Being an ally is more than just showing up. Here’s how to advocate for gay, trans, and non-binary friends and family in an impactful, authentic way
We’re halfway through Pride month, a celebration of the LGBTQ+ community and the impact they’ve had on the world. Whether or not your city is covered in rainbow banners, hosting multiple parades, or if there’s only a faint sign of recognition—it’s a good time to remember why we’re celebrating in the first place.
Pride month is hosted in June to honor the anniversary of the 1969 Stonewall uprising in New York City, a pivotal moment in the liberation of the LGBTQ+ community. Since then, gay pride events take place in countries and cities around the world with a vision of improving the visibility and legal rights for LGBTQ people. Fast-forward to 2021 and progress has been made, but the community still faces significant adversity, prejudices, and challenges. According to a study by the Human Rights Campaign, only 27% of gender-expansive youth reported that their families are very accepting of LGBT people.
Straight people have the opportunity to be stronger allies and help advocate for this marginalized community—with the typical parade marching and rainbow-colored apparel associated with this month being just one facet. Read on for ways to become a better ally and celebrate pride month with integrity.
It can be hard to understand the struggles others face unless we walk in their shoes—and while that isn’t always possible, there are ways to learn, understand, and show empathy to LGBTQ+ loved ones in a way that honors, lifts, and validates their experience. Listening is the best place to start.
Check in with your gay friends and family and ask how you can support them during this time. Make sure to keep it brief—it’s not their job to educate you, or absolve you of any negative feelings. It’s about listening, understanding, and owning up to your mistakes.
Acknowledge your privilege and learn
If you are straight and/or cisgender, take time to evaluate where you have benefited from your orientation in contrast to the different life experienced by someone queer. Read stories and educate yourself on queer terms and concepts—there are plenty of resources that help you understand the differences between gender and sex, expressions, and pronouns, and asking your LGBTQ+ friends to tell you can place an unnecessary burden on them.
Check out The Trevor Project’s guide to being an ally for transgender and nonbinary youth and this guide from the Parents, Families, and Friends of Lesbians and Gays Organization to being an ally to lesbian, gay, and bisexual friends and family.
After doing the work of listening and learning, use your resources to amplify queer life experiences. Sign equality petitions and link to them on your Instagram, Linktree, or social media accounts. Participate in a Clubhouse talk promoting a project or business of a queer friend. Make sure to take your support offline, too, and attend a gay pride event, festival, or parade to physically support the community.
You can also shine a spotlight on LGBTQ+ life through your job—for instance, if you work at a book store or cafe, use the space to host a panel of queer sex educators. Fight against hate by kindly correcting other straight people when they knowingly or unknowingly misconstrue parts of the LGBTQ+ experience. You can also support LGBTQ+-owned businesses and art galleries by purchasing their products and services.
Arguably the most tangible way for straight people to show their support is by giving financially to those in the LGBTQ+ community, either directly or through an organization. There are many local, state, and national non-profits that are working year-round to eliminate discrimination, advocate for equality and legal rights, and provide access to health care and social support.
If you have a Linktree, you can set up commerce links for visitors to donate directly to an organization of your choosing. These Support Me links allow visitors to select an amount to give and donate directly on your Linktree, without leaving the page. Plus, Linktree has waived all transaction fees so every dollar (or pound!) goes directly to the cause.
Global organizations like OurRight Action International and the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association (IGLA) both have a presence in the United Nations where they address human rights violations and seek to improve the lives of those suffering from discrimination or abuse based on their sexual orientation and gender identity.
If you don’t have a group in mind, start locally—like the The Center on Colfax in Colorado that provides entrepreneurship classes for transgendered youth, Bi Pride UK in London that advocates for inclusion and legislation, and ACON health in New South Wales, which focuses on HIV prevention. Search online for “LGBTQ organizations near me” to discover more.
Pride month is a time for celebration, but it should always center around the LGBTQ+ community’s resilience and the issues that impact all of its members. Make these ideas your own and apply them in a way that’s genuine to your life, whether you have one LGBTQ+ friend, or 50. Remember that mistakes are inevitable, but as long as you’re operating out of a place of curiosity and love, you can help increase acceptance and amplify the voices of this awesome community and individuals.
This story was written by Hannah Doyle.