The queer community doesn’t only include those who are members of it, but also those who stand in solidarity with them — the cis and hetero allies. Most people nowadays think of Pride Month as an annual celebration of #LoveWins and all things slapped with a rainbow on them, but let’s not forget that Pride is a protest first and foremost — a commemoration of a fight for equal rights that continues to this day.
Being an ally is not just acknowledging the protest, but joining the protest and fighting the good fight. Here are some ways on how you can be a better ally to your queer family and friends.
Familiarize yourself with the concept of SOGIE
Reading the bill is important, but understanding the concept itself is a good place to start. There is a distinction between sexual orientation and gender identity and expression (SOGIE). To put simply, sexual orientation is who you are attracted to; gender identity is who you are as a person; and gender expression is how you present yourself. For example, a transgender woman isn’t automatically heterosexual; she could also be a lesbian.
Just because someone expresses himself or herself differently, that has no bearing on his or her sexuality. A man who isn’t totally masculine doesn’t automatically mean that he’s gay, or a woman who’s not conventionally feminine doesn’t mean she’s lesbian. This is why it’s important to understand the difference between gender identity and sexual orientation.
The non-binary — individuals who do not conform to being either male or female — can be a confusing concept to grasp for many. Some but not all non-binary people go by they/them pronouns. It’s important to acknowledge the correct pronouns of not only non-binary people but also trans persons. If you’re not sure about someone’s pronouns, there’s no harm in asking politely.
Microaggressions are statements or actions, whether intentional or otherwise, that communicate discrimination toward people of a marginalized group. Common ones include asking same-sex couples “Who’s the guy/girl in the relationship?” (look up “heteronormativity”) or saying “You don’t look gay” as if it was a compliment or using the word “gay” to mean cowardice or an attitude of weakness. These are everyday statements a lot of people say so casually without realizing how offensive they are. It’s about time we stop saying these things.
As an ally, it is also your responsibility to call out problematic behavior when you see or hear it. There is great power in being a straight person and outright saying “Hey, that’s not right.” You have a voice that can help inspire change — use it.
Don’t just say you’re an ally, show it! It’s easy to claim to be one just because you have friends or family who are queer, but that’s not enough. Join a Pride parade (in the future when it’s safe and allowed, obviously), express your support by donating to charitable causes or sharing relevant content online. These are seemingly small but immensely significant ways to show allyship.