10 Things Not to Say at a Pride Event

LGBT Pride Month is here, and everyone wants to celebrate.

If you’re straight, cisgender and planning to attend Pride events, you probably don’t want to rain on the LGBTQ community’s parade.

Here’s a primer on what not to say at a Pride event. As an LGBTQ person myself, I’ve heard variations of all of these comments.

1. “Isn’t the pronoun ‘they’ grammatically incorrect?”

Non-binary people are stuck explaining their identities all the time. In a perfect world, Pride lets these individuals take a break.

They’re surrounded by friends and folks who understand them. After all, having an alternative to “he” or “she” is not just validating; it’s life-saving.

Educate yourself on transgender issues before Pride.

If you are unsure of someone’s gender identity, say, “What pronouns do you use? I use [insert your pronouns],” or just use “they” to refer to everyone as a default.

2. “Oh, my gosh, you guys are so cute. Be my gay best friend?”


Same-gender couples will probably be holding hands. Maybe they’ll be kissing, hugging, dancing together or gazing affectionately into each other’s eyes.

Resist the urge to gawk. In the real world, public displays of affection aren’t always a possibility for LGBTQ folks. I can personally testify to the fact that, even in 2018, people still stare at women holding hands.

It’s awkward, scary and uncomfortable.

Please don’t make our relationships a spectacle — especially when we’re in a place where, in theory, we can just be ourselves.

3. “Why do they have to be so flamboyant? Can’t they tone it down?”

You may accept LGBTQ people on principle, but feel uncomfortable with some aspects of the celebration. Leather daddies. Butch women on motorcycles. Drag queens and kings.

And sometimes that’s the point. After all, ever since bisexual activist Brenda Howard led the first parade after the Stonewall Riots, Pride has been a protest.

These are all historic identities that LGBTQ people have claimed for themselves. Take drag queens, for one.

Back in the 1960s, sodomy laws forbid homosexuality in most states. Drag queen Mama Jose organized drag shows as fundraisers to bail gay people out of jail.

Mama Jose’s efforts eventually grew into the International Court System, the world’s largest LGBTQ organization with chapters in the U.S., Canada and Mexico. You may see members today performing for charity.

4. “I don’t want any dudes/ladies hitting on me.”

Pride events are some of the few places where LGBTQ people are in the majority — and it’s freeing.

Don’t be surprised if someone assumes you swing one way or another and flirts with you.

No need to preemptively say, “No homo.” Just explain that you’re straight if it comes up — and leave it at that.

Also, keep perspective. You may not be used to unwanted advances, but that’s something many LGBTQ women and femme people deal with every day. Know that LGBTQ people have gotten assaulted or killed for approaching straight, cisgender people. And “gay panic” defenses have prevented many from getting justice.

Everyone deserves to have their “no” respected.

5. “You’re bisexual? That’s so hot.”

As a bi woman, I’m more likely to see people like me in porn than in mainstream — or even LGBTQ — media. Like a lot of us, I’m sick of getting propositioned for threesomes or hearing gross comments from men like, “Two women together are beautiful.”

Pride is not a place to objectify bisexuals. Bi women, especially, face disproportionate rates of sexual assault and violence. We’re constantly treated like we’re a prop for men’s pleasure.

Our sexuality is not your invitation. And the same goes for lesbians. You aren’t “turning” anyone.

6. “Have you had the surgery?”


Frankly, avoid any nosy personal questions — especially when they’re directed at someone you barely know.

Don’t ask someone how they have sex. Don’t ask a bi or pansexual person what “percentage” of men versus women they’re attracted to. This math is awkward considering non-binary people exist too.

It’s none of your business. Better conversation starters include, “How’s your day?” or “I love your glitter tiara.”

7. “If you want to be inclusive, why aren’t straight people welcome at this event?”

Care2‘s s.e. smith explains this well:

Some events or venues at Pride may be designated for specific members of the LGBQT community — like an asexual-only mixer at a bar, or a trans-specific community event. It can feel unsettling to be told that a space isn’t for you if you’ve spent your whole life being allowed everywhere. Take that as a learning experience: Many LGBTQ people are de facto or de jure excluded from public life, and the stakes for them are higher than missing out on a host bar.

8. “I’m queer too, in my own way.”

It’s OK to be questioning. It’s OK to be closeted. It’s OK to have no experience with a gender you’re attracted to, or not feel comfortable expressing your gender identity the way you want.

This point isn’t for you.

But if you’re straight and cisgender, please don’t go around calling yourself “queer.” It doesn’t matter if you’ve felt alienated by society, own an extensive rainbow clothing collection or belong to a stigmatized community that’s into something like polyamory or BDSM.

Take a backseat at Pride. Let LGBTQ people have our space.

9. *Hears or sees something bigoted* [Silence]

You have to show up for LGBTQ people as an ally, not just for our parties but for our struggles. Being a respectful spectator at Pride means you realize that LGBTQ people still face discrimination and violence — and looking the other way is not an option.

Ally is a verb. If you see someone getting harassed, start a conversation with them. Walk with your trans friend to the bathroom. Speak up when you hear bigoted things.

10. “I’m so sorry for offending you. Wow. I’m terrible. I’m am such a bad person… [apologizes for 20 minutes].”


Nobody is perfect. Especially being straight and cisgender, it can be hard to keep up with changes in etiquette and language for a community you aren’t a part of.

If someone calls you out for something, remember that Pride is still not about you. Apologize, move on, do better and go party – respectfully.

Photo Credit: Birdy206

48 comments

Janis K
Janis K4 months ago

Thanks for sharing.

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Leo Custer
Leo C4 months ago

thank you for sharing!

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Ellen J
E Away J4 months ago

Excellent advice and tips. Thank you.

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Christine Stewart
Christine Stewart4 months ago

thank you

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DAVID f
David fleming4 months ago

Thanks

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Karen H
Karen H4 months ago

Alea C, the parade is open to the public. Certain events, however, are not. This is because the topics being discussed (as in dealing with a prejudiced world when you're transsexual, for example) are personal.

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Winn A
Winn A4 months ago

Noted

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pam w
pam w4 months ago

I somehow doubt that anyone attending a parade or event to show support would be unwelcome! I'm always happy to do just that for my gay friends...and, whether or not you realize it...WE ALL KNOW SOMEONE WHO IS GAY/BI/ETC. Yes, we do...and the sooner the bigots recognize that, the easier it'll be on everyone. Think before you speak, please!

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Marija M
Marija M4 months ago

tks

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Chad A
Chad Anderson4 months ago

Thank you.

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