As New York and many other cities gear up for Pride this weekend, many of us are thinking about how to do the best rainbow makeup, which color of body glitter to buy, where we should meet up with friends, and which Pride parties we'll attend after the parade. The last thing on most people's minds is probably safety. Pride is a big, gay party. It's the one place queer people should feel ultra-safe, right?
"We expect spaces that are created for us to be safe, and in an ideal world they would be safe," says Eliel Cruz, director of communications at New York City's Anti-Violence Project. "It's completely unfortunate that we're not there just yet." He mentions the shooting at Pulse Nightclub, a gay bar in Orlando, as one terrible reminder of that fact. Pulse was a space for LGBTQ+ people and, on that night, specifically Latinx LGBTQ+ people. Yet, it wasn't immune to violence. And it wasn't an isolated incident. The Anti-Violence Project has tracked at least 10 times in the last few months that LGBTQ+ people were attacked in spaces they should have felt safe, like queer bars, gay dating apps, and Pride parades.
So, even though Pride is meant to celebrate the LGBTQ+ community, it's important to take steps to keep both yourself and others safe from anti-LGBTQ+ violence (and violence that comes from within the community, because that happens, too). "It's not about bringing people down, but taking a couple extra steps for safety planning," Cruz says. He and the Anti-Violence project still want everyone to don their rainbow makeup and body glitter, but to also have a get-out-safe plan in case Pride celebrations take a turn.
To keep yourself safe:
If at all possible, don’t attend Pride events alone. Designate a Pride buddy that can act as an accountability partner and safety plan with them.
Let someone who won’t be with you know your plans for the day and night. Let that person know who you’ll be with and if plans change. Brainstorm in advance ways people can contact and support you.
Charge your electronics and bring chargers and/or extra battery packs.
Write down phone numbers of friends or family on a piece of paper in case your cell phone dies.
Be aware of your surroundings: Locate public spaces and 24-hour businesses to seek help if you feel unsafe.
Always trust your instincts. If you feel threatened or unsafe, remove yourself from the situation as quickly as possible.
If you face violence or harassment, alert bystanders and get away if you can. Then, notify event organizers or nightclub staff for immediate support.
To keep other people safe:
Consider your power and privilege in a situation, and consider the ways in which you can most effectively help others. Many times the best way to intervene doesn’t require getting physically involved.
If you witness hate-violence, you can make your presence known by asking questions and talking to both the survivor and the perpetrator.
Speak up, be LOUD, and call out what’s happening: Identifying violence by name can help deter it.
Distract and divert the attacker’s attention by making a scene and being noisy to draw the attention of others.
Record what’s happening by taking video on your phone.
Ask what support the survivor needs and provide it if you can.
If the violence is being perpetrated by the police, you can record, observe, and verbally intervene, but physically intervening is illegal. Get the names, badge and car numbers of officers involved.
Whether you feel unsafe or you witness someone else being harassed, call the Anti-Violence Project's Bilingual (Spanish/English) hotline for help and support: 212-714-1141