How Allies can Support the LGBTQ+ Community During Pride
© Illustration by INJECTION - Alicia Lupieri
Here's some advice from the LGBTQ+ community on how to be a great ally!
June is Pride Month - a time to celebrate various identities as well as the progress in LGBTQ+ rights and history of injustice. Pride can mean a lot of different things to various individuals. INJECTION spoke to the LGBTQ+ community who discussed the importance of celebration. Celebration of various identities, who they are as people, the community. Lucie (21) who is panesexual mentions how it is "a celebration of all kinds of love (not just romantic love) and diversity." It becomes a chance for the education of LGBTQ+ issues and history. How far LGBTQ+ rights have come, reflect what’s been lost and those who have contributed to furthering these rights. It is an event which represents all, providing space for the community to feel seen and heard, for people to connect with others and feel supported. It allows individuals to be their truest selves which cannot always be done on a daily basis due to stereotypes, prejudice and discrimination. It is a moment of joy to be shared.
Many feel the joys of pride, because it gives the ability to see every part of the community represented in a positive way. It gives space to sharing stories, meeting and getting to know people and welcoming people into the community. It allows people to be loud about who they are, have fun and be open about people asking questions about one’s sexuality. Mhairi (22), who is asexual believes if she could answer any queries people have, the next ace person they meet might not be able to explain or even defend themselves. One respondent expressed how its uplifting to see younger generations exposed to pride as he hopes it will lead to more acceptance and actions against discrimination in the future. Others demonstrate the importance of not feeling alone, where an event like pride can provide hope that society will one day no longer see being straight as the default, ‘coming out’ no longer being a ‘thing’ and people being able to love who they love without an announcement or label. As well as joy, pride can also bring in other emotions too. At their first ever parade, Christine (22) felt the happiest they had been in ages, but all they wanted to do was cry. They realised they felt relief as they felt surrounded by people that accepted and loved them for who they were unconditionally. They didn’t feel they had to pretend to be someone else and they felt safe. That is what pride could do for people, as the safety and support from others is one of the most wonderful aspects of pride.
With pride being centred around the LGBTQ+ community, it is also important for allies to show their support. Sometimes it can be rather difficult to see the true intentions of allies, it may seem they are just there for the aesthetic, almost like the community is for show. We asked the community how allies can show their support and there are plentiful ways for allies to do this, especially during pride.
How can I be a successful ally to the LGBTQ+ community? For one, allies could come to pride to understand more about the community, to be open-minded to things they aren’t used to. They can provide a safe space for them, listen and learn, accept unconditionally and be proud to be an ally. Often, it can be the really small things that can make a big difference. With the rise of the understanding of the importance of pronouns, it is crucial people start accepting how people identify, and doing so (even if you were wrong in the process), is better than not trying at all to get someone’s pronouns correct. Use inclusive terms like ‘partner’ when asking if somebody is in a relationship. Don’t assume anyone’s sexuality.
Most importantly, acknowledge the privilege you hold by being straight and/or cis-gender. Help uplift and amplify voices within the community. Remember it’s not about you - don’t make the event about you and ‘how great of an ally [you] are’. Don’t assume someone isn’t part of the community by their presentation, or discriminate or comment on how people act or dress. Support LGBTQ+ businesses, criticise corporations that roll out colours for pride month without following through with their actions.
Keep up to date and stay informed with LGBTQ+ issues. Allies should understand the importance of educating themselves on subjects that means the most to the community. Don’t always rely on your queer friends to educate you as progress in inclusivity means there are many good resources out there. Allies should do their part, turn up and show support. As a minority group, the LGBTQ+ community have been advocating for their rights for decades, which sometimes can put serious strain on their mental health to constantly be fighting. So allies should make their fights, allies’ fights too. They should listen to them, stand with them and pass on their messages. Doing so can help build an inclusive society with equality for people of all genders and sexual orientations.
As allies, sometimes it can be difficult to understand pride. When we asked the interviewees what was one thing they wished people understood about pride, there was a whole mixture of things they wanted people to know. Pride is not ‘gay propaganda’ to force people to become gay. It is not a protest but is advocating for rights, a time to celebrate who people are and is not a capitalist celebration. It’s a history of pride - whilst it can be fun and joyful, it started as a form of protest against injustices committed to the community. It's important allies understand pride is not just about LGBTQ+ issues but is actually rooted in wider actions against social injustice. In fact, it’s crucial to understand intersectionality - you cannot be a queer ally and be racist, or a queer ally and be elitist. On a wider scale, it’s about understanding injustice and disadvantage does not happen in a vacuum - everything is interconnected. As pride isn’t shoving the LGBTQ+ community in your faces as there’s nothing to shove - it’s just who they are.
If you or a loved one are struggling, BOCA Recovery Centre can help you today, this organization offers recovery programs for LGBTQ+ people struggling with substance abuse. Their helpline is open 24/7 at (800) 516-4357.
Some names have been changed for anonymity.