You’ve read plenty of how-to guides, I’m sure, but you can’t be too prepared. Pride celebrates our freedom and promotes equality in this great country. Some take this remembrance solemnly. To others, it’s just another day to take their shirts off and sport enough glitter to make Ke$ha blush. Neither is wrong.
Here are some tips to make the most of your Pride travels. And yes, most of this is common sense, but it never hurts to re-state the obvious.
1) Plan ahead. You know about the parades, but most cities offer weekend-long events, and most of those require tickets. Buy your tickets online instead of standing in line. Pro tip: Tickets are normally cheaper in advance. So save a few dollars for drinks later.
2) Wear Pride on your sleeve. Dressing up for Pride is no easy task. When packing, remember that less is more. Of course, you need to be comfortable, whatever that means to you: T-shirt, tank, nipple tape, wig, Speedo, or glitter. In any case, I suggest weaving the rainbow flag throughout the wardrobe; it is Pride after all. Another must: sunscreen!
3) Pack sneakers. Leave the heels to the professionals, the drag queens. Wear sensible shoes. Trust me, you do not want to be walking around for miles to get from bar-to-bar in heels or even flip-flops. Sneakers, boat shoes, whatever covers your feet. Just not crocs. Never crocs, okay.
4) Cash is king. I get it. It’s odd to carry cash around in 2016. But you really do need it for Pride. You may want some singles for the go-go boys, or to tip the fierce drag queens. More importantly, some vendors only accept cash. (Apparently, they haven’t heard of Square.) Bring it from home so you aren’t scrambling for an ATM when you should be drinking/dancing/parading.
5) Play safe. Plain and simple. If you hook up, use a condom. There will be countless AIDS-prevention groups or health organizations giving out free condoms. Take ‘em! And those lube packets are totally TSA-safe, so take extra to bring back home.
6) Charge your phone. Don’t even think of going to the parade with your phone not fully charged. Between texting friends your location and Grindr-ing to make new friends, you’ll want a full charge to be able to snap those Instagram-worthy pics. How sad if you miss those nearly naked men with indestructible abs because of a dead battery?
7) Hydrate. The thirst is real. And I’m talking H2O. Pride is more of a marathon than a sprint. If you’re going to be slamming back alcoholic beverages all day, sneak in a sip of water from time to time. Heat and liquor don’t mix well, and you can’t shake that booty if you pass out from dehydration.
8) Thank the sponsors. Big-name companies typically join the parades with floats or representatives. It is because of their sponsorships that the events are possible. So, be sure to thank them by buying their goods and services. Just don’t be a big ol’ Pride mess and try to jump on their floats
9) Stay in a hotel. No one wants to go home with someone who is sleeping on their friend’s couch. Pony up for a real, grown-up hotel room, and enjoy the privacy, concierge service, clean linens, and strong water pressure.
10) Take off on Monday. Enough said.
Photos by Anthony Meade for Chicago Pride and Santiago Felipe, Christopher Gagliardi, Andrew Werner and Marco Orvando for New York City Pride.