Getting the Most Out Of Your Pride Month

6/16/2018

June is finally upon us, and that means that in addition to the sunny skies and warmer temps, Pride season is finally here. This month-long celebration is held every June to commemorate the Stonewall Riots, which many recognize as the tipping point that sparked the movement to fight for LGBTQ+ rights, and can be celebrated in a multitude of ways; that’s one of the beautiful things about Pride, there are countless ways that one can celebrate it.

However, typically speaking, the Pride celebrations that most people flock to involve parades, parties, and festivals in larger metropolitan areas; that has been my one and only experience so far. My first Pride experience took place in Chicago last year and, while I had a blast, there were certain things I wish I had known, or been aware of, before diving into the month of celebration. Going into this year, I will be sure to implement these tips in order to maximize the Pride Month experience.

Have fun, but be safe!

This rule can be applied to numerous Pride experiences; it basically means that you should make sure of who you’re with, where you are, and what your state of mind is frequently throughout the day. Pride is a wonderful opportunity to meet new people and experience new things, but it’s important to make sure you keep your wits about you in order to make sure you are not verging on dangerous or unsafe waters.

 The best way to do this is to go to the celebration with a group of trusted friends and, before heading out, make a plan of what you’re expecting to do throughout the day. It doesn’t have to be a plan orchestrated to a level of military precision, just an outline so that if you do get separated, you can at least have an idea of where you can reconnect. It’s also a good idea to share your location on your phone with friends (which could come in handy if you lose said phone) and to set an hourly alarm or reminder to drink some water throughout the day.

*You might be thinking, “I’ll just call or text them!” but service in such a busy, crowded place can be tricky at best, so an old fashioned plan can never hurt!

Keep your judgements/assumptions at home

Pride is a celebration for everyone in the LGBTQ+ community, and this includes people of all races, genders, orientations, and body types. I’ve experienced first-hand that not everyone agrees with this sentiment; last year, it took little more than five minutes before I was told I should come back to Pride “After I actually come out” when I identified myself as bi. Bringing hate and exclusivity into Pride goes against the very essence of the event, so don’t be the person bringing those feelings to this celebration.

Additionally, don’t assume anything about the people you see. For example, if you see a couple that appears to be male and female, don’t label them as straight and tell them the event isn’t for them. They might be a bi couple, pansexual, transgender, or even just straight allies there supporting and celebrating the LGBTQ+ community, just like you are. The more people who come to and feel comfortable at Pride celebrations, the better, so make it a priority to be someone who is welcoming and kind.

Take advantage of more than just parties

There is much more to enjoy than just parties during Pride month. There are speakers, networking events, advocacy meetings, and more, that can benefit you and the community as a whole. There are also ample opportunities to volunteer to help those in the LGBTQ+ community who might be struggling in numerous capacities. A simple Google search or email to an advocacy organization should yield plenty of ways in which to find these events and volunteer opportunities.

Be proud

This is a time to celebrate, so be sure to enjoy it in any way you see fit! Don’t let the expectations of anyone dictate how you should be proud of the person you are; that is the whole point of this month!

Blaize Stewart
Blaize Stewart is a recent graduate of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, where he received a BA in broadcast journalism and a MA in journalism. He currently lives in Chicago, IL and works as an influencer relations associate for a full-service influencer marketing agency called Faam and as an adjunct instructor at Robert Morris University. Additionally, he runs the LGBTQ+ blog Out Loud, a space for members to share their experiences and thoughts on current events and more.