Celebrate!: Tips for a Safe, Fun, and Happy Pride

It’s Pride season, everyone! Time to break out the water guns, the body paint, the glittery pasties, the rainbow flags, and the inappropriate political protestors! All across this great country of ours, gay and straight alike, queer and cis, trans and ace, are coming together to celebrate forty years of gay history and a bright new future for LGBT people everywhere.

Note One: It’s also happening in the States, FYI. And during this most patriotic of weeks, I would also like to take a moment to commemorate that historic day one hundred and forty-five years ago, when the great leaders of the individual territories of the North came together and went “Ohshit! The Civil War’s over, there’s a great big united country down there and they are COMING TO EAT US!”.

Note Two: June 28th was the 42nd anniversary of the Stonewall Riots, the pivotal moment in queer history when cops raided the wrong bar, and butch dykes and drag queens led the fist-fight that followed against a corrupt and outdated system of discriminatory laws. I can’t even begin to chronicle all the amazing articles, archives, films, documentaries, and novels that have been written about the Riots that changed everything, but this particular piece from the NY Times sticks out in my mind, the police report of the incident that started it all.

Alright! So, time to party! Pride events happen in most major cities, and even some smaller ones. They can confine themselves to a single weekend, or span weeks. There is also World Pride, a massive event hosted in a different city every two years (2014 that city will be Toronto, my own hometown). While the festivities will differ wherever you find them, here are some tips for a safe, fun, and happy Pride:

  • Sunscreen. Reapply, reapply, reapply. I have spent too many post-Pride mornings crying into my pillow because it hurts to roll my shoulders. It’s hot, the sun’s out, you need sunscreen.
  • Stay hydrated. While Super-Soakers and free Jell-o shooters are usually the order of the day at any Pride street fair, make sure you also take a bottle or two of water along with you. Take breaks in the shade if you need to, or find an air-conditioned place to sit down for a while, like a restaurant, library, mall, or community centre.
  • Don’t overdo it. Beer and wine flow as freely at Pride as they do at the Life Café, but remember that you’re also wandering around in the hot sun, and that can hit you harder than you expect.
  • Pride is not just for the tourists. The older and jaded members of the community will sometimes elect to sit out entirely, sneering at the backpack-toting “straights” who throng the Village to gawk at the gays. Don’t give in to this negative attitude. Pride, while also a tourist draw, is a chance for members of the LGBT community to meet others, network, and generally find that they are not alone in the world. People travel from surrounding towns and cities for the events, often because there is not a visible queer presence in their own community. Many community programs will have a presence at Pride events, so keep an eye out for groups or programs that could help you – and any cute single guys or girls while you’re at it.
  • Have a plan. Most Pride events have a website with a detail list of concerts, activities, parades, and street closures. Plan accordingly, especially if you’re heading out with a group of friends or if you’ll be visiting an area of the city you aren’t familiar with. Make sure you all know how to get there, how to get home, where you want to be, and when. Parades and free concerts fill up fast, so give yourself lots of time to get there to grab the best seats.
  • Drag queens love having their pictures taken! Other people, maybe not so much. I am a shutterbug, and at crowd events like this I will take hundreds of pictures, of people on display in the parade or at booths, and also of ordinary couples in the crowd. If you do want to share your photos later, on Facebook or elsewhere online, it’s always good etiquette to ask the person whose picture you took, and respect the answer that you are given.
  • Try Butch Wonders’ fun Pride Bingo cards – she’s giving out monthly prizes for photographic evidence of completed cards!
  • Most of all: Have fun! Dance to the music, hug the sweaty bears, grab the multicoloured condoms from the air, scream for plastic beads. This is a celebration!

Any other tips to share from your own Pride experiences? Cautionary tales? Great memories? Leave them in the comments!

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