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South Side LGBTQ pride festival moves online amid COVID-19 concerns

The city’s South Side-based LGBTQ pride festival, which launched last year, will now be held online in a two-month-long campaign promoting the 2020 Census.

Chicago rap artist Roy Kinsey performing during the 2019 Pride South Side Festival.
Chicago rap artist Roy Kinsey performing during the 2019 Pride South Side Festival.
Screenshot

Organizers of Pride South Side are bringing Chicago’s first-ever South Side-based LGBTQ pride festival online this year amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The inaugural Pride South Side Festival in 2019 sought to create “sustainable spaces for queer youth of color on the South Side” with a series of events spanning five South Side neighborhoods, but organizers said they started pivoting to an online celebration for its second year when the COVID-19 pandemic hit the Chicago area.

Now, they’re launching an online hub for LGBTQ people of color to share artwork, as well as a two-month-long campaign encouraging LGBTQ South and West siders to complete the 2020 Census.

“In the time of social distancing, so many folks who already exist at the margins can be pushed even further into isolation, putting the mental health and well-being of our community into jeopardy,” said Dio Aldridge, director of program development for Pride South Side. “What our team set out to do is create a safe, affirming and entertaining online space that serves as a platform for black, queer or Latinx artists and content creators from the South and West sides of Chicago.”

Aldridge said this year’s campaign will focus on the same goals outlined at last year’s festival: to create space for LGBTQ people outside of the North Side, promote health and wellness and support their local economy.

In a video promoting Pride South Side’s campaign, participating artists explain how census participation can benefit LGBTQ South Siders.

“What the census hopes to provide is to get a sort of idea what your population is looking like, so you can better understand how to allocate resources,” one artist says.

Results from the 2020 Census will affect how federal funding is allocated each year.

Pride South Side has partnered with Chicago-based LGBTQ artists Vicki Street, DJ Doza the God, Roy Kinsey, Melli Domo and Kelsey Stone to provide Chicagoans with new artwork and resources every day from May 1 through June 30, which is the end of LGBTQ Pride Month.

The group, which now also partners with the 2020 Census and the Illinois Department of Human Services, hopes to reach at least 6,000 people through its online campaign and raise at least $100,000 in sales for local LGBTQ artists and the Brave Space Alliance, a South Side LGBTQ Center that’s launched a COVID-19 food delivery drive.

“It is nothing short of amazing how our team has come together and the artist community we’ve been able to cultivate for this project. We are hype and ready for what’s to come,” Aldridge said.

The announcement comes days after the city’s annual LGBTQ Pride Parade and festival were postponed until the fall due to the coronavirus outbreak.

Tim Frye, coordinator of the 2020 parade, said the event will either be rescheduled until the fall or return in 2021 and “for years to come.”

Boystown’s annual Pride Fest, held by the Northalsted Business Alliance, is now scheduled for Sept. 5 and 6 instead of June 20 and 21.