Rose suggests the beautiful catalogues of Hilton Als (start with his book White Girls), Wayne Koestenbaum (My 1980s is a master-fucking-work of an essay collection), and Robyn Selman (her poem "Exodus" floods ARS out, crying-wise, every time she reads it, because it is an exact replica of how she felt about moving away from home and coming out to a new city as a young person, and it's also really tuff and cool and funny).
24. Make a zine—this guide from VICE's Sarah Luby Burke is a fantastic primer.
25. Host a queer-themed trivia night. Give the winner a silly little gift, or, at the very least, a fancy title that they will need to defend next year.
26. If you’re an Animal Crossing: New Horizons fan, bring Pride to your island. Rachel has been working on her gay beach since early May, and so is stoked to let you know that there are a lot of codes for custom Pride-ish clothes—and other great ideas—on Reddit!
27. Share queer "firsts" with friends over Zoom: When was the first time you had an encounter that showed you being queer was incredible? Whom do you consider your first queer community, and what were the people in it like? What was the first work of art that felt truly resonant to your queerness, and what about it felt so affecting?
28. Spend time reading about current leading organizations supporting trans communities and see how you can promote and otherwise float resources to their causes: The Trans Mirror Beauty Co-Op and Body Hack are two great places to start. Does your neighborhood—do your neighbors—have ways you can look into in terms of showing up locally to where you are, too?
29. Replicate the Pride-specific activity of dancing until you're sweating and screaming in your bedroom, either by means of the playlist you made above, or just listening to a whole shit ton of the Village People. (Also, if you go the latter route: Try your best to cobble together a look from your closet to dress like a Village Person. You do have a funky little leather hat somewhere, right? [No, but do your best!])
30. Sext with a hot queer—today, as every day!
31. Try out drag! Newcoming kings, queens, and other members of the monarchy are all invited to try this. Invent what that look, feeling, and creation mean to you, and for you.
32. Call a queer elder of your acquaintance on the phone and ask them about their most memorable Prides: What felt most politically significant? What friends did they make? Did anything truly wild happen? Where did they go, what did they see, what was the soundtrack?
33. Put a hot photo of yourself dressed gorgeously/in drag/as a Village Person/however you want to look on Instagram, just to give the people a little glamor, and invite people to share their looks with you, too.
34. Remember Larry Kramer.
35. Get into FUNNY queer art. Dykes to Watch Out For, Julio Torres, Trixie Mattel, Jaboukie Young-White, Peter Smith, camp of all stripes! The specific humor that is a gift shared among LGBTQ people is something to take tremendous pleasure in.
36. Make a list of what you want your queer future to look like: How do you want to show up for other LGBTQ people? What kind of work do you want to put into the world in communication and collaboration with other queers? Also, importantly: Who do you want to fuck?
37. Make your own cocktail or sparkling non-alcoholic beverage named after a queer forebear who means the world to you. Like, if Amy Rose's were called "The Karla Jay-perol Spritz" (OOF), she would obviously mix-ologistically make a lavender-infused Aperol spritz, for the Lavender Menace—for a person and organization she owes so much to in terms of her own freedom and identity, and also who were really cool and funny as much as they were brave. Try to make yours less terrible-sounding than that portmanteau, though. (ARS is now also remembering that her queer friend group had a signature drink in college called "The Gloria Anzaldúa" and it was Everclear and Gatorade?????? Like we were queer girl and enby frat brothers??? YOU CAN DO BETTER THAN THIS. Read Gloria Anzaldúa's work, though.)
38. Tell your cat she's gay.
39. Consider how your feelings about your queerness have changed over the years, and write in a diary or doc about why you think those changes took place, and where you'd like to go next. Our queerness has shifted over time quite a lot, and since one of the gorgeous things about that identity IS that metamorphosing: Amy Rose sometimes likes to sit and try to pin it a bit, at least to say, This happened at this point; this happened next.
In doing this—in doing any and all of this—we hope you'll see that there's so much more than can happen in the future, too. That this quieter Pride is just one part of your own queer history, which is ongoing; which is already complete; which has so much more to offer you, and you to it.
40. Do something that you consider queer every single day. Wear a pin representing your elder or current role models, dance to Perfume Genius, write a poem like "Exodus"—or like whatever you want, sip your Karla Jay-perol Spritz (it’s canon now, sorry), gaze at the moon, defy the gender binary in one small way, tell your fellow queers how much they mean to you. Whatever meaning you find in queerness, it means a lot to us, too.