Article written by J Matthew Cobb

2019 marks the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall riots, the spark that led to the genesis towards the Gay Liberation movement, LGBTQ equal rights and what led to the first gay pride marches (which later evolved into parades). Today, there are literally thousands of Pride celebrations held all over the world. We’ve come a very long way as a marginalized people. We endured being falsely defined by science that we were mentally ill (ending in the US in 1973 by the American Psychiatric Association), survived the turbulent AIDS crisis of the ‘80’s and ‘90’s and fought against far-right politics that tried to undermine our existence and survival. And yet, we still have a long way to go in achieving equal rights on the global stage.

And so, we should take great pride in celebrating Pride, not just during Pride season but all year round. It’s not just a celebration on how we’ve evolved and how we’ve overcomed, it’s a time to celebrate who we are. Still, all the rainbow flags and “yas qween” chants in the world can’t hide the fact that there are a few things we must avoid at all costs. Yes, sometimes even we get things wrong. Here’s a mini guide to the no-no’s one should remember before attending a pride event.D

DON’T drink and drive.

If you’re touching the bottle for the festivities, have Uber or Lyft downloaded somewhere on that smartphone of yours or have a sensible designated driver with you. We are not gonna take lives out for what should be a festive and memorable celebration.

DON’T frown upon people who are different than you.

We’re supposed to be one happy family, a rainbow of many colors. But often, we’ll witness prejudice and discrimination in our own backyard. Yeah, it happens more often than you think. Where the hell you think the “no fats no fems” term came from? And in some circles, younger tribes scoff at older gays, bringing on turbulent attitudes of ageism. If you’re gonna bring those attitudes to Pride, you’re probably ignorant of what Pride means and what it should represent. Don’t be closed minded. Learn how to celebrate the differences. It’s what makes us all unique and special.

DON’T assume it’s just a big sex party.

Yes, sex is good. Being sex positive is good too. But let’s not feed the narrative of the stereotype, that Pride is just one big cum dump. While it’s okay to discover new adventures and levels of sexuality, it’s unfair to lump everyone into the same category. Not everyone comes to Pride for those reasons. And let’s not forget; not everyone that attends Pride is queer. Remember, allies are welcome too.

And if you get turned down because someone’s not as out there as you (or umm, there not that into you) and start to feel shamed, don’t take it seriously. Everybody isn’t into everyone.

DON’T be a party pooper.

I understand, not everyone is into the hoopla and the extravagance of Pride. And introverts totally need their space. But if you’re going with a downcast spirit, TRY to boost up your esteem and enjoy what you can. Surround yourself with friends that will keep you on the right path. And hey, if you’re ever totally depressed about something, reach out to someone. Indeed, these are dark and turbulent times we’re in and it’s easy to fall between the cracks of depression and distress, but don’t be afraid to reach out for help. Talk to your local Pride representatives or organizations like PFLAG. You can also make a phone call to the GLBT National Help Center Hotline or The Trevor Project. They are safe, confidential and help save lives.

DON’T dress offensively.

I know you’ve seen the Native American costumes done at Halloween and music festivals. It’s almost a staple in Coachella culture and part of the hipster summer brand, but please try not to do the cultural appropriation thing. Sure, fashion is fashion, but don’t be a dick just because you want to show off. There are plenty of other ways to stick out in public without stepping on reverential and cultural traditions. If you’re going this route and want to incorporate other cultural trends into your look, be respectful when doing it. Presentation is key.

DON’T assume every pride celebration is the same.

Not every Pride is going to book your household name superstars or Ru girls. And not every Pride is going to have a parade full of Mardi Gras-styled floats and half-naked hunks. Depending on the region, you just might get something very simple or something totally outrageous for your taste buds. It just depends. Always do your research on the Pride festivals you’re attending before you book that hotel and hop on that flight. For those new to the Pride experience, find a Pride that preferably matches your personality or that’s close to home. And oh yeah, there’s nothing wrong with stepping outside the box and trying something new. If you’re tired of the same ole’ regimen, go somewhere you’ve never been and hop on the train of discovery.

DON’T feed the trolls.

We know about the pesky vitriol of the Westboro Baptist Church. With every Pride event, there they are on the sidelines, spewing their dangerous rhetoric alongside offspring hate groups and attacking our freedoms, our identities and our culture. And as we approach this important milestone in history, fifty years from the Stonewall riots, we must acknowledge that hate groups of all kinds are on the rise in this country. It’s a sad reality we face, making our quest towards equality an agonizing challenge for us all. Being that we live in a nation where freedom of speech is a right, we have to respect their decision to protest. Sure, it sucks, but it doesn’t help us when we fight back using violence or weapon of hate at them. Great people like civil rights icon MLK and LGBTQ advocate Harvey Milk taught us that nonviolence is not the answer. And so, in their memory, for those who carried the mantle of wisdom on their shoulders, we must not ignore their example. There’s a way to fight back, and with smarts: Do it at the ballot box. Like Michelle Obama once said, “when they go low, we go high.” Let’s always strive for higher ground.

If you’re not comfortable in it, DON’T wear it.

Summertime and the agonizing torture of sweat and humidity calls us all to wear less during the peak season of Pride. I’m down with body positivity, but let’s cut right to the chase. A lot of people are wearing stuff that’s not flattering, stuff in the wrong size and clothing outside of our comfort zone. Ask yourself before going out: Am I looking my best? And be honest with yourself. This is supposed to be a celebration of pride. If you’re not feeling proud, not feeling your best and if your self-esteem doesn’t match the apparel, you need a re-do. Henny, you might need to binge-watch a few seasons of Queer Eye and soak in JVN’s fashion wisdom before making that outdoor plunge.

DON’T get dehydrated.

There’s a good chance that you’re probably going to be basking in the hot sun outdoors during Pride festivities. So, it’s best for you to stay hydrated with lots of water. It’s that simple. Keep a reusable bottle on you and fill it up before going. And remember, alcohol drains ya and can easily bring you fatigue, so make sure you counter it with healthy doses of water. It’ll also help in eliminating some of the sting out of that hangover in the morning.

May 29, 2019 — Andrew Christian
Tags: Gay Culture