It’s Pride Month, that time of the year when the LGBTQ+ community comes together to celebrate their identities. It’s also the perfect time for people who aren’t part of the community to start stepping up and learn how to be better allies for their LGBTQ+ loved ones. Slapping a rainbow sticker on your profile pic every Pride Month is cute and all, but is it enough? Here’s how you can be a better ally this year and beyond.
Start from a place of empathy
So much of the conflict around LGBTQ+ issues can be solved if we all just started listening to each other.
At a gender sensitivity talk hosted by TELUS International Philippines, gender equality Janlee Dungca shared the importance of empathy. “It all starts with empathy and the willingness to listen,” she said. “There are so many arguments we can use to win people over, but [it all starts with] a genuine desire to really be an ally.”
Only when we practice empathic listening and are truly interested in learning about the LGBTQ+ community’s stories and struggles can we set our hearts in the right direction so we can be more effective allies.
Rethink your stereotypes
We all have preconceived ideas around sexual and gender identity. It’s high time that we unlearn them because they often do more harm than good. Stereotypes don’t just harm LGBTQ+ people. They can shape the way we all feel about ourselves, our relationships, and influence the way we act in society.
Watch out for microagressions
“Who’s the man in the relationship?” “Sayang ka.” “I couldn’t even tell you were trans!”
Are you guilty of making these back-handed compliments? You might not have intended to discriminate against the LGBTQ+ community, but that’s exactly what these microaggressions do. These microaggressions might not seem like a big deal, and they aren’t if you only hear them every now and then. But if you’re inundated by them every day — like many members of the LGBTQ+ community are — that’s a whole ‘nother story. (To better understand why microaggressions matter, watch this video that compares microaggressions to mosquito bites.)
Stop relying on others to educate you
Google is free, friends, so instead of giving your loved ones the burden of educating you, do the work to understand them and the different issues they care about. Being better informed makes you a more effective ally, and this practice of educating yourself is something that can benefit you in other areas of your life as well.
Create safe spaces
If you find the goal of creating equality in general society a daunting one, you’re not alone because it definitely is. But you can start small, in your own circles of influence: your barkada, your team at work, your Discord server, you name it! You can start by asking people about their preferred pronouns (and making sure to use them, of course), fostering respectful conversations about gender issues, or making simple signals such as wearing a pride flag so that the people around you can feel more comfortable to be themselves.
Put your money where your mouth is
You can make a stand by supporting organizations that support LGBTQ+ causes or even start seeking out LGBTQ-owned businesses. To start, check out these businesses featured at Google’s recent Pride Conversations event, which aimed to promote inclusive economic recovery and encourage allyship:
- The Fairygodbarbie House of Beauty
- FFTG Cafe (Food for the Gays)
- Nirvana Hostel and Restaurant Siargao
- Vitalstrats Creative Solutions
- Cooltura Hub
- The Food Episode
Be an ACTIVE ally
Ultimately, the LGBTQ+ community determines who is an ally — and they need more than performative tweets. By definition, “ally” isn’t just a noun, but is also a verb. Being a true ally is more than just “not hating” or being educated. It means speaking up for the LGBTQ+ community and standing up for their rights.
“The LGBTQ+ community needs allies who will actually act and stand with them,” says Dungca. Don’t call yourself an ally for the clout. Be the real deal and take action.
Don’t stop at Pride month
Pride Month is a good time to evaluate what we could do better as allies, but we shouldn’t keep waiting until June to do that. The LGBTQ+ community needs our support all year round. So educate others, attend protests, sign petitions, and donate to organizations supporting the LGBTQ+ community continuously — not just during Pride Month.
What are you doing to be a better ally?