Furloughed: Will Canada´s broke businesses care about its 2020 Pride?

Canada's businesses have issued save-our-soul pleas. Will they bother funding Pride?
RayMwareyaRayMwareya
Jun. 24
campaign, cherie
Cherie is an online community of beauty lovers sharing their stories; whether that's their favorite products, makeup tutorials, or skincare routines. Download the app today to be a part of #BeautyWithoutBarriers and show the world what beauty means to you!It was a blissful moment in 2019 when I attended my first ever Pride march in Ottawa, the capital of Canada. I was fascinated because where I come from in Zimbabwe (Africa) and a place where any attempt to hold a Pride walk could attract violent reprisals. Something bemused me about Canada´s capital Pride march. That is corporate giants; your Bank of Canada, Starbucks, truckers, Air Canada, embassies, Shopify; all marching out forcefully, donating water bottles, vehicles, music gigs or branded condoms to illuminate crowds at the pride walk. I was particularly told that Gaingels, an investment group in Toronto whose members invest their money in companies with admirable Pride values, reportedly made its first deal in Canada in June 2019. The firm reportedly ploughed $360 000 in Borrowell, a Toronto-based fintech company whose 50% of staff identifies as female and whose vice president is a member of the LGBTQIA community. This is exemplary. But here is the catch – COVID-19 has devastated Canada's economy, shut down businesses and furloughed millions of workers. Will Canada's businesses – broke and insolvent – flush out wallets and support the 2020 Pride? Does the virus mean supporting Pride is now a forgotten, non-essential expense?Pride 2020 Sponsors May VanishAs if to illustrate the grim times ahead – Canada's Capital Pride 2020 slated for 21 to 30 August – will probably be the first virtual pride in the history of prides in Canada. If crowds cannot mingle physically for Pride – will corporate businesses bother coming out with emphatic support for Pride? To be fair, corporate company donations that are normally the financial lifeline for Canada's Capital Pride, are in dire straits themselves. For example, Air Canada, a heroic sponsor of the Capital Pride, has slashed 20 000 jobs amid a frightening collapse of air travel. If one of the world's most premier airlines is asking staff to go on leave for up to two years – will anyone bother with meeting the sponsorship costs of a virtual Pride? It remains to be seen.A Cancelled Pride Sets Bad PrecedentI am not entirely optimistic. A cancelled or much reduced Pride will set a bad precedent that, in times of financial woes; pride marches or LGBTQIA safe spaces, are just an afterthought. LGBTQIA safe spaces and rights-affirming events like the Pride are needed even more in 2020 amid the Covid-19 outbreak. In this crisis, LGBTQIA identifying Canadians are bearing the brunt of being quarantined in homes with homophobic parents, siblings or relatives. Transfolk, for fear of lockdown rules and amplified hatred, cannot come out safely and take advantage of events like Pride to affirm their humanity, make friends or connections. It is at this tumultuous time that Pride events could do much to reassure transfolk that even amidst a pandemic, LGBTQIA rights and Pride walks matter for a community that has been long used to living hidden under the table –sort of.
Ottawa Pride 2019
Ottawa Pride 2019
But for a Pride March to go ahead, massive amounts of money, donations and human services are needed. Canada’s businesses are facing their grimmest hour since World War 2. It will be a fabulous miracle if come August most of them pump out resources for the 2020 Pride amidst bankruptcies and a vicious pandemic. About me: Ray Mwareya is a staff writer at Soule.Lgbt Magazine and lives in Ottawa, Canada.
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