June Is Pride Month
Updated: Jul 3, 2020
It’s finally June! What does that mean? School’s out, but more importantly, it’s Pride Month! June was named as the official LGBTQ+ Pride Month to commemorate the June 1969 Stonewall riots in Lower Manhattan that led to the gay liberation movement and the fight for LGBTQ+ rights in the U.S. as we know it. Although it’s important to recognize our LGBTQ+ peers, it’s even more important to understand their struggles in society and identify ways to support them. From my personal experience, here are five essential steps you can take to become a better ally.
Educate yourself. Read up about LGBTQ+ history and participate in engaging conversations with members of the community. Don’t be afraid to ask questions, but make sure you’re respectfully asking them; most LGBTQ+ people don’t mind answering them if it means you will leave the conversation better educated.
Do away with prejudice. That means challenging biases with your friends and family but also with yourself. Ask yourself about your biases: what do you think the “typical gay” or “typical lesbian” look like? Now clear that image from your brain and use the information you’ve accumulated from the previous step to have the conversations you need to destroy prejudices within yourself and your society.
Normalize asking for pronouns, and then respect them. Many members of the LGBTQ+ community often feel excluded in society’s “straight” image. By regularly asking new acquaintances, “Hey, what are your pronouns?” along with “What’s your name?” and “Where are you from?”, you’re not only avoiding misgendering the person you’re speaking to but also helping make LGBTQ+ people feel valid. That said, once someone has told you their pronouns, it’s important to respect them. It’s even more hurtful to ask for pronouns and then deliberately misgender someone than misgendering them from the start, so be sure to stay extra mindful of pronouns. Before you know it, it’ll become a habit!
Show up for the LGBTQ+ community. The best thing you can do as an ally is to actively support the community: donate to pro-LGBTQ+ organizations and participate in Pride celebrations. If you have no money to donate, you can still show up at the yearly Pride Parade in your area, sign petitions, post to social media, and stand up against discrimination whenever you see it happen.
Lastly, and most importantly: If a friend decides to come out to you, congratulate them, but remember that it is not your place to go around sharing their story. Coming out is a pivotal point in the lives of many LGBTQ+ people; spreading the word not only takes that moment away from them but also makes them lose their trust in you. That person has decided to come out to you because they TRUST you as a friend and, for whatever reason, feel that YOU AND YOU ALONE deserve to know about their sexuality. The LGBTQ+ community has a history of being subjected to discrimination and even violence, something that not everyone is comfortable exposing themselves to yet.