For second year, Pride London Festival goes virtual due to COVID-19 pandemic - London |

Rainbow and transgender flags waving in a close-up abstract view during a gay pride parade. Global News
The 2021 edition of Pride London Festival is here, and for the second year in a row, the festival is being held virtually as a result of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
The digital festival, which runs until July 25, officially begins at 5 p.m. Thursday with a virtual launch streamed on Facebook, Instagram and Mixcloud, featuring a lineup of local performers. The event will also be available on demand on Pride London’s streaming website Pride London Network.
“We have some amazing performances from Kate Channer Band, after midnight Robbie Antone, alongside some performances and special guest appearances,” said Stephen D’Amelio, Pride London Festival’s president, in an interview.
D’Amelio was named president of Pride London Festival in November, the first Black person to hold the position. The organization also named a new vice-president, Amanda Pearson, who became first transgender person to serve in the role.
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Read more: Dec. 16, 2020: New leadership of Pride London Festival has big plans for 2021
D’Amelio said he was looking forward to two events in particular: Noir Experience, in partnership with the Black Gay Men’s Network of Ontario, and a town hall to discuss Pride’s past and where it’s looking to go in the future. Both events take place July 24.
He adds that familiar events, such as Drag Queen Story Time, the Sunday church service with Trinity United Church, and the Kabbalat Shabbat, in partnership with Jewish London and Rabbi Grushcow, will also be taking place online.
“It’s continuing to do the important work, but at the same time continuing to ensure that we’re respecting the guidelines and restrictions that have been put in place.”
A list of programming for the 10-day virtual festival has been posted to the Pride London Network streaming website.
Among the most notable differences this year will be the inclusion of London police in the virtual celebration.
Read more: Pride London welcoming London police to celebration for first time since 2017
In 2018, uniformed officers were disallowed from taking part in Pride, in a bid, Pride officials said at the time, to make members of the Indigenous community and people of colour feel more at ease at the parade.
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“We heard loud and clear… that when they come to Pride and see such a large presence of police in uniform, it’s a deterrent, and we’re finding people aren’t coming because of that,” former Pride London Festival president Andrew Rosser told 980 CFPL in 2018.
Pride London officials announced earlier this year that police were being welcomed back “as requested by both our membership and some of our most engaged community members.”
D’Amelio said engaging with membership and members of the community about the issue had given them “an eye opening experience to have discussions that are a bit more raw and honest with the police.”
“We want to continue to have these conversations and they’re open to having them. We’re not entirely sure how that looks, to be honest, but we’re open to having those panel discussions, having one-on-one conversations,” he said.
“We do know that there needs to be more representation coming to the table.”
This year’s Pride London Festival will end with a virtual parade and awards ceremony on July 25. More information on this year’s festival can be found on the Pride London Festival website.
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Published:Jul 19, 2021 at 12:34 AM