What to expect at your first Pride

Photo credit: "File:Dancers during Miami Beach Pride 2012.jpg" by Phillip Pessar is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Whether it’s after years of learning to embrace your identity, months of encouragement from close friends or finally moving to a city where you can properly celebrate, this is the moment you have waited forever for: your first Pride!

From those free corporate-produced bandanas and shades that feel morally wrong to the alarming amount of assless chaps and jockstraps that you might see, there’s a lot to learn. But don’t worry, we are here to save the day and tell you what to expect.

This year, Miami Beach is hosting its annual Pride between Sept. 10-19th in the Art Deco District of South Beach. Many of the larger events including this year’s parade take place during the second weekend of the event. Complete with A-List performances from musicians such as Mexican songstress Paulina Rubio and American rock band Walk the Moon, the week-long festival is not to be missed.

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While it is perfectly normal to feel nervous, there is no reason to be.

You should expect to see colorful outfits, flags representing various communities, crowded areas and lines, loud music, people with signs and chanting slogans, free handouts and pride paraphernalia with lots of smiling and cheerfulness.

Different events will happen all week long, so make sure to check out as many as you can and try going to some that aren’t just festivals and parties. There are lots of free events as well, so Pride doesn’t have to break the bank. However, make sure you have some cash on you for food, water and anything else you might want to purchase.

Be weary on the side of caution with drugs and alcohol. Know your limits with experimentation and never drink or use alone! Make sure to stay hydrated and have food in your stomach.

With a motto of “One Love. Unity. Inclusivity. Equality,” everyone is welcome at Miami Beach Pride. If you are not a member of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer (LGBTQ+) community, it is important to understand that Pride is not just a big party, but a celebration of the community and how far it has come.

With that being said, know your history!

The first Pride was a riot (Stonewall 1969) and although Pride today is more of a party, it is important to understand the roots of our community and why we are celebrating in the first place.

Pride wouldn’t exist without queer/trans people of color — they paved the way for the community to have the rights we do today. Be respectful and kind and celebrate queer and transgender people of color however possible!

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When it comes to dressing for your first Pride, don’t feel that you have to dress provocatively just to fit in. But, it is certainly welcomed and accepted. This includes crop tops, booty shorts, leather, harnesses, jockstraps, thongs, lingerie, etc. Pride is about being who you are, whether that means wearing what you’re comfortable in or experimenting with a new look. Don’t forget to wear sunscreen if you’re going to be in the sun!

It is important to remember that consent is always necessary, whether it’s taking photos with someone, giving someone a hug or getting a little frisky on the dance floor. Just because someone is showing lots of skin doesn’t mean they are “asking for it” or consenting to sexual acts or groping.

A more “adult” aspect of Pride that you might want to attend are the various circuit parties. Circuit parties are typically all-night parties that play dance music (disco, house, tribal, techno, pop remixes, etc.) catering to the LGBTQ+ community.

While anyone is welcome at these parties, the crowd tends to be younger to middle-aged cisgender men. They are typically expensive to attend, with individual parties costing around $75-100 and weekend-long festivals, such as Miami’s Winter Party, costing around $300-400.

Venues range from smaller clubs to large convention centers and sections of a beach depending on the party and the events are usually decorated according to a certain theme or aesthetic with colorful lighting. There will be lots of shirtless men and dancing — and things can get pretty hot on the dance floor.

If you go to one of these, it is important to know that you will most likely see sex in the crowd or in the corners.

Alcohol and other party drugs are common and it is important to be aware that a lot of drug use can take place. You don’t want to be blindsided by this when you show up at the event.

If by any means you or anyone you know does choose to take part in recreational drug activity, do so safely and make sure you hydrate. However, there are loads of sober people that attend and have lots of fun. Only do whatever you are comfortable with!

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At Pride, all body types are welcomed and accepted. These parties are about dancing, sexual liberation and celebrating the shared love for the LGBTQ+ community.

There truly is a spot for everyone to celebrate their identity within Pride and the community as a whole. Don’t let nerves hold you back from embracing such a fantastic festival — be present for an event meant to uplift you.

Featured image: “File:Dancers during Miami Beach Pride 2012.jpg” by Phillip Pessaris licensed under CC BY 2.0