Gentle Reader, Pride is a celebration of the LGBTQIA community, as well as a remembrance of our struggle for acceptance and equality. Rooted as it is in our culture, and given that our culture is made up of victories like Stonewall and shared tragedies like the AIDS crisis and the continuing slaughter of our people – given that our culture is built from our shared manners and mores, Pride is certainly a cultural affair. Every in-group has its own specific etiquette; how, then, are we to behave at Pride?
Rule 1: Greet People You Run Across
Of course you’re going to be greeting friends, relatives, and ex-lovers all over the place during Pride, but you should also greet anyone who seems congenial. It’s easy; “Happy Pride!” – if said with genuine enthusiasm – is a universal greeting during Pride season. If you’re in the right neighborhoods. If you run into acquaintances or exes – and you will; the community is small and has gathered together for the occasion – once you’ve wished one another a Happy Pride, inquire about their plans for the rest of the day/night/weekend – this is friendly of you, and allows you to plan accordingly for good or ill. At this point, you may slip off into the day/night/weekend; Pride is so big and so frantic that you are under no obligation to catch up with anyone if you don’t wish to.
Rule 2: Watch Your Language
This is huge, kittens. First of all, be careful applying any blanket term towards the entire community. I know, I know – I use “queer” all the damned time; try typing LGBTQIA three times a paragraph and see if you don’t try to spice it up a little. A lot of people – particularly younger folks – are appalled by the word. I feel the same way about the casual usage of the word fag. A good baseline is to use whatever terms you identify with towards yourself, and use whatever words an individual identifies with to refer to them. Simple, right?
Not so fast, though, buckaroos; watch your pronouns. It’s important for those of us in the community to show respect to trans folks and people who fall outside the binary. If you haven’t already, educate yourselves on the issues and make sure you’ve got your terminology correct. It wouldn’t do to ruin somebody’s Pride because you were too lazy to google, would it?
Speaking of pronouns, I’m a huge advocate of asking upon first being introduced to a new acquaintance. You know what they say about assumptions? Yeah. Personally, I feel that we should all do this always, but I can understand that there are some situations where that might not be appropriate just yet. For those who can’t figure out how to work it into conversation, an example:
“How do you do? It’s a pleasure to meet you; you may call me Madame DeLyte.”
“Nice to meet you! I’m Tia Bottum.”
“How charming, Tia! What are your pronouns?”
“She and hers.”
“Wonderful. Mine are he or they.”
Regardless of presentation, if you ask, you’ll be far less likely to misgender someone, which is terribly rude.
Rule 3: Watch Your Assumptions
I’ve been guilty of something for quite some time, and have only recently been called on it – to wit, at Pride you will sometimes see a male/female couple, and I used to be really upset about that. Let us have one weekend; you’ve got the whole rest of the year, you know? But you know something, Gentle Reader? Bisexual people exist. Pansexuals exist. Heteroromantic Asexuals exist. And so on – the point is that you don’t know a couple’s story, and it’s none of your business. Another thing – a same-sex couple can also contain a bisexual partner. Etc. Unless they’re picketing or harassing you, turn a blind eye, yeah?
Rule 4: Don’t Disappear on Your Friends
If you’re celebrating Pride with friends and are leaving to go hook up with someone, let them know you’re leaving before you go. You don’t want them to hang around looking for you, and since basically everyone has a phone, there’s no excuse. Even if you don’t have a phone, you arrived with your friends or met your friends there? So find them and say good night. This is a good point at which to cement brunch plans, by the way. That’s the entirety of what I’m recommending here, but if you’re like me, you’ll take an additional step – you’ll introduce the individual to your friends and have one of them get a photo of them in case something goes horribly awry. That’s not etiquette, though – just safety.
More etiquette tips for Pride will be forthcoming in a slim work I’ve been calling #NoHetero, which should be available in time for Tacoma Pride. Be safe out there, darlings, and above all – remember that the point of politeness isn’t nonsense about forks – it’s to be kind to one another.