13 Tips For Attending Your First Pride, From Nonbinary Folks and Queer Women

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As you roll through June, the number of Pride events sweeping the country is rivaled only by the number of queer ladies swooning over the release of the Captain Marvel DVD. Maybe you feel like a Pride expert: you’ve been there, you’ve done that, and you’ve gotten all those free sunglasses. And that’s great! But if you’re new to all of this, and you’ll be attending your first Pride event this June, that’s great too: welcome aboard!

Going to your first Pride can be everything from exciting to stressful, exhilarating to panic-inducing. So whether you’re a social queer who can’t wait to wear nothing but a bisexual pride flag, or a person who has never donned trans colors in public before — or if you’re like me and are a hopeless combination of those personalities — Pride can induce All The Feelings.

But if you can’t resist the rainbows streaming through the streets —especially if it’s your first time — just remember that you’re not alone. Because that’s the whole point of Pride, isn’t it? And whatever your Pride personality is, if it’s your first time venturing out amidst the flags, you’re covered by these tips from nonbinary folks and queer women who have all kinds of experiences with Pride.

1. Stay Hydrated

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"Drink all the f*cking water," says Aviva, 26, followed by a resounding chorus of queer agreement. “Sunscreen,” Erika, 27, who's been to multiple Prides in multiple cities, adds. “I guess that goes with water.”

2. Open Up Space For People Of Color, Especially Trans Women Of Color

“Make space for trans women of color,” Erika, 27, tells Bustle. Kat, a swim coach, agrees, adding that, “If you are a trans woman of color, take up the space you deserve.” Pride wouldn’t exist without the labor of queer people of color generally, and trans women of color specifically. So, remember to actively create space for queer and trans people of color, and be mindful of the space (physical, verbal, and emotional) that you’re taking up. Enjoy Pride, but make sure you’re keeping enough space to share with the people who made all this possible.

3. 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.”

4. Work To Make Pride More Accessible

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“Work to make Pride more accessible” for people with disabilities, Aviva tells Bustle. That can be as simple as keeping an extra water bottle in your bag for attendees without one. It can also mean getting involved in volunteering to make sure there are ASL interpreters and march monitors to keep all people safe (including handing out water, making sure people aren’t blocking pathways for people with mobility aids, and making sure the police aren’t harassing anyone). Accessibility is also taking care of yourself and making Pride safe for you. “Take breaks. Go a few blocks away and rest,” Kat says. “Pace yourself,” Erika agrees. “Do what you need to do to be safe,” Aviva chimes in. To that end, bring ear plugs, stim toys, and whatever other aids you might need to cope with loud noises and a lot of people.

5. 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,” a 29-year-old queer named Megan says, “because there are still assh*les out there.” Asking someone if you can take a picture of or with them is a great practice. And if you find yourself at an afterparty, get consent before taking it to the next level.

6. 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.” So, if you’re looking for a diverse crowd, age-wise, that’s amped and excited to be there, the end of the parade might just be the place for you! There's more chilling in one place than walking/moving there, and it can serve as a great meet-up spot. Especially if walking around a lot isn’t your thing.

7. Don’t Wait To Use The Restroom

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You’re ideally going to be drinking a lot of water at Pride. And with that in mind, don’t wait until it’s an absolute emergency to use the restroom. “Don’t wait until the last second!” says a 35-year-old anonymous lesbian. And not all venues along parade routes will have their restrooms open without purchase, and even if they are, those restrooms might be gendered. So, be prepared to travel at least a few blocks away from the action, and start that travel almost as soon as you feel like a bathroom trip is imminent!

8. Leave Your Assumptions At Home

Just like every other day, Aviva says, “Don’t feel like you can guess people’s sexuality or gender” by looking at them. Erika chimes, “Don’t assume who deserves to be there.”

9. Buy Queerly, Buy Locally

When you’re getting ready to head out for Pride, rest assured that you will not be booed off the street if you’re not decked out in your most fabulous gear. I promise. But, if you want to rock some cool Pride gear, “buy your gay sh*t from local queer artists,” Aviva tells Bustle.

10. If You Drive, Expect Parking To Be Horrendous

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Many if not most Pride festivals and parades won’t easily afford you a close and cheap way to park, an anonymous lesbian says. Have a plan to get to and from your pick up and drop off destination safely and sustainably. Part of that plan might well be bringing a (charged!) portable phone charger to call a friend to pick you up or call a rideshare when you're ready to go home.

12. You Don't Have To Go To Be Queer Enough

"Pride doesn’t have to be about the event,” Kat says. “It can be about queer history… pride is a virtue.” And you’re not any less queer if Pride isn’t accessible to you, or if you simply don’t want to go. No one will take your membership card from you. Gay Scouts honor.

13. “There’s No Wrong Or Right Way To Do Pride.”

Because just like there’s no wrong or right way to be queer, there’s no wrong or right way to do Pride. That includes not going, and it includes going, having a panic attack, and coming right back home. It also includes going, staying out all night, and coming back covered in tequila and glitter. Whatever your Pride style, be safe and have a Prideful time.