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How to be a good LGBTQ+ ally for Pride Month and beyond

Pride Month 2021 is disrupted by Covid-19 but that doesn’t mean you should sit it out. Here’s how you can use this chance to be a good LGBTQ+ ally.
Pride in London, 2015. Photo: Dave Pearce

Pride Month is an opportunity to advance the equality, dignity, and visibility of LGBTQ+ people around the world. For many who are not part of the community, it is also a time to find out more about how to be a good LGBTQ+ ally.

Celebrated in June to mark the anniversary of the Stonewall Uprising – the New York protests that started the modern LGBTQ+ rights movement – Pride is about celebrating the progress that has been made, but for activists it is also about the fight that still lies ahead.

“Pride is an opportunity for all of us come together in celebration, protest and solidarity with lesbian, gay, bi and trans communities all over the world,” says Robbie de Santos, director of communications and external affairs at UK LGBTQ+ right charity Stonewall.

“All lesbian, gay, bi, trans and queer people should be able to thrive as themselves, but in 2021, LGBTQ+ people are still being held back because of who we are. For some LGBTQ+ people, these harms are particularly acute, and we need to stand together against all discrimination that holds our communities back, from racism to ableism, misogyny to classism.”

Though the UK is starting to open up, this Pride Month will continue to be affected by Covid-19 restrictions. Some events, like Pride in London, have been postponed, while others, such as Brighton Pride, have been cancelled. Still others have moved online.

You might, therefore, be wondering how you can be a good LGBTQ+ ally if you’re unable to physically show up to Pride events in solidarity. We asked campaigners for some tips to get you started. 

Speak up when you see injustice

In the UK, the LGBTQ+ community has made great progress towards acceptance and equality. But there are still people who are either unaware or not accepting of LGBTQ+ rights.

According to the 2018 government Equalities Office National LGBT Survey, more than two thirds of LGBT people avoid holding hands with their partner for fear of a negative reaction from others. In the 12 months prior to the survey, 40 per cent of people had experienced an incident such as verbal harassment or physical violence related to their LGBT identity.

Asad Shaykh, Pride in London’s director of marketing and communications, says the battle against all phobias needs allies to step up.

“As a community we are better together and the best way to eliminate all of the phobias is to build strong, fierce bridges of allies within and outside of the community,” he explains.

“Exposure and communication can be highly effective at nudging the opinions of others. It can be hard for people to hate when things are up close and personal.”

For allies, he says that “up close and personal” means:

  • Being prepared to demonstrate your tolerance, acceptance, and unquestioning of LGBTQ+ people to others
  • Encouraging people to see an alternative point of view
  • Empowering other people to be an ally by showing your empathy and compassion.

Gay teen supporters of Stonewall and its campaign against homophobic bullying in schools, celebrating London's Gay Pride. July 2009.
Some-People-Are-Gay-2009-Pride-London-by-lewishamdreamer
Gay teen supporters of Stonewall and its campaign against homophobic bullying in schools, celebrating London's Gay Pride. July 2009. Photo: lewishamdreamer

Be informed

Listening is a vital part of being a good LGBTQ+ ally. You can start with the people in your own life, says Daina Ruduša, senior communications manager at OutRight Action, a global charity which fights for human rights for LGBTIQ people everywhere.

“It’s ok not to understand – be comfortable being uncomfortable, ask questions, but don’t force people to talk about their identity if they are not comfortable doing so,” she advises.

While understanding might begin at home, Ruduša says it’s important to also remember the situation facing LGBTQ+ people differs from country to country.

“There is no one formula for progress,” she says. “There are civil society organisations around the world documenting the lived realities of LGBTIQ people and sharing how they are fighting for change – follow some organisations, see what they say, share their content.”

Since the pandemic hit, OutRight has been documenting the impact of COVID-19 on LGBTIQ people and how the virus is “amplifying the vulnerabilities and marginalisation that LGBTIQ communities face on a day-to-day basis”. Their COVID-19 Global LGBTIQ Emergency Fund supports organisations that serve as front-line workers for LGBTIQ communities.

“In many parts of the world LGBTIQ people are facing a continuing devastation of livelihoods, higher rates of domestic and family violence, challenges accessing healthcare, including crucial gender affirming or HIV care,” adds Ruduša.

If you’d like to explore LGBTQ+ history and issues, the Big Issue TV Pride collection of films is a great place to start.

Amplify the voices of LGBTQ+ people

Once you’ve listened, it’s time to share what you’ve learned and use whatever platforms and networks you have to offer space for LGBTQ+ people. This might be as simple as sharing a message or a story through your social media.

“It may seem like sharing a graphic from a civil society organisation is no big deal, but through you they may reach audiences which they otherwise wouldn’t. By sharing a post you may educate someone in your network, and you will, without a doubt, signal your allyship,” says Ruduša.

Men kiss in front of evangelical protestors at London's Pride, 2011.
It's in His Kiss by lewishamdreamer
A kiss in front of evangelical protestors at London's Pride, 2011. Photo: lewishamdreamer

What if I witness an incident?

Hate crimes against LGBTQ+ people are on the rise. According to the official statistics for England and Wales, crimes against people due to their sexual orientation increased by 136 per cent between 2015 and 2020. Hate crimes against transgender people increased by 210 per cent.

Shaykh says it’s important to remember that there are laws against these sorts of crimes. “Homophobia, biphobia, intersexism and transphobia are criminal and discrimination offences,” Shaykh adds.

So, what should a good LGBTQ+ ally do if they witness such an incident against someone? “Stand by their side, talk to them and ask them if they are ok,” says Shaykh. “Question the abuse where it is coming from and state your case as to why it is wrong.”

If the incident is in the workplace, you should report it to your line manager or HR team, and if it is in a public place, you should contact your local police.

Join in a (virtual) Pride event

There are still Pride events this year, and showing up in person or online remains and important way to reaffirm your allyship. To find an event in your area, see our round up of Pride events

“This Pride season, it’s important to come together – in our communities, in our schools, workplaces, online and on the streets – to celebrate who we are, celebrate how far we’ve come, and fight for the freedom, equity and potential of every single one of us,” says Robbie de Santos.

Due to the pandemic some events will be going online, which has the advantage of allowing you to attend from wherever you are.

“Many Pride events are taking place virtually this year, so you can join numerous events taking place in different parts of the world! Try Global Black Pride, World Pride (which also has a strong educational component), or Can’t Cancel Pride,” says Ruduša.

“Pride marches and events take different shapes and forms. In many places they are a celebration of progress, in many more they are a loud protest against discrimination and violence, in others still they are restricted, banned or attacked. But what all Prides have in common is a purpose – fighting for the equality of LGBTIQ people.”

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Remember being a good LGBTQ+ ally isn’t just for Pride Month

“To be an effective ally, you have to be an ally year-round, not only when it is Pride season,” says Ruduša.

“LGBTIQ people face discrimination, harassment and violence every day around the world. There isn’t a single country in which LGBTIQ people are entirely safe. To be an effective ally you have to keep this in mind and always be an ally, not only when LGBTIQ issues are in the spotlight.

“Remember that you do not have to be LGBTIQ to support the rights of LGBTIQ people. After all, human rights affect all of us.”