It’s Pride month, and you might be a straight person who would like to be an ally and support your queer friends. This is not an exhaustive or definitive list, just some things to think about.
Don’t centre yourself – if this is about looking good, or cool or wanting to go to events you aren’t really helping much.
Don’t police the language queer people use to talk about themselves, and don’t demand that queer spaces be adapted to make you feel more comfortable. Amplify your queer friends. Put your pronouns on your social media profile, if you feel comfortable doing that. Listen, and learn. Building insight and understanding is a really meaningful thing to do.
Don’t treat LGBTQA folk like we’re all one thing. We are not a coherent entity with a single set of opinions, feelings and needs by which we are all tidily defined. We don’t all agree with each other about all kinds of things. What you’ve picked up from one queer friend, or one queer celebrity you follow on Twitter isn’t the whole story. Don’t assume you know enough to speak for people – because no one does. Not everyone who is (by my reckoning) queer would be comfortable with me using the word ‘queer’ to describe all queer people because not everyone identifies this way. But, it’s my blog, I’m using my preferred term and I’m not going to spend the whole time flagging up the language complexities. It’s ok that we don’t all agree about everything. Diversity is good.
Don’t buy Pride merch from corporations. It’s just commercial exploitation. Putting a rainbow on something is pretty flimsy support, and does very little to support LGBTQA people. If you want to spend money on having cool gay things during June, then look for the independent creative folk who are making Pride stuff because they are queer creators. Supporting them is a much more meaningful use of your money, and will do all kinds of good.
Don’t lose sight of what Pride is about. It’s not a celebration, not really. It’s an assertion of presence from a marginalised group that is subject to abuse, and in some places, at real risk of death, injury or imprisonment. Pride started as a riot, and continues as a protest. It’s about people coming together to support each other, and raise awareness. It isn’t just a party. It isn’t about the corporations who want to co-opt it because they reckon they can cash in on the gay pound, the lesbian dollar… It should not exist to comfort the comfortable.
There are of course invariably people who respond to Pride by wanting Straight Pride. If you want to take on any work as an ally, this is a good one to go after, especially if you catch people you know expressing this idea. Straight people don’t need Pride events because they are not at any risk as a consequence of experiencing hetrosexual desire and love for people of the opposite sex. Pride in no way makes it unsafe to be straight. There is no shift towards a world in which the currently dominant majority will suddenly find it has the love that dares not speak its name. That’s not what this is about. More rights for everyone does not mean that the people with the most advantages have something taken away from them.