Pride is a time to celebrate. For years before I came out of the closet about my sexuality, I had always wanted to attend, but fear kept me from enjoying it. Now I’m all about making up for lost time with Pride each year.

In Nashville, our Pride recently changed from a small event into a full weekend of celebration of LGBTQIA+ with a march, festival, concerts and after parties. In New York this year, not only will there be NYC Pride, but they are hosting World Pride!

As someone living with HIV, I love to see the HIV service organizations and the community paying tribute to those lost during the epidemic as well as honoring the long-term survivors. I think it’s important to really honor some of the heroes still living in the epidemic that has really hit our population for the last 30 years.

Here are five things that will make your Pride experience awesome in 2019:

1. Learn about our history: This year, 2019, marks the 50th commemoration of the Stonewall uprising, the impetus behind the contemporary Pride march as we know it. Early on June 28, 1969, police raided the Stonewall Inn, a gay bar in Greenwich Village in New York City. Opposing many years of stigma, this started six days of fights. Stonewall is viewed as the birth of the modern LGBT rights movement and efforts toward equality in the United States. In 2016, Stonewall Inn was named a U.S. historic landmark for LGBT rights.

2. Keep supplies with you: If you don’t remember fanny packs from the 1990s, it might be a good time to remember the front pocket that holds everything. Sure, some people may think they are old fashioned, but with security so tight these days at Pride festivals, having a fanny pack to hold all your essentials for a good time comes in handy.

So, what should you bring? Sunscreen. Nobody wants to see that red burn later at the bar. While you’re keeping your skin safe, don’t forget the other things to keep you safe: condoms and/or PrEP. Lube is a good option, but they will probably have some packets at a table at the festival and condoms, too. Gum! Nobody wants to kiss someone with bad breath ever!

Water is essential, but they have some to purchase where you’re going. A small bit of cash for food, but more important is having those dollars so when a performer is working the crowd, you can tip! Don’t forget shades and maybe even a hat!

3. Hydrate: It’s hot out there, so make sure you hydrate the day before and day of any Pride activities. Water is important, but so are electrolytes, like having some lemon juice or cucumber in your water, or an emergen-C packet.

4. Dance: That’s right, shake your stuff! During Pride season, one of the best things is that if there is music, anyplace can turn into a big dance party! Regardless of choosing an indoor or outdoor club, if you are not dancing your ass off, you’re missing out on the big Pride experience.

5. Speak up for something you believe in: There’s always a person, place, or cause that needs our attention, understanding, compassion and action. It’s tough to always follow the news, but at the same time we have to try and make the world a better place.

Find out how you can be more active. Call your representatives, volunteer or maybe even take a belfie (butt selfie) in solidarity of #WeNeedAButton.

Pride is a great time to learn about cool groups that are helping to improve the lives of LGBTQ folks in your community. Let’s make this one count.

Happy Pride everyone!

Josh Robbins is a spokesperson for, an award-winning sexual health advocate, and author of the site He was nominated for a GLAAD media award in 2017 and recently won the National Lesbian and Gay Journalist Association’s Excellence Award in the blogging category.