With Pride Month in full swing, it’s important to be a shoulder to lean on for those who identify as a part of the LGBTQ+ community. This may seem daunting, but there are many ways you can support those around you and learn and grow from individuals and their experiences.
If you’re looking for ways to show your allyship, here are five tips to keep in mind this June and beyond:
Be supportive, not performative
Posting Instagram infographics with rainbows and vibrant colors and fonts doesn’t actually show you stand with LGBTQ+ people. To avoid this, take action. This could mean donating to an LGBTQ+ organization, going to a Pride festival or event or standing up for someone. Overall, by physically acting instead of clicking a button, you’re showing that you truly care and want to become further educated on LGBTQ+ issues and culture.
Respect pronouns and new names
When someone asks you to honor their pronouns, do so. It’s relatively easy to remind yourself to do this. You can usually find pronouns on any social media platform, such as Instagram, but it’s beneficial to do your research. Listen to a podcast with non-binary language or search articles on how to grow more comfortable using pronouns. Additionally, if you know of someone who has changed their name, respect that. By respecting pronouns and names, you’re creating a safer environment for LGBTQ+ individuals and showing you care about being an ally.
Recognize your privilege
It’s extremely important to separate your experiences from the lives of LGBTQ+ individuals. Many heterosexual and cisgender people don’t realize the struggles of being a different sexuality or gender identity. Straight people can absentmindedly take for granted the access they have to certain human rights such as healthcare, education, places of worship and careers, and this can cause tension when befriending those who do not always have those freedoms if you’re ignorant of their realities. All in all, acknowledge your privilege as a straight person if you are one. Start asking yourself the questions that many LGBTQ+ have, such as, “Does anyone ever ask you about your sexuality as a straight person or how difficult was it for you to find a job?" By taking time to reflect by asking yourself questions like the ones just listed, you will start to understand the experiences that come with being LGBTQ+, and sadly, just how difficult it can be.
Keep learning, even if it means making mistakes
As new words and vernacular tied to gender identity and sexuality continue to make their way into mainstream conversation, it’s normal to make mistakes. Whether it’s using the wrong term or pronoun, everyone will slip up at some point in their lives. To amend these mistakes, take responsibility and apologize. Also, correct yourself and view that mistake as a reminder for next time. If you’re honest and open to learning, as well as honest about the process, people will see that you are actively trying to become a better ally and will gain more trust in you.
Always defend your LGBTQ+ friends and loved ones
If you ever witness discrimination against an LGBTQ+ person, stand up for them and ask them how you can further support them in the situation. It shows that you care and are willing to educate others on their behavior. Although, if the person you’re with would like to speak up at that moment, let them. Allow them to express their opinions and thoughts and speak. Standing up doesn’t always mean you have to be aggressive, and by staying calm at the moment, you will be able to spark a more constructive conversation.