How to be an active LGBTQ+ Ally

Now that Pride Month is over, what can we do over the next 11 months to be allies to the LGBTQ+ community?

June is also known as Pride Month, to commemorate the Stonewall Riots which happened in June 1969 and was a catalyst for change for the LGBTQ+ community. 

Throughout June you will have seen many people, including us, change our classic UPSU logo from purple to the Rainbow Flag, to demonstrate that we support our LGBTQ+ students and community.

However, as June came to an end and we entered July, many companies switched back to their usual logos and their contribution to the support of the LGBTQ+ community during Pride Month was fulfilled. 

We don't think that is good enough. 

We recognise Pride is an everyday lived experience, that doesn't stop when the Rainbow logos disappear, and so, in solidarity with other companies and brands, such as Portsmouth Pride, have taken the opportunity to take the colour from our logo for the month of July, to show that the Rainbow belongs to those who live their Pride every day. 

We want our students and the LGBTQ+ community to know that our activism has never, and will never, be performative. We truly believe in being a strong supporter and ally to the LGBTQ+ community. 

Over the next 11 months, we will be looking at what we can do to be the best allies and how we can make sure we are fulfilling our role as a Student's Union to best represent and support you. 

What can YOU do to be a better ally?

Being an ally to the LGBTQ+ community is easy! Do you believe in equality and fair treatment in society of people who identify as LGBTQ+? Brilliant - you're an ally! Round of applause!

But - in reality - that is not enough (sorry!)

Here are some ways that you can become a better ally!

Get to know the language (and the flags!)

LGBTQ+ is a shortened version of the full acronym LGBTTQQIAAP. It stands for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Questioning, Intersex, Allies, Asexual and Pansexual. 

Did you know: The LGBTTQQIAAP community are sometimes know as 'The Alphabet Mafia' - you can see why!

We understand there can be an overwhelming amount of terminology to learn when it comes to the LGBTQ+ community, but taking the time to educate yourself on the language to use can make a huge difference to someone and their identity. 

We've got a handy glossary here!

You can also check out this article of different Pride flags... there is a few! 

Know your History!

So what is with all the Rainbows? What is Stonewall

These might be questions you might not have wanted to ask before, but with with a great tool at your disposal (the internet!) you have no excuse not to know the history of the LGBTQ+ movement. Now you might not be able to learn everything (we'll forgive you), you should know the basics so you can be the best ally. 

You should learn your LGBTQ+ history to honour the efforts and struggles those who came before us went through so that you can support the LGBTQ+ movement today. Knowing your LGBTQ+ activism history is an empowering act in becoming an LGBTQ+ ally. 

Speaking of struggles...

Understand the challenges the LGBTQ+ community face today!

Whilst many things have changes a lot in the UK, the USA and many other countries over the last 50 years, that isn't the same case for the rest of the world. There are still places where you can be punished and imprisoned for being homosexual. Just because there is acceptance here, does not mean that everyone is accepted. 

You cannot just be an ally to those where it is easy and convenient, you must be an ally to all. Your support can make a difference. 

Did you know? We have Gender neutral toilets at the Union building with free, organic, plastic free sanitary items!

Show your support!

Don't just think or talk about it - be an active supporter! 

One really easy way to show your support is when introducing yourself also specify which pronouns you prefer. This helps to normalise this practice in every day life, so that when others need to highlight which pronouns they prefer, it's not a big deal. You can also include them on your Social Media or in your email signature. Micro activism is just as powerful as big displays of support. 

You could also get involved with your local LGBTQ+ community! You can attend Pride events, and other events which welcome allies - for example in February 2020, the Union hosted a Pride Night! By showing up, you are letting the LGBTQ+ community know that you stand with them and is a show because of solidarity and support.

Join in the conversation and listen to the experiences of the people you meet. By actively listening to the experiences of other, it will help you understand your role as an ally and why this is important. It will help you understand the individual lived experiences and bring awareness of how to help to achieve equality for all.

Stand up and be counted!

Being an active activist can be scary...

When faced with a situation that you want to call out hateful and harmful behaviour, it can be scary and intimidating. But even one supporting voice in a sea of hate can make all the difference. Let your voice be heard. This is what being an ally is all about - helping and supporting others when it really counts. You need to let others know that you are there for them and will help and support them. Those with bigoted views are in the minority, even if they shout the loudest.

You should also assess any situation and make sure everyone is safe. If the best decision in a situation is to call the police - do so.

Being an ally is as easy as being a friend, and we here at UPSU are friends and allies to the LGBTQ+ community. 

We're going to be working a lot over the next year to make sure we are as inclusive and supportive as possible. Keep your eyes peeled for all the events we have coming up and how we are supporting our LGBTQ+ community!

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