It’s that time of the year again. Rainbow flags flying high, dancing in the streets, and Lady Gaga’s “Born this way” playing on repeat in nearly every gay bar you pass by. It may seem like a lot, but it’s an important month for the queer community. PRIDE is less about the rainbows and fan clacking and more about celebrating our progress and acknowledging those who have made it possible for us to exist as we do today. For too long queer people have been forced to hide in the shadows, and although society has become increasingly more accepting over time, PRIDE is truly our time to shine, and trust me it’s just as much fun as it looks!
Odds are, you’re reading this because you are already a supporter of the LGBTQ community but maybe you want to take your support to the next level. Well then, let’s talk about how you can evolve yourself from a supporter of the queer community to being a true LGBTQ ally.
An ally is someone who not only supports the LGBTQ community but also stands in solidarity with them, someone who takes action and advocates on behalf of those who are marginalized, and someone who keeps an open mind and is willing to learn and is also willing to educate others. There is no “one-way” to be an ally, however, there are some simple things you can do to take your support to the next level, and there is no better time than PRIDE!
Identify yourself as an Ally
Whether subtly or directly, letting a queer person know that you are not only someone who accepts them as they are but also supports them is one of the most important things you can do as an ally. Queer people can often be hesitant to “come out” to someone until they can trust that that person is not going to harm them or potentially “out” them to other people until they are ready, especially in a work and or professional environment. Subtle things like wearing a PRIDE t-shirt, sticking an equality sticker on your car or making an LGBTQ affirming social media post can give queer people clues that you’re on their team and therefore can trust you. You should not, however, assume someone’s sexual orientation nor should you ask someone if they are gay/queer/trans. If a queer person wants you to know and is comfortable enough with you, they will tell you in their own time.
Learn about LGBTQ history
PRIDE month hasn’t always looked the way it does today. In fact, before all of the rainbows and parades, PRIDE was a protest, actually more of a riot. It all started in 1969 in New York City when police raided the Stonewall Inn, a bar that served as a safe haven for the city’s gay, lesbian and transgender community. At this time, police raids were not uncommon in known gay bars, however, on that particular night, members of the city’s LGBT community decided to fight back when the police decided to raid the Stonewall in -sparking an uprising that would launch a new era of resistance and revolution. Two notable individuals who not only participated in the riots but are rumored to have resisted arrest and thrown the first bottles at police were trans women of color, Marsha P. Johnson and Sylvia Rivera.
The Stonewall uprising was a tipping point for the Gay Liberation Movement in the U.S. and on the one year anniversary of the first Stonewall Riots in 1970, the very first Gay Pride parades were held in New York City, followed by similar gay pride celebrations in cities like San Francisco, Chicago, and Los Angelos that same year, and well, the rest is history!
On top of knowing a bit about LGBTQ history and the origins of PRIDE you can familiarize yourself with not only current LGBTQ terminology but also social issues that affect the community. For example, what does LGBTQ mean? (Lesbian, Gay Bisexual, Transgender. Queer) and what is the difference between sexual orientation and gender identity?
The importance of pronouns
Pronouns can sometimes be a signifier for someone’s gender identity but not always. You should not assume someone’s pronouns based on their gender expression, however, if you are unsure you can provide someone an opportunity to share their pronouns with you by respectfully asking “what are your pronouns?”
Using someone’s correct pronouns shows that you are welcoming of all genders and are respectful of their identity. For more information on pronouns, including what to do if you misgender someone, check out this pronouns guide by GLSEN.
When it comes to social issues we have made a lot of progress over recent years however many queer people can still be denied things like housing, jobs, and the ability to adopt a child in certain states (including Texas). There are also issues like the disproportionate impact that HIV/AIDS has on queer black and brown communities and the continued violence against trans women of color. These are issues that personally affect the LGBTQ community so you if want to be a true ally, stay on top of current events related to the community and advocate, however possible, when you can.
Show up for PRIDE!
One of the best ways to show your support during PRIDE is to attend a PRIDE event! Whether it’s a parade, fundraiser, drag show, festival or private event, let us know you’re an ally by simply showing up! Check out our PRIDE page for a list of local PRIDE events happening this month.
Donate to an LGBTQ organization
Many LGBTQ-focused organizations are the life support to the LGBTQ communities they serve. Not only do they provide a sense of safety and security but many also offer programs and services that are vital to the community such as; HIV prevention, testing, and treatment, access to culturally competent and affirming healthcare, social and support groups, housing, public spaces and more. When you make a gift to an organization that provides these types of services you are ensuring that these programs and services can continue to grow and serve the people who need them the most.
If you would like to make a gift to Resource Center in honor of PRIDE month, click here.