June is PRIDE Awareness Month. PRIDE is an acronym for Personal Rights In Defense (and) Education. Here are a few suggestions to consider to improve your PRIDE awareness:
Be an Ally—Show support to friends, family, co-workers and neighbors who are part of the LGBTQ community. One way to be supportive is by allowing those whom you suspect are LGBTQ to come out to you on their own—without pressure or interrogation. Respect others’ privacy. If someone has confided in you he or she is a member of LGBTQ community, don’t share that information. Coming out is personal, and it can also be dangerous. Prejudice and discrimination, both legal and illegal, are still very common for LGBTQ people in America. More than anything, be a good listener. As a general rule, it’s better to hear someone out than to talk yourself when it comes to a matter you don’t have firsthand experience with. Listen when your LGBTQ friends and family members need to vent about their experiences, cry about injustices their community faces or ask for your help as an ally.
If you are straight or cisgender, you won’t know what it’s like to be LGBTQ and to deal with the issues that come with it. If an LGBTQ friend or family member tells you about their experiences — whether those experiences pertain to gay culture, romance or incidents of prejudice — believe them. Don’t be dismissive or downplay their concerns. Be as supportive and validating as you can be.
Rethink how you view the world. Recognize diversity. Realize the concept of diversity as it encompasses acceptance and respect. This includes understanding that each individual is unique. Practice mutual respect for qualities, beliefs, lifestyle choices and experiences which are different from your own.
Educate yourself by learning more about the issues which are important to the LGBTQ community. Take time to learn more about their history, culture, struggles and activism. Read articles about the Stonewall Riots (also referred to as the Stonewall uprising or Stonewall Rebellion) for a better understanding of the observance of PRIDE month.
Be careful not to Stereotype—Remember people who are LGBTQ are real people with real feelings and emotions. They are not fictional characters from TV sitcoms or movies.
In a world that still isn’t as LGBTQ-friendly as it could be, it can get lonely. Make sure to support your LGBTQ friends by including them in plans, inviting them to meet your family or just hang out with them. Don’t make them feel as if they’re someone you want to hide or exclude from your social circle. Also include the partner of your LGBT loved one in events and activities just as you would any other spouse or significant other.
Being a good friend or family member means having your LGBTQ friend’s back. If you hear someone using a slur, making a disparaging remark or telling a joke that stereotypes LGBTQ people, speak out against it — even if it isn’t directed at your loved one or they’re not around. Make sure others know that you find it offensive.