Pride season is now in full swing. Though officially celebrated in June to commemorate the iconic 1969 Stonewall riots (which is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year), cities and regions across the world will be holding LGBTQ pride events throughout the summer and fall. Whether you want to attend festivals, parades, marches or parties, there are nearly countless events to choose from.
While many of these Pride events are free to attend, some aren’t — and even if admission itself is free, there are other expenses of attending, such as food, outfits and decorations. There’s also the cost of transportation. Many people travel outside of their immediate area for Pride celebrations, whether it’s because their city doesn’t have any, or because they want to participate in bigger events elsewhere.
Even if you’ve managed to save money ahead of time, attending Pride festivities doesn’t have to break the bank. Here are some expert tips for celebrating on a budget.
Look for free events
While some Pride events do require paid tickets, many of the parades, festivals and marches are still free. For example, Houston Pride has one of the country’s largest free pride festivals, claimed Radu Barbuceanu, Public Relations Director of Houston Pride – and the organization wants to keep the celebration as affordable as possible. New York Pride has numerous ticketed parties, screenings and brunches that cost money, but the festival and parade itself cost nothing to attend.
In addition to official Pride events, many cities are also home to numerous unofficial Pride parties and events that have free admission. And depending on where you go, there might even be free things to do beyond your typical Pride experiences. For example, Barbuceanu said, the Contemporary Arts Museum of Houston, which is free to the public, is featuring a “Stonewall 50” exhibit to recognize the work of LGBTQ artists. He added that many other local museums and organizations are hosting events to mark the 50th anniversary of Stonewall, giving visitors and residents plenty of ways to explore and celebrate Pride without spending much, if any, money.
Find affordable accomodations
If you’re traveling to an out-of-town pride event, know that sometimes, the local Pride organization has arranged for affordable housing for attendees. For example, as a large organization, Houston Pride was able to obtain what’s called “conference pricing” to land discounts at two local hotels. “We have access to this opportunity to have hotel blocks at various hotels, and we have it at the Hilton and Hyatt for $99 for a night,” Barbuceanu said. “That’s something that everyone should know and take advantage of.”
Check the website of the Pride organization where you’re traveling to see if they have secured any deals like this. If not, or if that’s still too pricey, Barbuceanu added that Airbnb and couchsurfing are other ways to find affordable accommodations wherever you plan to go.
Don’t feel the need to travel
Sure, all of your friends might be headed to New York City or San Francisco Pride, and it would be epic to join them. But traveling for Pride events can be costly, and it isn’t truly necessary to celebrate being in the LGBTQ community.
“Realize that you don’t need to travel to attend Pride, hopefully there is a Pride within driving distance of you,” said Raymond Braun, an LGBTQ media personality, and executive producer and host of the new documentary State of Pride. “If not, it could be an amazing opportunity for you to get involved with your community, working with your local LGBTQ youth center or other groups of like-minded people to start your own gathering, which can be as modest as getting a flag on a picnic table and encouraging people to come out and meet fellow members of the community and just hang.”
Get creative with your Pride outfit
Pride is a time when everyone loves to dress up in festive attire or colorful costumes, and it’s tempting to go online and buy everything rainbow that you can find. “But because those looks are so distinct, a lot of people tend to only wear them once or twice,” Braun said. To save money, he suggests sharing outfits with friends. You and a friend can swap and wear what the other wore last year, for example. Braun also suggested going to a local consignment or thrift store to find something colorful and affordable.
Bring your own snacks
One of the more expensive parts of Pride festivals can be the food and drinks, Braun said, so rather than buying everything while out and about, pack like you’re going to a picnic. “Have your Pride pack with granola bars, a bottle of water and those essentials so you don’t need to splurge as much with concessions while you’re actually there,” he said. Keep in mind that some Pride events don’t permit you to bring in outside food or drink, so check the rules before you go.
Remember the spirit of Pride
While it’s easy to get caught up in the costumes and parties, don’t forget what Pride is really about. “For me, you don’t need to pay any money for the most important aspects of Pride,” Braun said, “which is an opportunity to be around people from the LGBTQ community, to connect, to show support for each other, to try to create a space where people can be their most authentic selves.”
Feeling affirmed and seen, celebrating our history and the trailblazers that made it possible is the essence of Pride, he said, and you don’t have to spend any money to be part of that experience.