Enjoy the Outdoors: Pride Festivals with Kids

Over the years I’ve celebrated LGBT Pride month many times – and in lots of different ways.  For me it morphed from a giant coming out party, to a beer and sun people-watching event, to an opportunity to be an activist and learn about political issues and non-profit organizations that support our community.

The last few years our celebration of Pride has taken on a whole new incarnation.  We’ve had a newborn/baby/toddler (and next year we will have two kids!) in tow – which makes Pride a whole new experience.  Rather than perusing the hot evening parties and concerts we focus on the daytime activities.  Glitter has been replaced with sunscreen; sleeping in after a long night has been replaced with naptime after an early morning; and beer has been replaced by plenty of water to stay hydrated.

Still, most things translate well.  Who doesn’t love rainbows, sunshine, and parades?  An outdoor festival with live music appeals to any age group.  Even though we have a different set of considerations, we still really enjoy the celebration.

It might be a bit more challenging to navigate the festivities with little kids in tow, but I think it is an important event for our family.  It’s an opportunity to witness diversity in action as well as interact with other families like ours.  Our son, at two years old, is just starting to be able to ask questions and vocalize his curiosity.  I imagine that as he gets older Pride will be a great way to spark conversation and a safe place to ask questions.  Most importantly it will be an occasion to celebrate who we are; from each of us as individuals, to our family as a whole, to our larger LGBT community and allies.  I believe it will be worth the extra effort for our kids to witness an entire community coming together in Pride.

If you plan to tackle a Pride festival with young kids here are a few tips to keep the day running smoothly:

  • Sun:  Most Pride festivals happen in the month of June which means lots of sun!  Be sure to wear sunscreen and come equipped with hats and/or sunglasses.  Scope out shady areas and take lots of rests.
  • Water and snacks:  Related to the above point, it’s easy to get dehydrated so be sure to bring water and make sure everyone is drinking often.  There is usually food available, but there usually aren’t many healthy choices, so be sure to pack a couple wholesome snacks to tide you over.
  •  Transport:  There can be a lot of walking involved (which can be too much, especially in the heat of the day, for kids) and strollers can be hard to navigate in the crowds.  It can also be hard to find parking near the action.  We opted to use our Ergobaby Performance Carrier (the extra breathability is great in June) and take public transportation to the festival itself.
  • Prioritize: Read up about the different events happening and pick a few you’d like to hit.  You might also want to avoid some with more adult themes or lots of drinking.  Plan your day out, but don’t get overly ambitious – long days in the sun plus skipping naptime don’t usually mix.
  • Anticipate Questions: Think ahead about the answers to questions that might come up.  Tables may be giving out condoms and some people may be scantily clad – make sure you are armed with age-appropriate responses to curious queries.
  • Connect: Hook up with your local family group.  They are likely to have kid oriented activities planned and there will likely be other kids there.  If there isn’t a family group in your area – Start one!  It can be as simple as hosting a potluck and could be a way to extend Pride season all year long.
  • Have fun!  After all that preparation, be sure to enjoy and go with the flow of the day.  We didn’t expect to watch the marching band for an hour – but that’s what we ended up doing, and our son LOVED it.  You can’t plan everything – and that’s when some of the best moments happen.

However you celebrate – I hope everyone is having a great Pride season!





Sandra Telep is a West Philly Mama (not born and raised, but she does spend most of her days on the playground). She is a former professional activist turned stay-at-home-mom. Sandra is happily married to her best friend; they have a precocious toddler and are expecting baby #2.

She blogs about parenting as a queer, Latina, feminist reclaiming family values at www.westphillymama.com