As we celebrate Pride this month, it is important to remain safe. So, we will be going through different ways to stay safe during parades and protests alike.
- Dress for the weather, and wear sunscreen if you will be outdoors.
- Bring water and stay hydrated! You can’t have fun if you’re having heat stroke. If you’re feeling overheated, seek shade or shelter. If there is a first aid tent, seek assistance there.
- If you are wearing an elaborate outfit, consider tucking a miniature sewing kit and stain stick into a pocket. You never know when a button will come loose, or if you will drop food on your nice clothes.
- Bring some emergency cash to pay for a ride service and/or food.
- Monitor your drinks. If you put a drink down in a public space and are not monitoring it, and then come back to it, consider it unsafe to drink. Consider bringing a water bottle or thermos with a secure lid that you can drink from and keep on your person.
- If you’re attending evening events outdoors, consider wearing glowing or reflective accessories for visibility.
- If you are a minor, go in a group if you can. Don’t accept rides, food, or drinks from people you do not know. Make sure a responsible adult or friend knows where you are going and when you will be back.
- If you hear there will be counterprotests occurring, try to avoid that area, especially if you suspect they may become violent.
Celebrating Pride with Children
Pride is also an opportunity to introduce children to the LGBTQ+ community in a fun way, but make sure you are attending events that are safe and welcoming to children. Some events may be adults only. If you are bringing children with you to the celebrations, make sure they have what they need. Pack extra water, snacks, and basic first aid equipment, such as bandages for scraped knees. If the event is during the day, make sure they wear sunscreen.
- Make sure children know their parent or guardian’s phone number and home address in case they become lost.
- Agree on a meeting place to head towards if you are separated.
- Teach the child a password to identify safe adults. For example, if someone else needs to come and pick them up from an event, that person should also know the password and say it to the child, so they know it is safe to leave with that adult. Help the child choose something easy to remember, but hard to guess.
- If attending night events, give the child a flashlight, as well as a reflective or glowing accessory to make them more visible.
- Do not let a child approach another person’s dog without permission from the owner, especially if it is a service dog. Many people bring their pets to Pride, but some are not friendly towards children.
- Keep open communication with the children you’re attending events with. Pride can be rowdy, loud, and hot. Listen to the child you’re attending with and respect if they need a break.
Talk to your children about the origins of Pride, gender and sexuality, and other related topics in an age-appropriate manner. Talking about these things helps to demystify them, as well as promote empathy and understanding for others. Remind the child that they are encouraged to ask questions if there is something they do not understand.
Remember that the first Pride was a protest. So, if you are participating in protesting events this season, do it safely.
- Hydrate and stay cool!1
- Don’t go alone, especially if you are a minor!1 Protesting can be dangerous, and as with any dangerous activity, you need people to know where you are in case of an emergency. Talk with your group about what you will do at the protest, how you will get home, and develop an emergency exit plan.1
- Be aware of yourself and your actions. Many people film during protests.1
- Know your rights. You have the right to freedom of speech and freedom of assembly.1 You always have the right to ask why you are being detained, to document police actions, the right to remain silent, and the right to an attorney.1
- You have the right to file a complaint if your rights have been violated. If they have been violated by an officer, obtain their name and badge number.1
- If you are subjected to tear gas, do not rub it in!2 If available, wash with a solution of soap and water, and change into clean clothes. If you are wearing contact lenses, remove them with uncontaminated hands.2 If you are worried you may face tear gas at a protest you are attending, consider wearing goggles, wear glasses instead of contacts, bring extra clothes, and your own pre-made mixture to wash with.1
Pride is a season of joy, but also remembrance and respect. Take the time to honor the legacies of those who lead the way for the LGBTQ+ community. Though we have come far since they started the movement for change, the work is not finished. Keep fighting and educating yourselves about not only the issues faced by the LGBTQ+ community, but other communities as well. Through educating ourselves, being active members in our communities, or considerate allies, we foster a stronger and more accepting environment that can meet whatever challenges that come our way.
This article was written by Caroline Sebren, a graduate student at the University of South Carolina and current volunteer writer for Carolina Assessment Services, LLC. Caroline is pursuing a degree in Marriage and Family Counseling at UofSC in hopes to pursue work in the future as a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist.
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