It’s been a weird PRIDE month. 2020 marks 50 years since the first PRIDE march in 1970, which marked the one-year anniversary of the Stonewall riots. Yet, due to the coronavirus pandemic, all large gatherings have either been cancelled or put online, meaning that PRIDE can’t be celebrated in the same way. Luckily, there’s a platform that has a “Pride Guide,” which has put together information about over 250 live-streaming PRIDE events happening all over the world.
Grit Daily caught up with Robert Geller, founder of FabStayz, an LGBTQ+-friendly travel accommodation website, who came up with the Pride Guide. Geller, along with his team at FabStayz, compiled the data on various PRIDE events, and created a website called PrideNotCancelled.com. They contacted the hosts of PRIDE marches, as well as LGBT Chambers of Commerce, and found out what which events were moving online. Since March, celebratory marches and conferences have had to get creative with their virtual events, and PRIDE is no different – there are still concerts and celebrity appearances, to include Cyndi Lauper, Bill Porter of Pose, Jennifer Beals of the L Word, participants of Ru Paul’s Drag Race, and more, all to honor and support the LGBTQ+ community.
Geller talked of his inspiration for FabStayz as well as what led to the decision to pivot to informing people about virtual PRIDE events. As a former Airbnb superhost, he noticed the inevitable coming out moment he would have with guests, uncomfortably awaiting their reaction. As he learned of travelers’ and hosts’ stories, he realized that creating a platform for LGBTQ+-friendly hosts and allies would be helpful.
Some LGBTQ+ travelers spoke of of wanting to be transparent with Airbnb hosts, but feared rejection. Others felt it necessary to call their partner ‘friend’ throughout the duration of their trip. Geller spoke to one woman in Australia who hosted two men in her home – they called one another ‘friend.’ The host wanted to suggest a lovely gay bar that she frequented with her niece, but was reluctant to do so, for fear of coming off as assumptive. She subsequently felt as though she had missed an opportunity to enhance her guests’ travel experience. Geller realized that all of this could have been avoided if there had been transparency from the beginning, and he set out to compile data on LGBTQ+-friendly and ally travel accommodations.
Interest has grown since the site launch a year ago, which started with around 100 accommodations, and grew to 1500+ within the year. When asked about expanding to larger hotel chains, Geller said that there would have to be some type of a training procedure for all staff because there are so many points of contact between guests and hotel employees.
In keeping with their affinity for compiling data, PrideNotCancelled.com redirects to the FabStayz website and also shows other LGBTQ+ events taking place throughout the year, like film festivals, queer cooking, virtual 5k runs and drag races. The site provides social media links and important dates. Geller says that he wants to keep the PRIDE guide, because even though June is PRIDE month, that LGBTQ+ events take place all year.
Coronavirus may be putting people’s travel plans on hold, but the fervor around supporting causes that promote diversity and inclusion is stronger than ever. It’s happening with Black Lives Matter and PRIDE, and some events are even combining the causes – showing allyship between the historically persecuted groups. With this latest surge of COVID-19 cases in the U.S., it’s best we celebrate PRIDE from home this year; that doesn’t mean we have to be any less loud, proud or colorful.