First time at Pride? Here’s what you need to know

If it’s your first time getting involved with Pride events this summer, this guide will help you prepare to protest and party.

Better Connections

In many countries around the world, June is Pride Month; an opportunity for LGBTQIA+ people and allies to celebrate the community’s successes, highlight ongoing challenges and, ultimately, come together.

Doing anything for the first time can come with a touch of trepidation, so here’s what you need to know before you don your rainbow colours and join in. From understanding the roots of Pride and why it’s important, to essential tips on how to have a safe and enjoyable time at these events, we’ve got you covered.

Where does Pride come from?

Many contend that the roots of the modern Pride movement began with the Stonewall riots of 1969. At Stonewall, LGBTQ+ people fought back against police brutality and imprisonment of trans and gender-diverse people in New York City.

We shouldn’t forget that Ireland has its own Pride history, too. In 1974, the Sexual Liberation Movement marched on the British Embassy and Department of Justice protesting laws that prohibited sex between men.

The first National Gay Conference took place in Cork in 1981, which provided space to lesbian experiences and eventually led to Cork’s first Pride march. Attention was paid to the AIDS crisis and how Ireland could advance its care of people with AIDS and HIV.

In 1983, the first large-scale Dublin Pride protest took place in the wake of the murder of Declan Flynn, who was attacked by a group of five people targeting gay men for cruising in Fairview Park. And there would be another decade of Pride events before homosexuality was finally decriminalised in Ireland.

Ultimately, this history reminds us that Pride started and was fought for out of necessity. Keep this in mind as we honour our Pride. Generations of LGBTQIA+ people sacrificed their safety for what we have today.

Do I need to be out to go to Pride?

Anyone can attend Pride! So long as you are an LGBTQIA+ person or ally, you are welcome. There is no need to be out to be able to attend.

You may be nervous that attending while not being out may ‘give you away’, but there are ways to attend Pride discreetly if this worries you.

As Pride marches go through cities or villages, you can watch as an onlooker if you’re not ready to walk in the march. If you would like to march, you can join a community group or as a member of the public after community groups have walked through. In Ireland, some organisations you may like to walk with include:

What should I wear to Pride?

What you wear to Pride is up to you. There is no requirement for how formally or informally you are dressed. Wear something that is comfortable, that you feel confident in, and that allows you to take part in the day at your best.

Typically, Pride events take place during warm weather so be conscious that it can be a long day in the sun. If you bind your chest, check out the Rainbow Project’s guide on safe binding.

What should I bring with me?

Pride is a long day. Be sure to bring all of these essentials with you:

  • Sunscreen and sunglasses
  • Refillable water bottle
  • Cross-body bag
  • Portable chargers
  • Small snacks
  • First-aid essentials including plasters and painkillers
  • Wallet with ID, bank card and small amounts of cash

If you’re travelling to a Pride event, find out if there’s luggage storage available in the area. You likely won’t be able to bring large bags into event spaces for safety reasons.

How do I look after myself?

Pace yourself! While the march may last two to three hours, the full day of Pride can run on well into the night. Be sure to take breaks between activities.

You can change your phone background to an image that includes your emergency contact details in case you get lost or something happens. You should also turn on your Find My Device features (available for iOS and Android) in case you lose your phone, and share these details with your friends too.

If you fear for your safety, there will be stewards all along the Pride march for your assistance. And if you choose to report an incident to An Garda Síochána, you can choose to speak to a Garda Diversity Officer.

To look after your sexual health, be sure to access STI testing two weeks before the event. Remember: you can order free condoms from the Sexual Health Centre. If you’re on PrEP, make sure you’re on top of taking your pill each day. Afterwards, if you have any concerns, you can access a free at-home test which you can take two weeks after a sexual encounter to test for gonorrhoea and chlamydia, and then again three months afterwards to test for HIV and hepatitis.

How can I be respectful of others at Pride?

Pride is about being yourself. You do not need to follow rigid social norms or expectations in your attendance or enjoyment.

However, there are some things to keep in mind to ensure you’re respectful of others. These include:

  • Do not take photos or videos of people or touch them without consent
  • Do not assume other people’s pronouns
  • Do not excessively blow whistles or clack fans

Whether it’s your first time or you’re returning to this annual series of events, we wish you all a happy and healthy Pride!

If you’re looking for advice on coming out or how to support someone on this journey, check out our coming out masterclass with Sam Stewart.

Dean O'Reilly
Dean O’Reilly is an LGBTQ+ activist, sexual health promoter, psychology graduate, DEI professional and self-proclaimed ‘Little Monster’. If you’ve ever seen a 20-something filming himself taking an at-home STI test, you’ve probably seen him before.

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