With Pride Month coinciding with the end of the pandemic and finally a return to life as we once knew it, now more than ever is the best time to get out and show your support for the LGBTQ community.
Being a good ally during Pride Month does not necessarily mean being present at every single celebration or protest throughout the month of June, so do not be discouraged if you are not quite ready to join a large crowd. An essential part of being an ally is actually knowing when to step out of the spotlight and instead focus on amplifying the voices and experiences of those within the LGBTQ community.
While we may associate Pride Month with rainbow flags and brightly colored costumes, it is also a month to listen to others’ experiences and reflect on how we can better support members of the LGBTQ community. Here are a few ways to advocate, support, educate and engage as an ally during Pride Month and beyond.
Take the Time to Educate Yourself
Part of being an ally to a community that you do not personally identify with is familiarizing yourself with the community’s history. Understanding the LGBTQ community’s past struggles and triumphs helps inform how to be a supportive, helpful, and compassionate ally in the present.
Allyship requires active and engaged participation. This means taking it upon yourself to read, watch, and listen to materials that will help you both unlearn historical stereotypes and prejudice and learn about the LGBTQ community’s history and current goals.
Educating yourself can also present an opportunity to offer financial support to the community. LGBTQ-owned bookstores like Charis Books in Decatur, GA and A Room of One's Own in Madison, WI are great places to shop online for educational texts while also supporting small business, which leads right into step number two:
Support LGBTQ-Owned Business
Offering financial support to local LGBTQ-owned businesses is one of the most effective practices for a strong ally. Now with social media and self-marketing tools, it is easier than ever to discover LGBTQ-owned businesses in your area that you might not even know exist.
There are plenty of ways to start your search for small businesses to check out in June. In celebration of Pride Month, Yelp has added a feature that allows businesses to publicly identify as LGBTQ-owned. Businesses can also check off that they are ‘Open to All,’ meaning welcoming of customers no matter their sexuality, gender identity, or other identity markers.
Restaurants and other food and nightlife businesses will be marked with rainbow-colored map pins on Yelp for all of June, making it simple and convenient for consumers to locate businesses to support during Pride Month.
Paying visits to local businesses is also a sustainable way to show your support for the LGBTQ community. Trying out new shops and restaurants could lead you to your new favorite neighborhood spot, and those kinds of connections last much longer than a single month.
Diversify Your Social Media Feed
Issues of representation are no longer limited to the TV screen or the music industry as plenty of influencers have built powerful brands and achieved celebrity status. Although social media can be a powerful tool to spread important messages to wide audiences, it can also lead to tunnel vision if you are not on the lookout for new people or brands to follow.
When it comes to social media timelines, the onus is on the audience to ensure that they are watching and listening to content that represents a wide range of perspectives and experiences. There are plenty of LGBTQ influencers and content creators out there speaking publicly about issues directly affecting the community, and all you have to do is find them.
With an audience of over 700k YouTube subscribers, Amber Whittington uses her platform to share her own experiences and facilitate an educational and productive dialogue. Her videos range from stories about coming out to her family to tips on how to stand up for yourself if you are being bullied for your identity.
Check out Josh McKenna's Instagram for a page full of art that is not only aesthetically pleasing but also socially powerful. The artist centers his work around Pride and celebratory LGBTQ images, and it’s no wonder that he has close to 18k followers.
Let Pride Month Be a Jumping Off Point, Not the Finish Line
Consistency is incredibly important when it comes to being a good ally. Although Pride Month is a great time to show your support for the LGBTQ community, remember that there are ways to advocate and engage year-round.