By Coco Jepsen
With June being pride month, there is a spotlight highlighting those in the LGBTQ+ community for 30 days. While that encapsulates many, there are others who do not identify as a member of this community, but rather an ally of it. To ally is defined as “ to unite or form a connection or relation between'' by The Merriam-Webster Dictionary, but how can we do this in our community, and how can we carry this through the other 11 months of the year? We can:
Inclusive language is a small step that can do wonders making those in the LGBTQ+ community feel less isolated. When college kids return home for the summers, don’t ask if they have a boy/girlfriend specifically, but rather a partner, or if they’ve met anyone special. Making these assumptions of others in our vernacular may be habitual and entirely unintentional, but carry a certain weight to those in the LGBTQ+ community, or those who are unsure if they’re a part of that community.
Humans, however, are creatures of habit. It takes time and education for us to relearn vocabulary and terminology. This is normal and won’t happen overnight, but we can be proactive learners through curiosity and asking questions. As the director of the Dennis L. Carlson Sexuality Education Studies Center at Miami University, Megan Kuykendoll, points out, “It’s not every queer person’s job to explain how to use every pronoun or term”.
We must take it upon ourselves to use resources such as www.thetrevorproject.org and pflag.org to educate ourselves and others as a starting point. Learning is a process and comes with experiences we have, and won’t be seamless. Professor Kuykendoll explains this learning process as, “not about being 100% right, it’s acknowledging when you messed up and doing better”.
Listening to the stories of those in the LGBTQ+ community can provide us with insight of the lives they lead, and teach us how to best support them in our own communities. Truly listening to others and staying present with this topic can teach us worlds about ideas that we may barely know the surface of. Educating ourselves makes leading lives of empathy easier as we have the tools necessary from knowledge. With knowledge comes power; the power to support others in our community, 365 days a year.
We can be an advocate by educating our kids and offering them a platform to learn. This leads to long term generational changes and societal shifts in norms. When we talk to our kids we want to hold a space for them to ask questions and share their thoughts, and educate where we can. A large part of their learning will be to practice sharing their ideas and asking questions. Then we meet them where they are with curiosity and ponder the answers together. We make asking questions safe and a way to learn.
We can also advocate by joining with and offering resources (spaces, networking, opportunities, referrals and partnerships in business) in our circles and communities. We offer growth opportunities and spotlight on their message.
There are a variety of ways you can show allyship for the LBGTQ+ community. It is vital to remember that it does not have to be directly related to you and your life for it to be an important concept. Just because you or any of your loved ones don’t identify as a member of the LGBTQ+ community doesn’t mean that others in your community don’t.
So, I ask you to look deep inside and ask yourself- how can you support the LBGTQ+ community, in June and beyond?