It’s Pride month – which means endless celebrations for all identities and the LGBTQ community.
The cornerstone of Pride month in New York City is the Manhattan Heritage Pride Parade. Since the very first Pride march in 1970, Heritage Pride has only continued to grow. As exciting and liberating Pride can be, it’s important to take health and safety precautions when attending and participating in such a big celebrations. In this blog, we’ve outlined some easy tips to help you stay safe and healthy.
How to Be Safe and Healthy During Pride
- Use the buddy system: If you’re going to the parade and engaging in Pride activities this weekend, make sure you’re not alone. With thousands of people attending Pride, having one person you can hang on to can help keep you safe. If you are prone to feelings of anxiety or fear, having someone with you who understands that is a good idea.
- Establish a meeting point: If you do happen to get separated from your buddy or group of friends, pick a meeting point you can all go to. Cellular connection during Pride can be spotty, so getting a hold of your friends may be difficult. As a back-up, pick a place and a time where you can all reunite.
- Have a contact outside of Pride: Regardless of whether you’re going alone or with friends, make sure someone who isn’t at Pride knows where you are. You can use the “Find My Friends” app if you have iPhone to allow your friends access to your location, and vice versa. Letting someone know where you are and if you’re okay can help you stay safe, should anything happen (if you lose your phone, get separated from friends, or get sick).
- Use protection: If you’re going to be sexually active during Pride weekend (or whenever, really), be prepared. Whether that means PrEP or condoms, make sure you use protection during sexual activity. Using protection drastically reduces the likelihood of getting an STD, so just do it. If you think you may have been exposed to an STD or HIV, get tested as soon as possible. If you’re on PrEP, but lost it or forgot to take it, read this guide to have your questions about PrEP and PEP answered.
- Stay hydrated: You should always drink enough water, but on days like Pride, be extra mindful. Some folks may be drinking alcohol, standing in the sun for hours, or doing a lot of exercise – any of these activities can put you at risk for dehydration. You can buy bottled water at nearly any corner store or bodega, or you can bring your own reusable bottle to fill up wherever you are.
- Put on sunscreen: It’s summertime in New York, and if you live here, you know better than anyone that it can get hot. Before you set out to enjoy the parade, apply sunscreen to your face and any exposed limbs. You can wear a hat, sunglasses, or UV protective clothing as well. Even when it’s cloudy outside, UV rays can still burn you and cause damage to you.
- Buy your own drinks: If you’re drinking alcohol, order your own beverages and keep an eye on them. At packed bars and clubs, it might be hard to keep track of your drink all the time, but do your best to keep an eye out for your drinks being potentially drugged or spiked.
- Be aware: Pride is a wonderful, identity-affirming celebration for the LGBTQ community. But it can also be a target for hate crimes and hateful speech. It’s okay to have a great time, but be aware of your surroundings and mindful of what’s going on around you.