Pride season is in full swing, and it’s more important than ever to practise good allyship toward queer folks. Not only is it important to understand what pride actually is, but also how to respect, love, and support the queer people in your life.
Do your research
Pride is more than just a party, it’s a protest. While the fight for queer liberation is nothing new, Pride, as most people know it today, can be traced back to the Stonewall Riots in 1969, an uprising against police brutality and discrimination that targeted New York City’s gay bars. One of these bars, known as the Stonewall Inn, was raided by police.
This attack led to a massive revolt from the local queer community and was marshalled by a black trans woman named Marsha P. Johnson. With rising threats against the LGBTQ+ community, especially transgender folks, now more than ever it’s important to practise respectful allyship and support.
Allyship isn’t conditional
Take a step back, assess and acknowledge the privileges you have, and try to recognise whether or not you support the LGBTQ+ community even when it’s not convenient for you. If you find yourself changing your profile picture to a pride flag in June but doing nothing else for the queer community the rest of the year, you might want to consider how effective your allyship really is.
Reach out to your queer friends and ask them how they’re doing. Keep up to date with the latest news surrounding our community. Participate in protests and local campaigns advocating for LGBTQ+ rights. Donate to local organisations that are working to keep queer people safe. It can be daunting for people who are new to queer allyship, but it’s important to put in the work to understand why the fight for LGBTQ+ rights is so important.
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Respect and uplift queer voices
It’s important to understand that pride isn’t about you. This isn’t to say that straight and cisgender allies don’t play a role in protecting the queer community, but rather that you should be uplifting queer voices, not speaking over them.
The lived experiences of LGBTQ+ people, especially queer folks of colour, are often underrepresented and deserve to be heard. Don’t just give them a platform to speak, truly listen to what they’re saying and use your privilege to support them in advocating for queer liberation.
Understand our boundaries
As well-intentioned as you might be, as an ally you should take a step back to evaluate the questions you’re asking a queer person. You may not even realise that they could be invasive or inappropriate. No matter what your gender identity or sexual orientation is, it’s important to respect the boundaries of the person that you’re talking to.
Even if you think the question was appropriate, respect their choice not to answer them, as you don’t know what their boundaries are. You can still find the answers you’re looking for, even if the person you’re talking to would rather not experience the labour of explaining it themselves.
This article series by the Human Rights Campaign is specifically designed to help allies understand various aspects of the queer community. There are tons of resources like this available online, so it doesn’t hurt to Google your questions if you don’t understand something.
Allyship might seem complex at first, and you might make some mistakes, and that’s okay! What matters is that you’re learning and growing from those mistakes, not repeating them. No one can be a “perfect” ally, but being actively engaged in listening to queer folks and what they need is one step toward a more inclusive community for everyone. Happy pride!
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