Gay, straight, queer or trans, Pride is an opportunity for you to meet fun-loving, equality-minded people. Here, CL contributor and proud femme lesbian Joanne Spataro offers humorous takes on some folks you might run into at the Charlotte Pride Festival and Parade, happening Aug. 16-17. Do yourself a favor and approach folks with an open mind. Make friends you otherwise wouldn't. Dance your little heart out.
THE BABY LESBIAN: She's queer. She just got here. She's still getting used to it. It's not just her first Pride — it's possibly the first time she's felt comfortable being openly gay. Check out her sweet backwards baseball cap or the hot men's undercut she always wanted but was too afraid to get when she was in the closet. Her wrists are covered in rainbow bracelets. She's telling jokes that are new to her. (Liquor in the front, poker in the rear, anyone?) She's new to navigating the gay dating scene and is quickly learning it's typically filled with d-r-a-m-a. (Don't even attempt to say hi when she's furiously texting her first ex-girlfriend.) She'll love Pride, but she'll need your support. Buy this baby lesbian a Pussy energy drink. Tell her you love her rainbow accessories.
THE FRUIT FLY: Guided by her gay friends, a straight woman can have a fabulous night out at Pride without romantic entanglements. (In other words, she can go to the after-parties without getting groped on the dance floor.) But fair warning: Straight women can sour into fruit flies, a strain of hangers-on who treat their gay friends more like playthings. They feel entitled to grab ass and use the shudder-inducing acronym GBF — gay best friend. "I'm an honorary gay man," she might say. Remind her she is a heterosexual woman who has been invited into this space as an ally.
THE BEAR: Hey there, Daddy. Can I squeeze those muscles? He's got a broad chest full of dark hair, and a wily smile. The combination of his lustrous beard and leather chaps could bring any cub to his knees — and here's hoping. This catch's natural habitat is the gym or anywhere the night takes him. Those cute laugh lines mean he's seen a thing or two or 50 in his life. He knows what he wants. And tonight is hunting season. Find him at an after-Pride party talking about his fitness. Ask him more about that shake supplement he's drinking to make his broad shoulders even broader. He won't bite.
THE FEMME: Those shy-yet-strong butch types will work up the courage to tell her she has a beautiful smile. Bi-curious straight girls will compliment her sundress. The Femme is wise to these advances. Mysterious and strategic, she knows her claim of going to Pride "to have a good time with her friends" is said in vain. She can never escape going out without receiving three marriage proposals or someone offering to buy her a drink. If you are even slightly attracted to her, you should do none of these things. Say "Happy Pride!" and move on. Or, if you really can't resist her, offer to "be there" for her. Say, "Wow, these people hitting on you are the worst, right?" Maybe she'll friend you on Facebook and you can send her a hey-it-was-nice-to-meet-you message. Not that I've tried this technique.
THE SOFT STUD: Damn, girl. She's not saying a word -- and she doesn't need to. Those soulful eyes and lip bite say it all. She's waiting for the right moment to make a smooth move on you. Her swag is on point, from her braids to her ironed dress shirt, right down to her wingtips. She considers herself a gentleman. She'll buy you a drink. She'll hold doors open for you. She listens better than any straight girlfriend ever could because she wants to be your confidante. Or get into your pants. That's hot. If you're a straight girl, this might be the moment you question it all. Go ahead. Let yourself be wooed.
THE LESBRO: You may run into a straight man with a bunch of lesbian friends at Pride. Who is this guy? He's either a) trying to pick up the women who love both women and men; b) likes hearing the girl-on-girl sex stories; or c) is simply an equality-minded, kind person who's not out for secondary gain. You'll know which one he is by what he says. Watch for passive digs and assertions. Tell him when his straight-male privilege is showing. If he dares to say, "Hey, I'm a lesbian too!" you tell him no, he isn't. He's a dude who likes women and is cool enough to hang out with lesbians.
THE NEW GLAMAZON: This daring fashionista may go by male, female or non-binary pronouns, but there's only one word to describe their look: flawless. Their go-to role model may be Laverne Cox, the first openly transgender actress to be nominated for an Emmy as inmate/hair stylist Sophia Burset on Orange is the New Black. This Pride goer has taken note of how Cox and other gender-queer activists respect themselves. Ask any version of, "What do you have going on downstairs?" and they will confront your Katie Couric ass — with a smile, of course. Get the hint or they'll "bye Felicia" you in a heartbeat. Pal up and get down with each other at the Wells Fargo stage Saturday night. You might have a new BFF with swag to spare.
THE TWINK: He's the friend who's always 20 minutes late to everything. He'll apologize knowing full and well he'll do it again. Who can stay mad at those cheekbones? This slim, beautiful man wants to know all about your sex life. Chances are you'll want to wear each other's faces by the end of the night because you feel like cosmic soulmates. He's more than a pretty duck face. Think of him as an artichoke: layered and wonderful. Tell that story about how you blew your boyfriend at a late night showing of Frozen AND ask about his new job at Wells Fargo. But do it fast. You are on limited time until midnight. That's when the clock strikes dick-o-clock -- to borrow a term from Margaret Cho -- and the party's over for you. He needs to go get laid. Don't worry, he'll love you again over bottomless mimosas tomorrow.