By Saul Myhre, Alliance Intern from the University of Minnesota Twin Cities
Pride began as a protest. Pride is still a protest. You can play an important role as an LGBTQ+ ally. “46% of LGBTQ+ workers reported being closeted at work and 20% reported searching for a different job because their workplace was unwelcoming to LGBTQ+ individuals,” according to Harvard Business Review (HBR). A great way to continue your support is to take advice from those of unique gender/sexual orientations. As states like Florida look to undo LGBTQ+ social progress, it is paramount that allies and LGBTQ+ members alike take action.
According to HBR, “To LGBTQ+-identified people, being a good ally has three components: being accepting, taking action (‘They advocate for the group’), and having humility (‘they are willing to learn).” Listen more than you speak when discussing LGBTQ+ issues. Don’t just be an armchair activist, educate yourself and confront biases from others like hate speech that you notice day-to-day. According to Stonewall UK, attending a local pride event does much more than simply reposting infographics. Break out of your comfort zone and come out in support of Pride!
Here are the 5 basic actions from Stonewall UK:
1. Familiarise yourself with the language
You could begin with doing something as easy as reading a glossary of terms and teaching yourself the right language to use when talking with LGBT+ people. It’s a tiny but crucial step you can take to educate yourself and make sure you are using the terminology to be respectful to everyone around you, and help yourself to feel more confident when discussing LGBT+ issues.
2. Educate yourself on the history of LGBT activism
While you’re already on Google getting to grips with every letter of the LGBT+ alphabet you can explore the history of the LGBT movement. Getting to know the history of LGBT activism is an empowering act in becoming an LGBT ally. As well as honouring the effort and sacrifices of those that have come before, it’s important to appreciate how far we have come in the struggle for equality to fully understand how far we have left to go.
3. Discover the challenges facing the LGBT community today
Once you know the history you can help to shape the future. Do some research into the specific battles that are being fought now, and find out the obstacles that the LGBT community is facing. Discover specific campaigns that resonate with you so you can get active and focus your support to help really make a difference.
4. Get involved in the community and show your support
Sitting at home on the internet is the tip of the ally iceberg. If you really want to get involved in the cause it’s important to get out there and active in your community. With Stonewall season approaching it’s easy to find LGBT events near you that welcome allies. Let the LGBT community know that you stand with them because your presence at events is a significant show of solidarity and support. Joining the conversation and listening to the experiences of the people you meet will undoubtedly broaden your understanding of what is means to be an ally and better your awareness of how to help to achieve equality for all.
5. Stand up for what you believe in
It’s easy to imagine that when you come across discrimination or hateful language you will whir into action, righting wrongs and effortlessly challenging the behaviour and views of people speaking and acting in a hurtful manner. The reality can be very different and truthfully, sometimes standing up against discrimination can be an intimidating experience. The important thing is to let your voice be heard and although it’s not always easy, these are situations where being an ally really counts. It’s important to let those with bigoted views know that they are not in a world where they can marginalise or bully those that need our support – and this is really the essence of what being an ally is all about.
Also consider using sites such as gaycities.com to locate Pride events near you!