Mia Richards, Contributing Writer
With the rise of COVID-19 cases and the delta variant in the city of Richmond, the decision to postpone this year’s Virginia Pridefest on Sept. 25 was not made lightly by the event’s organizers.
The Richmond event that celebrates LGBTQ diversity and inclusivity, annually held at Brown’s Island, is now rescheduled for June 2022.
“A decision [was] needed to be made by the end of July or August, as the COVID-19 cases began to increase,” James Millner, the program director of VA Pride, said. “In the course of a couple of weeks, a very difficult decision was to be made.”
The Virginia Department of Health has predicted that throughout September, the rate of COVID-19 positivity will continue to rise, which would cause a significant negative impact on the festival if it were to happen when originally scheduled. The event was postponed due to the increase in positive cases in Richmond.
The total number of COVID-19 cases in Richmond is over 20,500, with the seven-day moving average of new cases per day at nearly 107, according to the VDH.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that masks should still be worn during large events inside but not when outdoors. However, when in places that have a high number of cases and presence of the delta variant, it is recommended that people wear masks, even outside.
Myriam Kadeba, the director of the Office of Multicultural Student Affairs at VCU, said the organization plans to work with the Richmond community to organize pride events in October. With logistics continuing to be finalized, Kadeba plans to arrange a pride ride throughout the city.
According to Kadeba, OMSA hopes to collaborate with VCU’s Recreation and Well-Being, University Counseling Services, VCU Globe and Equality VCU to make the event happen.
Haley McGowan, a second-year VCU student, said they were looking forward to attending their first pride festival. Since last year’s festival was cancelled, they were excited to attend this year.
“It really is disappointing to see the festival be cancelled again,” McGowan said. “I am very glad, however, that the necessary precautions are being taken to keep Richmond safe.”
McGowan plans to attend other pride-related events that will take place within the community.
Millner said that in an effort to continue to have celebrations in Richmond, Diversity Richmond and VA Pride have created numerous events to allow the community to honor pride.
On Sept. 24, “Pride After Dark: Leather and Lace” will be happening in conjunction with Pridefest and Diversity Richmond. This 21-and-up event will feature local drag performances, dancing and an appearance by the House of Prodigy, a Pennsylvania-based ballroom house that has appeared on the show, “Legendary.”
Millner said to keep the community safe, there will be a limited capacity as well as required tickets with proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test.
He said that the decision itself was made with the health and safety of the Richmond community in mind.
“At the end of the day, we are doing what is right for the people. We did not want to put anybody in danger and we take that responsibility very seriously,” Millner said.
For more information on pride events that will happen in Richmond this year, visit www.vapride.org/events.