This article originally appeared in DIVA magazine in August 2018
Pride parades are like a beautiful ship setting sail. They signify the start of an incredible weekend of celebrations. The hustle and bustle of everyone getting into position is adrenaline inducing. Your queer little heart squeals at the excitement of seeing hundreds of other queer little hearts just like you. Once you notice the magnificence of the floats you realise how hundreds of hours of hard work have gone into making them. The summer sky sets the back drop as your head tilts towards an overwhelming sight of people living their best lives. As you gaze up you remember that living their best lives is often a struggle but not today, not with you cheering them on. They drift past, flowing through a channel that has been created just for them, your presence ensuring them a safe passage. Now, for some, this event will be like the best all inclusive cruise you could ever imagine. For others, it’ll be like the Titanic and in order to avoid the icebergs right ahead, I’ve written some guidelines. We’ll call them the ‘New Rules of Pride’.
If, like me, Pride is one of the first opportunities for you to express your sexuality, it is a wonderland of opportunity. I remember the excitement was overwhelming, the alcohol was my priority and bad decisions were made. At Brighton Pride, my mate and I ordered food in a restaurant and had to leave before it arrived because I realised I was going to throw up (make your jokes now we’d ordered fish and chips). We then stumbled to Brighton’s pebble beach, my friend cursing me the whole journey. As I breathed in the fresh salty air I turned to my pal to claim ‘I feel so much better already’ only to see her vomiting. The most important thing was that we stuck together, we committed to being together no matter the desires of our stomachs.
2. Expect nothing
I remember believing that Pride would unlock the person I thought I wanted to be. Perhaps I’d watched Shane nab Carmen on the L Word and imagined ‘that’s how you get a super hot babe’. One night I stood around waiting for hours to get into the only club which looked like it had a significant amount of women in it. Just before entering I realised I’d sobered up and it would be super uncomfortable to put myself in that environment, so I went home. The following year, I decided to embrace the potential to connect with my community without motivation and as a result my experiences at Pride were totally unforced. That year I ended up at a campsite playing football at 5am with complete strangers. I slid on the dewy grass and had a muddy print on my face which I didn’t know about until I got back home but it was so much fun. My advice is to ride the wave and put as little pressure on yourself as possible.
3. Invite your friends
Over the years, I’ve invited different friendship groups to Pride, most of which identify as straight and had never been. It was almost just as exciting for them to experience the love, support and energy that comes with a pride parade as it was for me. I think we’re all used to being ‘the only gay person someone knows’ and sometimes in order to connect with the community, you have to immerse yourself in it. By taking someone who already knows and loves you for who you are, you can make sure you don’t get lost in the rainbow.