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photo: Ymijan Baftijari, Vivala/iStock/Marissa Pina, Vivala

In the wake of the heartbreaking and tragic Orlando shooting, many people have voiced their concerns about attending their city's Pride Parade. As a part of the queer community, I also had this fear and contemplated opting out of one of the annual events I look most forward to each year. It's a space for people to have fun, express themselves, and live their truth. It bonds the community together and is more of a statement than an event with free-flowing beads and glitter on the floor — even though those things are great, too. And while this cruel act of violence has left a scar in our hearts, we are pushing through remembering how great it is to band together and celebrate love in such a momentous way. From the heartwarming parts, to the hilarious experiences, and everything in between, this is what goes down during a Pride Parade.

Related From Vivala: LGBT New Yorkers Fearful But Resilient 

1

People set up their post to get a good view

You see them bringing their lawn chairs out, hiding their alcohol in a 7-Eleven cup, and eating a McDonald's breakfast sandwich as the crowd rolls in and the parade finishes setting up.

2

People pregaming on their balconies

You can hear the music flood over the streets as they blast Britney Spears and Beyoncé.

3

The actual parade

You don't know when it started, but it's coming through and the floats and decorations slay. 

4

Lots and LOTS of dancing

On the floats, on the streets, in the nearby clubs, everyone is feeling the power of the music. 

5

Near nakedness

You've gotta admire all the body positivity that goes down when you see people in jockstraps and others in underwear and pasties. There is no dress code . . . none!

6

More beads than mardi gras

You'll probably be lucky enough to leave with 10 strands if you're nice with your parade-watching neighbors.

7

Free Chipotle

Don't deny it, you know it's the one float everyone looks forward to. It's the perfect after-festivity drunk food. 

8

Unfortunately you have the extremist homophobes, but they don't matter

Because you also have people who band together to show them that love is love and their hatred isn't as strong.

9
10

The epic performances

From local drag performers to celebs, Pride knows how to get down. 

11

You can get free condoms every five feet

Sex positivity, y'all! 

12

All the flags, all the flyers

The streets are covered in rainbows and club promotions. It almost feels like a magical wonderland here on Earth. 

13

Sex toys and leather gear

They're everywhere and it's amazing.

14

Clubs open all day

Pop in to join a new party if you get hot standing outside. 

15

Pets!

And their owners have decked them in rainbow gear. 

16

New friends

There's just something about the positive energy in the air that allows people to foster bonds with complete strangers.