As we all know, June is Pride Month, and it’s a time for the LGBTQ+ community to come together and celebrate being out and proud.
For the longest time (and still true for some today) coming out of the closet was something unimaginable, so Pride festivals were created so queer people could have a space to be themselves and make a community all their own.
Queer people have certainly come a long way in America, and a small part of that is because of straight allies who stood with the LGBTQ community when they were fighting for their rights (and still continue to do so today).
I’m sure most people probably consider themselves an ally, but if Pride Month has you thinking about how you can do a better job of showing up for the LGBTQ+ community, here are some ways that you can think differently about being an ally.
I really like this list of ways you can be a better ally and friend from GLAAD, so I’m going to share some of their points and elaborate further.
- Be a listener
Honestly, this is a good thing to be in any aspect of your life, but especially when you’re trying to be a friend to a queer person. Listen to what they have to say, have some empathy and maybe try to relate to them on some level. Find some common ground be being an active listener.
- Be open-minded
This goes hand-in-hand with being a good listener, but being open-minded is one of the best things an ally can be. You may not be able to relate to someone who decides they are non-binary, but if you listen to their story and are open to hearing a new perspective, you might be able to understand that person a whole lot better.
- Be inclusive and invite LGBT friends to hang out with your friends and family
Being inclusive is what being an ally is all about. If you have a new co-worker who identifies as LGBTQ+, invite them to set with you at lunch, or to after-work drinks one day. Making a queer person feel more included in the group is being a fantastic ally.
- Don’t assume that all your friends and co-workers are straight
There are all sorts of people that fall under the LGBTQ+ umbrella, so it’s never safe to assume that just because a person acts or seems straight means that they actually are. If someone is ready to come out to you, they will. Just give them time.
- Anti-LGBTQ+ comments and jokes are harmful
Part of being an ally is doing the work when you’re not around any LGBTQ+ people. If you overhear someone saying something homophobic or harmful about a queer person, tell that person it’s not OK. Obviously don’t put yourself in danger, but if it’s a close friend or family member of yours, letting them know that you won’t stand to hear homophobic statements can go a long way.
- Confront your own prejudices and bias, even if it is uncomfortable to do so
We don’t like to think of ourselves as having a bias or being prejudice against someone, but you more than likely have some and you don’t even subconsciously think about it. You may like your lesbian coworker, but would you feel differently if your daughter came out as one? Thinking hard and critically about those type of things can make you a better ally.
- Believe that all people, regardless of gender identity and sexual orientation, should be treated with dignity and respect
This is kind of the golden rule of it all, right? No matter what a person looks like or how they express themselves, they deserve to be treated with respect. If someone sees you treating a queer person with the same respect as others, it may inspire them to become an ally, too. It’s leading by example than can change other people, too.
Being an ally isn’t something that you just say you are -- it’s something that you have to actively do every day. The more people that treat the LGBTQ+ community with dignity and respect, the closer we can get to understand each other more.