The month of June has arrived, and for most people, that signifies the start of summer BBQs and pool parties — but for many in the queer community, it means a month of celebrating their fabulous selves for exactly who they are!
For others who are in the closet or who are still trying to figure out who they are, it can be a sad and lonely time of desperately wishing they didn’t have to hide or could be more open about their true selves.
For both of these groups, and for any and all queer people, it is so important to know that they have allies supporting them, whatever their circumstances may be. Here are a few of the things you can do to show up for the queer community in the most valuable ways:
Educate yourself. Google is awesome and offers a wealth of knowledge. For starters, take the time to learn what the letters in LGBTQ mean. Read up on the issues pertaining to the queer community. You won’t learn everything overnight, and no one expects you to be perfect. As a later-in-life lesbian, I am still putting in the work to further educate myself every day. I can promise you, in the eyes of your queer family/friends, that a little effort goes a long way.
Be vocal. Make sure your LGBTQ friends and family know that you support them year-round and not just during Pride month. It may seem obvious to you, but to those in marginalized groups, it means the world to hear that the people they care about not only support them but celebrate them for exactly who they are!
Have the hard convos. As the great Albus Dumbledor once said, “It takes a great deal of bravery to stand up to your enemies, but a great deal more to stand up to your friends.” If you hear a friend make a homophobic remark or even an unintentionally offensive comment, let them know that it is NOT okay. Quite possibly, they genuinely didn’t realize that what they said was hurtful and will now be more thoughtful with their words the next time. They could also be a closed-minded individual, but hearing someone they care about speak up might trigger them to get a little introspective on why they have the biases they do toward people who are different from them.
Teach your kids (from the very beginning) that all families do not look the same, and that is okay! I once had someone close to me say that because I was not a mom yet, I didn’t get to have an opinion on what topics were appropriate for children — which in her mind did not include same-sex relationships. Well, now that I am a mom of two, I can say that I still believe children can and SHOULD know that love is love! Yes, a lot of kids do have a mom and a dad, but some have two moms or two dads. Or maybe just a dad. Or just a grandmother. Or maybe a different kind of family entirely. Prejudice isn’t innate, it is learned. Let’s help break the cycle by showing our children that all people deserve respect, and LOVE is what makes a family.
VOTE! Unfortunately, these days, our country is more divided than ever — with our most basic human rights being reduced to “political issues.” Or even worse, as we know all too well here in Florida, watching as evidence of our existence becomes “prohibited” under the thinly veiled guise of “protecting the children.” To many outside of the queer community, LGBTQ rights are just another issue in a long list of stances to consider when selecting a candidate to vote for come election season. For us queer people, it is THE issue. The right for our families to exist is repeatedly at stake. It is hard to call yourself a true ally while voting for politicians who are fighting to revoke our rights. So please, put your money (read: vote) where your mouth is and support candidates who support equal rights.
In summary, while rainbows and pride parties are fun for everyone, please make sure there are meaningful actions to go along with your Instagramable outfits.