June marks Pride Month, a time when lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer people celebrate around the world. But, for allies of the LGBTQ+ community, showing your support shouldn't only happen once a year. Instead, being a Pride ally requires standing up for LGBTQ+ rights all year round.
I'm not an expert on what it takes to be a good ally but I'm learning. Here are some of the ways I'm deepening my allyship.
Be Open-Minded And A Good Listener
The easiest way to learn more about the queer community is to listen to what members have to say. Start by reading articles or watching documentaries written and produced by queer people. These are great ways to get comfortable with common terminology and clear up any major questions. In particular, PFLAG and GLAAD both have comprehensive ally resources.
Once you've brushed up on the basics, reach out to queer folks in your community. As long as they're willing to answer your questions, a conversation is a great way to learn.
Identify Yourself As An Ally
Although LGBTQ+ rights have made major strides in the past few decades, there are still outspoken anti-queer activists trying to make life difficult for queer and transgender people every day. Voicing your support as an ally is crucial to showing your queer friends and relatives that you care about them.
Identifying yourself as an ally is a great way to show your support, whether it be attending a rally, a social post, a yard sign, an item of clothing, or even a bumper sticker.
Stand Up For The LBGTQ+ Community
Standing up for the LGBTQ+ community is something you can do all year long to respect the people around you. While this includes attending marches and protests, standing up can be as simple as shutting down homophobia or transphobia when you see it. The fight for LGBTQ+ rights is far from over, and change begins at home. Let your allyship continue even when no one's around to see it.
Almost ten years ago, David and I took our sons to a Vote No Don't Limit The Freedom to Marry rally at the State Capitol. I remember feeling inspired by the people working together towards equality for all. There's still a long way to go but same-sex marriage in Minnesota became legal in 2013.
Learn About LBGTQ+ History
Harvey Milk. Marsha P. Johnson. Sylvia Rivera. If these names don't mean anything to you, it may be time for a little history lesson. Understanding the history of the fight for queer and trans rights is a crucial part of understanding today's movement. Fortunately, this is one history lesson that's not boring: there's a variety of media that's as entertaining as it is educational.
Consider learning about the depiction of transgender people in film with Netflix's documentary Disclosure: Trans Lives On Screen, or watch the lesbian cult classic satire But I'm A Cheerleader. RuPaul's Drag Race, which has aired over 14 seasons, features discussions about queerness and queer history. Look for media made by queer and trans artists to round out your education, and don't forget to enjoy yourself.
Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is
Today, it can be difficult to spend money responsibly. One way to support the LGBTQ+ community is to support LBGTQ+-owned businesses. From clothing brands to art and much more, there are tons that you can support. If you'd like your money to have an even bigger impact, there are hundreds of charities and foundations that provide vital services to LGBTQ+ people. These range from providing medical care to covering housing costs in marginalized communities.
While many companies break out the rainbows for Pride Month, some don't actually donate any money to queer charities. Some even give money to anti-gay or anti-trans legislators or foundations. Data for Progress' Corporate Accountability Project published research on Fortune 500 companies' donations to anti-LGBTQ+ politicians. Although it may take time, doing the research before you give your money to a company is a vital part of being a good ally.
Continue To Learn And Educate Yourself
Being a good ally doesn't happen overnight. It can take a long time to get familiar with the history and issues facing the LGBTQ+ community. Make sure to not center yourself in discussions, and don't be afraid to make mistakes, apologize, and grow.
Finally, don't forget to seek out LGBTQ+ people. The LGBTQ+ community is not a monolith, and members have different viewpoints and opinions. There's no one right way to be an ally, as there's no one right way to be a member of the LGBTQ+ community. Lead with your heart and you'll do fine.
Celebrate Pride All Year Long
If you're interested in being an LGBTQ+ ally, all you need to do is show up with an open mind and a willingness to learn. Remember to be respectful and inform yourself about the LGBTQ+ community all year long - not just in June.
If you're interested in learning more about ArcStone and our commitment to service, don't hesitate to contact us. We're committed to serving the LGBTQ+ community all year round as responsible Pride allies.