Pride Guide: Here's How You Be an LGBTQ+ Ally for Pride
The night before my wife and I headed off to celebrate Pride weekend (because it's always Pride weekend somewhere in June) we attended a "what does pride mean to you?" panel at our local LGBT center. After hearing from intergenerational, multicultural LGBTQ individuals was interesting, we headed home to get ready for our trip -- only to get a text from a friend that she wouldn't be joining us at Pride because her ex didn't think it was appropriate for their child. No apology.
No acknowledgement that it was a slap in the face remark from someone we'd invited to weddings, parties, and other events for years.
Unintentional homophobia happens all the time. It's happening here in my community as we gear up to determine whether it's "necessary" to protect trans bathroom access. Many of us are still reeling from the rise in hate crimes, anti-gay legislation, and fear. L.A. turned its Pride into a ResistMarch to call attention to human rights threats faced by LGBTQs, women, immigrants, and more.
So. If you're going to Pride, and you're straight, don't just party. Before you show up at a Pride event, take time to understand what your LGBTQ+ friends want and need. Educate yourself and commit to standing in solidarity with your LGBTQs, and to saying sorry when it's necessary.
Do know our history
Pride parades started after the Stonewall Riots. They started after transgender and drag queen POCs, butch lesbians, and other marginalized LGBTQs fought back. Despite the violence and death threats, despite homophobia, despite lack of legal protection, the movement for LGBTQ rights began.
We fought alone for a long time, and we continue to fight. While we're happy to have allies standing up for gay rights, we ask you to respect our culture and understand why we are fighting, where we've come from, and how we are still at risk. Educate yourself about the lack of legal protections for LGBTQ+s in the U.S. or internationally, about hate crimes against LGBTQ+s, mental and physical health disparities, or the disproportionate violence against our trans brothers and sisters. Then educate others.
While we're happy to have allies standing up for gay rights, we ask you to respect our culture and understand why we are fighting, where we've come from, and how we are still at risk.
Do roll up your sleeves in the struggle
Since taking office, Trump has sidelined and erased LGBTQ+ voices and struggles. Whether it's reversing protections for transgender school kids or refusing to acknowledge that we exist (see not acknowledging Pride month, removing sexual orientation from the Census, taking down White House LGBT content) we are directly threatened by the government. Learn why we feel threatened and find out how you can help. We're happy to have your financial support, but we're also happy to have you share LGBTQ+ content (with credit to the author), educate others on the issues we still face, and show up for us every day, not just at Pride.
Do come with an open mind and heart
If you can be a good ally, then yes, come to our celebrations. Come with an open mind and an open heart. If there's something you don't understand (say, why some LGBTQs are anti-HRC) ask and we'll probably be happy to educate you. If we aren't, it's because we've done the work of educating hundreds of other straight people and sometimes you can just google things and educate yourselves. If we ask you to do something differently, respect where we are coming from and listen to our voices. Yes it might seem unfair if we don't want you to participate in certain activities, or give you the ally credit you think you deserve, but this is not about you. If you come prepared to learn, you won't take it personally if you're corrected over something.
Don't center yourself - step back!
So you came to your first Pride event. That's great! But... it's LGBTQ+ Pride and that's what we're celebrating. You aren't going to get a medal for coming out to Pride (party beads, sure). We’re happy you came, we’ll tell you that, and then we’ll get down to enjoying our holiday.
There may be times when you should take a step back. If it's an open mic, let LGBTQ individuals speak up first - especially women, POC, and trans people. Don't upstage our outfits or Pride signs, don't steal our identities, and don't think of LGBTQ+ as a costume you can slip on, earning bonus queer points when you want to feel cool. If you are unsure if you are welcome at a particular space, ask the event organizer or check out the event online.
Don't upstage our outfits or Pride signs, don't steal our identities, and don't think of LGBTQ+ as a costume you can slip on, earning bonus queer points when you want to feel cool.
Don't come to post and party
We are not here for your entertainment. Queer spaces provide safe places to gather in majority-LGBTQ+ environments. An unintended consequence of LGBTQ rights is that we now have fewer spaces we can call our own. Who needs a gay bar when you can find a date on Grindr? When you are a guest in our space, be polite and give us the space we do not have (and honestly many of us do not want) in mainstream culture.
Pride is our Christmas, Halloween and NYE all wrapped up into one. It's where we get to celebrate with our queer family, and if we invite you to come, it's a privilege and honor . If you want to come to Pride to drink, dance, and take selfies, please don't. Don't take photos of the fabulous queers you see without getting consent. You never know when someone is in the closet (and yes, they can be at a Pride event and not be out in their community, and that casual pic you post on Instagram can haunt them). Don't come with your straight posse to get drunk, pretend to be bi, and gawk at the crazy things gays do.
Don't police LGBTQ+ behavior
For some LGBTQ's, Pride brings public displays of affection they might not feel safe engaging in the rest of the year. During Pride, we have the opportunity to live and love openly that straight people take for granted. So yes, we might make out in the streets, wear wild outfits that celebrate gender fluidity, or have public flogging events. If this squicks you out, don't come. If it turns you on, don't be a creepy voyeur. A Pride afterparty isn't the place for you to fish for unicorns or collect same-sex kisses like they're passport stamps.
Learn how you can be a good ally if you partake in Pride Month events. Then ask yourself if you still want to go, knowing what it means to be an ally. If all you're interested in is the dance party, show up at your local queer night instead.