Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Five Adventures to Have This Summer: From Pride Parades to Thrift Store Extravaganzas

Here in Alaska, we’ve had a solid week of sunshine & I’m definitely starting to feel summertime coming on. The other day, I took a walk with a friend and she was barefoot. This morning, I bought myself a pink lace swimsuit off of Hot Topic’s website. On mornings that I work I’ve been riding six miles out by the water to get to the store, & I’ve never felt so awed by the scenery. Spectacularly clear mountains jutting against the cerulean sky form the perfect beginning to long days. The above picture was taken during my lunch break, as I ate a sandwich & watched gulls sweep by the wispy clouds. We may have tough winters, but summers here are to die for. 

Summer can be a time of great weather, great fun, great friends, & great adventures, but only if you put the effort into making it so. I’ve had summers that are slushy bores, full of disinterest and lacking enthusiasm, but I’ve also had summers that are giggly delights. Guess which ones leave the better memories? Here I’ve gathered a few ideas for you to have a mad fun time in this upcoming season. After you read, it’d be so awesome if you added your summer plans in via the comment option! I’d love to see what you all are up to.

Kay! Ready? Let’s go!


Spend an afternoon – or morning! – hunting thrift stores with a friend or partner. Last summer, my diva-licious bestie and I spent several Saturday mornings at a local church’s thrift store. They only open one day a week (!!!) and so there’s often a bit of a maniacal rush at the beginning. We found some epic goodies, such as a pair of pink stiletto Converse high-tops. (Why didn’t I buy those? It’s almost a year later and I’m still berating myself over it!) Their adult clothing sells for $1/item, so we’d come out with a garbage bag full of tea-length skirts, floral-print dresses, and flannel button-downs in all the colors of the rainbow.

Similarly, I remember taking a girlfriend of mine thrifting last spring. It was such a sweet date – it started with her giving me a ring emblazoned with Jack and Sally from the Nightmare Before Christmas movie, and ended with us divvying up our finds into separate piles to take home. Even though summer was fast approaching, I think I bought a couple sweaters that day. Go figure!

If you like to defy gender norms, it can be super exciting to go shopping with a friend who also defies those norms. This is especially awesome with a friend of the opposite birth gender, in my opinion. I went to the Salvation Army with a biologically male friend of mine who enjoys dressing in drag, and we came out with a full load of fun dress-up gear – from lingerie for him to baggy t-shirts for me.

The best part of thrift store hunting is that you can usually find really good deals. I know that many LGBTQ people do not support church thrift organizations because they oppose homosexuality, and while that is a valid & legitimate moral reasoning, I personally am more drawn towards low prices than I am pushed away because of how the organizations spend their earnings. The only secular secondhand clothing store in town has less options & higher prices -- though they do maintain better overall quality -- and while I shop there on occasion, I simply can’t afford to go regularly. A few items at the Salvation Army don’t break the bank, and that’s all that I need.


Learn the choreography to one of your favorite songs. I have never done this, but a personal goal of mine is to learn the dance Gaga does in the Born This Way music video. This will take a lot of work, but it’s totally possible if you put your mind to it! If you have any formal dance training, of course, it will be easier – but it’s still doable if you don’t. Google and YouTube are excellent resources for learning anything. Honestly, WikiHow and Ehow are as well – I search through them whenever I’m trying to learn something new. They offer plainspoken advice & I find them quite useful!

If you have similar music tastes to your friends, it’d be fun to learn the choreography to a favored song as a group. I have a friend who did this, and even performed it at a local talent show! (I was seriously bummed that night that he lives so far away, because I’d have loved to see him perform.)

Don’t want to get too complicated? Learn something that already has an established dance & fan base, such as Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” or the Village People’s “YMCA.” Some songs even have the dances built into the lyrics – think “Cha Cha Slide!” – and those are rad to be able to bust out at school dances. (My high school can’t have been the only one that regularly did the Cha Cha Slide at events… right?) The Macarena is another one of my favorites, and it’s so simple. Learn to do it well, & you’ll wow everyone who watches!


Walk in a pride parade, or with a pride group in any parade. Last summer, the GSA I lead (which was under different leadership at the time) had a float in the local Fourth of July parade. It was so so so awesome! People came off of the sidelines to walk with us, carry signs, & display support. We got thumbs up and cheers from the crowd, and the positive feedback afterwards far outweighed the negative. When we reached the end of the walk, my heart was pumping so hard that it felt like I had just ran a race. Woo, adrenaline!

So, a parade is coming up & you want to sport your rainbow colors. If you’re affiliated with a gay-straight alliance group, or with a local PFLAG chapter, you have an obvious starting place for a float. Just bring it up at a meeting & I bet you that it can happen! If one of those groups exist in your town, but you’re simply not a part of them, go to a meeting or contact someone in the group to see if they’re planning on a float. If they are, express your interest in joining! If they aren’t, suggest that they do & get involved with planning. & finally, if there is no such group in your local area, gather some of your supportive friends and see what you have to do to make such a float a reality.

I’ve personally never walked in an entirely pride-themed parade, so I can’t offer advice on getting that set up – but if anyone has experience with that that they’d like to share, I’d love to hear from you at! Whether you’d like to write a guest post on the topic or simply share some tips for me or Angie to recap, your knowledge is invaluable.


Take some quality time for yourself. No matter how busy you are, recharging & refreshing is of paramount importance to being a healthy person. Take it from an extrovert – alone time can be really difficult. I sometimes hate it, simply because I get so lonely! However, it’s pretty key to a well-balanced life, so I force myself into it on a regular basis. & you know what? Usually, it ends up sucking exponentially less than I expect it to. How about that!

Some things I like to do when I’m alone are: play in my art journal, drink mochas, fingerpaint, take long baths, make collages, redecorate my living space, go on walks, buy myself coffee or take myself out to breakfast, get dressed up & write whatever I feel like writing, and do my makeup like an insane glitter-soaked jester. You might find rewarding solo time in blasting Green Day’s old albums while you work on your tan, meditating in garage while your parents are at work, or dancing in every rainstorm that comes your way. Whatever works for you, embrace it.


Assemble yourself a studio & chill space to practice hobbies & meet up with friends in. I’ve used the garage for this purpose in the past, since we don’t park the car in it while it’s sunny out. Really, anywhere that isn’t your bedroom & isn’t frequently by your family is a good candidate for this set-up. In mine, I put a desk, my paints, my computer charger, big sheets of cardboard, & glitter – amongst other artsy odds & ends. I also slid a few beanbags in for comfort & seating space for friends.

Don’t feel obligated to buy anything new for this project…!!! What you have around is probably what will work best. Unused step-stools are fabulous mini-tables. Ladders become drying racks. Camping pads become couches. Your creativity is your best friend in setting up this space, so use it! (Be sure you have adult permission before you do anything, though, if you’re still living with other people. Be respectful!)


Hopefully, this gave you some ideas for what you can do this summer to pass time & have an exciting season of freedom! What are your summer shenanigan plans? Update us in the comments, ok? 

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