Be respectful of the park and clean up after yourself! / Photo by Pop Paul-Catalin

10 Tips to Stay Safe and Respectful in the Park

Atlanta Pride is about having fun, but you can only have fun in an environment that’s safe. Over 300,000 people will be in Piedmont Park this weekend, and it’s every single person’s responsibility, to themselves and others, to foster an environment that allows for everybody to have a great time. If this is your first Pride or you just need a refresher, here are ten things to  do to keep you and your friends safe and the people around you happy.

  1. Don’t take photos or videos of people without their permission.

At Pride, you’re going to see some fabulous and maybe even outrageous outfits, hairstyles, and makeup. If you see someone who looks so good you have to memorialize it in your camera roll, ask them before you take a photo or video. Not only is it good manners (if you have a habit of taking photos of others in public without their consent, knock it off!), being at Pride may put some of us in a vulnerable position with our families or employers. They might not want photographic evidence of their attendance, even if only on a stranger’s camera roll.

  1. Be open minded and kind.

Maybe, instead of seeing someone and wanting to take a photo, you want to judge them for how they dress or present. Nobody can control what goes on in your mind, but regardless of whatever opinion you have about kink at pride or what a trans person should look like, do not do anything that would make someone feel uncomfortable or unwelcome. This includes staring, pointing, shaming, and bullying (even if you think they can’t hear you — someone else can). While the LGBTQ community is not a monolith and we all have a variety of opinions, experiences, and ways of expressing ourselves, Pride is about what unifies us, not what divides us. Bring it back to childhood: if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.

  1. Know who the volunteers are.

If you need help or information, you’re going to want to be able to identify the Atlanta Pride personnel. Volunteers are in yellow shirts, lead volunteers are in blue shirts, event staff are in black shirts, security are in chartreuse shirts, market staff are in red shirts, and information are in pink shirts.

  1. Know where the officer stations are.

In the case of an emergency, you should contact the nearest volunteer who will connect you with a police officer or member of the EMS team. However, if you need or want to find a police officer, they will be at Park Drive and Monroe, the 12th street gate, the 14th street gate, and Orme and Park Drive.

  1. Stay hydrated.

Some medical emergencies are unavoidable, but dehydration isn’t! There are six water stations throughout the park: one at the 12th street entrance, three around the Meadow, and two more along the vendor booth path. Even (and especially) if you’re drinking alcohol, make sure you’re getting plenty of water in between your boozy beverages.

  1. Watch your drink.

Pride is a celebration of love and community, so we want to assume that everybody who comes does so with only the best intentions. However, even if that is the case, it’s better to be safe than sorry. Never leave an open drink unattended and never drink something somebody you don’t know and trust hands you.

  1. Keep it simple.

Bring only the essentials: a water bottle, phone, wallet, keys, sunscreen, and maybe a clack fan. The more you have with you, the more you risk losing — and with 300,000 attendees, the chances of getting lost items back are slim.

  1. Set a meeting place with your friends.

If you’ve ever been to a festival, you know that bad service or a dead battery may leave your cell phone unreliable. Have a plan, just in case you get separated from your group and have no way of communicating with one another, to meet somewhere: even if it’s My Sister’s Room at midnight.

  1. Don’t leave trash behind.

Be respectful of the park and clean up after yourself! There will be plenty of trash cans throughout the park, so there is no excuse to not throw that trash away!

  1. Be mindful of others.

At the end of the day, all you need to do at Pride is to be respectful of those around you. This means respecting personal space, asking for consent when touching anyone in any way, reading and responding to non-verbal cues of discomfort, and asking for and respecting others’ pronouns! We’re all here to have a good time and show up authentically as ourselves, so it’s all our jobs to create a safe and loving space for us to do so.