June is National LGBTQI Pride Month and the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgendered & Queer/Questioning community loves allies! Allies are open to learning more about what it means to be a member of the LGBTQI community and how they can best support their LGBTQI friends and family members.
Here is a list of five suggestions for how to be a good LGBTQI ally:
- Discover LGBTQI history. Did you know that the first gay couple documented in history is thought to be the ancient Egyptian servants Khnumhotep and Niankhkhnum who lived around 2400 B.C.? The two were buried together in the same tomb in the manner that married couples were and their names are strung together in a blessing with the hieroglyphic phrase, "joined in life and joined in death.” Understanding the different ways that LGBTQI people have been portrayed throughout history is important to contextualizing the movement today.
- Read and follow LGBTQI news. Staying informed enables you to deliver accurate talking points that can help educate others about the community. Follow LGBTQI news at the Advocate
- Stand up to homophobia and transphobia. It may not be easy to speak out against statements and jokes that are disrespectful to LGBTQI people, but letting others know that you find intolerance unacceptable can be effective in changing attitudes. Starting positive conversations about LGBTQI issues is a great way to increase awareness and welcome new allies to the community. Visit PFLAG (Parents, Friends of Lesbians and Gays)
- Learn about LGBTQI inequality and policy issues. Even though gay marriage is legal in all 50 states, there are still some policies that negatively impact LGBTQI people. For example, in many states there are no state laws protecting transgender people from being fired. The Human Rights Campaign is a reliable source to become aware of the current policy issues affecting LGBTQI rights.
- Listen to LGBTQI voices. One of the best ways to be an ally to the community is to listen to the wide range of values, concerns and struggles that LGBTQI people experience every day. Talking with a friend/family member, reading a book or watching a documentary are wonderful ways to conceptualize the diversity of the community. A good link is Huffington Post Queer Voices.