Pride Safety Guide: How to Stay Safe While Celebrating Gayness

Pride is a time to protest, celebrate and surround yourself with a chosen family. Your experience of the season can take many forms: maybe you go to parades and parties, or maybe you honor the roots of Pride by attending a queer liberation demonstration. There is enough time and space for queer joy and queer rage.

But however you choose to spend your pride, it’s crucial to put your well-being first. No LGBTQ+ person should have to feel unsafe at events meant to create space for our communities. That’s why we’ve put together this guide to Pride safety basics: what to bring, how to make a plan, and what to do if someone gets hurt.

While your focus should be on celebrating yourself and your community, it’s important to be prepared for things like heat, dehydration, and the possibility of tainted party drugs. If you’re planning on attending a protest, the threat of police brutality and growing fear of mass shootings are worst-case scenarios, but you need to be equipped for it.

None of this advice is meant to dissuade you from going to Pride; on the contrary, knowing what to do in an emergency can help you be more present in the moment. For more details on how to protect yourself and your loved ones this year, read on.

Stay hydrated and bring snacks

Before any big excursion, providing your body with nutrients and hydration is essential! That’s why you should drink plenty of water and eat a meal before going to a Pride rally. Also bring non-alcoholic liquids and snacks. While many events will have water and vendors selling food, you should always bring an emergency supply just in case. If anything, sharing your supply with people who haven’t planned ahead could make you some new queer friends.

Have a group or friend to check in with

While going to Pride alone is fine, sharing your location with friends so they can keep tabs on you is a useful contingency plan. This could mean using a location sharing feature on your smartphone or simply texting a friend or group if your location changes. If you plan to go with a group, using the buddy system – or having someone to stay and watch with – can help you stay together! This way, you can avoid hurting yourself at the thought of ending up in a bar. A buddy can also help someone if they’ve had too much to drink and need a helping hand.

Going in a group can also help alleviate any social anxiety you may have about going alone. Surrounding yourself with familiar, friendly energy can make an overwhelming space like a festival or a crowded Pride parade less intimidating.

Practice medication safety and harm reduction

If you plan to use recreational drugs, you will need to do more to prepare than bring snacks and water. Basically, if you are going to take drugs like ecstasy or cocaine, experts strongly recommend testing them before using them, especially if they are from an unknown source. With supplies increasingly contaminated with adulterants like fentanyl, testing your medications for opioids and other contaminants can prevent accidental overdoses.

Many cities have hotlines you can call to get free fentanyl test strips. You can also find them at local health clinics and nightlife spots that specialize in harm reduction. Bring fentanyl test strips with you if you have access to them. If anything, you can help test other people’s drugs if they don’t have a test strip but want one.

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Susan W. Lloyd