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A Guide for Allies Attending WorldPride Events in NYC

New York City is already revving up for June, when millions of people will participate in WorldPride. Commemorating the 50 years since the Stonewall Uprising, WorldPride will present a slate of rallies, talks, parties, and of course the big Pride March on June 30. If you’d like to attend Pride events as a straight, cisgender ally, here are a fellow ally’s pointers to know before you go.

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Photo by Mario Gogh on Unsplash

Not just a party, but a protest

There’s a reason the big event on June 30 is called a march and not a parade. Yes, there’s glitter and dancing and floats, but the LGBTQ movement is a political and social movement first and foremost. The March and all other Pride events represent a minority group that has faced inordinate prejudice and violence in this country and around the world. The United States has seen positive changes like marriage equality in recent years, but the fight for justice is far from over.

All that to say: have all the fun you’d like, just remember why Pride exists.

Do some research

You may be behind on LGBTQ history or feel lost by some of the language used around LGBTQ issues if you’re outside that community. An ally is open to listening and learning. So research the ripple effects of Stonewall, look up the significance of “LGBTQIA+,” or—best of all—talk to an LGBTQ friend. These are important steps in fostering empathy and meaningful action on behalf of the community you support.

You can also explore New York, the center of so much important LGBTQ history. Go to the Leslie-Lohman Museum of Gay and Lesbian Art in Soho, or see a museum exhibit featuring groundbreaking queer artists. Stop by the NYC AIDS Memorial in the West Village or the Lesbian Herstory Archives in Brooklyn to discover new facets of the LGBTQ experience in the city.

You’re a guest

The Pride March welcomes everyone to attend, no matter how they identify. As an ally, however, remember this is an event authored by and in service of LGBTQ people. The organizers invite “cishets” (a word to look up!) to celebrate, but not to dominate. Pride is a stage for LGBTQ expression in all its forms, and that expression exists for itself. Pride is not intended to shock or entertain straight, cisgender people. In short, you’re meant to have fun, but Pride is not about you.

If you’re considering attending events during WorldPride or want to party at a gay bar, check beforehand that you’re invited. WorldPride events like Femme Fatale, for example, are limited to women only. When you do attend Pride, have a ball, but remember you’re a guest in others’ space.

Come with LGBTQ loved ones if you can

Many allies have an LGBTQ friend, child, or spouse they want to support during Pride. If you love someone in the LGBTQ community, you likely want to understand their struggle, join in celebrating them, and fight for their rights. There’s no better time to ask your loved one if you can tag along to events like Youth Pride or the Pride March. It’ll give you a chance to see Pride through a community member’s eyes while remaining conscious of your privilege as a straight, cisgender person.

And if your loved one prefers to celebrate with their community alone, that’s okay too. They don’t have to show you the ropes—again, it’s their party. If you’re flying solo for Pride or coming with a group of allies, go to the march, wave your rainbow flag, and enjoy!

Watch your pronouns

Don’t assume someone goes by “he” or “she”; some people prefer “they” and “them” if they are gender nonconforming. If you’re meeting folks at Pride events, you can refer to everyone by “they” or “them” until you know their gender identity. You can also join as an ally by wearing a pronoun pin to announce yourself as he, she, or they. These pins are readily available online, are often very cute, and you’ll probably see many more of them throughout Pride. Read the Guide to the DOs and DON’T-YOU-DAREs of LGBTQ Vocabulary

Be an ally all year

June’s great and all, but don’t be a fairweather ally! Back up your allegiance to the LGBTQ movement with participation that lasts all year long. Vote for candidates that support LGBTQ rights, and donate to organizations that address LGBTQ homelessness or support transgender people. Speak out when people around you disrespect the queer community. Patronize businesses like Housing Works thrift shops and bookstores or New York restaurants with LGBTQ chefs. Most of all, keep forming relationships with LGBTQ folks, and stay open to listen and to love!

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