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Can't Cancel Pride

Can't Cancel Pride: An LGBTQ+ Music Benefit Gets Louder

Can't Cancel Pride: An LGBTQ+ Music Benefit Gets Louder

Adam Lambert at Can't Cancel Pride

Born in lockdown, a fundraiser for LGBTQ+ organizations is amping up for its fourth year with Adam Lambert, Brandi Carlile, and more.

Can’t Cancel Pride — the annual benefit from Procter & Gamble and iHeartRadio that’s raised millions for LGBTQ+ organizations — began with a conversation about the Muppets.

Brent Miller, the global LGBTQ+ equality leader for P&G and a gay man himself, was sitting in his New York City living room in 2020, having a virtual “water cooler” chat with colleagues. The conversation turned to LGBTQ+ people and how especially vulnerable they were in the pandemic.

Brent Miller

Nonprofits were losing funding. Young people were sheltering in place, separated from in-person queer networks, and oftentimes trapped with unsupportive family members. With events canceled across the world, the future of Pride itself — the annual celebration that brings LGBTQ+ people together in a dazzling month of visibility — seemed uncertain.

How to move forward? If only there were a “gay Muppet Show,” Miller mused at the time, referring to the 1970s variety show featuring sketch comedy and music performances from puppets and celebrity guests. Oddly enough, the idea took hold. In fact, it became the heart of what would become Can’t Cancel Pride, a now-annual hourlong special that beams music and messages of hope to radios, TVs, and phones.

The first “gay Muppet Show” came together at lightning speed. After the water cooler chat, Miller formally pitched Can’t Cancel Pride to P&G and found an enthusiastic corporate sponsor. P&G then partnered closely with iHeartRadio, the country’s most listened-to audio company, to co-create, produce and broadcast the event through its social media platforms and vast network of radio stations.

Katy Perry

“We wanted to bring Pride to people in their homes, give them a message of hope, help them feel connected to the world outside, and at the same time, use our power and privilege as companies to help raise money for organizations that were hurting,” Miller says.

“The name was intended to convey that despite COVID-19 canceling many of the activities, the parades, the gatherings that typically are associated with Pride, the spirit of Pride, the spirit of the LGBT community is something that can’t be taken away.”

In total, it took less than a month for Miller, his team, and these partners to plan Can’t Cancel Pride. Thanks in part to the talent access of iHeartMedia, some of the biggest names in music and entertainment took the (virtual) stage that June in support of LGBTQ+ people, among them Katy Perry, Melissa Etheridge, Sia, Neil Patrick Harris, Ben Platt, and hosts Elvis Duran and Laverne Cox. could not be more proud of our Can’t Cancel Pride partnership

And yes, even Kermit the Frog delivered a message (before introducing Ricky Martin). Being green? He was “born this way.” And the puppet expressed affection for his found family of “pigs and bears and chickens and whatevers” that get him through tough times. “What matters is that we love and care about one another,” he said. “And well, that’s what makes us family.”

Apparently, a Muppet’s words hold weight. More than $4 million was raised that first year in support of six LGBTQ+ organizations: GLAAD, SAGE, the National Black Justice Coalition, the Trevor Project, CenterLink, and OutRight International, a diverse collection of groups that together aid youth, elders, media representation, and international and intersectional rights. Moreover, millions of people were sent “a message of hope, a message of positivity,” Miller attests. “And look to the future, where we can hopefully continue to build bridges, develop empathy and a deeper understanding of the LGBT community."

The future is happening. Though born in lockdown, Can’t Cancel Pride is proving to be as noncancelable as its namesake. It is now an annual staple of the Pride season that, in total, has raised over $11 million for LGBTQ+ groups since 2020. Its star power is only growing. This year’s event in June will feature host JoJo Siwa, Brandi Carlile, Adam Lambert, Big Freedia, Ciara, Billy Porter, Hayley Kiyoko, Kelsea Ballerini, and Kesha.

"At iHeartMedia, we could not be more proud of our Can’t Cancel Pride partnership," says Gayle Troberman, the CMO of iHeartMedia. Troberman is proud that the event "showcases the power of music to unite" and "is also an amazing example of what’s possible when we co-create and collaborate with brands like P&G to unlock the full power of iHeart’s scale across broadcast, podcasts, streaming, social and live events. The fundraising has been meaningful to support six LGBTQ organizations doing heroic work in the community. And from a business perspective, Can’t Cancel Pride continues to deliver massive audiences and engagement proving it is both good for growth and growth for good."

Jojo Siwa

For this year's event, Miller is “over the moon” about Carlile, who in addition to performing will receive CCP’s Elton John Impact Award from last year’s honoree, Elton John. “I’ve seen her about 26 times live,” he says of the lesbian Grammy winner who “represents everything to me in terms of positivity and energy and hope and everything that is wonderful about this community.”

Although lockdown is lifted and a new host of crises are impacting LGBTQ+ people, Miller sees the mission of Can’t Cancel Pride as essentially unchanged: giving the community a much-needed spotlight. In planning the event, Miller posited, “How can we bring visibility to the LGBT community — both in helping see themselves reflected in what we do, but also bring the message of who we are as a community to those outside of the LGBT community?”

Changing hearts and minds in a divisive political climate — where drag and trans rights are under attack across the nation — is more important now than ever. “We recognize that visibility is absolutely critical to developing understanding, relationships, establishing open communication lines, and developing a deeper understanding of who we are,” he notes. "At the same time, it serves as an incredible opportunity for brands and companies to help support these incredible organizations who are having a positive impact to our communities, who are a lifeline for so many people who need support and a helping hand across a wide cross-section of the community.”

And the community is galvanized. Miller recognizes that queer people in 2023 are outraged and ready to fight back against the onslaught of political attacks. “There is a fire in the belly of our spirits, that no matter what force the community faces can’t be extinguished,” he notes.

It’s a fire he anticipates will animate Pride this year, a blaze that has been passed on through decades of resilience and perseverance. “If you look across the generations of the obstacles that the community has faced, whether it be the HIV and AIDS epidemic, whether it be the fight for marriage equality, whether it be the fight for equal rights in the workplace, whatever those obstacles have been, this community marches forward,” Miller notes, adding, “I think everybody deserves to have hope. I think that’s the wonderful thing about the LGBT community, is no matter what adversity seems to lie in front, they keep moving forward.”

TJ Osborne

There will always be critics of corporate involvement with Pride. But Miller welcomes the criticism and stresses the massive good that can come from these partnerships — though there’s always room for improvement.

“I appreciate it when people challenge us to be better than we’re doing today, because it does help raise the bar on what is possible and the contributions that we can make,” he says. “I welcome constructive conversation. I think, together that provides us with energy to hopefully do things better and get it right.”

And during Can’t Cancel Pride, no one should feel excluded. “It’s important for us to represent that incredibly diverse tapestry that the LGBTQ+ community represents,” says Miller, who hopes that diversity is reflected in CCP’s talent roster as well as music itself, which in addition to demonstration has always been at the heart of Pride.

“We find that through music we can connect with each other, regardless of our backgrounds. We can bring generations together who have different experiences and different expectations. It gives us a point to galvanize around,” says Miller. “It captures the spirit of the community, which is about energy and celebration and looking at the opportunity and hope that’s there.”

Or to borrow from the lyrics of one Can’t Cancel Pride ambassador, “It’s not easy being green,” but “it’s beautiful, and I think it’s what I want to be.”

Can’t Cancel Pride 2023 will stream June 15 to 30 on iHeartRadio’s social media platforms (@iheartradio) as well as Revry, Roku, and the Advocate Channel. Learn more at

Adrianna Casiano

This article is part of the Out May/June issue, out on newsstands May 30. Support queer media and subscribe -- or download the issue through Amazon, Kindle, Nook, or Apple News.

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Daniel Reynolds

Daniel Reynolds is the editor-in-chief of Out and an award-winning journalist who focuses on the intersection between entertainment and politics. This Jersey boy has now lived in Los Angeles for more than a decade.

Daniel Reynolds is the editor-in-chief of Out and an award-winning journalist who focuses on the intersection between entertainment and politics. This Jersey boy has now lived in Los Angeles for more than a decade.