June is Pride Month — 30 days of festivals, marches, and vast quantities of glitter. Although the spotlight is trained on the LGBTQ community this month, everyone is welcome to participate in the celebrations. First and foremost, the best place to start is by becoming a better ally. Pride parties are the best parties, in my not-so-humble opinion, but it's not terribly fair to enjoy the festivities without recognizing the struggles of being LGBTQ. After all, discrimination is the reason Pride Month exists in the first place.
Pride marches actually began as a way to commemorate the Stonewall riots more than 40 years ago. Back then, LGBTQ discrimination was encouraged in many circles, and gay-friendly bars in cities like New York were frequently shut down on the flimsiest excuses. When police raided Manhattan's Stonewall Inn one too many times in the summer of 1969, riots erupted on June 28, sparking a series of demonstrations that some consider the foundation of the modern gay rights movement. Over the years, it's become customary to celebrate LGBTQ pride in June as a nod to the riots.
Today, Pride Month is a chance to look back on how far we've come in a relatively short time. Unfortunately, there's still progress to be made, as demonstrated by President Trump's failure to officially declare June Pride Month. So while you're celebrating this month, be sure to make an effort to be a better ally to the LGBTQ community. Here are 19 little ways to do so.
1. Learn what each of the letters in LGBTQ stands for. Life won't throw you any pop quizzes, but how are you supposed to be an ally if you aren't familiar with the identities encompassed in the LGBTQ community?
2. Pay attention to how much space you take up in a conversation. If you're usually the one doing the talking, take a step back and let the other person have the metaphorical microphone.
3. Don't treat queer-friendly bars like the zoo, commenting on everything that makes them different. They're just places to hang out, just like any other bar, and LGBTQ people don't exist for your entertainment.
4. Share articles written by LGBTQ journalists on social media.
5. Listen to people when they talk about being LGBTQ. Don't assume you know everything about a friend's experience just because you've been there for part of it.
6. Shop at LGBTQ-friendly businesses. Better yet, if you know somewhere is owned by a member (or members) of the community, spend your money there.
7. Donate to LGBTQ-focused nonprofits like the True Colors Fund, which works to end LGBTQ youth homelessness.
8. Learn not to get defensive when you're criticized.
9. Avoid assuming you know someone's sexuality or gender identity until they've mentioned it themselves. You'd be surprised how often people assume that kind of thing based on arbitrary cues like outfits or haircuts.
10. If you know someone who is pregnant, don't badger them about whether their baby is a boy or girl. Gender and biological sex are different concepts.
11. If there's an LGBTQ person in your life, write a social media post celebrating their existence — just make sure it's about that person, not yourself.
12. If you see LGBTQ discrimination in action, say or do something to stop it. Even Pride celebrations aren't entirely safe spaces.
13. Encourage your friends to be better allies as well.
14. Read up on LGBTQ history, even if it's just a few Wikipedia articles.
15. Don't overreact if an LGBTQ person asks you out. It's no different than a heterosexual person doing the same, and it's not like anyone is going to force you to say yes.
16. Stop using "gay" as an insult. Why is that still a thing?
17. Use preferred pronouns. If you're not sure about someone's preferences, ask.
18. Read a book by an LGBTQ author. Better yet, read several.
19. Put these tips into practice outside of Pride Month. Your LGBTQ friends and family deserve the respect.