Photo: Sharon McCutcheon on Unsplash
Obergefell v. HodgesThis past June marked the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall uprising against a police raid in Manhattan, New York City. The event became a major symbol of visibility amongst the gay rights movement within the United States and has been the precursor to monumentally decisions such as , which legalized same-sex marriage at the national level. Cities and organizations honor the progression of LGBTQ+ rights by throwing parades and upselling rainbow-themed merchandise every summer, yet oftentimes do not go any further into exploring the history of Pride or how to help the queer community beyond the month of June. Here are a list of six ways to be an ally to the queer community at all times of the year on a financial, rhetorical, and social level.
1. Before even attending a Pride parade, it is important to realize why it exists in the first place.
The first marches occurred in New York City, Chicago, San Francisco, and Los Angeles, only a year after Stonewall, indicating their solidarity with the event and refusal to remain silent in the face of adversity. While there existed pro-LGBT events prior to Stonewall, such as The Annual Reminder walk in Philadelphia, they did not exist with the same sort of loudness, colorfulness, and joy with which Pride parades have adopted over the last 49 years. Pride parades exist because there was once a time when the LGBTQ community existed in even more day-to-day fear than they do now, and allies would do well to understand their visitor status in Pride parades.
2. Allies can do their part by donating a couple dollars a month to LGBTQ organizations such as GLAAD, as well as to people’s fundraisers directly for hormone therapy, gender-reassignment surgery, or basic needs. There are thousands of people who are not having their medical needs met on behalf of their insurance companies (if they even have insurance), and who end up having to pay out of pocket for basic health care. Feeling at home in one’s skin should not be a luxury relegated to the wealthy few, and allies can contribute to furthering the coverage of this basic right for all by clicking the GoFundMe links included below.
3. Support LGBTQ-owned businesses online and locally.
The National LGBT Chamber of Commerce helps businesses that are majority-owned and operated by those within the LGBTQ community get certified, and allows them to join a coalition of other like-minded businesses. Keeping an eye out for businesses with this approval will ensure that your money is truly helping out the queer community. LGBTQ Nation has also created a list of 24 small businesses to support here.
4. Supporting major companies that offer rainbow-themed merchandise has a tricky place in the deciding line between capitalistic exploitation of gay pride and taking advantage of the visibility now provided to the LGBTQ community in the form of marketable pandering. It is recommended to research how much the company does to help the queer community: Do they offer holistic healthcare to their LGBTQ employees? What percentage of this purchase gives back to LGBTQ organizations? By being conscious consumers, we can take advantage of the mainstream impact of queer acceptance while still enjoying rainbow-themed merchandise from major brands.
5. When facilitating the introduction of new people in a group, include a space for people to insert their pronouns, either verbally or on name cards. Honoring pronouns is a basic way of being respectful and doesn’t take much energy to do so correctly. One can never assume another’s gender, and it’s important to remember that it is no one’s business but their own about what gender people are comfortable identifying with.
6. Vote for local and national representatives who have a history of being an ally to the LGBTQ community in their decisions and rhetoric. Vote Smart has an easy-to-use database which allows people to search where their representatives stand on LGBTQ issues, as well as locate their contact information. Look for all-around progressive candidates such as Sen. Elizabeth Warren or Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez to support since many issues like universal child care and healthcare for all are intersectional concerns within the LGBTQ community as well. For a somber example, this month marks three years since the Pulse nightclub shooting in Orlando, Florida, which encompasses social issues of racism and gun ownership as well. By voting for candidates who support intersectional approaches to improving the LGBTQ community’s everyday lives, allyship can be driven to the polls and into our laws to ensure a better quality of life for all.
Ciana Moreno is a recent graduate of Northeastern University with a Bachelors in Political Science and Communication Studies. Her favorite podcast is The Bechdel Cast about the representation of women in film. Her day hasn’t started until she’s had a cup of coffee and filled in her eyebrows. Ciana steps up for gender equality in the workplace, in government, and in everyday interactions.