This year, Seattle’s largest LGBTQIA+ Pride events will go virtual. According to a joint announcement on Thursday morning from the organizers of Seattle’s annual Pride events, a number of large-scale gatherings including PrideFest at Seattle Center, TransPride, PrideFest Capitol Hill, Seattle Pride Parade and Seattle Pride in the Park will be held virtually rather than in-person.

Krystal Marx, executive director for Seattle Pride, said the organizers came to the decision to move events online at a board meeting earlier this month, when it became clear that other national events were being postponed or canceled under public-health efforts to stem the spread of the coronavirus.

“This decision was made out of an abundance of caution – and concern for our community’s health – after conferring with local public-health officials and the City of Seattle,” said Marx, Seattle Pridefest’s Egan Orion and Gender Justice League’s Elayne Wylie in the joint news release.

“We thank the hundreds of event sponsors, community partners, vendors and event participants for your continued support as our efforts now shift to creating a different kind of Pride celebration – but one which continues to celebrate diversity and brings us together when we need it most,” they said.

The announcement also raised the possibility of holding some Pride events in-person at a later date in the summer, when resuming large gatherings may be safer. Details on those events will be forthcoming, the organizers said.

“We decided to put the health of our community first,” said Marx, when reached by phone Thursday morning. She noted that while Pride events will unfold virtually, the hope is that ultimately some in-person events will occur when it’s possible to host them safely. Marx said the group was soliciting input from the area’s LGBTQIA+ community about what those events should include. Whatever shape it takes, said Marx, “We want to make sure that it holds true to what our events’ themes always are … honoring the past, celebrating the present and envisioning the future.”

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Efforts to respond to community needs extend beyond the virtual Pride events. In response to the outbreak, Seattle Pride has distributed $25,000 in emergency funding grants to a number of organizations and relief efforts, including Entre Hermanos, El Centro de la Raza, FEEST, PFLAG Seattle, Ingersoll Gender Center, UTOPIA Seattle and COVID-19 Relief Fund for Undocumented People. Seattle Pride will profile these groups on its social-media accounts in coming weeks.

Marx said it was understandable people might be frustrated to miss out on in-person Pride, and that “it can feel very much like being pushed back into secrecy.” But she said she had also seen the LGBTQIA+ community coming together through acts of support in recent weeks.

“That’s kind of our mode of operation,” she said. “When something bad happens we don’t turn inward and hide.”

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