Even if you aren’t a member of the LGBTQ+ community yourself, you’ve probably got friends, family and colleagues who are part of the community. Finding ways to support them is a great way to do something positive this Pride Month.
So whether you’ve got one foot in yourself, are on the edge of the community or simply want to know more, we thought it would be nice to put together some simple ideas on how we can all do our bit to ensure we’re better educated and taking active steps so that we can be greater allies to those in the LGBTQ+ community.
1. Know the background to Pride Month
When it comes to raising awareness, events that range from single days to full months, are the perfect way to spotlight a topic or community. Greater awareness generally leads to improved understanding, tolerance and eventually, greater acceptance and true equality.
Pride Month was born from the ashes of the notorious Stonewall riots that took place in 1969. At its heart, Pride is a protest and Pride month takes place in June every year marked by rallies, festivals, parties, celebrations and more around the world to help shine a spotlight on the ongoing prejudices facing members of the LGBTQ+ community.
Episode 58 of the Where is My Mind? Podcast explores the origins of Pride Month.
Did you know? The + is a recent addition to what was up until recently typically referred to as LGBTQ. The + is there to represent those who don’t feel they fit into the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans or Queer categories, including those who don’t feel like any one community category is the right fit for them. The welcoming nature of the LGBTQ+ community is that which anyone who doesn’t identify as heterosexual or gender normative, can feel included and represented.
2. Advocate for equality
Whether you can advocate directly as part of your job role, through the hobbies you engage in or even if it’s just what you post about on social media, we all have a voice.
If someone posts or says something that demonstrates intolerance or hate towards the LGBTQ+ community, speak up and challenge, educate or report what’s innapropriate.
3. Don’t worry about saying or doing the wrong thing
Most members of the LGBTQ+ community will be tolerant of any slip ups or inaccuracies in terminology and gaps in your understanding so don’t let fear be a reason to hold you back from talking about or advocating for the community.
If you don’t understand something, especially if it’s a friend or colleague that you know well, then don’t be afraid to ask or to seek clarification, but don’t use that as an excuse not to educate yourself.
4. Don’t assume that straight and CIS is ‘normal’
You could be forgiven for thinking that those identifying as gender fluid, non-binary, trans and pansexual is on the rise, but in truth it’s probably more likely down to the fact that people are realising they no longer have to force themselves to fit the narrow gender and sexuality norms that most of us grew up ascribing to and now feel freer to present as their true authentic selves.
Things are changing, the change is slow, but it is there and there is a sense that people increasingly feel more able to express themselves and are less afraid of doing so now that gender and sexuality norms are being more openly and frequently challenged.
Making assumptions, known as ‘inferences’ in psychology is something we all do, and is a shortcut that our brains take in order to navigate an increasingly complex world. These inferences however (for example “that person has breasts so they must be female”) can have a detrimental effect on people who already feel marginalised.
5. Educate your friends and family
If you have friends or family who are less aware or when you hear people expressing ill-informed, intolerant views, then take it upon yourself to help make them better informed.
Engage them in conversation or tackle them head on if they make inappropriate comments. People might genuinely be unaware of their offensive behaviour and as an ally, standing up to challenge damaging attitudes is an absolute must.
6. Understand that it is your problem too
Prejudice impacts millions of people in the UK and indeed around the world where draconian views and laws still exist to criminalise those in the LGBTQ+ community. So even if you or your friends aren’t part of the LGBTQ+ community, that doesn’t mean you don’t have a duty to understand and educate yourself.
Ignorance and a lack of willingness to engage and appreciate that the struggle is very much real for many in the LGBTQ+ community, can be just as damaging as outwardly negative expressions of contempt, prejudice or hatred.
So by all means, sew that cute rainbow patch on your jeans, join in with celebrations and pop that rainbow pin badge to your bag, but we all need to remember, that it’s our actions that really define us and to be a true LGBTQ+ ally, we need to go further by better educating ourselves, the people around us and calling prejudice and outright homophobia out whenever we encounter it.