Whether you’re travelling north, south, abroad or staying put – Pride Season is fast approaching and it’s best to be prepared! As you plan celebrations, there are some steps that you can take to be mindful of your health in the lead up to and during a big season of partying.
Look after your sexual health
Whether your hookups are planned or spontaneous, it’s always best to be prepared.
Firstly, visit your nearest sexual health clinic or GP to get tested for sexually transmitted infections and blood borne viruses before heading into Pride season. This way, you can get a baseline test for HIV and syphilis, find out if you are protected against viruses like Hepatitis B and make sure you don't take any ride-alongs like chlamydia or gonorrhea with you on the way. Bonus points: book an appointment for after you return or in 3 months time!
Not sure where to go? Find your nearest sexual health centre or testing service here.
If you haven’t had your Hepatitis A, B, or Mpox (Monkeypox) vaccines – now is a good time! You might also need a top up of Hep B jabs - you can confirm that by getting tested.
Make sure you are well supplied for any medications you are currently taking, including HIV treatment or PrEP (daily, periodic or on-demand). Check that you have enough to get you through your season of partying and for when you return. You might need to call your doctor for another prescription (which you can confirm when getting tested) and make a plan in case you lose your meds during Pride season.
Remember, PrEP and U=U only protect against HIV transmission. There are still plenty of STIs like chlamydia, gonorrhea, syphilis and shigella floating around. So, pack plenty of condoms and lube - it’s always good to have some backups in case they break or get lost. You can also get lube in pocket sized sachets that are handy for spontaneous play!
Make a Plan B
If things don’t go to plan, it’s important to prepare for the unexpected. This includes knowing where your closest emergency department or sexual health clinic is to pick up PEP within 72 hours of potential exposure to HIV.
Look after your body
During Pride Season, staying nourished and eating three meals a day is very important. Food is fuel, and you'll need the energy to keep you going throughout the day (and night)! Don’t skip a meal for a cute crop-top moment - eat something light rather than going on an empty stomach.
Keep up your water intake all throughout party season - including before, during and after your hook-ups. Staying hydrated will keep your partying longer if you’re drinking and help with hangover recovery.
We know everyone’s here to have a good time during Pride Season, and you can do that while keeping an eye on how much you’re drinking. Indulging can be great, but there are ways to do it safely.
- Don't drink on an empty stomach.
- Alternate your drinks with a water or something non-alcoholic.
- Stick to a single spirit to avoid peaking too soon.
- Drink spiking can happen – keep your drink within reach and be cautious when a stranger offers you a drink. It’s okay to politely decline. If you start to feel unwell, alert the venue, let your friends know and seek medical care.
- Look out for your friends and keep each other accountable.
- Remember - you don't have to drink to have a good time.
Pride season is a time for pleasure, joy and fun – as it should be! But there are ways to prepare to keep things fun and on the safer side. If you’re travelling from or staying in Canberra, you can take your drugs to be tested at CanTest on Thursdays 10am-1pm or Fridays 6pm-9pm. Drug composition can be unpredictable and testing them can help you to make a more informed decision about taking the drugs you’ve got while knowing what else is in them. This will also help you to manage risks should they come up.
If you plan on injecting, you can take clean injecting equipment with you or find some wherever you’re going. Visit the AIVL website to find your closest Needle and Syringe Program.
When you’re riding high, it’s important that you:
- Keep in touch with friends throughout the night
- Try to not get separated from your group
- Stay hydrated and nourished
For additional safety tips on alcohol and drug use when partying, visit Pivot Point (ACON).
If you are struggling with alcohol and other drugs and would like to start a conversation around them in a safe and inclusive environment, Meridian runs SMART Recovery sessions for LGBTIQA+ folks.
If you’re into exercise, we don’t expect you to keep up on your usual routine while you’re partying. However, there’s plenty of lighter things you can do to keep your body moving and keep your mental and physical health feeling good. Go for walks or jogs outside while getting some fresh air. Find a gym for some solo training (keep it light) or a group class one (late) morning.
Pride season is a time for liberation and expressing ourselves, especially the parts of ourselves that society often told us to hide or be ashamed of. It is also a time for everyone to feel good about themselves - all body types, shapes and sizes!
Pride celebrations can turn long days into late nights on repeat. Catch up on Zzz's whenever you can and consider scheduling recovery time ahead of the party to avoid burning out. Needing time to recuperate is nothing to be ashamed of – your mind and body will love you all the more for it.
Hold off your hookups until at least 24 hours after your skin treatments of choice. Whether you’re waxing, tanning or zapping – let your skin heal before you start grinding up against someone else's.
If you are planning on spending the day partying in the sun - don't forget sunscreen, a hat, and bringing extra layers with you.
It’s still a thing. Get your booster shot if you haven’t already and consider social distancing, wearing a mask (accessorize!) and sticking to well-ventilated spaces whenever possible.
Online & Hook-up App safety
Cruising and planning hook-up's online is great fun, but we know a lot of nasty stuff can happen and it’s best to be aware. We’ve got a resource on keeping yourself safer online and red flags to look out for, click here.
It’s no secret that partying can rack up the big bucks. Financial wellbeing is just as important as your mental health and general health in the long term. Remember that there are ways to have fun and celebrate without spending big – keep an eye out for free events and set a daily budget for yourself if that’s helpful.
If you’re heading to the party/city by yourself, keep in touch with a trusted person and plan for what to do if they don’t hear from you for 24 hours.
Look out for your friends
If you’ve got friends with you, look out for each other! It can be easy to get wrapped up in the fun, but also just as easy to have a wingman to let know what you’re taking if you’re indulging in drugs, or where you’re headed if you’ve found a hookup. Watch out for them as well – make sure they’re fed before drinking and keeping hydrated too.
For more information and tips on staying healthy, safe and making the most of Pride Season, visit:
- How to stay healthy during a party season - Emen8
- Staying safe at Sydney World Pride
- STI testing – the best way to plan for your next big party - Emen8
- Keep Healthy, Stay Safe And Know Your Rights At Mardi Gras - ACON
- Sydney WorldPride Pre-Party Checklist | Ending HIV
- Pride Month 101: The First-Timer's Guide to LGBTQ+ Pride | Them
- Home Page - Sydney WorldPride 2023