As we embark upon the festive season of annual summer Pride celebrations worldwide, it's important to highlight that the LGBTQ community is facing unprecedented homophobia today. Thus, the need to show more support to this community is critical.
What is an ally?
First, let's break down being called an ally. What does that word really mean? Being an ally means supporting and advocating for LGBTQ rights and civil liberties, challenging homophobia wherever you encounter it, and promoting equality. It may seem like a heavy task at first. If you aren’t sure how to get involved, keep reading for some ideas you can implement right now.
You can be the ally that makes a difference to the LGBTQ community by working to create safe, welcoming spaces. Whether through LGBTQ pride parades, guest speaker workshops, or other local events that raise awareness about LGBTQ issues, simply being involved can work wonders.
Support Marginalized Groups
Second, when it comes to our society, we should be more inclusive of all marginalized groups and educate ourselves about the diverse cultures around us. Being an ally to the LGBTQ community is no different. It is essential to understand that homophobia is a social construct based on outdated, cruel tropes.
According to clinical psychologists, homosexuality and same-sex cohabitation are not derived from a mental disorder as once believed. Sexual orientation isn’t really a choice, nor should it be considered something to be punished. Unfortunately, many still subscribe to these ideologies even though homosexuality occurs naturally in humans and other animal kingdom species.
Therefore, educating society on the physiological reality of being LGBTQ can help reduce homophobia and misinformation, while promoting more understanding.
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The LGBTQ Community
The Human Rights Campaign estimates that over 20 million people in the United States identify as being part of the LGBTQ community. They are active members of society who thrive daily in business, education, sports, media, art, fashion, politics, and more. We all need to be more vocal in challenging homophobia because when we allow everyone to be their most productive, authentic selves, it only strengthens us as a society.
We've absolutely come a long way since the infamous Stonewall Riot of 1969, which paved the way for gay civil liberties and decriminalizing homosexuality. In those days, simply being in a gay bar could subject you to unwarranted police raids, arrests, and homophobic violence.
Today, in addition to LGBTQ leaders across a wide swath of endeavors, there are highly visible, successful media personalities who openly profess their LGBTQ identity, including:
Ellen DeGeneres - comedian, talk show host, and actress
Neil Patrick Harris - Tony and Emmy-winning actor and singer
Anderson Cooper - Award-winning journalist and TV personality
RuPaul - Emmy-winning drag performer, TV personality, and singer
Janelle Monáe - singer and actress
Sam Smith - Grammy-nominated singer-songwriter
Billy Porter - Emmy, Tony, and Grammy-winning actor and singer
Jonathan Van Ness - hairdresser, TV personality, and author
Laverne Cox - Emmy-winning actress and LGBTQ advocate
Jim Parsons - Emmy-winning actor known for his role in "The Big Bang Theory"
When we work to understand the plight of others, we may well find ourselves developing more empathy as a result. For example, did you know many LGBTQ individuals face unique financial challenges, including poverty, homelessness, and lack of access to healthcare, in large part caused by discriminatory treatment? Therefore, another way to show solidarity is to support organizations that assist LGBTQ individuals in need, be it with food, shelter, clothing, or health and employment services, to help them create the fulfilling lives we all deserve.
Additionally, purchasing products and services from LGBTQ-owned businesses can help promote economic empowerment for the LGBTQ community.
KNOW YOUR Resources
It’s important to remember being an ally doesn’t end on June 30th at the end of Pride Month. Your support, kindness and inclusivity are appreciated all year long. And though standing up to homophobia is not always easy, you can learn how to speak out against discriminatory actions, language, and behaviors. Allies should be willing to call out even family members, friends, and colleagues who make homophobic statements or engage in discriminatory behavior or harassment of LGBTQ individuals.
Rainbows are lovely, but genuine allyship requires more than just displaying branded apparel, waving flags, or plastering rainbow motifs throughout retail stores. Homophobia is a social problem that can only be eradicated when everyone works together to promote equality and acceptance for all.
Here are a few reputable organizations that can help you learn more and get involved:
- The Trevor Project
- The Ali Forney Center
- Southern Poverty Law Center
- The Gay Center
- National LGBTQ Task Force
- Human Rights Campaign
Curious to learn more about the impact of the LGBTQ community? Check out some of LGBTQ+ leaders who are changing the world.