How to be an ally to the LGBTQ community
June is Pride Month, and it is the perfect time for the straight community to celebrate and reacquaint themselves with the LGBTQ community through education. According to a recent CNN article, here are eight suggestions to try.
- Get familiar with the spectrum. Sexual identity can be confusing, but a good place to start is to know the range of identities on the LGBTQ spectrum. Start with terms like gender fluid, transgender, pansexual, bisexual, asexual, cisgender, intersex, queer, genderqueer.
- Ask the question. Use the appropriate pronouns by asking your friends how they prefer to identify. This act shows sensitivity and, more importantly, respect.
- Make a small gesture of support. Accompany a friend to a Pride march, share an article you’ve read, or hang a rainbow flag. An old saying says you can show people better than you can tell them.
- Practice discretion. Do not betray a friend’s trust if they confide in you and share they are coming out. Don’t assume that because they told you, you can share.
- Show empathy and listen. You don’t have to agree or have gone through the struggles of being a minority, but you can listen and relate. The next time your friend shares, stay quiet and hear them.
- Have no tolerance for prejudice. Don’t let anti-gay jokes or crude behavior exist in your presence. Speak out against ignorance. Extend this to economic support. Find alternatives to businesses with discriminatory policies or even exclusionary politicians.
- Recognize that Pride is not all about you. Your LGBTQ friends are not animals in a zoo, so don’t stare or sneak pictures. Feel comfortable asking questions so that you are not guessing how others identify. Get educated, observe and listen but understand that there are boundaries.
- Don’t ask about a straight pride month. Must we explain?
Take these suggestions and apply them to your circle of friends, family, and colleagues.