PROVIDENCE, R.I. [Brown University] — When Justin Li learned that Providence’s annual Pride Month festivities were being cancelled this year due in part to challenges arising from the COVID-19 pandemic, he wasn’t surprised.
“After over a year of going through the pandemic, it was definitely not a shocker that this was being cancelled, too,” said Li, a rising sophomore in the Brown-RISD dual degree program.
But Li wasn’t quite ready to give up on the possibility of upholding this longstanding tradition in a year when rekindling community connections seemed more important than ever.
“Pride Month is an incredibly important time for the LGBTQ community to find space for one another, congregate and celebrate,” he said. “But it’s particularly significant when we know that LGBTQ people — especially those who are Black, Indigenous and people of color — have been disproportionately affected by the pandemic, because they are more likely to experience issues such as homelessness, incarceration and unemployment.”
So Li resolved to revive the month-long series, planning events that were open to the greater Rhode Island community throughout the month of June — including virtual workshops led by Brown and RISD student volunteers, virtual performances by local LGBTQ artists, and the culminating Pride parade, which was held in downtown Providence on Saturday, June 26.
He brought together roughly a dozen Brown student volunteers to organize the month’s events, co-lead virtual community workshops, conduct outreach in the Providence community, and develop health and safety protocols that adhered to Rhode Island’s current pandemic public health guidance.
“We have really been working towards making sure that everything is safe and that the greater community is engaged — from local businesses to performers to organizations,” he said.