Celebrating Pride from Home, and the Future of Virtual Events

An inside look at Out in Tech’s virtual pride party, powered by Kumospace.

Pride Month comes with a series of events, stories, and gatherings designed to remind us that it is important to celebrate the love and joy in our lives as queer folx. June also brings the reminder that while we honor our queer heroes for paving the way for much progress, the struggle for LGBTQ+ equality is far from over. As Pride month comes to a close, we reflect on all the ways that we’ve been able to maintain community and connection.

Since huge IRL events were still not possible, at the time, Out in Tech (OIT)-the world’s largest LGBTQ+ tech community-celebrated pride with a Virtual Pride Party on June 9. That evening, queer people from all over the world gathered on Kumospace – an immersive virtual event platform; and immersive it was! There were different “rooms” such as a real-life house party, and they all had inventive names like Trans-Enby Speakeasy and Gaymers Cafe and cool designs. For instance, the “Pride Lounge” looked like a genuine lounge outfitted with bean bags, couches, and even a coffee table. Whereas in the pool party room, called “Meet Your New BFF” folx lounged atop a pool floatie while “drinking” virtual wine. 

One of the best parts? Once inside a room, party-goers were able to drop in and out of conversations just like we were in person. That’s because Kumospace’s spatial audio feature makes it so guests can only hear people near them, and when you go further away from them in the room you can’t hear them just like in real life. This made talking to people feel much more natural and serendipitous. Another bonus? We could hop from room to room to meet even more people! 

To be honest, I thought this party would just be another Zoom meeting (like every other work meeting I had that day) where we played a few Kahoot! games, or something, but I was pleasantly surprised. The entire atmosphere was so fun because Kumospace rooms look so much like a vivid video game.  I found myself bouncing around from the “Entertainment Geeks Disco” to the “QTBIPOC Center Stage.” But my personal favorite space was the “Queer Park” which featured green grass, fountains, trees, and a sweet park bench. All the rooms had OIT moderators who were there to get the conversation moving when there was a lull or newcomers were a bit shy. The moderators also bounced around from room to room. The organizer of the entire event-Alex Solis-was able to jump from room to room to witness all of our lively conversations and help guide the fun. 

Since OIT is a career-based community, several of the rooms were geared toward this goal: “Engineers & Dev Pub,” “Career Skills Exchange Room,” and “Non-techies in Tech Center.” Additionally, several people put their LinkedIn URLs in the chat box to facilitate professional networking. 

All in all, this party was so many things rolled into one: a social event, a professional networking event, and a place for queer people to celebrate the joy in being queer. The pandemic has taken so much from us, but the virtual OIT Pride Party gave us a few moments to really be grateful for what it hasn’t taken – human connection. Virtual events are integral to keeping the queer community connected, even when the world returns to IRL. Continued immersive virtual events break down geographical boundaries and allow folx in places where there are no Pride events to join in on the celebration and feel a sense of community.

 Written by Eniola “OJ” Oshiafi (she/her), Communications Intern, Tinder

Eniola is currently a rising senior at NYU double majoring in Media & Communications and Journalism with a minor in Marketing. She is interested in marketing and communications in tech as well as media production. Currently, she is focused on developing her coding, digital marketing, and photography skills. She is an international student from Lagos, Nigeria. Check out her portfolio website.

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