With the availability of vaccines and boosters, and the lifting of mask mandates across the country, it can feel like the pandemic has ended. Although restrictions may have been loosened, it’s still important for us to be aware of our own boundaries and risks when it comes to COVID-19 exposure. Many individuals who are immunocompromised or have underlying health issues continue to feel unsafe in situations where others are not masking or distancing. How can we navigate this changing world of COVID-19 restrictions, while also honoring our own boundaries and sense of safety?
PrideFest and other pride events like parades and parties often draw large crowds. Luckily, many events like these are held outdoors, where risk of COVID-19 transmission is lower. Still, there are risks to gathering in large groups of people, especially when people are crowded together.
Although masks and vaccines may no longer be required at public events, there are still steps we can take to engage in pride celebrations in a way that feels safe to us. This might look different for everyone. Below are 8 suggestions for protecting yourself and others from COVID-19 at pride events, as well as some ideas for celebrating pride with minimal or no COVID-19 exposure.
1. If you’re able to get vaccinated against COVID-19, make sure you’re up to date on the recommended shots and boosters. Vaccines are shown to reduce the likelihood of contracting COVID-19, and are highly effective for preventing severe illness. (CDC)
2. If you’re feeling sick or have been in contact with someone who has COVID-19, stay home. It’s hard to miss out on fun events, but staying home when you’re sick can help to protect your community from preventable illness. (CDC)
3. Honor your sense of safety. It may feel like there is peer pressure to stop masking and return to “life as normal.” Regardless of the health guidelines, it’s important to check in with yourself about what feels comfortable to you. Whether you’re at increased risk for COVID, or just feel more comfortable taking extra precautions, wearing a mask, distancing from others, and hand hygiene can help keep you safer from the spread of COVID-19. (CDC)
4. Communicate with the people you will meet with about prevention strategies. If you’re attending a pride event with friends, check in with them about their preferences and sense of safety around COVID. Will your friends be masking? Would they feel more comfortable if your whole group follows the same prevention strategies? Communicating with your group ahead of time can be helpful for making a plan so that no one is caught off guard in a situation that feels unsafe. (CDC)
5. Make a backup plan. If you’re not sure whether or not you’ll feel comfortable at a crowded event like PrideFest, make arrangements with a friend or family member if you need to be picked up, or download a rideshare app on your phone so that you can leave on short notice.
6. Carry hand sanitizer. It’s not always convenient to find the bathroom at large events just to wash your hands, but hand hygiene remains an important strategy for avoiding COVID-19 infection. Carrying a small container of hand sanitizer means you’ll be able to clean your hands before eating or touching your face, without having to hike all the way to the restroom!
7. Cover your coughs and sneezes! Did you know sneezes can release germs into the air and spread them over 6 feet? Covering your coughs and sneezes with a mask, tissue, or elbow prevents germs from spreading to people nearby.
8. Consider taking a COVID test before and/or after the event. If you’re going to a crowded event where you won’t be wearing a mask, taking a COVID-19 test beforehand can give you some reassurance that you won’t be spreading COVID-19 to other festival-goers. If you believe you might have been exposed at a crowded event, you may want to take an at-home test afterward.
Not everyone feels comfortable returning to in-person events during the COVID-19 pandemic, and that’s okay! Although it can be challenging to stay connected during social events, here are some alternative pride ideas that don’t involve attending crowded, in-person events.
1. Watch LGBT movies or TV shows. One “no covid risk” pride activity is watching LGBT movies or TV shows! Check out this list of the best LGBTQIA movies and TV shows to stream on Netflix.
2. Have an at-home dance party. Bring the party to your space by putting on your favorite pride playlist and having a dance/movement party, on your own or with some close friends!
3. Have a virtual hangout with friends. Even though many of us want to leave Zoom meetings in the past, virtual hangouts can be a great way to connect with friends without risking exposure to COVID-19. You can even connect with friends who live in another state or country! If you’re looking for fun activities to do with your friends while hanging out virtually, check out this list of games to play over Zoom.
4. Have a pride-themed arts and crafts night. If you don’t enjoy going out to party, but want to engage in more laid-back social events, consider hosting a pride-themed arts and crafts night! Try some art activities like coloring, painting, collaging or drawing.
6. Send your friends a postcard. If you’re not able to spend time in-person with your friends or loved ones this month, consider sending postcards with positive messages. You can find many LGBT-themed postcards on Etsy, or make your own!
7. Make DIY pride flags to decorate your space. Check out this blog post about making DIY pride flags to hang around your space!
8. Write a letter to a queer activist or figure who has impacted you. Pride month is a time to look back on LGBT activists and leaders who have paved the way for LGBT rights today. Consider writing a letter of appreciation to someone who has made an impact on you. This could be a well-known LGBT activist, or just someone who has personally supported you!
9. Have a “PowerPoint Night.” One fun activity that has offered entertainment during quarantine boredom is holding “PowerPoint Nights” with friends, family, or housemates. Each person can put together a short presentation on an LGBT-themed topic that interests them, however silly or serious, and then share them with one another!
Many of these suggested activities come from this list of 30 Fun LGBTQ Activities to Do Every Day to Celebrate Pride Month and this list of pride activities from 2020. Check out the full lists for more ideas!