There are so many ways to be a better ally for the LGBTQ+ community
With respect to Pride Month, we’re sharing five ways to be better supporters of the LGBTQIA+ community:
1. Listen up
This one might sound obvious, but there’s a lot to be said for being quiet and listening to others. To be a true ally requires hearing and understanding the experiences and pain others have had to endure. Take the time to listen with intention.
2. Don’t make assumptions
There’s an expression about making assumptions that bears repeating, but won’t be repeated here. And it’s true. There’s no better way to make yourself look stupid and hurt others by assuming someone’s sexuality. Many straight people assume other people are straight, particularly if they don’t fit their preconceived notion of what “straight” or “gay” or any other gender or sexuality looks like. And no need to pry to find out someone’s sexuality—that person will share that with you when they’re ready or if they want to at all. Ultimately, they do not owe you that information.
3. Mistakes will happen
And don’t get defensive about those mistakes. Doubling down doesn’t do anyone any good. Own up to your behavior and look inward to understand better why you acted the way you did. Apologize, mean it, and then change your behavior. There are a lot of negative forces in the world that have shaped our incorrect and insensitive thinking about gender and sexuality. It takes active work for a cis-hetero person to stay plugged in to the needs of people who aren’t just like them. Do that work.
4. Do your own research
Don’t make others do the labor for you. It can be frustrating and daunting for people to explain their gender and sexuality constantly, and they shouldn’t have to carry that load. Learn the terminology instead of asking others to define it for you. Find reputable sources, such as GLAAD, and take the time to answer a lot of those questions for yourself. This isn’t to say you shouldn’t engage in conversations about sexuality and gender, just don’t put the onus on others to better inform you.
5. Speak up for those that aren't listened to
This one’s the most important. Being cisgender and heterosexual comes with an endless list of privileges. Use that privilege to advocate for those who don’t have it as easy—or aren’t listened to by people in positions of power, whether at work, in the government or in their interpersonal relationships. To stay silent is to remain complicit in a long history of people being ignored or discredited because of their LGBTQI+ status. Do your part and be an advocate. That’s just the beginning.
Blair Smith is a lifestyle and beauty writer who currently resides (and will likely stay forever) in Brooklyn, New York.