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7 Ways to Celebrate Your First or 40th Pride Festival

            Pride festivals and parades are vibrant celebrations of love, diversity, and the fight for equality. As we have talked about before, Pride has been a mix of celebration and protest, but whether it's your first Pride or 40th, attending a Pride festival or parade in June is a highlight for many in our LGBTQ+ community and allies. Here are seven things I try to never miss to ensure a memorable and meaningful Pride experience.

1. Connecting with Friends and Community

As a gay bear of a certain age and non-drinker, I don't spend much time at gay bars anymore. A Pride festival or parade is a great place to connect with old friends and loved ones, I have not seen in a while. Being surrounded by supportive and like-minded individuals enhances the sense of belonging and solidarity. Whether I go alone or make plans to attend with my friends, it's a great feeling to experience the joy and unity of Pride together with friends new and old.

2. Wearing Rainbow and Pride Gear

Dressing up in colorful, Pride-themed attire is a must for the younger festival go'ers and I appreciate a chance to break out some of my more colorful clothes as well. Whether it’s rainbow flags, t-shirts, or face paint, wearing Pride gear is a way to visually express solidarity and celebrate our identities. I try to never miss the chance to showcase my pride with vibrant and meaningful outfits.

3. Supporting Local LGBTQ+ Vendors

Most Pride festivals and parades feature booths and stalls from local LGBTQ+ businesses and organizations or ally's. As part of the Cleveland LGBTQ Chamber of Commerce group, "Plexus," I make it a point to visit these vendors, purchasing items I like and learning about their missions. Supporting local businesses not only boosts the community economically but also helps promote inclusivity. We'll have another post about true allyship year round and not just slapping a rainbow on a product, later in the month, but Pride festivals and parades are a great place to see who supports the community.

4. Attending Performances and Speeches

Pride festivals and parades often include performances by local artists, musicians, and drag queens, as well as speeches from activists and community leaders. I never miss these performances and speeches, as they add depth and context to the celebration. They are inspiring and remind us of the progress we have made and the work that still needs to be done. I love buying some food from one of the Pride vendors, or sometimes just bringing a picnic lunch if the festival is in a park, and finding a place to relax and listen to great music, fun performances, and words of Pride for those fighting the good fight.

5. Capturing Memories

Documenting the day with photos and videos is something I always do. Capturing the colorful parade, the joyful faces, and the moments of solidarity helps preserve the memories of Pride. These memories serve as a reminder of the strength and resilience of our community. As I talk about in the next segment though, be sure to ask permission when taking photographs. You don't want to accidentally out someone who may not be out in their family or where they work.

6. Being Respectful and Mindful

While Pride parades are festive and fun, it’s important to be respectful and mindful of others. This includes respecting personal space, asking for consent before taking photos of others, and being aware of the diverse identities within the community. I strive to be considerate and ensure that my behavior contributes to a positive atmosphere. As we talked about in a previous blog post, I try to never assume pronouns, genders, and make a point of asking others how they identify if I am unsure. It's also important that we respect the area that is letting us celebrate there. Sometimes it's hard to find a place in the community that is open and loving to our community, so we need to respect places that do by keeping it clean and respecting the area we are in.

7. Engaging with Activism and Advocacy

Pride is not just a celebration; it’s also a platform for activism and advocacy. I never miss the opportunity to engage with organizations and causes that are working towards equality and justice. Whether it’s signing petitions, donating, or simply educating myself about current issues, I make sure to use Pride as a time for activism. Especially for people looking to connect with your lgbtq community, find your local chapters of PFLAG or Political Groups, or Pride Centers that have activities and find ways you can participate. It helps you gain friends in the community and keeps you active and working for our important rights. Finally, if there is a parade. join in and march with your favorite group or cause. It's fun to look out at all of those who are celebrating or protesting with you in search for a better community.


June Pride festivals and parades are powerful expressions of love, identity, and community. By connecting with friends, supporting local vendors, attending performances, capturing memories, being respectful, and engaging in activism, I ensure that my Pride experience is enriching and impactful. Let's celebrate Pride with joy, respect, and a commitment to equality for all.

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