Your cousin insists that you can’t miss the dance party on the pier, but your bestie swears that the best place to celebrate Pride is at your city’s trans rights march. When you’re trying to figure out what to do for your first Pride, the options are endless and the nerves are real.
From free corporate sunglasses that you feel
ethically weird about wearing to festival stands featuring local queer artists, the specific tips for attending your first Pride will vary depending on what your local celebrations are like. “At my first Pride, I assumed the dress code would be very few clothes,” says Carla, 25. “But the city I was in was a little more conservative. People were mostly sweet to me, but I was definitely one of the people showing the most skin.” If they could do it again, they tell Bustle that they would have worn the same thing — but they would have also scrolled through their city’s Pride Instagram to get a feel for what other people might be wearing first.
Chances are that whether you’re a social butterfly who can’t wait to wear nothing but a bisexual pride flag, a person who has never donned trans colors in public before, or someone eager to attend their first march, there’ll be something for you at your local events. Whatever your Pride personality is, if it’s your first time venturing out amidst the flags, you’re covered by these 17 tips from nonbinary folks and queer women who have all kinds of experiences with Pride.
1 Stay Hydrated
"Drink all the f*cking water," says Aviva, 26. Sure, hydration is a 24/7/365 thing, but you'll want to pay it special attention during your first Pride. It’s June, it’s hot, and you’re going to be dancing along a crowded street for many hours.
That means bringing your hydro pack, your obnoxiously large gym water bottle, and your fave electrolyte-packed drink. Yes, you’ll need them all. Pro-tip: Grab your Gatorade the night before, because that CVS along the parade route will be jam-packed the day of. 2 Wear Your Sunscreen
Sunscreen,” advises Erika, 27, who's been to multiple Prides in multiple cities. Whether it's a march or a festival, she says that the common theme of every Pride celebration is sunburn. So put SPF on before you leave, and toss some extra in your backpack for reapplying when you inevitably sweat it off. 3 Bring Chapstick
Even if your lips aren’t prone to getting chapped, if you’re going with a group of friends, chances are that someone will need
chapstick at some point. And then you get to be the cool kid who thought ahead and can take care of the squad. 4 Communicate With Your Squad
Make a game plan with your friends before you head out. Figure out what time you're planning to meet up and where, and make sure everyone knows what time you want to head home together. Have a couple of backup plans in case Option A is just too darn crowded.
5 Take Space, Make Space
Pride wouldn’t exist without the work of
trans women and femmes of color, says Erika, so celebrate the heck out of that all day long. It’s often about the little things — who’s getting their orders taken first at the bar? A simple, “She was here first” can go a long way towards creating space for everyone. “If you are a trans woman of color, take up the space you deserve,” says Kat, a swim coach. 6 Set A Budget
The bar with the only open bathroom on the block is charging a cover, and regular old water bottles will sell for approximately eight million bucks. You’ll get hungry at some point, and you definitely need that overpriced trans pride muscle tee. When you’re squirreling money aside for the day, try to give yourself a cushion for those unexpected costs (including offering to buy that cute girl a beer).
7 You Don’t Have To Drink Alcohol At Pride
Thinking of those who are underage and/or those who don’t or can’t drink alcohol, Erika tells Bustle that “Pride often takes places at event venues that charge covers, or at bars. But there are also events throughout the month at libraries and parks and stuff. You don’t have to drink at Pride.”
8 Keep Pride Accessible
Aviva tells Bustle that a big part of Pride is making sure it’s accessible to everyone, including folks with disabilities. That work can be as simple as keeping an extra water bottle in your bag for attendees without one, or keeping pace with the people in your friend group who need to move more slowly. It can also mean getting involved in
volunteering to make sure there are ASL interpreters and march monitors to keep all people safe. 9 Plan For Your Self-Care
It’s a long, hot day, and you’ll be able to keep the party going a lot longer if you don’t burn out early. “Take breaks,” Kat advises. “Go a few blocks away and rest.” Pace yourself and bring whatever you’ve got to bring to make your day doable — think earplugs or other things you might need to cope with loud noises and a lot of people.
10 Consent Is Necessary
Scrolling through your city’s Pride hashtags may give you a decent sense of your city’s Pride culture in terms of how people will be dressed. Regardless of people’s states of (un)dress, consent is always necessary, and getting consent includes taking photos. “Have a good time but still be smart,” Megan, 29, says, “because there are still assh*les
out there.” Ask permission before you take a picture of someone, no matter how fabulous their outfit is. And if you find yourself at an afterparty, get consent before taking it to the next level. 11 Hang Out At The End Of The Parade Route
“If you aren’t into bars,” Megan says, “I would suggest being closer to the parade’s end because there are a good amount of people there, including more families, teens, and older gays.” You’ll still get to see all the gay sights, but you can bring a lawn chair and won’t have to walk around. Since you won’t be constantly on the move, you can also be the ultimate meet-up spot for your friends.
12 Don’t Wait To Use The Restroom
You’re ideally going to be drinking a lot of water at Pride. That’ll probably mean a lot of bio breaks. “Don’t wait until the last second!” says a 35-year-old anonymous lesbian. Start looking for an accessible bathroom pretty much as soon as you’ve gotta go — it might take you a minute to find somewhere, and when you do, lines will be long.
13 Buy Queerly, Buy Locally
It's not mandatory to don
rainbows at Pride, but if your goal is to be as colorful as possible, take the opportunity to support the community hosting your Pride. “Buy your gay sh*t from local queer artists,” Aviva tells Bustle. If your city has festival-style Pride celebrations, you might be able to get a lot of your locally sourced swag the day of. 14 Pack Your Hand Sanitizer
Pride is nothing if not sweaty and a bit hands-on, so come prepped with your
hand sanitizer for when you buy that funnel cake. While you’re at it, you might want to pack some face wipes, too. 15 Charge Your Phone & Free Up Storage Space
You might think you have enough space on your phone, but — with the consent of performers and venues — you’re going to want to take all the videos of all the queer burlesque shows. Not to mention the ridiculous selfies with your friends. So make sure you have plenty of storage on your phone, because the last thing you want is to be frantically deleting old files during the coolest celebration of the year.
With all that picture-taking, Pride is not the day to leave your apartment with your phone in chaos mode. Keep it plugged in until you head out — you’ll want it to be pretty much at 100% when you’re starting your day. Toss a portable charger into your fanny pack just in case.
16 If You Drive, Expect Parking To Be Horrendous
There probably won’t be a close and cheap way to park at your local parade or festival, an anonymous lesbian says. She advises having a plan to get to and from your pick-up and drop-off destinations. If your transport involves ride-sharing, the driver might not be able to get you
exactly where you’re going because of road closures. So check in about where they can actually drop you off and plan accordingly. 17 You Don't Have To Go To Be Queer Enough
You’ve picked your outfit and made all the plans, but you wake up that morning and you’d rather stay in bed. "Pride doesn’t have to be about the event,” Kat says. “It can be about queer history … pride is a virtue.” So if you’re not out, or you’d just rather celebrate at home alone with your puppy and
Generation Q, no one’s going to take your queer membership card away because you want to do Pride your own way. Similarly, no one has to look a certain way or act a certain way to march proudly along side you. “Don’t assume who deserves to be there,” Erika says. You can’t guess other people’s gender or sexuality by looking at them, Aviva explains — so leave your trusty gaydar at home.
Whatever type of June you have, Erika says that there’s no way to do it wrong. And you’ve always got next year to mix it up.