Every June since 1995, we have celebrated Pride Month in order to commemorate the June 1969 Stonewall Riots, a turning point in the Gay Liberation Movement, and show our support of the LGBTQ community. But while we have made strides in LGBTQ rights in the past few years, with the passage of marriage equality and the repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell (DADT), we still have a lot of work to do until all people, regardless of gender identity and sexuality, have equal standing in the United States.
This Pride Month, follow these tips to become a better ally.
One mistake allys often make is trying to speak over, and for, minority groups. Before making any other changes, allys need to take the time to make sure they are truly listening to the people they are trying to help. Listening to stories of LGBTQ people, either by reading, doing research, following activists on social media, or even talking to your LGBTQ friends can help you understand more about the unique oppressions that the LGBTQ community experiences and what you can do to help.
Recognize your biases
All people have internal biases. This affects the way we view people based on their race, gender, and even their weight, and it greatly affects the way we view and fight for the rights of people in the LGBTQ community.
Dealing with your own internalized prejudices can help you become a better ally because it will allow you to understand your own limitations and work to ensure that they do not cloud your ability to work with all LGBTQ individuals.
Check your privilege
“Privilege” is a word that makes a lot of people feel uncomfortable because it forces us to recognize the way that our lives are easier based on characteristics we have no control over. You can have white privilege, male privilege, cisgender privilege, able bodied privilege, heterosexal privilege, and educational privilege, just to name a few. Each of these privileges alters the way we interact with and experience world around us.
To fully understand why it is important to fight for the rights of underprivileged groups, like members of the LGBTQ community, you need to understand what exactly they are fighting for. LGBTQ people are often fighting to have the same rights that other people take for granted every day, like the ability to marry whomever they want without fear of repercussions from their family, job, or local community, or the ability to use whatever bathroom they identify with.
Learning your own privileges can help you understand why it is so important to fight for LGBTQ rights.
It’s one thing to say you’re an ally, but it’s an entirely different thing to act like an ally. If you see someone being mistreated or harassed for the gender identity or sexuality and you feel safe to do so, speak up and step in. Simply standing up to a person by saying “hey, that’s not okay” is often enough to make them stop.
You can speak up in smaller ways too, like by not allowing your friends and family to make homophobic or transphobic remarks and not being friends with people who openly dislike LGBTQ people.
Pride Month is an important time for the LGBTQ community to celebrate themselves and it’s a great opportunity for you to show that you support your LGBTQ friends and family. Following these tips, and, above all, remembering that being an ally is a learning experience, can help you to be a better support system for the LGBTQ community.