How to be an LGBTQ+ Ally
June is LGBTQ+ Pride Month, which celebrates everyone in the LGBTQ+ community. This year also marks the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots, otherwise known as the Stonewall Uprising, which saw members of the LGBTQ community fight back against harassment from the police in Greenwich Village in June 1969.
While more and more people in the U.S. voice support for gay and lesbian rights each year, many people still do or say things that, however unknowingly, hurt the very people they mean to help. Here are 6 ways to be a better LGBTQ+ ally during Pride Month and beyond, according to PFLAG, a national organization of LGBTQ+ allies.
Check your own insecurities and leave them at the door
There might be times when you slip up with gender fluid pronouns or someone corrects your understanding of a certain term. Make sure you do not get defensive or retreat back from helping this community. Take what they are telling you as a learning lesson for the next opportunity, correct your own mistakes, and move on.
Be open to learning
There is a lot to learn within the LGTBQ+ community. Be ready to learn and use what you have learned in practice. Educate yourself-do your research, talk to people, do not be afraid to ask questions, and keep on growing!
Don’t ask people to do it for you
You cannot let people do the work for you if you want to be ally. Be curious and do your own research. Watch movies, tv shows, podcasts, and read articles about the LGBTQ+ community, and visit LGBTQ+ sanctioned websites.
Pay attention to language
Anytime we learn something new, sometimes the terminology can be difficult to grasp at first, but make a conscious effort to be aware of the words you use. If you are unsure, ask an individual what they prefer to be called by or how they identify. Ultimately it is better for you and others if you ask questions instead of mis-gendering or mis-identifying them. If you feel unsure, a great way to start is by introducing yourself and providing your preferred pronouns first.
Commit to listening to what LGBTQ+ people have to say. Listen to their experiences and their stories. Like anyone, often people just want someone to listen without judgement or offering advice and solutions.
Speak up and act
Use what you have learned to educate other people. If you hear someone using the wrong terminology, correct them. When LGBTQ+ topics come up in social or workplace settings, state up front that you’re an ally, letting those around you know you’re available as a resource and support. Donate to organizations. Attend events. Volunteer at events.