How To Be A Good Ally During Pride Month (and Every Month)
Written by Reina Shinohara
Allies, though well-intentioned, can more often than not be a little bit misguided. As an ally, I can admit that and if you think of yourself as an ally, maybe you should too. We live in a day and age where everyone is more “woke” than ever and are more explicit in stating their allyship for the various communities that they seek to support, but what does it really mean to be an ally today? It’s easy to equate being an “ally” during pride month to wearing glitter and “love is love” t-shirts from your favorite brand to the Pride Parade in your city, but being an ally goes beyond just showing up to the Pride party with a rainbow graphic tee.
Being an ally is so much more important than that. I could easily write a list of things that allies like me can and should do better, but would that really make me a better ally? Instead I talked to some of my friends in the LGBTQIA+ community, who have graciously shared their thoughts on what they want and need from those who identify themselves as “allies.” I know they understand what a real ally looks like better than I ever could; and besides, what good are we as allies if we’re not amplifying the voices of those we are showing up for?
So without further ado, here are some lessons from the LGBTQIA+ community. Allies take notes!
“I think, truly and honestly, the biggest thing you can do is actually put in the work. If your trans friends or non-binary friends are talking about their struggles, listen to them! Don’t talk over them. Be present for them. Try your best to understand where they’re coming from and for the love of all things holy don’t pull the ‘well not ALL X’ people.
Being a good ally is a lot like being a good friend. It’s going to look different for every person but the best thing you can do universally is care and try. Be willing to put yourself in situations that make you uncomfortable. There’s a misconception that we dogpile on any mistakes that happen but to be honest, most of us understand what ‘genuinely trying’ looks like. ” - Kiku Gross
“One of the biggest things for me as a queer person is allies letting queer people speak. Lift up their voices instead of trying to speak for them. Call non-queer people out for queer-baiting/pandering to the LGBTQ+ community.”
- Ashton Carr
“I guess just listen and not argue? Asexuals are often told they're wrong about their choice, and we're "in denial" or "were abused" or "just really abstinent.” It's really rude to try and correct someone on their sexuality. We know ourselves better than you do.” - Jessica Aves
“Making it (whatever "it" may happen to be) not about you, but about LGBT+ people. Sharing their perspectives rather than your own. Using your platform to lift them up instead of using them as a platform to lift yourself up. A real ally supports ALL LGBT+ people. If you only stick up for a white cis male and not a trans woman of color, that’s not being an ally to the community.” - Marko Bajzer
“Do your research. Buy from places that actually donate to LGBTQ people and aren’t just looking to make a quick buck off of our Pride.
We are not your “gay friend.” We are your friends who just so happen to be gay.
It’s okay to make mistakes in pronouns or other terms, as long as you are trying to learn and are willing to be corrected.
If we make jokes about our identity/sexuality that doesn’t mean you can. If you’re a good enough friend and we’re comfortable enough with you making jokes with us, that doesn’t mean you can make jokes to others.
You will not understand the specific fear we have of just being ourselves, and that’s okay. You don’t need to understand it to support us. If we ask you to do something as simple as to come to the public restroom with us, do it.”
- Kate Miller
“I think in general people should view their sexuality and gender on a sliding spectrum that can change throughout their lifetime. So for an ally to realize that their own and other people’s preferences/identities can be fluid is important!
Also to be a good ally I think a person has to dissolve the cultural narrative around gender roles and sexuality that we as a global society have been raised into.” - Kelsey Styles
“Often times I see many people claim to be an ally and complain about there being no reward, when the reality is that it’s just like any other selfless and thankless role. Being on someone’s side should be enough because doing the right thing should be rewarding in itself! Any true ally will listen and take note! ♡” - Nathan Villanueva
“To be an ally is to listen, uplift, and ONLY put yourself on the frontlines in situations where you know your privilege can protect those who are vulnerable in an anti-LGBTQI society. If you write about the community, make sure to highlight the voices of Black and Brown LGBTQI people and let them dictate the narrative. Being an ally doesn’t mean just showing up to one march or parade, it’s making a conscious effort in your EVERYDAY life to make space for and center LGBTQI people of color whenever possible. Donate to individuals who are crowdfunding instead of to large corporations. Being an ally is more than just donning rainbow regalia or putting a red equal sign as your profile picture, it’s about showing up for the community by providing resources and funding whenever possible.”
- Jasica Gill
Though this is just a fraction of what our friends and family in the LGBTQIA+ community need and want from us as allies, it’s important to keep these suggestions in mind not only this weekend at Pride, but every day. There is no right or wrong way to be an ally, but allyship is a process to support the communities we care about in the ways that they need us to. If you’re headed to a Pride celebration this weekend, be mindful that you are taking up space at someone else’s celebration and it’s not about you, nor should it be. Have fun, but make sure to put your LGBTQIA+ friends first!