If you’re hitting the gay pride parade circuit, you know that regardless of what town the party’s stopping in, you’re in for an incredible time. From the amazing sense of community and the show-stopping live performances to the volunteer opportunities, there are endless reasons we love gay pride festivals — but, like anything else, it’s important to come prepared to get the most out of your experience.
Let’s take a look at the 10 things you absolutely cannot be without when you go to the gay pride parade:
Any day is only as good as the people you spend it with, so gather your favorite people and make some memories that will last several long, proud lifetimes. After all, you’re about to see some amazing floats, witness mind-bending dance routines, scout some vendors, gather plenty of swag (including free lube!) and likely close out the day with yummy local grub and a refreshing cocktail or two. Pride parades are basically the perfect recipe for an unbeatable time with your friends, so round up your proudest pals!
Once you have your crew in tow, it’s time to make your way to the gay pride parade. If you’re carpoolin’ it, having a playlist ready to get you pumped for pride is non-negotiable. Picture this: you’re rolling through your favorite city (or a city you’ve always wanted to visit) with your best friends, windows down, blasting “A Little Respect” by Erasure and belting at the top of your lungs. (Or, if synthpop isn’t your thing, you might opt for “Born This Way” by Lady Gaga or the time honored classic, “I’m Coming Out” by Diana Ross.)
And the best part? Another car pulls alongside you at a traffic light, full of happy people decked out in rainbow, and the driver gives you the thumbs up. That’s because when the gay pride parade is in town, the city takes on a new (rainbow-colored) light. You’ll probably see a few “Honk for Pride” signs, so make sure to give them the signal while jamming out to your favorite pride anthems.
And most importantly: make sure your friends are singing along with you. It doesn’t matter how out of tune you are today. All that matters is that you’re feeling the love.
Okay, this one is strictly optional, but how many opportunities do you get to deck yourself out head to toe in every color of the rainbow, complete with plenty of glitter and copious amounts of rhinestones?
Sure, gay pride parades are about something deeper than all the glitz and glam we associate with the floats, costumes and confetti. They’re about the pursuit of equality and freedom for all — most of all, the freedom to be yourself and love the people you love.
But they’re also about exercising your right to celebrate! The community has been working hard all year and gaining some wins, and now it’s time to let loose and revel in the incredible feeling of community and victory.
So don’t hold back! Paint rainbows on your sneakers, if you’re into DIY projects. If you’re into makeup, now’s the best time to show off the rainbow cut crease eyeshadow look you’ve been spending months perfecting. Dye your hair with as many bright colors as you can get your hands on. Own any rainbow jewelry? Wear it all at once! And make sure you take plenty of pictures.
Not only are gay pride parades usually held in the summer, but they also tend to involve a lot of moving around, regardless of if that means dancing, keeping up with your favorite float or just going a little crazy (side effects of gay pride parades may include throwing your arms in the air, jumping up and down with excitement and a sudden increase in energy).
In every case, it’s important to keep yourself hydrated. While there will probably be plenty of vendors along the parade route selling bottled water, you can save yourself some cash (and time) by bringing your own — plus, you won’t have to worry about getting stuck in a long line while all your friends are having the time of their lives without you.
It can be easy to forget to drink water, especially if you don’t necessarily feel thirsty, so remember the signs of dehydration: drowsiness, dizziness and headaches are all early clues that your body needs water urgently. If a friend reports these symptoms, make sure to get them a bottle of water, stat!
We have love for all colors of the rainbow, but nobody wants to end up beet red by the end of the day. While you’ll usually be able to find some shade along the parade route, the last thing you want to do is get caught out in the open with no protection from the sun.
You should apply your sunscreen at least 15 minutes before heading outside, and reapply every two hours after that. If you get wet — or if you’re so hot that you’re drenched in sweat — you should immediately towel off, and then reapply your sunblock. (Yes, even if you’re not pale. Yes, even if it’s a little overcast.)
Other indispensable sun essentials? A nice floppy hat will not only protect your face, but can also be decorated in rainbow ribbons, LGBTQ pride-related buttons, flowers, glitter and other colorful accoutrements. A pair of rainbow sunglasses (with broad spectrum UV protection) will keep your eyes safe from the sun’s harmful rays.
What city is hosting your gay pride parade? If you’re travelling to San Diego for pride, you don’t want to miss out on mouth-watering fish tacos or California-style pizza. If you’re in New York, you’ll be surrounded by countless cuisines from all over the world (not to mention the best Italian in the country). After several straight (or not-so-straight) hours of showing your pride, you can work up a mighty appetite, so don’t forget to enjoy a taste of the town!
Oh, and on a related note: don’t forget to keep some cash on you. Not only will there be tasty nosh, but pride parades are a great way to learn more about a city’s LGBTQ-friendly local vendors (which may not accept credit cards). If you love supporting businesses that support the community, today’s a good day to get your spend on.
Yes, those rainbow-colored five-inch heels are gorgeous. Yes, they make your legs look fabulous. They’d be perfect for a night out (provided you have back-up flats), but you’re going to be on your feet for most of the day. Nobody wants to miss a legendary music performance because they had to go home early due to sore feet. Bring your comfiest shoes and get ready for a day with plenty of activity!
Not only will a good bag help you carry all of your stuff to the parade, it’ll help you carry all of your free swag home with you! One of the best (or worst) kept secrets of gay pride parades is that there’s a ton of free stuff being thrown around. Even if you’re just sitting by the side of the road, you’ll be lucky if you go more than a few minutes without someone handing you something for free.
Speaking of freebies, if you happen to see the Astroglide float at a gay pride parade near you, feel free to wave us over — we’ll be giving out plenty of free lube!
Okay, we’ve been going on and on about rainbows, but as we all know, there’s more to LGBTQ pride than the standard Roy G. Biv, and “G” isn’t the only letter in the alphabet. No matter what your sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression, pride parades are for you. So bring your most authentic self, and don’t forget your flag!
Today’s the day to break out your pink, blue and white striped trans pride flag, or your magenta, purple and blue bisexual banner. Maybe you’re blazing black, gray, purple and white for asexual pride, or yellow, blue and magenta for proud pansexuality. No matter your colors, go forth and be represented.
More important than anything else on this list (or, at the very least, tied with water and sun protection) is your pride. Your pride in yourself and how far you’ve come in your life journey, whether you’re gay, straight, trans, genderqueer or questioning. Your pride in the shared community for achieving such great things — and this year, there have been plenty of victories. Your pride in your friends, who are standing alongside you cheering on everything LGBTQ. Your pride in your partner, your family. There are just so many good things to celebrate today.
It’s your day. So live it up.
Let us know if we missed anything! What do you think are the most important things to bring to a gay pride parade? Give us a shout by tweeting us @Astroglide!
Are you going to San Diego Pride? Look for Astroglide there, and don’t forget to #GetFreaky!
Images are for illustrative purposes only.