How To Celebrate Pride Without A Corporate-Sponsored Parade Or Party Atmosphere

LGBTQ Pride means a lot of different things to each of us and because of that, we all celebrate it in different ways. Each year, cities around the world host Pride marches and parades to celebrate queerness in all its forms. Pride can be a source of affirmation, resilience or just a place for the next hookup. However, for many queer people Pride is a resource — or at least it should be.

The LGBTQ community is arguably more diverse than any other marginalized community, because many of us operate at an intersection of identities. With that diversity comes not only a different set of experiences that change how we navigate the world but also a varying set of interests. However, finding out how and where to participate in those interests is not always easy, because sometimes you feel like the only queer person who likes the things they like.

If you live in a very large city like LA, NYC, or Chicago, finding Pride events that suit you are much easier because, well, you already exist in that city and it’s likely you may know where to look. However, if you’re from a more rural area, cities alone can be a bit overwhelming, and organizing something for you to do on the weekend can be a bit difficult with the parade being the cornerstone of almost every Pride weekend. Not to mention that so many of these events can be a bit overwhelming if you’re just trying to figure out what it is you like around groups of people who already seem so sure.

With corporate sponsorships and capitalism injected right into the very heart of Pride, it feels impossible to find a way to celebrate and experience Pride that doesn’t leave you hungover for a number of days. Which, if you don’t drink or maybe want to celebrate Pride in a way that is inexpensive, can be difficult to navigate. So I wanted to share some tips to find less tapped resources of things to do for Pride.

Seek out LGBTQ centers and LGBTQ non-profit organizations in your area. They are a good place to start looking for things to do during Pride month. They generally have several gatherings and events throughout Pride week. Also, LGBTQ centers often have youth-focused programs and events that are almost always free and offer access to educational resources young queers might need.

Engage in queer sports programs. If you don’t mind working up a sweat, lots of cities have queer sports leagues for you to join. And if the commitment to such a big and sometimes costly thing such as a season of sports competition doesn’t work, look for one-time events like Pride runs or free LGBTQ classes some gyms might offer that month. 

See a queer film. Finding queer representation in media can be difficult especially if you aren’t a cis white male. One of the most exciting parts about Pride month is queer film festivals and screenings. Throughout the month, and during the week leading up to the Pride parade of the city you’re in or close to, many cinemas and organizations put together film festivals and screenings for queer people. This gives you an opportunity to see a more diverse queer experience on screen and support the work of less popular queer artists. 

If none of the above works for you, that’s okay: you still have options. The most underrated way to find your own Pride celebration and/or tribe is to…

Create Pride for yourself. Organize with a group of friends and make something you want to see. Queerness is nothing if not creating spaces for ourselves in a world that consistently tries to tell us we should have nothing of our own. Nothing could be further from the truth. Exploring new things and putting yourself in a position to organize things other people might also be interested in is a challenge, but it can teach you so much about your community and yourself.

Pride is a fun a time of year but it can also be overwhelming. A lot of the queer experience can be scary and often we don’t know where to begin. The way you want to celebrate it may change from year to year and maybe this year you need something different from Pride than you did the year before. Don’t be afraid to explore that desire. Pride should be a healing, affirming and fun experience for all of us. Remember that Pride isn’t just a month: it’s a way of life.

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