Photographing Pride Month

Rainbow Flag at Night

On covering Pride Month and the LGBTQ+ community

People often ask me why I’m so interested in covering LGBTQ+ related stories? Why do I cover HIV and AIDS stories?

Love is Love. Celebrating Jersey City Pride.
Storefront decorated for JC Pride Fest 2018. Photo by Alina Oswald.

While covering HIV and AIDS, I’ve met many wonderful individuals, members of the LGBTQ+ community. They’re artists and activists, actors and authors, mentors and educators whose stories of survival and resilience have given my own life a sense of hope and purpose. In the process, I’ve made wonderful friends.

Reclaim Pride March, in NYC. Photo by Alina Oswald.

“This kind of friendship might be difficult to explain, but, I believe, it has to do with a feeling of acceptance (flaws and all), of belonging,” I wrote in a July 2019 cover story interview with author and activist Victoria Noe. “Perhaps there’s also a level of mutual understanding—of common histories, struggles—that underlines this kind of friendship. Personally, I’ve always found a safe place in my own friendships with gay men, a “home” where I can be myself because gay friends don’t judge, they listen and comfort, brighten the darkest and gloomiest of days, and always, always prove themselves friends in need, indeed.”

…And I’m forever grateful.

NYC Pride March 2011. Photo by Alina Oswald.
“Thank you Governor Cuomo” sign at NYC Pride March 2011. (NY State had just passed the Marriage Equality Act in June 2011.) Photo by Alina Oswald.

June is Pride Month. Last year, 2019, marked the 50th anniversary of the Gay Liberation Movement (Stonewall 50). This year, 2020, marks the 50th anniversary of the NYC Pride March (Pride 50). Because of the Coronavirus pandemic, Pride Marches and Pride Month events around the world have been canceled, postponed, or moved online.

NYC Pride 2019. Photo by Alina Oswald.
Marching with Visual AIDS in NYC Pride 2019 and distributing What Is 21st Century Liberation broadsheets co-created by Avram Finkelstein for Visual AIDS. Photo by Alina Oswald.

After all, Pride is celebrated all around the world. For instance, EuroPride events are scheduled in several European countries. In Germany, Pride Day is also known as CSD, or Christopher Street Day, named after Christopher Street in New York City, where Stonewall Inn is located and where the Stonewall Riots started back in 1969. CSD events take place throughout the summer, in different German cities. Friends have told me that Berlin Pride and in particular Koln (Cologne) Pride, are must-attend events…maybe one day, in a post-Covid-19 world.

Since there’s no Pride March 2020 to photograph this year, here are a few ideas of what to photograph during Pride Month while keeping safe from Covid-19:

  • Learn about the history of Pride, Stonewall Riots, and the rainbow flag, and express, visually, what it all means to you.
  • Study the symbolism of each color in the rainbow flag and capture it visually in your own way
  • Think of what equality means to you and how you would express it in images
  • The LGBTQ+ community is a diverse community of people from all walks of life, fighting for equal rights, acceptance, and mutual understanding…something we need more of, especially nowadays. Now, how would you capture that in a photograph?
  • If you could capture the idea of Pride in one photograph, what/who would you photograph and why? Now, that would be a photo assignment to think about….

I wish you all a safe and Happy Pride! And as always, thanks for stopping by!

Alina Oswald

Marching in World (NYC) Pride 2019, distributing copies of What Is 21st Century Liberation broadsheet. Many thanks to Visual AIDS for photographing during the march and sharing the images.

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