"What are you doing this weekend? Let's go to Pride!"
While Pride is a major cause for celebration, especially in San Francisco, a trend is emerging in which groups of straight people, especially teenagers and young adults, decide that Pride is simply another party and a good place to spend the day with their friends and have a good time.
In reality, these events are used to demonstrate and celebrate LGBTQ+ culture in an open and visible way, a way in which these individuals can choose to be themselves and to surround themselves with people who share similar experiences. It's not some block party for straight people to gawk at, take over, and crash.
It's not for girls to get together with their friends in rainbow-covered outfits and flower crowns and post photos on Instagram.
It's not for putting your support of the LGBTQ+ community on blast all over social media. It's great to be an ally and it's great to attend Pride as an ally, but for the sole purpose of making yourself look accepting and loving and progressive, it's tacky and unnecessary and really just a quick photo op without any real meaning behind it.
If you truly want to go to pride as an ally, go ahead. Think about why you're going and if you have the right reasons in mind, go, enjoy yourself, but don't let your support stop there.
Do not let your voice overshadow the voices of the people whose lives are affected here.
Listen to your gay friends, your trans friends, your queer friends. Support them and help them in whatever way you can, whether by attending Pride with them or in your day-to-day interactions. But do not allow your voice to become louder than theirs on this issue. Be a true ally, "a person who associates or cooperates with another; supporter."
It is not your job and it is not beneficial to come in as the "straight savior" and try to solve everyone's problems for them. Allow the LGBTQ+ people in your life and throughout the world to be their own advocates, and work to amplify their voices without feeling the need to insert your own.
Support organizations that help members of the LGBTQ+ community, especially youth.
Find local organizations like this youth center in San Jose. Volunteer there, donate money, or take some of their classes to find out how to be a beneficial person to these people if they need support.
Other organizations work specifically with senior citizens, another group that would benefit from specific support. You can find out more, get involved, and make donations to these groups here.
Did you know that trans women of color are disproportionately affected by hate crimes and fatal acts of violence? Learn the facts and statistics and take steps to do what you can to combat the issues you find; whether that be calling your representatives, donating to an organization, or simply spreading the word.
The best way to create lasting systemic change is to make your voice heard when it comes to elections, whether at the local level or at the federal level. Research candidates and support those that act in favor of the LGBTQ+ community.
Contact your senators and representatives
Talk to the people you elected: they represent you! (or they're supposed to, at least). Tell them where you stand on these issues and tell them to pass legislation to support the LGBTQ+ community. If they don't, or if they make promises they don't keep, vote them out.
There are a number of organizations, like this crisis line, that you can volunteer with to be an active ally. Or maybe consider volunteering at Pride rather than going just to party the whole time.
Be a friend
Let's make one thing clear, Pride isn't about you. While it's a welcoming, inclusive environment and everyone is allowed to go, it is absolutely not OK for straight people to take over and make it about themselves. Support the LGBTQ+ community, be a friend to the people you know who identify as such, be an active ally, not just another ignorant partier.
Do all these things the rest of the year and then go enjoy pride.