BY KAYLEE DUFF
Everyone wants to have a good time at Pride parades and festivals. Since Stonewall Columbus Pride (#PrideForAll!) starts tomorrow, our editor decided to share some of her favorite Pride tips!
I went to my first Columbus Pride parade and festival the summer after I came out. It was my first Pride event ever, and I was as overwhelmed as I was excited. I had no idea what to expect. I still remember it vividly; I went with my best friend, and I borrowed one of his shirts that said like, “Ohio Pride” or “Love Is Love” on it. We practically got lost in downtown Columbus, but eventually found the parade route after following some people with rainbow flags. And I remember it was this huge, eye-opening experience where I just felt very accepted and loved and validated.
Everyone deserves to have an experience like that. So whether it’s your first Pride or your 51st Pride, here’s my favorite Pride tips collected over the years:
- SAFETY FIRST. If you see something that looks out of the ordinary, let someone (like an event volunteer or police officer) know.
- The Buckeye Region Anti-Violence Organization (BRAVO) will have a 24/7 helpline available all weekend, starting at 5 p.m. on Friday. Call 866.86.BRAVO (866.862.7286) to report any type of violence witnessed or experienced. They’ll have trained volunteers that can help you, and are able to provide support services. If you get a busy signal and it’s safe for them to call you back, leave a message indicating so, including your name and number. If it’s not safe, call them back when possible. For more information about BRAVO’s services, visit their website.
- Transphobia, racism, anti-Semitism, xenophobia and other forms of bigotry have NO place at Pride, our community or this world. To really be #PrideForAll, we have to do better and be better. Be respectful of the people around you. At all times.
- Remember where Pride comes from. As we’re often (rightfully) reminded, the first Pride parade was a riot. Take a moment during your rainbow- and glitter-tinted weekend to remember the trans women of color who kickstarted the queer rights movement and made this all possible.
- Better yet, do a little research before you go to the parade. Read up on your history, refresh your memory about Stonewall, educate yourself on the status of queer rights around the globe. Maybe even watch a documentary or check out a book at your local public library. (A simple Google search goes a long way.)
- Pride festivals are usually full of alcoholic drinks. You don’t have to drink, but if you do, respect your body’s limits and pace yourself. And never pressure someone into drinking (or doing) something that they’re not comfortable with — at Pride and also always.
- STAY HYDRATED. It’s hot and sunny, so make sure you’re drinking lots of water. Especially if you’re drinking. #HydrationNation #HydrateOrDie-drate
- On a similar note, make sure you’re eating something. Being in the hot sun (and/or drinking) on an empty stomach will end badly. Passing out and heat exhaustion are no joke. Trust me.
- Do. Not. Drive. Drunk. Drunk driving is stupid and illegal; it puts your life and the lives of everyone around you at risk. Either have a designated driver, plan on calling a Lyft or utilize Columbus’s public transport.
- Wear sunscreen. Wear chapstick that has SPFsomething in it. (The only thing worse than a bad sunburn is a bad sunburn ON YOUR LIPS.) Even if it’s cloudy, the sun is still there, so put some sunscreen on. Re-apply throughout the day.
- Bring some cash! Tip your queens and bartenders!!! I know I usually just carry cards with me, but cash is way easier to deal with. Plus, not everywhere at a festival can accept your debit or credit card, and you don’t want to miss out on anything.
- Take a trip off the beaten path. Most cities have other events alongside the huge Pride parade and festival. Look and see what else is going on. Support your local LGBTQ-owned businesses, check out some queer art or theatre.
- Use protection. Please.
- We’re all trying to dress to impress, but don’t forget to dress for the weather. It’ll be hot, especially if you plan on walking around the festival. Literally anything goes, as long as you’re comfortable in it! Maybe this means a prom dress and platform heels. Maybe this means as little clothing as physically possible (hello, #FreeTheNipple). No one’s there to judge — just make sure you’ll be comfy.
- Travel light, but travel smart. Make sure you have all the essentials, like phone, money, keys, sunscreen. And if you’re someone who needs to be overly prepared — I know I am!! — bring something to carry your stuff in. This year I will be sporting a super-fun holographic fanny pack. Other options include things like drawstring bags or backpacks.
- Try not to engage with haters. Events like this are prime places for anti-LGBT+ protesters to try and get a rise out of people. You’re not going to change your mind by yelling or throwing rainbows at them, so don’t let that take up your day. Pride is a time for us to celebrate, after all.
- Wear sunglasses. It’s June, so it’s going to be sunny. Bring some sunglasses to wear so you don’t miss seeing anything awesome because you’re too busy squinting against the sun.
- Don’t leave your stuff unattended. This means drinks, bags, wallets, your child. No one wants to a) get roofied or b) get robbed.
- KEEP THE PARKS CLEAN. Don’t litter. Recycle everything and everything you can. We want to keep having Pride events for like, ever, so don’t ruin it for everyone by making a huge mess.
- Bring some friends! People don’t normally go to big stuff like Pride alone. It’s a great safety precaution if you aren’t walking around by yourself. Have a specific spot and time to meet up with your pals in case you get separated.
- If you have to come to Pride alone, make some friends! Pride is a great place to meet new people with similar interests to you. At the very least, make sure someone you trust knows where you are.
- Don’t park illegally. Look, the last thing anyone wants at the end of a long day in the sun is to find out their car has been towed. Make sure you plan ahead of time where you’re trying to park, and then document the location so you don’t forget.
- Charge your phone ahead of time. Bring a portable charger with you, if possible.
- Never ever ever take pictures of someone without asking for their consent. (Actually, never do ANYTHING without asking someone for consent.) If you’ve never been to an event like Pride before, you might be taken aback by people’s outfits or whatever. Taking pictures of people without asking is rude and also not really legal, so just don’t.
- Don’t stare at people either. It’s just as rude (although technically not illegal).
- But if you see someone and you love their look? Tell them. A little kindness goes a long way.
- And last but not least, don’t forget your cheesy, motivational one-liners: Try something new! Hold your head up with Pride! Make the most of your day! Do something memorable! Live Laugh Love! Seriously, though. If you’re into it, Pride can be a magical time. So make the most of it.
For more information about the Stonewall Columbus Pride festival, visit their website.
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