Queer and quivering: Being nervous for Pride

Happy (almost) Pride Month! With June comes parades up and down the country that appreciate and celebrate the experiences, achievements, rights and strengths of the LGBTQ+ community. Streets and buildings are adorned with rainbows and glitter. Outfits range from ‘Love is Love’ t-shirts to full-body drag worthy of Ru-Paul’s applause. But although it is centred around belonging and acceptance, Pride can be a daunting and nerve-wracking place for some. If this sounds familiar, know that you’re not alone.

We spoke to Fiona Barrett (she/her), a lesbian woman from Sheffield, about her first ever Pride event in York last year.

“I was very nervous. Even though I am gay and went with my girlfriend, I thought that I didn’t ‘look’ gay enough, and that people would think I didn’t belong there. Not knowing how safe Pride was made me nervous too. Obviously, I knew it had been going on for years across the country, but I had no idea if hate crime or harassment would be occurring too.”

Before attending your first Pride, it’s worth being aware that there may be people present who are protesting LGBTQ+ rights. If you can, we recommend you don’t attend events alone. Plan to go with friends or family that you trust, and try to stay vigilant. Many Pride events also have a significant police presence, often with both uniformed and plainclothes officers, with the aim of keeping Pride a safe, violence-free space. You can also often find Pride volunteers and marshals on the sidelines of the parade who are there to help you with any issues.

Fiona says, “Even though I did feel nervous, it didn’t take away from the level of excitement I felt to be surrounded by so many people that did not care at all that I was gay, when that had been a fear I had growing up my entire life.

“It can be difficult for all queer people to find a place where we all feel comfortable being ourselves, which made Pride quite emotional for me to some extent, feeling such a sense of belonging and celebration.

“Everyone that attends Pride is so friendly, so I encourage people to definitely join in with the parade! Even complimenting someone that you identify with (be that through their gender, sexuality, race, etc) on their outfit and striking up a conversation with them is bound to lead to making some new friends.

“Also, remember no one is there to judge you. So many queer people are judged throughout their lives, and Pride is the one place where I can guarantee that there is nothing but celebration of everyone.”

Being an all-out celebration, it makes sense that Pride can be overwhelming. Even just visually, there’s a lot going on. Getting off the train to an attendee in nothing but bikini bottoms and rainbow nipple tassels can take you a second to process. But that’s one of the greatest things about Pride – nothing is too much. So don’t hold back, and try your best to channel your nerves into excitement.

That being said, going all-out isn’t a requirement. You don’t have to paint rainbow stripes across your face, jump onto the parade float and belt Diana Ross’ ‘I’m Coming Out’ at the top of your lungs. You can wear your everyday clothes. You can clap from behind the barriers. You can just watch from a nearby cafe. Do whatever makes you feel comfortable because, at the end of the day, Pride is all about being a safe space where you can feel free to be you.

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