Most people love a good parade - 4th of July, St. Patrick's Day, Thanksgiving, etc. - but the Gay Pride Parade can be an intimidating place for straight guys, regardless of where they stand on gay rights.
I'm incredibly glad I live in the Lakeview East / Boystown area near Broadway, between Belmont and Addison, but I wasn't sure what to expect my first time attending the parade. Should I expect guys to hit on me? Are there “protocols” that I should follow? Will I end up in a RedEye photo gallery with an awkward headline?
So to help straight guys looking for guidance, here are a few tips:
1. Nobody bites. Okay, maybe some of the folks there do, but nobody is going to bite you. Like kindergarten, be friendly and share your stuff (beer, water, etc.) if someone asks politely. These are the same Chicagoans we celebrated the Blackhawks win with on Monday... And nobody was bitten during that celebration.
2. Be respectful. You'll see some impressive costumes, awesome floats and flamboyant attitudes. If this isn't your style, it's okay to leave early. Just don't be an ass.
3. You might be hit on. When you attend a parade that celebrates the social acceptance of a particular lifestyle and sexuality, someone might hit on you. Take it as a compliment and remember tips one and two.
4. "Lobster," is not the new black! Remember to wear sunscreen." This was shouted from one of the floats in 2010 and it’s still true. The weather sucks right now, but prep for a hot day and wear sunscreen.
5. Drink plenty of water and don't drink too much alcohol. Day drinking is part of the experience for some people, but it’s still illegal on parade day. So be careful what you do and remember to bring bottled water to battle the sun / heat.
6. Have fun. You’re at a parade, so enjoy it! Who knows you might even meet a few ladies while you’re there.
I'm not going to tell you what to do, what to believe or how to behave, but remember to be respectful of those attending.