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Planning your first Pride event

Planning an LGBTQ Pride event can be a rewarding and meaningful experience, but it also requires careful planning and consideration, especially if you're planning a new Pride event for the very first time. USAP has some tips and tricks for you to consider as you embark on your Pride organizing journey.

Here are some tips as you start out on your journey toward planning your very first Pride event:

Gather friends and collaborators:

So, you've decided you want to plan a Pride? Congrats! Now you should gather close friends or other community members who can help you collaborate on event planning. Organizing a community-wide celebration of Pride will take team work. Gather a trusted team of folks to help you plan your event.

Choose what kind of event you will host:

What kind of event will you host? A march? Rally? Parade? A big street festival? Or a small "Pride in the Park"-style picnic? There's no wrong answer. Pride events come in all shapes and sizes and are almost always reflective of the communities in which they are hosted. Pride = People, after all, and you want your event to be a welcoming, inspiring place for the people who make up your local community. Smaller towns and cities often host smaller events in parks or perhaps hold a simple march. In larger cities, you'll find parades with floats and large-scale concerts. Whatever kind of event you host, ensure it is reflective of your community's wants and needs and your ability to plan it. (Click here to see 25 ideas for hosting a Pride event!)

Choose a theme: A theme can help to unite your event and provide a cohesive focus for your activities and decorations. Has your local community been facing a particular challenge? Do your town recently celebrate a local LGBTQ rights victory? Is there something special or unique about your town? Consider choosing a theme that reflects the values and goals of your local LGBTQ community.

Choose a date:

Many Pride events across the world are hosted in June, since it is traditionally celebrated as Pride Month in commemoration of the Stonewall Riots in New York City in June 1969. Hosting a June event is a great way to host your first Pride, if a date in June works well for your community. But don't be limited by the calendar! Many cities also celebrate Pride throughout the year. It all depends on your local community's needs and a variety of other factors, including weather and climate, and the schedule of other public events in your town. For example, some Pride organizations in very hot southern Florida host their events in the early spring. Way over in Sydney, Australia, their event is hosted in February, when the Southern Hemisphere has their summer. Once you've chosen a date, it's time to move on toward finding a venue and gathering all your supplies.

Find a venue: Select a location that is welcoming and inclusive, and that has the capacity to accommodate your expected number of attendees. Smaller, first-time Pride events are often hosted in local parks. You can work with your local government's parks department to determine how you can rent a park shelter. You should also consider the accessibility of the venue for attendees with disabilities, as well as the safety of your event attendees. If security from anti-LGBTQ protesters is a concern, consider hosting your event on private property. In many small towns, local businesses, LGBTQ-affirming faith institutions, and other privately-owned venues can be safe options for hosting an event on private property.

Gather supplies and rentals:

You may need to think about a variety of supplies and rentals, depending on where you host your event. If you're hosting a small picnic at a park shelter, you probably don't need to buy or rent tables. But, if you're planning on hosting a vendor fair in a park, you might have to rent tables and tents or ask participating organizations to bring their own. Make a list of all the possible items you might need to make your event a success. That list could include tables, chairs, tents, a PA system to play music and allow individuals to speak, decorations, and more. Once you've got your list of supplies, see if you can get some of the items donated or crowdsource from your local community. That PA system, for example? See if a local DJ will volunteer their time and equipment for you.

Invite local community organizations and businesses:

Be sure to invite other local LGBTQ organizations as well as other community groups who serve the LGBTQ community or are welcoming and affirming. You could invite them to simply help spread the word and bring their members or, if you're hosting a vendor fair or festival, invite them to set up a table with resources, games, or activities. You can also extend your invitation to local businesses and charge them a nominal fee for their vendor space as a means to help financially support any expenses your event might have.

Invite speakers and performers:

Pride events often feature guest speakers and performers who can help to educate and entertain attendees. Consider inviting local politicians, community leaders, and LGBTQ advocates to speak at your event. You may also want to include musical performances, drag shows, or other entertainment.

Promote your event:

Make sure that people know about your Pride event by promoting it through social media, email marketing, and other channels. Consider creating flyers or posters to distribute in the community, and reach out to local media outlets to help spread the word. Local news outlets are often very interested in covering a town's very first Pride event and free news coverage can translate into free advertising for your event!

Celebrate diversity, equity, and inclusion:

Pride events are an opportunity to celebrate the diversity and inclusion of the LGBTQ community. Be sure to create a welcoming and inclusive atmosphere at your event. You can ensure a wide range of community organizations and people are included by intentionally inviting a variety of different organizations serving different parts of your community. Be sure that your entertainment and speaker line-up is inclusive as well, by including a diversity of folks representative of various sexual orientations, gender identities, races, and ethnicities. Pay particular attention to how you are intentionally including — and not tokenizing — transgender people and people of color.

Post-event review:

After you've hosted your event and had time to rest and relax, your work isn't over. At least not quite yet. Take time to complete this last essential step: Review and recap! Meet with your fellow event organizers and review what went right, what went wrong, and what could be improved. Creating a list of lessons learned will help you improve and build upon your event for future activities!

Are you a Pride organizer?

Are you a new Pride organizer? Or, perhaps you're a seasoned Pride veteran, but you've never heard of USAP or InterPride? Learn more about the benefits of membership with the premier national organization serving Pride organizers in the United States. One application. One fee. Two memberships. Join a national and international family of Pride!

Portions of this article were generated with the assistance of AI, with additions, revisions, and editing performed by a human writer.


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