If you didn’t know, June is Pride Month which means celebrating the members of the LGBTQ= community and continuing the fight for equality. Straight individuals are not banned from joining in on the celebration, but there are things we have to remember if we want to be good allies for our LGBTQ+ friends. Listed are five ways to be a good ally during Pride Month.
Understand the History
The month of June wasn’t randomly chosen to be Pride Month instead the choice has an important history behind it. Pride Month can be a lot of fun, but it is primarily about celebrating how far the LGBTQ+ community has come and recognizing the amount of work that still needs to be done. The 1960s was an especially difficult time for queer people, and during this period, officers could arrest people for having homosexual relations and for not wearing gender-appropriate clothing. Because of this law, LGBTQ+ individuals saw gay bars as a haven where they could authentically be themselves.
On June 28, 1989, New York City law enforcement raided the Stonewall Inn, a Greenwich Village club many LGBTQ+ members frequently went to. As police officers roughly threw people out of the nightclub, the community decided to fight back by protesting the raid for the next six days. The Stonewall Riot served as a catalyst for the LGBTQ liberation movement. “It’s more than a parade. It’s more than a party.” Russell Roybal, executive director of the National LGBTQ Task Force, told Mashable. “It’s more than a corporate commercial. It has its roots in resistance.”
Don’t Forget Them the Rest of the Year
Pride Month is only one month, but this doesn’t mean you should forget about queer people the other 11 months of the year because while Pride Month may end in June, the struggles of queer people don’t. You help by spending the rest of the year donating your time or money to organizations dedicated to assisting the LGBTQ+ community.
If a person around you makes a callous comment, correct them instantly and share what you learned. Another way to remember LGBTQ+ people throughout the year is to look at who you are voting for.
“We welcome allies at Pride celebration- but in the truest sense of the word of what it means to be an ally,” Roybal says. “Do you come to Pride, but then you vote for people who are homophobic or transphobic, or who don’t support an equality agenda? If that’s the case, then I think that that’s a problem. “
Understand It is Not About You
As you remember the history behind Pride Month, you have to keep in mind the celebration is about the LGBTQ+ community and not about you. As an ally, you can join in on the festivities but don’t put all of the focus on you. This month gives LGBTQ+ individuals the opportunity to celebrate themselves, a chance some may not have throughout the rest of the year. If a friend invites you to Pride, have fun but remember to always be respectful.
Have An Open Mind
As a straight person, you might be ill-informed about the LGBTQ+ community, but this shouldn’t stop you from trying to be supportive. You have to be open to learning more about the history and issues the community faces. Although one way of learning is to talk to an LGBTQ+ friend and asking them about their experience, it is important to remember that educating yourself on queer issues is your responsibility. Talking to a queer person is good, but it is not their job to be your personal tutor. If you want to be an ally, take initiative and do your own research.
Call Out Bigotry
As an ally, this is a really good way of making queer people feel supported. Although the world entered the 21st century many years ago, a select few still have a backward mindset. Whether it is an insensitive social media post or a heckler out in the street, don’t be afraid to call people out. Queer people face this type of ignorance more than they should, and while straight individuals might never understand the fear of dealing with that level of bigotry on daily basis, we can help lighten the load and remind LGBTQ+ members there are people who will support them.
People may have different opinions, but no one should be mistreated because of who they are. The LGBTQ+ should not have to fight the fight for equality on their own, so be there for them. Don’t just be an ally during the month of June, but throughout the year. Together we can accomplish unimaginable things.