How to be a better ally
Celebrate Pride this year by making an impact
Written by Abby Lee Hood
Happy Pride y’all! June is the month we celebrate the LBGTQ+ community. But guess what? The celebration doesn’t stop just because you aren’t queer. In fact, allies are an important part of our communities, friend groups, family and loved ones, and us queer folks need your support more than ever.
We’re diving into the ways you can be a better LGBTQ+ ally and learn to support the queer community no matter where you’re from. Even if they’re not out to you, it’s likely you know a member of the community. That’s why your support is so crucial.
Educate yourself about queer history
The LGBTQ+ community has a long history of oppression, and it’s pretty dark. Even today, some people lose their lives or are killed just for being who they are. It’s unacceptable.
Another point of education is simply about the types of labels, identities, and stripes of the rainbow
, if you will. Learning the difference between asexual, lesbian, nonbinary, transgender, and the other identities can feel daunting, but it’s important because you’re sure to meet those folks out in the world! Plus, it’s okay if something in your research resonates. Many questioning people are part of the community, and you’re never obligated to come out before you’re ready.
Advocate for legislative change
This year the U.S. passed more anti-trans bills and anti-LGBTQ legislation in history. It’s terrifying and some experts say more bills are on the way. The time to act is now, and you can track anti-LGTBQ legislation online
Take all that knowledge and put it to good use. Call your senators and representatives, tweet them, or join local protests if you can. Let them know discrimination is never okay, and that it negatively impacts your state when these bills are passed.
It takes thousands and thousands of people to fight back against discriminatory bills, so be sure to add your voice to the fight for equal rights.
Actively listen to LGBTQ+ stories
When a queer person comes out to you, it’s important just to listen. Many LGBTQ+ folks don’t have supportive families, and in fact, you may be the only person they’ve told. Whatever the situation, they’ve trusted you with an important and vulnerable story and most of the time, just need someone to listen to them.
It’s also important to protect their privacy. It’s NEVER your place to out someone, because it could cost them their job, their family, or even their life. Privacy is of utmost importance. Often, if a trans or nonbinary person comes out to you, it’s best to ask if they’re out to others. Using their correct pronouns is usually a good thing, but sometimes it’s just not safe, or they’re not ready for others to know. Take their lead and ask caring questions if you aren’t sure.
Support them visibly in public
You know, there’s no rule that says straight people can’t go to gay bars! With only 16 lesbian bars left in the U.S.
, they need your business and support too. Going out with your queer friends can be the difference between them staying home or not; especially if they’re anxious about going to a queer club for the first time!
Most people in gay bars are generally very respectful, so you don’t need to worry you’ll be a target or feel overly uncomfortable. Consent is key, so feel free to tell strangers you don’t want to dance or for them to buy you a drink. The important bit is providing emotional backup for your friend, and in many cases, facilitating an experience they might not have otherwise had.
Connect them with help when needed
It’s important to acknowledge that being queer means being oppressed, and that means it can affect your mental health. If a queer person you love is struggling, don’t hesitate to connect them with professional help.
The Trevor Project
offers free help lines so LGBTQ+ folks can call and speak with an expert. This is critical if they are really struggling with their identity or are feeling depressed. The LGBTQ+ community has lost so many already, to violence, to the AIDS epidemic, to depression and many other things. While you shouldn't feel like another person is your responsibility, anything you can do to prevent losing another valuable human life is a job well done.
We hope you’ll take some time to reflect, learn and support the queer community this Pride month. No matter who you are, there’s something you can do! We welcome, love and appreciate your advocacy.