I was talking with redbeardace recently about advice for ace groups who want to participate in pride parades, and thought of several bits of advice, which I’m reposting here in no particular order for anyone else who might find them useful (And someday, hopefully, I’ll draft this into an actual more organized guide). Feel free to add your own advice or questions in the comments below!
- Start planning early: registration often starts up to 6 months before the actual event – keep an eye on the parade website and get on the mailing list if they have one. See if they have odd rules that you need to know (for ex: my event bans all mylar balloons)
- Large parades usually have a registration fee – so you may need to fundraise and/or find a generous donor in the group to cover that. Fees often go up closer to the event, which is more incentive to get registered early
- Think about handouts – it can be good to handout things like fliers or stickers with a link to more info to raise awareness, but these require time to design and print ( 2-3 weeks lead time is best to be safe), and cost money to print as well (can be 200-300 if you want things like stickers and want enough to give out – I think we gave out around ~3000 stickers at SF pride this year, and we could have given out even more). I personally like stickers because they are cheaper than things like buttons or wristbands, but people are more likely to take them than paper fliers (and you can stick them on things for free advertising!)
- Think about a banner – having a large, easy to hold sign with your group name makes you much more memorable. It helps to have a visible reference to a website or anything where people can find more info
- Remember to be prepared for lots of walking and time in the sun – bring sunscreen, water, and snacks. One thing that has been super useful is having a small cart or wagon or other wheeled item to carry extras of these (and if there’s space you can also hold extra fliers, purses, sweaters, etc.).
- Go with a walking group, at least for your first year – floats or other vehicles are more expensive to get permits for and require more training
- Have reliable volunteers available beforehand – this probably differs between parades, but SF at least requires several volunteers from each group to attend prior safety training
- Be prepared for pictures – people will take lots of pics and videos of you. This is not a good event for people who are at risk if work/family finds out about their aceness, unless maybe if you wear a fancy disguising costume or something.
- Be catchy – people love jokes like “asexual pirates aren’t interested in your booty”, so if awareness is your goal, things like that can be helpful (if you are just going for a fun time, though, don’t worry about)
- walking in a straight line gets boring. Consider bringing things like flags or signs that you can wave around or dance with, or otherwise have some fun with.
- Be prepared for lots of sitting and waiting. Big parades have more people than fit on the route, so you can spend up to several hours just waiting in line before you march. Consider something light like a pack of cards, or some word games or other ideas to keep people entertained.
- Plan an escape: this varies from pride to pride, but at some big, beer-sponsored events like SF, the parade dead-ends at a festival jam-packed with drunken crowds…which you may not want to deal with. So having a pre-established place to meet up and hang out after the parade, preferably a walkable or easily public-transitable distance from the event, is great.
- Coordinate with watchers – you will probably have some people who are not up for walking long distances, or who want to watch the whole parade, so maybe make plans to 1. let them know when to expect you so they can cheer and 2. make plans to somehow meetup afterwards (see above)
- Know that being in the parade, means you don’t get to watch the parade: just whoever is right in front of you, or maybe the people behind you if you stay for the end after finishing.
- If you have a group that isn’t sure about marching, a potential first step is to just have one year where you all go watch the parade together – you can get a sense for what the atmosphere is like, get idea from other groups in the parade, etc.
- Also, check out what all the prides are in your area – in some large metro areas, there will be a “main” pride in the biggest city, but nearby cities may have their own smaller prides – these are usually cheaper, calmer, less corporate, less drunken, etc. These can be a less intimidating first place to march.
- Oh, and one last tip – have a spiel practiced and ready. You will be asked over and over “what’s asexuality?” “why are you here?”, possibly even by people on camera. It’s less exhausting if you have a practiced few phrases you can recite without even thinking too hard.
If you need inspiration, you can also check out the footage of several awesome marching groups from this summer below :)