The concepts of LGBTQ+ visibility, inclusivity, and community have, in many ways, found renewed urgency over the past two years.
Despite a record number of people in the US identifying as LGBTQ+, new challenges — and longstanding yet newly exacerbated ones — threaten to make queer people invisible, all at a time when the global LGBTQ+ community is facing increased violence, discrimination, and poverty.
The COVID-19 pandemic continues around the world, shuttering queer spaces in its wake when many people have nowhere else to turn, and putting added strain on young people’s mental health. Anti-LGBTQ+ legislation has skyrocketed across the US, with more than 300 bills introduced in 2022 alone, seemingly intent on erasing the community’s very existence. And queer people of color, especially of trans and non-binary experience, continue to face disproportionate violence simply for being themselves, while LGBTQ+ people with disabilities face heightened systemic barriers to health care, employment, and more.
But with this urgency also comes a renewed sense of determination and spirit. LGBTQ+ people and allies alike are rising up to stop short a reversal of all the progress that queer and trans activists have spent decades fighting for — and taking action for a more just, more inclusive world. Pride, after all, is still a protest.
So in 2022, as these compounded challenges persist, what does celebrating visibility, inclusivity, and community look like?
We asked LGBTQ+ artists, visual storytellers, and performers with the artist collective Up Until Now to answer that question, using their respective mediums to explore these concepts and their own lived experiences through poetry, movement, and song.
Up Until Now Collective produces intersectional and interdisciplinary work that “explores empathy, intimacy, and community,” which is clear in each artist’s creation for the series.
American Sign Language (ASL) artist, director, and choreographer Brandon Kazen-Maddox and members of the Queer Deaf community in New York City performed an original choreopoem, written by Deaf poet and author Jonaz McMillan, about community and togetherness. Makeup artist Suki Tsuji painted the performers’ hands with the colors of the rainbow Pride flag.
Operatic mezzo-soprano Jamie Barton, who uses her presence onstage and off to lift up women, queer people, and other marginalized communities, performed a powerful cover of the classic Wizard of Oz ballad “Over the Rainbow,” signed by Kazen-Maddox in ASL.
Visual artist and filmmaker Brian Gonzalez (aka Taxiplasm) created a short film using a poem by trans poet Olaiya Olayemi, read by multidisciplinary artist Helga Davis, as a backdrop, featuring dancers moving elegantly through river water in an intimate celebration of queer love and strength.
Global Citizen produced the series in partnership with P&G, ahead of P&G and iHeartRadio’s Can’t Cancel Pride 2022 streaming event and fundraiser for the LGBTQ+ community on June 14, celebrating visibility and advocating for inclusivity and the health and safety of all LGBTQ+ people.
Hosted by JoJo Siwa with performances by Katy Perry, Sam Smith, Anitta, Dove Cameron, Kim Petras, and Betty Who, Can’t Cancel Pride will highlight a year of activism and the issues that continue to impact the LGBTQ+ community in 2022, along with “intersectional messages of spirit and strength.” Elton John will also receive the event’s first Impact Award, and Lizzo will join in a special moment.
The third annual Can’t Cancel Pride is the latest effort in P&G’s 30-year track record of commitment to LGBTQ+ equity and inclusion, stretching back to 1992 when it was one of the first Fortune 500 companies to add “sexual orientation” to its diversity statement. The company’s LGBTQ+ initiatives have always been led by LGBTQ+ employees, and the magnitude of the impact it can have today, year-round, is in large part due to the courageous efforts of early LGBTQ+ advocates.
This year’s theme is “Proud AND Together,” and P&G is using the event to call for more visibility of marginalized communities, more authentic and accurate representation of the LGBTQ+ community, and more financial support for those in need.
"This year, as gathering restrictions have been lifted, we celebrate Proud AND Together!” Brent Miller, senior director of global LGBTQ+ equality at P&G and co-founder of Can’t Cancel Pride, told Global Citizen.
“Now more than ever, we are called to be visible and to work together to safeguard the progress we have made as a community. We are also proud of our partnership with Global Citizen and deeply moved by the work produced by the Up Until Now Collective — in support of Can’t Cancel Pride — which echoes the togetherness, hope, and kindness helping us emerge from the prolonged isolation of the pandemic to face today’s cultural challenges head-on.”
Can’t Cancel Pride 2022 will raise critical funds for impactful LGBTQ+ organizations, including the National Black Justice Coalition, GLAAD, SAGE, the Trevor Project, CenterLink, and OutRight Action International (OutRight is also a Global Citizen partner). Through its first two years, Can’t Cancel Pride collectively raised more than $8.3 million.
Watch and experience the incredible artistic works from Up Until Now Collective below, and be sure to tune in to the premiere of Can’t Cancel Pride 2022 on June 14 at 8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT on iHeartRadio’s TikTok, YouTube, and Facebook pages; iHeartRadio’s PrideRadio.com; and Revry. The show will also be available to watch on demand through June 30.
“Don’t you ever think about how many things are happening in our world, and how they will get better? I think of that every day. I always tell myself — how do I start? Yes. I start with my heart ... As a Deaf Queer artist and writer, I often think about the core value I prioritize and what it is. Healing is my core value because it is what guides me every day. Healing makes me think about how I want for the world to genuinely change … Can you imagine if the little me and the little you stepped aside and had this conversation about what is happening and how to promote more love?” — Jonaz McMillan
“This song is something that I think all of us in the Western world know. From the time we are young, this is just a song we know, so to me it became personal when I came out … It’s kind of like the anthem for ‘it gets better’ to me, this idea of, I have hope of a life of happiness that I can pursue. I have dreams that are over the rainbow that I can dream of, can wish for, can work for, to point my life toward. And, of course, this has been kind of a queer anthem for a long time — you know, over the rainbow, it’s hard not for it to be. But at the same time, it was personal to me because I had lived that life, where I wasn’t honoring my own queerness for 33 years. And to then see the light at the end of the tunnel, over that rainbow, to understand that I had a place within the rainbow flag and that I was welcome as a part of the queer community, gave me the courage that I was looking for to really come out and to own who I was as a bisexual woman.” — Jamie Barton
“For me, celebrating visibility, inclusivity, and community is really about how we pick each other back up. How we revive one another, how we resuscitate one another, how we bring each other back to life. How we become each other’s angels, how we become each other’s heroes. How we remind one another that we are the oxygen we all need to survive, together. How our unanimity is unbreakable, and with that solid community, we are unstoppable.” — Brian Gonzalez (aka Taxiplasm)