It's now July, which means that technically, Pride Month is over. However, our LGBTQ+ brothers and sisters matter all twelve months of the year. Here's five ways to show your love to the community in ways that are more subtle yet just as meaningful as the June Pride Protests.
Acknowledge and Overcome Subconscious Bias and Stereotypes
No matter how much you might support the community already, most of us will have some biases and stereotypes that we need to overcome. Try your best to avoid generalizations about the LGBT+ community (e. thinking gay men are effeminate, lesbians are masculine.) If you have any negative stereotypes of the LGBT+ community, combat them with positive images rather than feeding into the hate and negativity. It is hard to deter yourself away from set-in bias, but once you do, you'll be a much better ally.
One of the best parts about living in the age of social media is that education is EVERYWHERE. Follow informative LGBT+ accounts on social media (@them and @lgbt_history on Instagram are some of my faves!) Seek out informative threads on Twitter. Find articles and blog posts online that talk about LGBTQ+ history and struggle. Read books. Visit exhibits and museums (please social distance if you do!!) There are opportunities everywhere to educate yourself; you just need to seek them.
Here is where the "allyship" part comes into play. One of the most important parts in being an ally to the LGBT+ community is making sure to create an environment where they feel safe and included. Use inclusive language and pronouns when talking to LGBT people. Don't be judgemental toward pronouns or sexualities that you don't fully understand. Treat your LGBT+ friends like you would treat your straight and/or cisgender friends.
Have Tough Conversations with LGBT+ Friends and Family
If someone you're particularly close with is LGBT, first and foremost, let them know that you support them wholeheartedly. Ask them if there is anything you could do to make them feel more comfortable. To understand them better, ask questions about how they discovered their sexuality or gender, why they identify that way, and their experience. Don't make them feel pressured to answer you, but if they choose to engage in these conversations, it can be a really educational experience that can help you form a better and closer relationship.
Now that you've dealt with your own bias and have showed your support to your LGBT family, friends, and acquaintances, its time to let your inner-activist shine! Join LGBT support groups and forums! Sign petitions for equality and justice! Go to marches and protests in your local area! Show your support to the fullest extent!