With June being Pride Month, Pride parades, festivals, and drag brunches are happening throughout the country. There are multiple ways you can celebrate Pride Month, from reading LGBTQ+ books to watching LGBTQ+ TV shows and films, but there’s a sense of community you may only be able to get at in-person events. The anniversary of the Stonewall Riots, one of the earliest events of Pride Month, is on June 28, so if you want to commemorate the month and how far we’ve come, you can attend your nearest Pride event, whether or not you’re out, or if you’re just an ally that wants to show your support.
Sure, Pride marches, parades and festivals have existed since June 1970, one year after Stonewall, but you may not have had the opportunity to attend yet. Now that you have your outfit picked out, your first-ever Pride event will surely be one to remember, but there are some important tips and tricks you should know before you go.
- Know the history of Pride.
Pride will be a blast even if you just attend it, but you’ll appreciate it more if you know the history behind it. If you know what the participants of the Stonewall Riots and trailblazers of the LGBTQ+ community went through, you’ll more likely feel thankful for the rights that the members of the community have now. The purpose of Pride is to celebrate the community, the history, and the ongoing fight for equal rights and acceptance, so the more you know about it, the better equipped you will be for the event itself.
- Bring cash.
You may not think about it, but it wouldn’t hurt to bring cash to your first Pride event. Even if the event is free, you may still need to bring some dollar bills to buy yourself food or Pride merch, or to tip the drag queens that are performing. Some vendors or queens may take cards or Venmo, but to just be safe, bring a range of dollar bills with you so you can make the most out of your time at Pride.
- Be yourself.
It’s important that you know that Pride is a place where you can be yourself wholeheartedly. Pride gives you a sense of community, even for just a day, that is hard to find anywhere else. Most people that attend these events are open-minded and full of love so you can let go of any fear of negative opinions or how you may be perceived. Unlike some other spaces, Pride events don’t require you to be sure of your identity, so you can be questioning your sexuality or gender orientation or not be out at all, and still be accepted with open arms.
- Bring a portable charger.
Just like going to a concert, you want to make sure that you have everything you need to ensure your safety and the last thing you want is to have a dead phone while at Pride. Whether you’re going to Pride by yourself or with a friend, you’ll to want to keep in touch with your group, get directions back home, or take pictures and videos to remember all the fun times you have there. I would also recommend that you have your phone charged at 100% when you leave home for Pride.
- Know where the exits — and bathrooms — are.
It’s important that you stay aware of your surroundings at all times, especially if you find yourself in a large group of people. When you get there and throughout the day, make sure you know where the exits are, as well as the bathrooms or any emergency care stations. Few things will ruin your good vibes quite like needing a restroom but having to spend a ton of time searching for the closest one.
- Have a plan for getting there and leaving.
Especially if you’re going to a parade or bar, it’ll be very crowded and possibly hard to get parking, and it may take you a while to get out of there if you don’t know exactly where you’re headed. If you’re driving yourself, going with friends, or taking an Uber or Lyft, make sure you decide all of this before the day of. Regardless of how you’re getting there, tell someone where you’re going, whether that’s a supportive family member or friend. If your family is unfortunately not supportive, make sure you come up with an excuse for where you’re going and fill your friends in so that they can cover for you.
It’s also important that you know where the closest parking area is before you leave so that you don’t get confused or lost trying to find where to park before all the fun can start. As for leaving, you can set an initial time with your group and if you’re still having fun, you can stay until you’re ready to leave. When you do what to leave, though, make sure you meet up at the same spot and leave together.
- Bring a bag.
Not only will having a bag allow you to keep all your water bottles and sunscreen somewhere safe, but you’ll also need somewhere to put all the goodies you’ll get without having to worry about carrying everything in your hands. There may also be some vendors that will supply bags for you to put your things in if you don’t want to bring your own bags. Bringing a bag (that isn’t clear) can also help you if you live with other people but aren’t out to them, because you can hide the things you got when you get home if that’s a concern for you.
- Stay hydrated and bring snacks.
With most Pride events being in June and outside, it’ll likely be hot, so make sure you have enough food and water to take care of your body. Bring multiple plastic water bottles or a refillable water bottle to ensure that you’re drinking enough water throughout the day. Many Pride events will have water or Gatorade stands where you can get some water if you get hot or dehydrated. You can also bring granola bars, fruit snacks, trail mix, or other favorite snacks of yours that will keep your energy up throughout the day.
- Bring and wear sunscreen.
You’re going to be outside all day while at Pride, so protect your skin and do what you can to prevent it from getting burnt. You may want to put on sunscreen before you leave for the event and then reapply throughout the day depending on how long you’re going to be there for. You’ll want to take care of every aspect of yourself while at Pride, and your skin is no exception.
- Check the weather.
Checking the weather will help you pick out what outfit you want to wear, as well as how much water you should drink. Plus, if you tend to get overheated easily but still want to go to Pride, checking the weather can help you figure out the best time of day for you to go. The last thing you want is to get overheated or sick and have that be your lasting memory of Pride.
- Bring a mask.
Though in-person events have been back in full swing for a while now, that doesn’t mean that COVID is gone. Not wearing a mask can still put others at risk, especially those that are disabled and/or immunocompromised and have a higher chances of catching the disease. As someone who is disabled and has attended Pride events, it always made me feel more comfortable and safe when I saw someone wearing a mask. We’re all one big happy family while at Pride, so we need to do everything we can to keep each other safe and healthy.
- Dress comfortably.
Pride is a place where you should feel empowered to dress however you want. You can wear something that looks like a rainbow threw up on you, or you can be as subtle as possible. No matter what you wear, just make sure it’s something you’ll be OK to wear outside all day. Along with making sure your clothes are comfortable, make sure your shoes are comfortable because you’re going to be walking all day, especially if you’re marching in the parade.
- Get there early.
Although Pride is an all-day event, if you want to watch the parade, you’ll need to get there early. Pride festivals gather lots of people and the highlight is always the Pride parade. If you want a good seat to see all of the floats and people marching, you’ll want to get there early so that you can beat the crowd that’s bound to gather closer to the start time of the parade. Plus, if you arrive early, you can make friends with other people that are there.
- Take pictures, but check with people first.
Whether you take pictures of yourself, your friends, or the performers and parades, you’re going to want to look back on these memories later. You can either bring your phone, a disposable camera, professional camera, or a Polaroid. Just make sure that you check the guidelines on the website or social media for your chosen Pride event.
When taking pictures of other people, however, make sure you ask for permission, especially before you post the pictures on social media. Not everyone at Pride may be out yet, so you should protect their safety where you can.
- Go with friends and/or don’t hesitate to make new friends.
Pride will be a wonderful experience even if you go alone, but it will be more exciting if you go with friends or supportive family members that will accept you with open arms. If you are flying solo, you can make friends by complimenting someone on their outfit, striking up a conversation about the parade or performers, and eventually asking for their socials or phone number. You never know what can come out of going to Pride and having a single conversation, but you could possibly come out of it with a new bestie.
- Know you’re allowed to go even if you’re single or not out.
With how Pride events are portrayed in the media, you might think everyone there is out and/or accompanied by a loving partner. However, that’s certainly not the case for everyone, as great as it would be. Jenna Vesper, host of Date Card, a podcast that looks at the Bachelor franchise through a queer lens, tells Her Campus, “I feel like as a single gay out there, it can feel isolating or lonely when you see beautiful queer love being expressed in couples (or throuples) attending Pride, but this is your community and it’s important to celebrate and be seen just as you are!”
She adds, “Pride isn’t about who’s on your arm, it’s about who you are and how you love!” You can still go to Pride if you’re not out to anyone or everyone in your life. You can even say you’re going as an ally and find your community that way.
Whether you have multiple Pride events on your calendar this month or just one, there’s no better time to attend your first parade or festival. If you’re a member of the community or just an ally that wants to show your love and support, there’s a lot of things you can do to make the most out of the experience and make memories you’ll never forget. Happy Pride Month!