A Beginner’s Guide to Your First Pride

Donald McElveen, Staff Writer

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For the past few years, the beginning of June has marked the beginning of a joyous worldwide celebration known as Pride. Also known as Gay Pride, Pride is a celebratory response to the discrimination and oppression that afflict LGBTQ+ individuals worldwide, and a way to uplift the community in a positive and welcoming manner.. Pride is equal parts protest, party, and moment of reflection. It’s a time to honor our past, celebrate our present, and work towards a brighter future. There are celebrations all over the DMV to commemorate Gay Pride Month, so as a Pride vet, I’m going to give anyone new to the celebration some tips on how to celebrate in the best way possible.

If you go to the parade, be careful: The parade is one of the best parts of Pride, but it’s also the one that holds the most risk. Make sure you stay with your group, keep valuables in a not so easy place to get ahold of and bring any necessary protection you can. Don’t forget to wear lots of sunscreen, and bring water because it WILL get hot, and you don’t want to pass out from heat exhaustion. Map out how you’re getting to and leaving the parade beforehand, including any stops you may make along the way. Watching the parade towards the beginning is better if you get there earlier, but the later you are the better it is to camp out towards the end. Be prepared for large crowds. The Pride parade can be fun and exciting, but it can also make things a little cramped and uncomfortable.

Find other activities to celebrate: While the parade is the most well-known event, Pride lasts for the entire month, so there’s tons of stuff you can do all month long. In DC alone there’s the Pride Festival, The Capital Pride Concert, the Block Party, and many other smaller events. Rockville is a hub for LGBTQ+ activities here in Maryland, and usually is home to many youth pride events. If you want something a little more private, organize a little party or brunch with your friends to celebrate, or have a Queer Character Movie Night every Friday of June. You don’t just have to go to the parade to celebrate Pride.

If you’re not out, don’t sweat it: Many people think that because “IT’S PRIDE!!” they have to come out or come out in the most extravagant way possible. Come out in your own time. Yes, Pride is a time for raising awareness and embracing the parts of each other that make us different, but coming out is completely personal. You don’t have to walk out the house waving a 10-foot rainbow flag to be valid. Take it slow, and make sure you’re in a safe situation before you come out. Like I said previously, try to find your own personal way to celebrate pride that doesn’t put you in harm’s way.