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Editor’s note: This story was updated on Sept. 4 to reflect additional cancellations in Greensboro, Asheville and Winston-Salem.
Most people around the globe agree the COVID-19 pandemic pretty much cancelled all of 2020. In Charlotte, the city’s annual Pride events were cancelled, resulting in a loss of an estimated $3 million in revenue for the city of Charlotte, as well as hundreds of thousands of tax dollars.
This year, Pride organizers are moving forward with plans for the annual celebration, although all events have been pushed back to a later date. As of August 23, all Charlotte Pride events originally scheduled for late August and continuing through September 18 have been postponed until October, 2021.
Because of the Delta variant and increased rates of COVID-19 infections, Charlotte Pride will require all attendees at October’s indoor events to wear a mask and bring proof of a full COVID-19 vaccine. No unvaccinated individuals may participate.
As of now, the most immediate schedule changes can be found in the festival and concert.
Originally envisioned as two separate events on differing days, the festival and concert have been combined into a single day.
The updated schedule for Charlotte Pride 2021 is as follows:
Charlotte Pride Drag Pageant
• Originally scheduled for Saturday, August 28
• Postponed and rescheduled as a portion of the October 16 concert and festival
Charlotte Pride Interfaith Celebration
• Originally scheduled for Sunday, September 12
• Postponed until Sunday, October 17, 4:00 p.m.
• St. Luke Missionary Baptist Church, 1600 Norris Ave.
Charlotte Pride Festival & Concert
• Originally scheduled for Friday, September 17 and Saturday, September 18
• Postponed until Saturday, October 16, 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
• AvidXchange Music Factory Festival Grounds, 819 Hamilton St.,
Charlotte Pride Parade
• Will proceed as originally scheduled on Tryon Street in Uptown Charlotte on Sunday, October 24
“We are hopeful this postponement will encourage all members of our community and our allies to take the initiative to get fully vaccinated and do their part to protect our community,” says Daniel Valdez, President of Charlotte Pride, “Higher vaccination rates, lower positivity rates and decreased community spread are essential for hosting our events at any point in 2021. We’re calling on every member of our community do their part — get vaccinated, wear masks, get tested.”
Matt Comer, Communications Director of Charlotte Pride, confirms the organization is looking for ways to live stream larger events so that those with disabilities, as well as those who deem it unsafe to participate in events with sizable crowds, can still participate in the annual festivities.
In order to keep all in-person attendees safe, any one of Charlotte Pride events may be subject to possible changes.
“There are a lot of really great lessons learned last year and this year [about ways] we can make our activities more accessible to a wide array of people,” says Comer, “Everybody in the community is ready to see an end to the pandemic and see a return of the traditional celebrations, like the two-day street festival and parade that we have become accustomed to.”
Across the United States, the Delta variant of COVID-19 began sweeping through the nation in late June 2021, causing restaurants, night clubs, concert halls and schools to shut down anew. What is now being referred to as the “fourth wave” of the continuing pandemic has resulted in cancellations and delays everywhere.
InterPride, a collaborative international association of LGBTQ festivals, is asking that all members update their calendars on InterPride’s site. Their poll asks whether the festivities will be in-person or virtual and if they will be cancelled entirely for the year or postponed for a later date.
Looking at other North Carolina cities, the board of Alternative Resources of the Triad (ART), the 501(c)3 nonprofit that produces Greensboro Pride, announced the decision to cancel their 2021 festival due to an increase in COVID-19 Delta Variant cases in the Triad area.
There are other festival cancellations, among them, Hendersonville Pride, Winston-Salem Pride and Eastern North Carolina Pride.
Blue Ridge Pride, which was expected to take place in Asheville on September 25, announced its cancellation on August 31. In a press statement, the organization’s leadership team said that “a Pride festival, under current conditions, runs counter to the event’s core mission.”
Pride Durham’s celebration is scheduled for September 25, as well. Their official lineup has yet to be announced, but the locations include Duke East Campus, Durham Central Park and Suite Four. They, like many other organizers, ask potential participants to get vaccinated and wear masks during all Pride-related events.
In South Carolina, Columbia’s Famously Hot South Carolina Pride Parade and Festival will take place Friday, October 22 and Saturday, October 23, with a parade, concerts and other events. Upstate Pride, located in the Greenville-Spartanburg area, currently remains on the books for a week-long series of events kicking off October 24 and continuing through October 31. Both the parade and festival are listed as October 30 events.
Atlanta Pride, the largest Pride event in Georgia and the southeast, announced August 25 they will be canceling all events for the second year in a row because of the rising COVID-19 infection rates.
In Miami, the pride festival and related events continue to be advertised for September 10–19 and promise performances from Walk the Moon and Paulina Rubio. With several vendors signed up and multiple VIP tickets sold, Miami Beach Pride has events priced as high as $2,000.
The Miss Miami Beach Pride Pageant at Faena Hotel and a few of the late-night celebrations involve restaurants and bars; something the Delta variant may make impossible by early September.
Another popular Florida tourist destination, Pride Fort Lauderdale, has a history of being nearly as popular as Miami Beach Pride. Unlike Miami, Lauderdale has postponed their festivities until November 20–21.
Austin, Texas is another place where practically everything Pride-related has come to a standstill. Says Micha Andress, President of Austin Pride, “Pride organizations across the nation are suffering the same heavy blows. But we are determined to stand strong. You are too important. Pride is too important, to allow ourselves to be defeated. If we come together as a community, we can find a way to thrive.” Austin has announced all events as postponed, but no new dates have yet to be confirmed.
Pride Houston is cancelled for 2021. The organization has confirmed that all large events will not return until 2022. Instead, Pride Houston will be hosting a block party October 2, with a maximum of 5,000 participants.
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