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How to be an ally for Pride Month

By Ashley Cobb

This year marks the 51st celebration of Pride Month. Every June, millions of people come together in support of the LGBTQ community for Pride Month festivities. However, being an ally is more than just performative. Learning the best ways to show support is an on-going process. To help you become a better ally, here are some best practices for allyship that last long beyond Pride month. 

1. Research and learn the history

Often, the best place to start learning about a thing is to understand why said thing is in existence. Pride began as a way to commemorate the Stonewall riots more than 50 years ago. Back then, LGBTQ discrimination was encouraged in many circles, and gay-friendly bars in cities like New York were frequently shut down. When police raided Manhattan's Stonewall Inn  in the summer of 1969, riots erupted on June 28, sparking a series of demonstrations that some consider the foundation of the modern LGBTQ rights movement. As a result of Stonewall, several presidents have officially declared June as pride month. First, President Bill Clinton declared June "Gay & Lesbian Pride Month" in 1999.  Then President Barack Obama declared June LGBT Pride Month, followed by President Joe Biden declaring June LGBTQ+ Pride Month in 2021.

2. Learn what the letters in LGBTQ mean 

Ignorance isn’t always bliss.  True allyship begins with being as knowledgeable as possible. As awareness around the LGBT community grows, so does the language used to describe it. Learning what the acronym LGBTQ+ means shows an invested interest in understanding how  people identify themselves. The letters LGBTQ stand for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer. There can also be a plus sign added at the end, as well, to further include those who don't identify with any of these letters, like pansexual and asexual..

3. Do more listening and less talking 

There is a saying that goes, we have two ears and one mouth, so we can listen twice as much as we speak. As an ally, it’s important to be open minded, willing to learn and able to listen. You never want to assume you know more about someone’s experience than they do. Confront your own prejudices and bias, even if it is uncomfortable. Part of being a good ally is the willingness to change old thoughts, ideas and behaviors that may cause harm to others.  

4. Put your money where your mouth is

Show that you care by donating time and/ or money to LGBTQ+ centered nonprofits like Outright Action International, Campaign Against Homophobia, Columbia Diversa, or Rainbow Youth, It Gets Better Project, which reminds people hope is out there or The Trevor Project, which features a crisis hotline for those who need support.

5. Use proper pronouns

Never assume that someone identities as male or female. Always ask everyone's pronouns when speaking with them for the first time, or wait for them to say what they use. If someone asks you to use their preferred pronouns, respect their wishes. Politely apologize and correct yourself if you misgender them even if it does not seem like a big deal to you. 

6. Vote and Support LGBTQ+ Rights

True allies also use their voice to advocate as well as vote for policies and elected officials that support the LGBTQ+ community. Speak up with not only your words but your actions. Your voice and vote can make a huge difference. In the same token, boycott businesses that cause harm. When businesses do not support the basic human rights of other people, it's important to make sure that they know it is not OK. Boycotting is a way to do that as well as show LGBT community that their well-being is more important than whatever that business has to offer.

In the end, being a good ally means putting these tips into practice just not during Pride Month. Your LGBTQ friends and family deserve your support year-round!

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