How to Be a Good Ally During Pride Month (and Beyond)
After a year of hardship, celebrations and political action are needed by the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer (LGBTQ+) community more than ever—and that includes the annual celebration of Pride Month. Pride Month commemorates the 1969 Stonewall Uprising in Manhattan when LGBTQ+ people and their allies stood up against the police harassment of those within the community. It also emphasizes that those who identify within the community can have pride, and not shame, in being who they are and loving whom they love.
People who identify as heterosexual and cisgender can be allies in many different ways. First and foremost, allyship is about amplifying the voices of the LGBTQ+ community. That's why we spoke with representatives from Family Equality and PFLAG to share the ways that we can work toward being good allies today, during Pride Month, and every day of the year.
What Is Allyship?
Allyship is much more than simply being courteous to people who are different from you. Catherine Hyde, a PFLAG national board member, says that at its core, allyship means unconditional love and that there is a spectrum to allyship, meaning that there is always room for growth. "When you're just getting started, you may not always know the right terms," she explains as an example. So, it is important to learn the proper words to use and to expand your community. Ask for someone's pronouns and use them. And for those in your personal circle who are part of the LGBTQ+ community, Hyde says that it is important to offer yourself as a safe space. They should feel safe coming to you about their experiences and their feelings.
"Being an ally to the LGBTQ+ community means [being] someone who empathizes and listens to our challenges and obstacles of our lived experiences," explains Tatiana Quiroga, director of family equality and diversity at Family Equality. "They acknowledge their privilege as cis, heterosexual people and use it to challenge homophobic or transphobic rhetoric when stated by their friends, family, neighbors, co-workers, and other members of their community."
This is also true of other people who identify in the LGBTQ+ community. "As a QLatinx lesbian, I am an ally to other marginalized groups within the LGBTQ+ community," shares Quiroga. "I stand in solidarity with my transgender and nonbinary siblings, who are all too often under attack. It is so important that all members of the LGBTQ+ community stand united, and strongly and actively support our most venerable community members."
Ways to Be a Good Ally
Good allyship encompasses so much more than what we covered, but one of the ways to be a good ally is to use the correct pronouns. This is why many people, including cisgender, are adding their pronouns to their profiles on social media. It shows solidarity and also helps anyone who comes to their profiles to know their pronouns (because we can't assume pronouns based on someone's appearance or presentation). "People can be allies to LGBTQ+ folks by actively supporting them and showing up in their lives and community," says Quiroga. "Participate in the LGBTQ+ community by attending events like Pride celebrations, donate to organizations that advocate and work for the LGBTQ+ community, and volunteer with non-profits that directly serve and address the LGBTQ+ community."
Both Quiroga and Hyde recommend that people make sure to vote in the best interests of the LGBTQ+ community. Be aware of the issues that affect them and support the community with your votes. "Use your power and privilege," says Hyde, adding that this ensures that the voices of the community are heard and included in the conversation.
And what should be avoided? Sometimes, allies can be "overzealous and step in and kind of mute their needs," as Hyde explains. This is why it is important to ask your LGBTQ+ children, relatives, or friends what they need instead of assuming that you know and are protecting them. "Always be welcoming," she adds.
Lastly, make sure that your allyship is consistent. "It's important for allies to see the LGBTQ+ folks in their lives as whole people, not just as tokens who fulfill their needs," explains Quiroga. "Telling your LGBTQ+ family member or friend that you are 'okay' with or tolerate them because you know them but you do not support the community is hurtful and harmful. Telling your LGBTQ+ family member or friend that you 'support them but not their lifestyle' is not allyship. Attending Pride because it's a fun party but not challenging homophobia or transphobia when they are not around is not allyship."