“My child is 12 years old and identifies as queer and non-binary, and they are BEGGING to go to Pride this year. I’ve never been myself, but everything I see and hear about it makes me think that it’s not age appropriate (with the nudity and alcohol and such). Am I accurate in my assumption? And if so, do you have ideas for more age-appropriate activities?”
Question Submitted Anonymously
Answered by Amanda Neumann
First off, it’s wonderful that your child is comfortable sharing their identities and their desire to go to Pride with you! It’s also wonderful that even though you have reservations about them going to Pride, you’re researching and asking questions before you give them a definite “no.”
Your worries about nudity and alcohol are not uncommon—TV and movies often portray Pride as an all-out raging party. However, this is generally not the case. Pride has a rich, full history that is often neglected by the media. You can learn more about what Pride is over in our Defining series, Defining: Pride, where I got the opportunity to discuss the history of Pride as well as debunk some common misconceptions about Pride events.
One of those misconceptions is that Pride is inherently sexual. It’s definitely not. While some Pride parades and festivities highlight freedom of sexual expression, Pride is not an inherently sexual event. Most Pride festivals have community guidelines in order to keep Pride parades and festivals acceptable for all ages. These guidelines often include dress codes, where and when alcohol can be consumed, and if there are any adult-only events.
If you’re worried about nudity, alcohol, or other factors I suggest contacting the organization in charge of the events. Depending on where you live, there may even be specific events aimed at LGBTQ youth and their families. The best place to start is to check out the website or Facebook event(s) for your local Pride. Many cities also have PFLAG chapters that host all-ages and family oriented Pride events. And if you live in or near New York City, our 5th-Annual All-Ages Pride Party is happening on Saturday, June 24 at Housing Works Bookstore, and is a chance for LGBTQ young people to celebrate Pride in a safe, youth-oriented space.
Remember that Pride is an important time of year for the LGBTQ community—it’s a time of celebration, acceptance, activism, and love. It’s a time for LGBTQ folks to feel proud of who we are! Being surrounded by other LGBTQ folks can be enormously affirming for queer people of all ages, especially queer youth. There are far too few opportunities for LGBTQ youth to see happy and healthy queer adults and role models. Likewise, it can be incredibly beneficial for queer youth to see other people their age who are out and proud of who they are. Pride also offers the opportunity for queer folks to learn more about LGBTQ community, gain more confidence in their identities, and form new friendships. For many people Pride events are the only time of the year they are with other queer people. For many more it is the only time of year they can truly express their gender and sexuality. At Pride, being queer is the norm, and it’s a place for LGBTQ folks of all expressions to feel safe, seen, and proud.
One of the best things you can do is to go with your child to Pride. That way you can support them and their community, and also be able to assess the atmosphere of the festival or parade. I suggest going during the afternoon when there is likely to be more all-ages focused events (and less alcohol). I promise that Pride is fun, no matter your age, orientation, or experience with the LGBTQ community!
Amanda lives in Indiana with her growing family of felines and books. She recently earned her BA in Women’s Studies and English and hopes to use her knowledge and skills to destroy the patriarchy, or at the very least create more spaces for communication and engaged activism. Amanda’s hobbies include infrequently blogging, working with nonprofit organizations, rereading Harry Potter, and caring about things. Follow on Twitter @amandandwords