(Interpretation for the less cool: What’s up heterosexuals?)
June is finally here if you didn’t know it’s LGBTQ pride month. It’s a month where suddenly you see a lot more rainbow motifs, drag queens in the daylight, and ad campaigns with two women kissing. Pride is nothing new, most likely you’ve been to a few parades. However, as June Pride makes its way into the mainstream media and normalized as a month-long party holiday, as straight people it never hurts to reflect on what this month means to you and more importantly what it means to LGBTQ people everywhere. Here are a handful of guidelines for all you well-meaning hets out there to make it through pride month as an ally and not a total ass.
Know Your History
Ask yourself; “how much gay history do I know.” The answer, if you’re like most straight people in the US, is probably not much. It’s great if you’ve seen films like Milk, or have heard of groups like GLAAD, but do you know the origins of Pride? Did you know that Pride wasn’t always a parade sanctioned by the government, but rather a protest? Do you know that the police lit the Stonewall Inn on fire on Christopher Street in New York in 1969? Do you know what the Stonewall Inn or Christopher Street is? Did you know the names of those who fought back? Do you know how many people lost their lives to AIDS in the 1980s and 1990s? Did you know that it wasn’t until 2009 that the USA acknowledged June as LGBT History Month? Are you feeling overwhelmed by all these questions you didn’t know the answer to? Well, I have a great solution for you, it’s called Google. Before you decided to take these questions to your gay uncle, or bisexual classmate, remember that it is not the responsibility of queer people to teach you. Allyship doesn’t just come from saying “gay ok,” it actually takes some initiative on your part. Which leads me to my next point.
This Isn’t About You
When I’ve said this to straight people in the past, I have often gotten back, “Yeah, I know.” Ok, but do you actually? Pride celebrations have the unique opportunity of changing generally straight dominated spaces into queer spaces for a month or a day. If you are straight and wanna join in, more power to you, but remember this is OUR event, OUR celebration, OUR protest, OUR pride. You are a welcomed guest, but just like being a guest in any other context you should be respectful of your host. One rare event where we as queers get to be the hosts, you better believe we are going to make our guests well taken care of, so frankly you can keep your critiques and suggestions to yourself. Please don’t get shitfaces and puke in our bars and clubs. Please don’t yell “YAS QUEEN” at someone on the street you don’t know, just because you think they are queer. Please don’t touch LGBTQ people without consent, we are not pets. Pride is fun, loud and exciting, but one more time for the people in the back: “YOU ARE A GUEST, PLEASE ACT LIKE IT.”
Support LGBTQ Businesses and Organizations
For the love of all that is good and pure, please do not buy your Pride flags, apparel and decorations from Target. Systematic oppression works in many ways, economics are no exception. There are many great queer-owned businesses that supply all your Pride essentials, many nonprofit and advocacy groups have plenty of Pride gear to get you in the spirit.
The LGBTQ Community Has A “-ism” Problem, We Know
I’m going to let y’all in on a little secret, the LGBTQ community isn’t perfect. Although Pride is rooted in a need for equality for queer people, it doesn’t mean there aren’t issues of racism, classism, ageism, sexism and every other phobia that plagues every other subculture. (including internalized homophobia, but that’s an article for another day.) As an ally this is incredibly important because it requires you, once again, to do some work. There is no one who speaks for the LGBTQ community as a whole, this article is no exception. In order to be a true ally to LGBTQ people, you have to an ally to all marginalized people. Unfortunately, not all queers feel the same way, the intersectional identities are lost. Do not take one LGBTQ person’s perspective as gospel, but rather do your research. Listen to others, and not just the people who look like you, dress like you, speak like you. The LGBTQ community intersects everywhere, nuances are everywhere.
Tell The LGBTQ People In Your Life That You Love Them
Imagine you lived in a world where your family, your faith, your community, your government and your society told you that there was something wrong with you. If you didn’t get fixed, you had no place, no acceptance, and you didn’t deserve love. In the last 20 years, our society has become more accepting, but those wounds on society do not heal overnight, they scar. At the core of Pride is one basic idea; that as LGBTQ people, we deserve love, we are not broken or shameful, we should be proud to be who we are. It never hurts to feel love from the straight people in our lives, that they are proud of us too.
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