In-person Pride returning, potentially good news for LGBTQ media
by Joe Siegel
After two years of virtual Pride celebrations due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, many cities around the country are once again holding in-person festivities. LGBTQ media outlets are doing their part to promote the return of in-person Pride.
Angela Cragin, publisher of Seattle Gay News (SGN), said her publication will be participating in the city’s two-day celebration. “Each year we partner with the Capitol Hill PrideFest, Seattle’s Gayborhood event,” Cragin noted. “Their event ‘program’ is inserted into our Pride paper and distributed citywide. It has a listing of all types of entertainment including music, drag shows, dancers and speakers. Two SGN writers will be dressed up like old fashioned ‘newsies’ distributing the papers throughout the crowd while other SGN staff will be enjoying the festival at a booth.”
In addition, special SGN T-shirts are being designed and will be offered to attendees for a donation. The shirts have a “retro” design which serves as a tribute to the paper’s past, said Cragin.
Cragin also anticipates a boost in ad sales.
“We are hopeful that with the opening up of businesses and events, the ad sales will surge to create a solid base of funds to continue our unique independent journalism,” Cragin said. “People are getting excited — and maybe a bit nervous — about the traditional Pride festival and parade. It usually attracts 400,000 people to Seattle, so it is a huge undertaking.”
In Chicago, “We will have the Pride Issue as an insert in the Chicago Reader, 60,000 copies, in early June this year,” according to Tracy Baim, co-founder of the Windy City Times. “Online we will continue to cover Pride all month, including the parade and related events.”
But unlike Seattle, “We are not sponsoring any events, and do not expect a huge bump in advertising,” said Baim.
Jason Villemez, news editor of Philadelphia Gay News (PGN), said his staff is working hard on its annual Pride issue, “which is almost always our largest issue of the year in both editorial and advertising content.”
“We’re also focusing on our Pride brunch on June 26, called the PGN Stonewall Awards, which will honor people in ‘community hero,’ ‘lifetime achievement,’ and other categories. We’re expecting two large issues in June, one for the Pride issue on June 10, and one for our Stonewall Awards issue on June 24,” VIllemez added.
“After no in-person Pride events since 2019, people are excited to get to celebrate in-person again,” Villemez continued. “There’s no replacement for being together in the same space and meeting other LGBTQ people. The energy of an in-person Pride is special, and it’s unlike any other experience. We’ve seen interest across the board from local people as well as those planning to travel to Philadelphia for Pride on June 5. People are ready for it.”
The situation is a little different in Boston, which is not hosting a Pride parade again this year.
“While Boston will not be having a parade this year, it is not a parade that defines our Pride,” noted Jeff Coakley, co-publisher of Bay Windows. “We enthusiastically support the fact that the communities we serve embrace and celebrate Pride in their own unique ways. At Bay Windows, we will be celebrating Pride Month throughout June. And since we are New England’s — not just Boston’s — largest LGBTQ+ publication, we will be partnering and covering all of the Pride celebrations throughout the entire region.”
Coakley said readers can expect special issues of Bay Windows on June 2, June 16 and June 30, with additional editorial sections about the history of Pride in Boston and New England, along with the current news of LGBTQ+ rights throughout the country. Bay Windows also created special discounted Pride Month rates for their loyal advertisers.
Troy Masters, publisher of the Los Angeles Blade, said the publication would be the Official Pride Guide for both WeHo (West Hollywood) Pride and OutLoud Music Festival (June 3-5) as well as the Official Guide To LA Pride June 10-12.
“That’s kind of historic and a big deal,” Masters said. “We are working closely with both and I have hired a temporary Pride reporter, Jeremy Kinser, to manage content for both.”
The Blade previously held a live in-person event with WeHo Pride and to celebrate the paper’s fifth anniversary.
“It was a huge success and so far sales for our Pride issues — May 27 Overview issue, June 3 WeHo Pride and June 10 LA Pride — have gone very well,” Masters added. “With WeHo Pride, we are also assisting in selling sponsorships that include ads in the LA Blade, a first that I am aware of for an LGBTQ newspaper. That has worked out well, at least from a promotional if not a financial perspective. Financially, everyone is finding that there is sluggish interest, complicated by the late start and now a potential new surge in COVID.”
Dallas Pride is making a major comeback, according to Leo Cusimano, publisher of the Dallas Voice.
“Dallas Voice publishes our Best Of issue called Readers Voice Awards each March,” Cusimano said. “This year our page count — based on advertising — went up dramatically from 62 pages to 92 pages. Revenue is up. Our annual visitors guide called OUT North Texas has also seen an elevation in revenue of over 25 percent from the year before. Revenue is up. We believe that the effects of COVID have businesses searching for more customers. Businesses are going back to traditional advertising sources like print, because they know that they can count on the effectiveness.”
For Pride 2022, Dallas Voice anticipates that its Pride issues — local Pride on June 3 and its national Pride issue on June 24 — will be “tremendous compared to last year,” Cusimano added. “Dallas Voice is a major sponsor of Dallas Pride every year. We produce the Dallas Pride Guide for the organization. Today, we have seen more Pride celebrations in smaller towns across the state. Dallas Voice sponsors most all Pride celebrations in North Texas and beyond.”