June is Pride Month, but did you know October is LGBTQ+ History Month? It is. And even if you don’t identify as LGBTQ+, there are plenty of ways you can celebrate the month and beyond as an ally. All are welcome.
Being an ally isn’t as simple as just assigning yourself that label or going to Pride events, however. Allyship is accepting your privilege as someone who is not part of a marginalized group — and also accepting that you likely don’t fully understand the experience of someone who is. As Emery Vela, a GLSEN student ambassador, put it, “there is not a template for an ally that fits every queer person you meet, and each person will need something different from you.” Always remind yourself that every LGBTQ+ person is unique, and every LGBTQ+ person’s experience is unique. Never make assumptions, ask how you can help, and be as supportive as you can to a group that needs it in today’s political climate. After all, 1 in 5 LGBTQ+ people experience homophobia on a daily basis.
LGBTQ+ History Month is a great time to support LGBTQ+ individuals and work on being an ally, but it’s also something that is important to do year-round. Here are 5 ways to support the community this month and beyond.
1. Acknowledge LGBTQ+ History Month and all other important dates for the community
This might seem too obvious upon first reading it, but seriously, it’s important. Just acknowledging the fact that it’s happening is a form of support, and it can encourage others to show their support as well. This can be as simple as a tweet, a Facebook post, a conversation in the office, etc. If you aren’t sure what to write, find a great quote from an LGBTQ+ person, share an article, or, better yet, ask an LGBTQ+ friend what would mean most to them. LGBTQ+ history is part of everyone’s history, so let’s talk about it.
2. Read up on issues or just generally educate yourself
Even if you consider yourself well-educated about the current issues that the LGBTQ+ community faces, try to see if there’s something new you can learn. If you aren’t sure where to start, ask someone in the community what in society is concerning them most. Then, go learn about it. Alternatively, you can use the guide to Coming Out as a Supporter from the Human Rights Campaign as a starting point.
3. Donate to an LGBTQ+ cause
There are a lot of organizations in the United States and around the world doing amazing things for the LGBTQ+ community — and you can support them. The Trevor Project provides “crisis intervention and suicide prevention services to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer & questioning youth.” The Transgender Law Center “is the largest national trans-led organization advocating self-determination for all people.” CenterLink “develops strong, sustainable LGBT community centers and builds a thriving center network that creates healthy, vibrant communities.” You can also look for a local organization near you and see how you can support their efforts in your area.
4. Make purchases to support organizations or LGBTQ-owned businesses
This can take many forms, so it’s really up to you. You can look at the local chapters of the National LGBT Chamber of Commerce to find businesses certified as majority owned by LGBTQ+ individuals. Alternatively, you can make a purchase to support GLSEN, a K-12 focused organization, or purchase this wine that supports The Trevor Project.
5. Participate in a local event or get involved in an organization
Never feel like you can’t participate in an LGBTQ-focused event because you aren’t part of the community. Unless the description explicitly states that it’s meant for LGBTQ+ individuals only, you can always come to show your support at an event. Look for advertised happenings around your area or on Facebook, or look for a local organization to get involved in. PFLAG “is the extended family of the LGBTQ community. We’re made up of LGBTQ individuals, family members and allies. Because together, we’re stronger.” Find your local chapter and see how you can be an ally to their efforts.
Let’s celebrate LGBTQ+ History Month now as well as the LGBTQ+ community, no matter the month.