Should straight people go to Pride?

Being An Ally Is Way More Than Just Showing Up To Party At Pride

Let the LGBTQ+ have their own spaces without feeling the need to take over everything

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"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.

Educate yourself

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.

Vote!

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.

Volunteer

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.

Cover Image Credit:

Flickr

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9 Queer Pride Flags That You Probably Didn't Know About

The rainbow flag is certainly the most recognizable, but it isn't the only Pride Flag there is.
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It's Pride Month yet again and fellow members of the LGBTQ+ community and their allies are celebrating. Normally around this time of year, we expect to see that all-too-familiar rainbow colored flag waving through the air, hanging from windows and sported on clothing of all types. Even when not strictly a flag, the colors of the rainbow are often displayed when showing support of the larger queer community. But what many people do not realize is that there are many, many pride flags for orientations of all kinds, so Natasha and I (Alana Stern) have created this handy guide to some others that you may not yet be familiar with:

1. L is for Lesbian and G is for Gay

The most recognizable letters of the entire acronym, L (Lesbian) and G (Gay), represent the homosexual people of the LGBTQ+ community. Homosexuality is defined as being exclusively sexually attracted to members of the same sex. Again, although the rainbow Pride flag is easily the most iconic and recognizable, there is a Lesbian Pride Flag as well. Specifically for "Lipstick Lesbians," this flag was made to represent homosexual women who have a more feminine gender expression. Here are the Lesbian Pride Flag (left) and Gay Pride Flag with the meaning of each stripe (right).



2. B is for Bisexual

Bisexuality is defined as the romantic and/or sexual attraction towards both males and females. They often go unacknowledged by people who believe that they cannot possibly feel an attraction for both sexes and have been called greedy or shamed in many ways for being who they are, but not this month. This month we recognize everyone and their right to love. Here is the flag and symbol that represents the big B!


3. T is for Transgender (Umbrella)

Gender identities are just as diverse as sexual orientations. Transgender people are people whose gender does not necessarily fall in line with their biological sex. That is to say, someone who is born male may not feel that calling oneself a man is the best way to describe who they are as a person; the same can go for someone who is born female or intersex (we'll get to that in a bit). Someone born female may feel that they prefer to be referred to as a man. Someone born male may feel that they don't mind being referred to as either a man or a woman. And someone may feel that neither term really fits. Identities can range from having no gender, to multiple genders, to having a gender that falls outside of the typical gender binary of man/woman, to anything in between. The colors of the flag are blue (the traditional color for boys), pink (the traditional color for girls) and white (to represent those who are intersex, transitioning, or have a gender that is undefined).


Okay! Here's where we get into the lesser-known letters of the acronym. You may have heard of some of these before but didn't quite know what they meant or how they fit into the larger queer community, or you may not have heard of them at all. Either way, we'll do our best to explain them!

4. I is for Intersex

Intersex people are people who are have a mix of characteristics (whether sexual, physical, strictly genetic or some combination thereof) that would classify them as both a male and a female. This can include but is not limited to having both XX and XY chromosomes, having neither, being born with genitalia that does not fit within the usual guidelines for determining sex and appearing as one sex on the outside but another internally. It is possible for intersex people to display the characteristics from birth, but many can go years without realizing it until examining themselves further later in life. Here is an older version of the intersex flag which utilizes purple, white, blue and pink (left) and a more recent one that puts an emphasis on more gender-neutral colors, purple and yellow (right).


5. A is for Aro-Ace Spectrum

The A in the acronym is usually only defined as Asexual, which is a term used to describe people who experience a lack of sexual attraction to any sex, gender, or otherwise. People who are asexual can still engage in healthy romantic relationships, they just don't always feel the need or have the desire to have sex and are not physically attracted to other people. If that's confusing, think of it this way: you are attracted women, but not men. You may see a man and think, "He's kind of cute" or "That's a pretty good-looking guy," but you still would not feel any desire towards that person, because that's not what you're into. Asexual people generally feel that way about everyone. That's the "Ace" half of "Aro-Ace."

"Aro," or Aromantic, is a term used to describe people who do not experience romantic attraction. Aromantic people still have healthy platonic relationships, but have no inclination towards romantic love. The reason Asexual and Aromantic are together is because they are very heavily entwined and oftentimes can overlap. Underneath that spectrum are also other variations of asexuality (including but not limited to people who still feel as though they are asexual but experience sexual attraction in very rare circumstances, or only after they have a romantic connection) and aromanticism (including but not limited to people who still feel as though they are aromantic but experience romantic attraction in very rare circumstances).

Below are two versions of the Aromantic Pride Flag (top and middle) and the Asexual Pride Flag (bottom).





6. P and O are for Panseuxal and Omnisexual

Pansexual and omnisexual people are not limited by gender preferences. They are capable of loving someone for who they are and being sexually attracted to people despite what gender their partner identifies as. The word pansexual comes from the Greek prefix "pan-", meaning all. Pansexuals or Omnisexuals will probably settle for whoever wins their heart regardless of that persons gender.


7. But what about the Q?!

The Q can be said to stand for Queer or Questioning, or both. "Queer" is more of a blanket term for people who belong to the LGBTQ+ community or who identify as something other than heterosexual or cisgender (a term that has come to describe people who feel that their gender does fall in line with their biological sex; i.e. someone born male feels that he is a man). It is also possible for someone to identify as queer, but avoid using it to refer to specific people unless you know they are okay with it; some people still consider it insulting. Questioning means exactly what it sounds like: it gives a nod to those who are unsure about their sexuality and/or gender identity or who are currently in the process of exploring it.

There's no one flag specifically for the letter Q, as all of the above sexualities and identities technically fall underneath this term.


This list is hardly comprehensive and there are a number of other flags, orientations and identities to explore. Pride Month is still going strong, and there's always more to learn about the ever-changing nature of sexuality as a whole and the way we understand it. It's a time for celebration, but also a time to educate and spread the word.

For a more in-depth description of different types of attraction and how they work, click here.

For more complete lists of gender identities throughout history, click here or here.

For a general list of commonly used words in the LGBTQ+ community and their definitions, click here.


Now go grab a flag and fly it high--you've got a ton to choose from!

Cover Image Credit: 6rang

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7 More Jams By LGBTQ+ Artists to Add To Your Pride Month Playlist

These are the best underrated pride songs.

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It's that time of the year again!

Pride Month is in full swing, so I thought I would do a part two to an article I wrote for last year's Pride Month.

Whether specifically about being LGBTQ+ or just by LGBTQ+ artists, here are some great additions to your pride playlist!

1. "Rainbow" by dodie

This song perfectly highlights the reason why pride parades and Pride Month exist in the first place.

In a world where anyone who is not straight/cisgender is constantly being told that their feelings are wrong, it's good to have a month to be told that you are a rainbow. It can make all the difference to someone struggling with their identity.

2. "Make Me Feel" by Janelle Monáe

Some people don't know that this song is actually about Janelle Monáe's pansexuality. And what better way to come out to your fans than creating such a bop?

3. "GUY.exe" by Superfruit

Superfruit (a musical duo featuring Mitch Grassi and Scott Hoying from Pentatonix) love to specialize in very outwardly gay music, which is so refreshing in a musical landscape where a lot of artists try to be more subtle in its LGBT themes.

Plus the lyrics and music video are both hilariously relatable for almost every orientation.

4. "Girls/Girls/Boys" by Panic! at the Disco

Brendan Urie recently came out as pansexual himself, making his words "Girls love girls and boys and love is not a choice" even more meaningful.

5. "The Joke" by Brandi Carlile

This Grammy award-winning song is the perfect anthem for anyone who has ever been put down about something that makes them different.

It's the perfect song for people going through a hard time to really latch onto and get strength from. I can't recommend it enough.

6. "Rendezvous" by Miss Benny

We love a gender nonconforming bop! Miss Benny really knows how to get people jamming while examining their preconceived notions on masculinity. What a queen.

7. "Older" by Ben Platt

Though not explicitly about being gay, the line "get to fall in love with another man" was the first time Ben Platt confirmed his sexuality to his fans. So this coming out moment hidden in a motivational song just makes the song all the more uplifting.

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