Pride is about so much more than rainbow flags and pretty logos – it’s a month to celebrate the LGBTQ+ advances in queer rights in recent years.
LGBTQ+ people remain one of the most marginalised groups worldwide – with so much of their lives dictated by cultural stigma and political policies.
Pride is a time to remember the fight for the rights they’ve managed to claim back and a helpful prompt for us to reflect on how much there is still to do.
What is PRIDE Month?
Pride is celebrated throughout June, as this was when the Stonewall riots took place. The riots were significant protests that took place in New York in 1969. They changed gay rights in America and globally.
Before the riots, the gay community was often marginalised and openly discriminated against, with many feeling like they couldn’t live into their true identity for fear of repercussions.
Pride is a celebration of people coming together in love and friendship to show how far LGBTQ+ rights have come, no matter who they are. It’s a chance to celebrate every individual for who they truly are and come together in solidarity and acceptance.
In 2022, Pride will celebrate fifty years of bringing people together to acknowledge and champion the LGBTQ+ community.
What Do We Mean By ‘Ally’?
An ally is a person who aligns with efforts to improve the circumstances for individuals from a marginalised or disadvantaged group.
In this instance, you can call yourself an ally if you respect, value and acknowledge LGBTQ+ members of your community as individuals in their own right, without bias, judgement or stereotypes.
Being an ally is not just a humanitarian position but also a moral position – ‘if you’re not part of the solution, you’re part of the problem’ – as the saying goes.
How to Show Up As an Ally this Pride
Being an ally is about more than saying you accept the LGBTQ+ community – being an effective ally sometimes has to go beyond words and your ideas of self into actions and appropriate inaction (we’ll get to that).
The biggest barrier to effective allyship isn’t ignorance or apathy; it’s often a lack of confidence and fear around ‘getting it wrong’ or ‘saying the wrong thing’.
While it might sound complicated at first, being an ally can be pretty straightforward. Here are four key ways to show up and celebrate a true ally this Pride:
This is what we mean by appropriate ‘inaction’. It might be tempting to jump straight in with your thoughts, feelings, ideas and opinions but remember – the LGBTQ+ community has been silenced for decades.
Sometimes being the best ally you can involve keeping quiet, sitting back, and listening. When you do this, you create space for others to come forward and share their stories, experiences and values. Listen and try to understand their perspectives and lived experiences. We guarantee you’ll learn a lot.
Call out, question, and stop anti-LGBTQ+ language, phrases, insults or actions when you see it – even when they’re in jest.
It’s not always easy, especially in some contexts like with older relatives or even at school, but a true ally is someone who stands up and speaks for others when they can’t – especially when it’s hard.
An ally speaks up for the rights of LGBTQ+ people even – especially – when there are no LGBTQ+ people around to speak up for themselves. It can be as simple as encouraging gender-neutral language, correcting pronouns or telling people outright when something they’ve said is biased or discriminatory. When we stand together, we hold our whole community accountable.
Put yourselves in the shoes of those around you and imagine how you would like to be treated. If someone has told you their preferred gender, name or pronouns, make a concerted effort to make sure you use them.
It is so much more important to be open to learning and being corrected, owning up when you get it wrong and taking ownership of your education around how to show solidarity with the LGBTQ+ people around you than to stay quiet and not try at all. If you’re unsure – ask!
Many individuals will be happy to help you if you stay open and curious about learning.
LET GO OF PRIVILEGE
As a heteronormative individual, deciding whether you are involved and an ally or neutral and a bystander is a privilege not everyone has.
Privilege gives you a choice and allows you to navigate the world without needing to give a thought to the marginalised groups you’re not a part of. We all have some privilege or other, and some people may live a life of near-total privilege.
The important thing isn’t whether or not you have privilege: what you do with it counts.
You can choose to use your privilege and voice for good by standing and being vocal about your solidarity with the LGBTQ+ community this Pride month.
Being an ally isn’t always easy, and it’s okay not to be perfect!
Small steps can make a huge difference, and allyship is always needed and appreciated – in any way you can.
Pride Month is not only an opportunity to celebrate our LGBTQ+ community but also a chance for members of that community to tell us how much they still need allies and how we can all best help to keep this movement going for a better future for all.
There is still lots of work to be done, so this Pride month, while you should definitely have fun, make sure you also take some time to think about how you can be a true ally all year round and how you can help to keep closing the gap to and help make the world a safer place, an easier place, for lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, non-binary and gender non-conforming people.