Pride season has, really, already begun, but this week the volume of celebrating opportunities EXPLODES! If you haven’t discovered The Seattle Gay Scene Pride Guide 2012, check it out. Every night this week and through the weekend there is an endless supply of things to keep you entertained, even if you’re under 21!
If you’re over 21, though, you should already have read Bill’s etiquette guide for your bar behavior. Believe me, there is nothing more irritating than an amateur bar-goer clogging up the line asking a lot of questions, or ordering a Grasshopper – seriously, don’t order a blender drink. Everyone will hate you. For real.
Keep in mind, though, during this season of celebrating, that one should treat this week like a marathon – not a sprint. Which means to pace yourself, stay hydrated and look to the HUUUUUGE celebration on Sunday!
So, in an uncharacteristic gesture of paternal instinct, here I offer up a few practical tips to keep you on track, and make your Pride weekend as enjoyable as possible:
DRINK SENSIBLY – If you’re new to drinking, maybe you don’t know what mixing absinthe and fortified wine will do to you. Now is NOT the time to find out. There are a whole bunch of adages out there to keep you drinking well – “Beer before liquor, you’ll never be sicker”… etc. I stick with a simple “Never mix, never worry.” policy. I’m drinking gin ‘n tonics, and that’s all there is to it. And obviously, don’t drink and drive. CLICK HERE, set up an account with UBER cab, and enjoy $10 off your first ride. Download the app to your smart phone so you can summon a car and driver whenever you need one. It’s nicer than a taxi, and roughly the same price. Or take a bus.
STAY HYDRATED – Yep, just drink water. It sounds simple, I know, but drinking water regularly helps keep your body running. Those awful hangovers? You can blame it on the a a a a alcohol all you want, but hangovers are usually caused by being dehydrated and being full of the slag and sugar that alcohol leaves behind. Mixing with sour mix or fruit juice, drinking brown liquor and drinking wine makes it even worse. If you’re a seasoned drinker, a glass of water after two drinks is a good measure, if you’re relatively new to drinking, alternate water and cocktails.
EAT FOOD – Somehow, it’s easy to forget. Maybe you don’t want to gain a half pound and potentially not be able to wear that super cute outfit you had in mind. But with all the running around you’ll be doing, you’re going to burn it off pretty quickly. Especially if there’s dancing involved. Eat some vegetables – french fries and martini olives don’t count. Make time for a salad, or some such, for heaven’s sake. Take your vitamins.
DRUGS ARE BAD, mm’kay? Okay, we aren’t Nancy Reagan. We aren’t going to ask you to JUST SAY NO! But! We are going to ask you to JUST SAY NO to being a dumbass. Over the course of this week you will likely encounter every opportunity to partake in an alphabet of fashionable new party drugs as well as the old standbys. Here are a few thoughts to consider before you hit it, bump it, snort it, drop it or pop it.
Cocaine – Look, it all seems terribly glamorous under the disco ball. You can pretend that it’s the 70′s and you’re at Studio 54 – Liza and Halston are gossiping and laughing in the corner having a grand time. After all, just one bump and YOU ARE FABULOUS! Powdered confidence available at every turn! But remember what the end of the night looks like when that fabulousness wears off, and you realize that your nose looks like a powdered donut, you can’t feel your teeth, and your pants are wet because you decided to keep your vodka tonic for later by storing it in your pocket. Cocaine does activate the happy points in your brain – causing you to believe that you’re better, smarter and prettier than you are. But continued or prolonged use can cause permanent damage and/or outright addiction. And frequently has the undesirable side-effect of causing short term erectile dysfunction – that is to say, some boys can’t get it up while coked up. And that is never okay.
Meth – Do I really need to say anything about meth? It’s the fastest way to look like old, busted, low-rent trash. Don’t do it. You’re better than meth. It’s gross, and you already know it.
MDMA/Ecstasy, etc. – Blerg. Here’s the thing about Ecstasy (or derivations thereof…) – it’s a lot like dousing yourself in elk urine before you go hunting. The only people who aren’t going to be weirded out by you are the other people doused in elk urine, and you run the risk of attracting a particularly randy elk or two who won’t know when to say when. If you absolutely can’t help yourself, just make sure you’re in a safe place where you can roll with some sense of security. There’s little worse than walking down the street and seeing someone trying to make out with a fire hydrant late at night. FIre hydrants make terrible cuddlers.
Marijuana – Lady Mary, as far as we are concerned, is the way to go, if you want to partake in some sort of chemical alteration. For most folks, it’s less aggressive than alcohol and the side effects are minimal to non-existent – usually involving running out of Pringles. But by way of warning, don’t let weed deter you from getting out there and having fun. I know how tempting it can be after a bowl to just sit and watch Golden Girls re-runs well into the night. Not that I’ve ever done that or anything.
Heroin – See Meth.
Pills, Pills, Pills! – Oh, the colors you’ll see! Uppers, downers, mood stabilizers, muscle relaxers, anti-psychotics, anti-depressants, anti-anxiety meds…. blah blah blah… yes, if there’s an ailment, there’s a pill for it. If you don’t have the ailment, and you take the pill anyway, sometimes you get a delightful happy buzz from it. Magic, eh? Not really – it’s just your body’s way of trying to shed the chemical that you’re poisoning it with. Of course, that’s basically all alcohol is, too. The difference is that it isn’t illegal to drink alcohol (assuming that you’re over 21!) And taking pills that aren’t prescribed to you is very illegal. This is one I’ll just say “Use common sense.” If someone you don’t know offers you a pill, you probably shouldn’t take it.
Pride is that time of year that pumps the community full of cheer, and reminds us just how far we’ve come as a society. But, it’s also the time of year when unseemly opportunists prey on the unsuspecting and the uninitiated.
Your stuff – don’t carry more than you need to have with you. You’ll need your phone, keys, ID, some cash and your credit/debit card. Keep them in your front pocket. Pickpocketing is usually a crime of opportunity while you’re dancing in the fountain. And if your wallet falls out of your pocket, you might never see it again.
If someone you know is carrying a bag, ask them to carry a bottle of sunscreen for everyone in your group. SPF 15 should cut it, but if you’re particularly sensitive, go with the 30. Even if it isn’t clear skies and sunny, your skin will burn.
Don’t Underestimate The Value of Comfort – Dress in layers, and wear comfortable shoes. You don’t have to commit to one outfit for the whole day! Plan to have a PrideFest outfit (cute but comfy!) and something else for the clubs that night. Then you can break out the impractical shoes when it comes time to dance.
REMEMBER WHY WE CELEBRATE…
It wasn’t that long ago that simply saying that you were gay was enough to put you in jail. Showing affection to your same-sex love interest would get you locked up. Dressing in drag would get you locked up. But the last four decades of fighting and struggle has made it possible for us to gather together, regardless of our sexuality or gender and show the world that we exist. And that we’re just as good and valuable to society as anyone else. We celebrate because here in Washington, and especially in Seattle, we get to enjoy those freedoms without having to make any effort at all. But there are still places in this world, and even these United States where a teenager, who is just discovering who they are, won’t have that opportunity, and will go to school every day in fear of being beaten up or killed – just because they’re different.
We celebrate Pride because we want to show the world that there is another reality. That there is a safe place for everyone. It’s easy to take Pride for granted when you’re already “out” – but for those kids out there who need to know, I’m happy to march down the street and hope they’ll see us – in all our magnificent, weirdo glory – and escape whatever hell is keeping them from being themselves, and finding the happiness that we all deserve.
After all, as our patron saint RuPaul says – “If you can’t love yourself, how the HELL you gonna love someone else?”