#DrewsViews: Pride Etiquette

by Drew Adams

Pride season is starting! Across the country, pride festivals and parades are happening in cities big and small. Pride can be a ton of fun as people celebrate their identities, and it can seem like nothing is off-limits when everyone is celebrating so hard, but there are still some important things to remember when attending a Pride event.

1. Do NOT assume the identity of anyone around you. Some people in the queer community are tempted to gate-keep Pride and make sure everyone is LGBTQ in a way that stands out, but that’s completely inappropriate. If you see what appears to be a cis man and cis woman holding hands, you can’t assume they’re straight or cis. They might be bi, pan, ace, queer, trans, non-binary, or literally anything else. However they identify, they aren’t required to “prove” it by how they look, so don’t make assumptions. Along the same lines, don’t assume pronouns when you talk to people. It’s perfectly fine (awesome actually) to ask someone for their pronouns.

2. In the LGBTQIA acronym, “A” doesn’t mean “ally.” Allies are welcome at Pride, of course, but if you’re cisgender/heterosexual, you’re not part of the queer acronym, and that’s okay. Pride isn’t about celebrating allyship, even though it’s welcome. It’s about celebrating queer identities, recognizing how far we’ve come, honoring those who went before us to fight for our rights, and getting fired up to keep fighting for equality. Pride wasn’t a parade at first — it was a riot. Pride was (and still is sometimes) an act of defiance, because when you face discrimination, violence and hate just for being you, celebrating your identity is like rebellion. That’s not something cisgender/heterosexual people have experienced because of their gender identity or sexual orientation.

So what is the “A” in “LGBTQIA” for? It stands for asexual/aromantic, or people who don’t experience sexual attraction or romantic attraction.

3. No judging. Pride can be a little crazy. You might see strange outfits or even nudity. You may see wild makeup or hair. You may hear people yelling, singing loudly, or cheering. You may see someone wearing a dress made entirely of rainbow toilet paper. People express themselves a lot of ways at Pride, and if you are offended easily or tend to judge others for their appearance or behavior, it might not be the event for you. Pride is about acceptance and celebration and those come in so many flavors, so don’t judge what you see! Just enjoy it.

4. Be inclusive and mindful with words. Whether you’re queer or straight, you can participate with the words you use. Wearing pronoun pins is a great way to be part of the Pride experience and make it easier for people who meet you to know how to talk to you. Also, try not to talk about potentially depressing topics like politics and religion and the discrimination linked to those. They’ll still be there when Pride is over, but during the celebration, try to keep the conversation positive. In a similar way, be careful of the terms you use — not everyone in the LGBTQ community is cool with the word “queer” (especially the older members of the community who still remember it as a slur), and the term “transsexual” isn’t generally appropriate unless someone self-identifies that way. If you’re straight, check in with your LGBTQ friends if you need help with word choice, and if you’re LGBTQ yourself, remember how different members of the community take certain words in different ways.

Have an amazing Pride season!

About the Author:

Drew Adams is a transgender high school senior from Ponte Vedra, FL, who is committed to LGBTQ advocacy at the local and national levels. He serves as his high school GSA’s president and raises money for Northeast Florida’s LGBTQ youth outreach, JASMYN, to which he also donates food, toiletries and school supplies. Nationally, Drew serves as a youth ambassador and advocacy volunteer for The Trevor Project, a youth social media ambassador for the Matthew Shepard Foundation, and a Volunteer and Intern Coordinator for Point of Pride. On the legislative side, Drew lobbies for the Equality Act by visiting with his Congressional representatives and their staff.

Additionally, Drew has spent years fighting to change his school district’s bathroom policy to be trans-inclusive, and the fight is still ongoing. Drew is an International Baccalaureate student and a volunteer at the Mayo Clinic, and he hopes to go to medical school and become an adolescent psychiatrist specializing in transgender health. For fun, he practices Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, creates sculpture art and plays the piano.