6 Meaningful Ways I've Maintained My Allyship to the LGBTQ+ Community
It's Pride month, which means now more than ever, we need to stand up and show our support for the LGBTQ+ community, and the rights they deserve.
One of the many ways to show support is by being an ally, which encompasses many things. According to the University of Illinois, Springfield, an ally is defined as a person who is a member of the dominant group who works to end oppression in his or her own personal and professional life by supporting and advocating with the oppressed population.
It's no secret that the LGBTQ+ community has been stripped of human rights over the years—and even though we've made great strides in recent times, there's still a long way to go. That's why it's my job as a self-proclaimed ally to not only be there for the community, but to encourage others to be more accepting and compassionate.
Keep reading for six meaningful ways I've maintained my allyship to the LGBTQ+ community.
1. I Lend a Listening Ear
Everyone has their own unique story, filled with struggles, triumphs and everything in between. As an ally, I encourage people to feel comfortable talking to me. I'm there to listen, without passing judgment or chiming in with my own two cents. Sometimes, people just want to be heard. Not everyone is fortunate enough to come from a supportive family or accepting environment. Telling their story is part of their journey—one that I do my best to support and encourage.
2. I Don't Tolerate Bashing of the LGBTQ Community
I'm incredibly fortunate to live in West Hollywood, California, where the LGBTQ+ community thrives. So it's pretty rare to stumble upon someone homophobic in my area or even in my profession (entertainment media). That said, growing up in Orange County, California, I was presented with many, many ignorant, prejudiced individuals who didn't understand how gays could even exist, let alone why we should support them. I've greatly distanced myself from those people, and can't even imagine engaging with anyone filled with such hate.
3. I Take Part in Prideful Celebrations and Parades
While no one has to twist my arm to put on a bunch of makeup, wear something bright and frolic through the streets with my best friends, partaking in Pride festivities (whether super fun or not) is still my way of supporting the community, bringing people together and being one more face in the crowd that stands for human rights.
4. I Don't Use LGBTQ Terms in a Derogatory Manner
It's very easy for common phrases to slip off our tongue without thinking. I can't tell you how many times I've had to correct even close friends who have carelessly called something or someone "retarded" in jest. In that same vein, I absolutely never use LGBTQ terms in a slang or joking manner. Terms like "that's so gay" do not come out of my mouth, and I certainly don't stand for anyone who finds those kinds of jokes funny.
5. I'm Always Open to Learning More and Accepting That I Don't Know Everything
When a situation doesn't affect you directly, you can't experience it or know it completely. No matter how close it hits to home, there's always more to learn and gain from speaking to others. I'm completely aware of that, and acknowledge that I've never gone through the struggles experienced by many of my close friends. I can't act like I relate, even if my very best friend had to have a full-on sit-down conversation with their parents about the gender they prefer to date. All I can do is empathize and be eager to learn more.
6. I Don't 'Out' People
First off, it's a shame that we even have to use the term "coming out." I pray for a day when a girl saying she dates girls is given as much thought as ordering a latte from Starbucks. But that said, "coming out" is still very much a thing, and as an ally, it's not my job to point out someone's dating preference. Even if it's incredibly obvious or if I've witnessed something telling firsthand, ultimately, it's a very personal decision to make that preference public, and it's not mine to make.
Looking for more Pride content? HERE are the most stylish rainbow dresses to wear in June and beyond!