Pride Month celebrating Kalamazoo's LGBTQ+ community starts Friday, June 12, a week later than originally planned.
OutFront Kalamazoo Executive Director Amy Hunter says the online events were postponed in solidarity with Black Lives Matter protests after the killing of George Floyd by a white police officer in Minneapolis.
"It felt like a time that we should take that week and be very thoughtful about our messaging and prompt people to think about what allyship and what movement building truly looks like for justice."
OutFront Kalamazoo Communications Director Grayson Valenti says the show of solidarity is important, in part, because the Stonewall riots in New York City in 1969 that started the modern gay rights movement were led by gay, lesbian, and trans people of color.
"This is where we all started, so we felt that it was only right to give that space for those voices as we needed that space way back when."
Planning for Kalamazoo Pride Month started when the COVID-19 pandemic forced the cancellation of the annual Pride Week series of events. But Hunter says the crisis hasn't stopped the agency from advocating for the rights of LGBTQ+ people.
"Because they are victims of systemic and institutional bias does not mean that their ability to form a political voice that can be heard is gone. It's a matter of finding the political will within your community to develop that voice and we're hoping to play a role in partnering with these communities to help them advocate for themselves."
Find information about Pride Month events here.
Although in-person Pride Week activities will return in the future, Hunter says virtual events offer some advantages. And she says some will continue even after the pandemic ends.
"To add to the diversity of entertainment, the diversity of content and information, and the diversity of interests that we serve, in susequent Pride festivals."
The new online events include getting a caricature drawn and sent by e-mail instead of getting your face painted.