During Pride celebrations, it can feel like the whole thing is one big party. Everyone and their dog (literally) comes out to celebrate Pride and it leaves us all with big, warm, snuggly feelings. But there’s more to it than just coming out and wearing a rainbow and waving a flag that makes a good ally. Follow this step-by-step guide to ensure that you are supporting the local Pride celebrations while having a FABULOUS time!
1. BE MINDFUL OF YOUR LANGUAGE
Gendered language is everywhere. It’s in the ads on TV, and on the products in the stores, and the clothing labels we wear. But Pride is a good time to remember that not everyone is gendered. There’s a whole group of humans out there who identify as gender fluid or non-binary. When you’re hanging out at a Pride celebration, nix the gendered language. Use words like, folks, fellow humans, people, or friends.
2. PRESENT YOUR PRONOUNS
Even if you identify as the gender you were assigned at birth, announcing your pronouns affirms that it’s okay for others to do so as well! You can also buy a button or a t-shirt if you are going to be in a large crowd and really want to get the word out that you’re a safe human who will respect other people’s pronouns.
3. RESPECT OTHERS’ PRONOUNS
Speaking of pronouns, while you’re out and about celebrating with your friends and neighbours, there’s a whole bunch of different pronouns you may not have encountered before. There’s the binary she/her and he/him. But there’s also they/them, ze/zem. And some folks don’t even want to be referred to by a pronoun! Just use their name! It can be overwhelming and new, but this is part of learning. It’s important. You can make a huge difference in someone’s day simply by respecting their preferred pronouns when they indicate to you what those pronouns are.
It’s also totally okay to apologise upfront if you are worried you may slip up in your pronoun use. I get it. I, too, grew up in a binary world, and when I first waded into the waters of understanding gender fluidity, I would often say, “Hi, I’m Kay. My pronouns are she/her. I’m still learning about proper pronouning, and sometimes I mess up! So please correct me if I use the wrong pronoun! I mean no disrespect”.
4. HOLD THE SPACE
One of hardest things to balance (we’re discovering as we plan our very own Pride Festival for later this month) in Pride celebrations is how much of the celebration is for the LGBTQ2S+ community, and how much is for everyone else. While we understand and appreciate the enthusiasm with which people partake in Pride events, it’s extremely important for everyone to recognise the reason the LGBTQ2S+ community needs Pride.
Pride is borne out of protest. We are still not equal. So when folks in the community are celebrating, it’s important for allies to hold that space, to allow them to exist in the way they feel safest, and to stand with them in solidarity. For some, this means standing respectfully on the sidelines while the LGBTQ2S+ community walks. For some, this will mean laying down their own banners to allow others to fly theirs. It’s one of the reasons we have disallowed corporate logos, political branding, and uniforms of any kind in our Solidarity Walk but why we are welcoming LGBTQ2S+-facing not-for-profits to carry their banners.
Think of it like a birthday party. Just because you’re invited, doesn’t mean everyone’s going to bring you a gift. We let the birthday person blow out the candles and open the presents.
5. SHOW UP
When we say show up, we don’t mean it lightly. This is a party!! Come celebrate with us! Don your rainbows. Lace up your shoes. YOU CAN WALK WITH US. Let’s watch some amazing entertainment! Let’s eat some great food truck food! Let’s check out all these awesome vendors! You are welcome!!
6. KEEP SHOWING UP
Guess what? We don’t stop needing good allies at the end of Pride, after we close down the booths and clean up the glitter. We need our allies every single day. If you support the LGBTQ2S+ community, we need you speaking up when you hear someone use derogatory language against us. We need you to take a stand when companies refuse to serve us. We need you to vote for people who will not take away our rights or the rights of our children. We need you to educate your friends, coworkers, and acquaintances when they ask questions about our community and how to lift up the most marginalised among us.
YOU CAN MAKE A DIFFERENCE.
Terms you should know:
LGBTQ2S+ — Commonly accepted shortened version of the full Pride acronym (LGBTQQ2SIAAP — Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans, Queer, Questioning, 2-Spirited, Intersex, Asexual, Ally, Pansexual).
Cis — A person who identifies as the gender they were assigned at birth.
Sex — Biological differences in reproductive organs.
Gender — Societal constructions we assign to male and female.
Gender Stereotypes — Societal expectations surrounding the way person of specific genders act or behave.
Queer — Once used as a slur, has now become an umbrella term to describe ways in which the LGBTQ2S+ populations reject the binary categories of sexual and gender orientation.
Sexual Orientation — How a person characterises their sexuality. (do not say sexual preference. This implies it is a choice)
Gender Identity — How a person characterises their gender. (do not say gender preference. This implies a person’s gender is a choice)