Last June, I attended my first Pride event at Fenway Park, which you can read about here. When I first heard about the event, my first thoughts were about how it was someplace local, someplace familiar, and someplace we would all enjoy. I bought the tickets, reserved the date, and was excited to both spend time with my family, support the LGBTQ+ community, and celebrate Pride Month.
Then, I began to second guess myself. Tell me you do this too.
I wondered if my husband and I belonged there. What it if the intention of the organizers was only for LGBTQ+ people to attend? Was there some kind of protocol that I wasn’t aware of?
You can read about it more in my post, but I became increasingly aware that I come from a place of straight, cis-gender privilege. It never occurred to me until after I bought our tickets if I belonged at Pride, yet members of the LGBTQ+ community have to regularly consider if any place that they choose to enter or any event they decide to attend is safe for them to do so. It was and continues to be a humbling realization.
I did a lot of research about it, because that’s how I roll, and you can read in that post about Attending Pride Events as an Ally. But that still didn’t stop me from worrying when we got there. What if we really didn’t belong? What if we got separated from my son and his partner and stuck out like sore thumbs? What if, what if, what if?
What I realized is a universal truth: we spend more time worrying about what other people think about us than other people spend even noticing us.
We enjoyed the game, the people there were lovely, and I would recommend it to anyone if you are looking for a fun, family-friendly Pride Event (just maybe skip the pre-game party on the Sam Adams Deck ahead of time).
So if you are an ally and you are considering if you should attend Pride this year, I would strongly encourage you to do so. If you are worried about going alone or bringing your kids, don’t be. Here are some things to think about before you head out:
What do you want from the experience? Do you want to be a participator or an observer? You could watch from the sidelines, or you could march in a parade. Maybe you want to carry a sign, maybe not. What might it say? You could show your support for someone close to you: “I love my transgender son.” You could show support for the wider community: “I Support LGBTQ+ Rights.” Or you could just portray an uplifting message: “Love Wins.”
Do you want to volunteer your time? Maybe you want to go to a Pride Event, but you’re not sure you want to participate and you want to do more than observe. Consider volunteering with one of the organizations that will be in attendance. Offer to work at their table, or pass out pamphlets, or hand out water. Or, if you aren’t averse to human contact, Free Mom Hugs goes to Pride Events and hugs members of the LGBTQ+ community, many of which have been shut out of their families. You can learn more at that link, or do a search on Facebook. They have chapters all over the country (p.s., Dads give hugs too).
Be aware of your attire. Yes, you can wear rainbows and sparkles. Yes, your unicorn shirt is appropriate. Yes, you can wear Pride tee-shirts and clothing that supports the LGBTQ+ community. What you might not want to wear is clothing that sends a discriminatory message. Or clothing that portrays a political message that is anti-LGBTQ+. Or clothing that in any way says, “HEY, LOOK AT ME,” because the focus here isn’t on you. Remember, you are a guest (go back and re-read that post I linked if you need a refresher), and you should dress and behave appropriately.
Most of all, keep an open mind about what you will see and hear, and who you will encounter. And remember, attending Pride is optional. If you go, have fun and enjoy yourself. But keep in mind that no one is keeping score and it’s okay if you stay home too.