I want to be present in the national situation that our diverse community is facing. I recognize the difficult reality that history repeats itself, little has changed, and there is much to be done.
June is Pride Month, reminding us that discrimination has many forms. Pride Month commemorates the Stonewall riots, which occurred at the end of June 1969. That night, the police raided the Stonewall Inn, a gay club in Greenwich Village. As a result, the community started a riot outside on Christopher Street. The protests lasted a few days catalyzing the LGBTQ+ rights movement in the U.S. and around the world. Later, in 2000, President Bill Clinton declared June "Gay & Lesbian Pride Month."
Even though the country embraces Pride parades and the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that states cannot ban same-sex marriages, the LGBTQ+ community continues to face real discrimination in all areas of life. Now, more than ever, our LGBTQ+ community needs allies to stand strong and continue fighting for their rights.
An “ally” is a person who is not LGBTQ+ but uses their privilege to support LGBTQ+ people and promote equality. Learning about the issues and adversity that the LGBTQ+ community faces is the first step in becoming a good ally.
Here are some things you can do:
- Empower the most marginalized groups in the community
- Understand the adversity they face
- Learn, read, and discuss LGBTQ+ issues
- Report and speak out against LGBTQ+ harassment and discrimination
- Support everyone regardless of their sexuality or identity as LGBTQ+
- Advocate for adopting and enforcing a nondiscrimination policy at work
- Attend LGBTQ+ events and do more than just show up for Pride
- Create safe spaces for LGBTQ+ to exist
Some of us are familiar with what LGBTQ+ initials stand for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, or Questioning. The + refers to other terms like Transsexual, 2/Two-Spirit, Intersex, Asexual, Pansexual, Agender, Gender Queer, Bigender, Gender Variant, Gender Fluid, Gender Non-Conforming, Pangender, among others.
There are more terms, which could have a personal definition or mean slightly different things to different people. If you want to learn more about the meaning of these terms, you can talk with a friend in the LGBTQ+ community to help you make sense of it. You can also reach out to LGBTQ+ organizations and use their resources to educate yourself, and take advantage of other resources in the community.
The following definitions can help us better understand why we advocate for equality:
- Gender: The societal constructions we assign to males and females.
- Gender stereotypes: The ways we expect men/boys and women/girls to act and behave.
- Sexual orientation: How a person characterizes their sexuality, as heterosexual, bisexual, or homosexual.
- Sexual identity: The individual's conception of themselves.
- Gender pronouns: Also described as gender-neutral or gender-inclusive pronouns, gender pronouns do not associate a gender with the individual who is being discussed.
- Queer: Originally used as a negative slur, queer has now become an umbrella term to describe the various ways people reject binary categories of gender and sexual orientation to express who they are, outside of mainstream heterosexual and gender norms.
- Heteronormativity: A cultural bias that considers heterosexuality —being straight— the norm.
- Heterosexism: A system of oppression that considers heterosexuality the norm and discriminates against people who display non-heterosexual behaviors and identities.
- Cissexism: A system of oppression that says there are only two genders, which are considered the norm, and that everyone's gender aligns with their sex at birth.
- Homophobia: Discrimination, prejudice, fear, or hatred toward people who are attracted to members of the same sex.
There is much to learn and a long road to travel. We can become better allies by helping, supporting, learning, understanding, reporting, and empowering the LGBTQ+ community. It is our right and our duty. In the end, showing PRIDE is about working together to get our society, and our laws, to treat all humans equally.