11 Ways To Support The LGBTQ Community Year-Round, According To Queer Women & Nonbinary Femmes
During Pride Month in June, people celebrate all facets of LGBTQ history and identity, but as every LGBTQ person will tell you, being queer is an all-season thing — not just one month in the calendar. And being a good ally requires paying attention to issues and being mindful about supporting the LGBTQ community all year round. After the parades end, there are still many important ways — both subtle and overt — in which straight people can lift up, protect, and aid the queer communities in their own countries and elsewhere.
Seven queer women and nonbinary femmes tell Bustle that it's often the small gestures that make a big difference when it comes to being an LGBTQ ally, from challenging your own assumptions to altering your language and behavior in order to center queer people and make them more comfortable in the spaces you use. It's also important, they say, to step up when other people aren't behaving in acceptable ways, instead of letting the LGBTQ person in the situation deal with the problem. If you can shoulder the burden of setting boundaries and use your privilege for good, take it on. Here are a few ways to make yourself a better ally all through the year.
1. Share Your Pronouns
Sometimes, language can be very powerful. If you're cisgender and heterosexual, Marzia, 30, tells Bustle, "always give your pronouns although you are already society-wise perceived correctly; that's exactly what we're tackling on a daily basis."
If you say casually "and I use she/her" or "I use he/him", it normalizes transgender, gender-fluid, and nonbinary people's own requests for the correct pronouns. Add your pronouns to your email signature, social media bios, or Lyft account, and ask people what pronouns they use in your daily life.
2. Respect When Something's Offensive
"Believe us when we say something is offensive," Sarah, 33, tells Bustle. Not everything is up for debate, even if you always raise your hand to play devil's advocate. Further, you can use your privilege to stop this behavior in its tracks. "Call out fellow straight-cis-ally folks who are being offensive or disrespectful, even if you’re sure they 'don’t mean it.'"
3. Don't Ask Who "The Man" Is
I can't believe this is still happening either, but it is. "Stop asking who the man is in our relationship," Annis, 28, tells Bustle. "You would honestly think that this has been mocked so much that people wouldn't do it, but they really still do!" Step in when other people ask this question, too.
4. Make Your Feminism Trans-Inclusive
Transgender women are women, and allyship means including trans women in your feminism. Anna, 32, tells Bustle, "Don't be a TERF (trans-exclusionary radical feminist)." Use your privilege to elevate the voices of trans women feminists, and center them in your conversations about feminism.
5. Don't Ask Invasive Questions, Especially When It Comes To Children
If you wouldn't talk about fertility or make assumptions about pregnancy with a straight woman, don't do it with queer women either. "Be mindful that the normal rules of Don’t Make Assumptions About Women’s Fertility also apply to queer women, as they may also desperately want children; desperately want children but be unable, medically or financially, to have them; definitely not want children; be passionately indifferent to the issue," Verity, 24, tells Bustle.
This also goes for the invasive questions you'd never ask a straight couple. "Outside of explicitly queer spaces, I’ve never seen a queer woman announce that she’s having a kid without being met by a cacophony of quite intrusive reproductive questions, which wouldn’t have been asked of a straight woman becoming a parent," Verity says.
6. Do Your Research On Your Own
Just because you have a question or don't understand a political issue about LGBTQ rights doesn't mean the nearest queer person is ready to drop everything and tell you about it. Maybe they are, but it's more respectful to do your research. For instance, Annis says, "Don't ever say that there should be a straight pride. Maybe read something about it before positing that question to a queer person."
7. Create Change In Your Workplace
Make your jobs more inclusive by fighting for better policies. Anna tells Bustle, "Change your workplaces. Campaign for gender inclusive bathrooms; campaign for more inclusively-worded policies; put pronouns in your email signatures; don't assume your coworkers' pronouns or partners' pronouns (or number of them) please."
8. Don't Make Assumptions
This is a big one: check your assumptions at the door. "Don’t make assumptions that all femme women are straight," Sass, 32, tells Bustle. "Don’t make assumptions that queer femme women must be bisexual. (Or that it’s a given when they, in fact, are bisexual.) Or that they must be into certain types of people/certain types of sex."
And when queer people assert their identities, believe them first time. "When I say ‘I’m a lesbian’ please don’t ask ‘Are you sure? You don’t look like a lesbian’ or ‘Are you sure you’re not bi?’," Frances, in her 20s, tells Bustle. "Please be supportive when people come out to you and respect their labels. It takes bravery to come out, and a little support goes a long way."
9. Ask About Partners Without Mentioning Gender
"I think little things that challenge assumed heteronormativity can be good too," Donherra, 30, tells Bustle. "If you don't know someone well, ask them if they’ve got a partner rather than a boyfriend or girlfriend. It subtly signals that you aren’t assuming they’re straight. That would be a positive one, especially for people who might be more anxious about coming out."
10. Be A Good Pride Ally
At Pride? Pay attention to the space around you and be respectful. "Don't hog spaces in pride marches if they're limited," says Anna. "It ain't your party."
11. Fight Bi Invisibility
Bisexual people often experience discrimination from both straight and queer communities, and it's important to consciously fight these biases. "There is no privilege in never being seen or respected for who you actually are," Anna says.
Being an ally is more than just putting on a pin and declaring yourself supportive. It's a series of acts every day to make queer people feel at home, safe, and respected. Openly showing your allyship will also help other cisgender straight people feel OK with declaring their support for the queer community — so wear your love for us with pride.