All I Want for Pride Are Some Really Loud Allies
I took a lot for granted when I lived in Boston. For about ten years, I lived in the wonderful Jamaica Plain neighborhood, known for its thriving local businesses, artists’ communities, and strong support for the LGBTQ+ community. Businesses along Centre St. adorned their windows with Pride flags all year, and faith communities hung signs that reminded the community that All Are Welcome, always.
My queer-friendly bubble burst when I moved to Colorado last year. On paper, the suburb I live in looks pretty safe. It has Democratic leadership in the House and the Senate. Colorado even has the country’s first openly gay governor. But I’m more likely to see a Trump flag than a Pride flag in my day-to-day life. I’ve lost count of the number of “Thin Blue Line” stickers I’ve seen, and I’m just an hour’s drive from Club Q, the LGBTQ+ club where five people were murdered and 19 more injured. If support for the LGBTQ+ community is here, it is quiet, tucked away in the background - even in June, the gayest month of the year!
I would not call myself a visibly queer person. Yes, I’ve been out as bisexual since my mid-20s (shout-out to any distant cousins who are learning this information right now- Happy Pride!!). But I’m married to a cisgender, straight man. I look pretty feminine, except for the occasional days when I dress like a gym bro. I use she/they pronouns, but I know no one would ever look at me and use the latter. Also, I’m white, employed, and have two Master’s degrees, all of which put me in a very privileged position.
Despite these shields, my chest still tightens when the woman wearing a “Forever Trump” hat walks into my local coffee shop where I work. My heart rate ticks up when the man with “Freedom” and different types of ammunition blazoned across his shirt walks by me at the grocery store. These daily signals and symbols remind me that I am not always welcome and safe, even if I think I’m flying under the radar.
Why am I telling you this?
I’m telling you this because I need more from our allies this Pride month. I especially need more from the people who support the queer community from a distance. It is not enough to slap a rainbow on a logo or post a picture from drag brunch in June. Here’s what you can do to be loud and clear about your support for LGBTQ+ people.
First, educate yourselves on the real issues that are wreaking havoc on LGBTQ+ people, including but not limited to:
How threats to gender-affirming care can derail the lives of trans people
How the increase in anti-LGBTQ+ rhetoric has contributed to a mental health crisis for LGBTQ+ youth
The violence experienced by transgender people in America – especially Black trans women
The 491 bills currently threatening the rights of LGBTQ+ people across the country
Once you know about the issues, take action in support of the queer community. Call your state rep. Sign a petition. Donate to your local LGBTQ+ organization or volunteer with them once a week. And then, after any action you take – tell people about it. If you’re a straight person, tell other straight people. Use your platforms, share with your communities, and BE LOUD on our behalf. Passive support won’t save us, but active, persistent allyship can.
I’m also telling you this because I need to be better, too. I need to be more visible and vocal about my experiences and the needs of my community, even if I don’t always feel like I belong to it. I need to make the LGBTQ+ community more of a priority in my personal and professional life. I’m taking the first step today by being vulnerable with you. Now, it’s your turn.
What’s your first step going to be?