June is pride month, and as a pan person I have to say that it always brings me mixed feelings. On one hand, it’s great to see straight people march with us in pride parades, wear rainbows, and change their business logos to pride versions. On the other hand, it can feel very token and belittling when June reminds me that there is only one month of the year when straight people are outspoken about queer rights and the fact that not being straight is okay. It’s hard to see businesses choose to only prioritize representation when they have to, and to suddenly have people brag about being friends with a pan person when that’s never said any other time of the year.
Is this better than not having any month dedicated to normalizing non-straight attraction and lifestyles and states of being? Yes. But that doesn’t minimize the fact that straight people need to do better. You can’t just march in a pride parade once a year and brag for a week about having gay friends, when nothing else is being done. It feels self-serving, and when the rest of the year is dedicated to the fact that being straight is apparently the “default,” there is a lot to be desired.
Here are just a few things straight people can do to be better allies during pride month and all times of year:
Shop from queer-owned businesses.
This should be a practice during all time of the year. Seek out businesses that are run by marginalized people in order to support them. There are so many great ones out there. When you receive your product or service from them, always try to post a picture of it (at least on your Stories) in order to spread the word.
Support your non-straight friends on social media and IRL.
June is a great time to increase your support for the queer people in your life, but this should be happening during every month. If you have a gay friend who sells paintings, repost their work with credit and tell people to go support them! If you have a gay friend who has a vegan cooking Instagram account, share their posts or make their recipes and post pictures of it, tagging them! If you have a bi friend who does photography, buy photo prints from them or pay to get a photo shoot done. The options are endless, but be supportive. Support their business ventures, their ambitions, their creative projects, and them as people. Even if all you do is like and comment on their posts, or compliment them in real life, it can really add up for a population of people who is generally criticized and oppressed. Make it easier on them.
Sign petitions and call your government representatives about the need for equality and gay rights.
Again, this should be done every time of year, but June is a perfect excuse to do it more than usual. Look up bills that concern gay rights and email (and call) your government officials letting them know that you support the LGBTQIA+ community.
Change your political party.
Even if you agree with certain Republican stances, it’s important to realize that they are consistently against human rights. They uphold patriarchal systems, and in this case, they keep LGBTQIA+ people from having the rights that straight people do. Not all Republicans identify with these beliefs and policies, but they need to realize that they stand with a party that has oppression as part of their platform. That is harmful and even deadly to queer people, who just want to love who they love. Consider changing your registration to Democrat, Independent, Green, or any number of other parties that actually vote on the side of equal rights (for women, minorities, and queer people).
Learn about the different sexualities and ways of identifying.
Nothing is worse than coming out and then having to explain yourself further. I experience this a lot as a pan person, and often it’s done with good intentions, but I don’t always have the emotional energy to deal with it when it feels like an interrogation. We live in the age of the internet, so there is no reason to go straight to your queer friends and demand that they explain how they experience attraction, love, identity, and sex. If you have questions that are respectful and not invasive even after you’ve done your own research, then by all means ask. Always keep learning, but during pride month it should be your goal to educate yourself further about those this month is supposed to honor.
Donate to groups that advocate for LGBTQIA2+ rights.
Groups like these can always use more support. Do your research and aim to support one that is local to you. Post about them after on social media and encourage others to give what they can as well. It’s a good idea to try to do a challenge for the month if you want to do something for the queer community daily—for example, donate a dollar a day over the month. It can add up, but it’s still affordable, generally speaking.
Spoil your queer friends.
Hopefully you always treat your friends well, but June offers a great excuse to really pamper them. Bring them gifts. Buy them a beer. Send them a handwritten card. Take them out to dinner. Send them cash. Bring them flowers. If you have the money, even send them on a trip! Ask them how they need to be supported this month, and aim to respect those wishes. Make June as good as possible for them, because as mentioned earlier, it can be great but it can also be very triggering.
Watch movies about non-straight stories.
Support filmmakers who tell queer stories. There aren’t many of them, and their work deserves to be honored. There is an entire section for it on Netflix, so try to watch at least a few over the month. If you’re more of a reader, read a book written by a queer person.
Share queer content online.
Repost the content of queer people on Instagram (with permission and credit). This will help normalize the idea that not everyone is straight and it shouldn’t be the default. Bonus points if you share educational resources in support of gay rights.
Share your own content in clear support of the community.
It’s important to not drown out the voices of queer people, but it’s also very helpful to hear your own voice in support of us. Post at least a few times in June and talk about the importance of being an ally, what you’re doing to do better, and why you’re an ally. This is really powerful when it comes to softening the hearts of those who are against gay rights. It sucks, but it helps them to hear this kind of thing from a fellow straight person. Use that unfortunate superpower for good.
Wear the rainbows and go the Pride parades.
Yes—this is helpful too, so keep doing this for sure! Just try not to make the posts that you do afterwards about yourself. Make it about equality. Take photos with those who Pride is actually about. Don’t just use this as an excuse to wear rainbows and appear woke. That’s when it feels like June is less about us and our rights, and more about allies playing dress up for a day during the month. Don’t contribute to that. So sure, eat rainbow foods, wear the rainbow, even through a get-together celebrating the month (consider asking guests to donate $5 to a gay advocacy group rather than bringing wine or anything—also make sure everyone is fully vaccinated)…but don’t forget to pair it with real education and contributions to the community. It can be fun for you, but it shouldn’t only be about that.
How do you plan on supporting LGBTQIA2+ rights?
Photo: Emily Iris Degn