It's June and I have to admit it's my favorite month of the year. First off, I think we all have been conditioned to believe in the magic of the month of June since childhood. June is when school ends and wonderful summer vacation begins. We have longer days and more sun to bask in. As an adult, my love for June has grown even more because it's Pride month. Just writing these words makes my heart flutter a little. It’s an entire month celebrating each other for being exactly who we are. We take this month to honor the Stonewall riots back in 1969. We remember the ones we have lost due to hate crimes and HIV/AIDS. We celebrate people who have lead the way in making change and are making their impact now. Pride is celebrated all over the world. Pride month is a celebration of love and acceptance of the LGBTQ individuals. One of the best things about Pride is that you don't have to identify as LGBTQ to enjoy the festivities; you can always celebrate as an ally. Being a good ally is so important not just in June but all year round. Here are some tips to being the best ally you can be:
Take an honest look at your own beliefs, actions, and prejudices towards the LGBTQ community. A good ally can takes the opportunity to look at where they can improve on being a good companion, and learn to both address issues and take positive steps towards curing these negative personal beliefs.
If you don't know about something that affects the LGBTQ community learn about it. Read articles that address concerns in the LGBTQ community. Join groups and make a conscientious effort to understand the people in the community. If you do this politely, most members of the LGBTQ community will be happy to answer your questions.
Use the correct pronouns
If you don't know what pronouns someone uses, you can always use they/them/their or just use their name. If you make a mistake when speaking about someone, correct yourself and move on. You don't need to apologize in front of everyone. You can do it individually off to the side.
Listen without needing to respond
Many of us have bad listening skills. We tend to be preparing what we are going to say in response to someone before they even have a chance to finish talking. Listen completely to others. Validate what they say. Sometimes what is said is not always bearable. Be aware of body language. A good ally takes the time to be present.
Don't presume one’s gender
Remember not to assume what someone's gender identity or sexual orientation is. Gender and sexuality are a spectrum that is fluid for many people. Being a good ally means using neutral language such as “partner” instead of “wife”, “husband”, “girlfriend”, or “boyfriend”. Don't assume that a group of people will fit into either binary. For example, referring to a group of people as “ladies and gentlemen” may not be appropriate
Support other LGBTQ allies
Support businesses and candidates that support anti-discriminatory practices. Let others know that you are not okay with demeaning humors or discussions when they happen.
Being a well-informed and sensitive ally may seem difficult at first, but once you put a conscious effort into changing the way you speak, support, and advocate for the LGBT community, you may find that it is not as difficult as you had once thought. I am so excited about Pride month, and so I encourage you to embrace the love and energy that flows through the month of June and join the party at your local Pride celebration.
Melissa DaSilva, LICSW is a licensed therapist and certified hypnotist in private practice at her group practice called East Coast Mental Wellness. Melissa has been a therapist for over 10 years, is an advocate for LGBTQ rights and public speaker. She is the host of the podcast called Pride Connections. You can find out more about Melissa on Facebook and Instagram.