While June is traditionally called Pride Month, many of us in the queer and trans community have decided to instead celebrate Wrath Month. Protests against police brutality and the systemic devaluing of Black lives, the 4th anniversary of the Pulse nightclub massacre, and the cancellation of most Pride celebrations due to a pandemic that’s killed over 110,000 people in America alone, have set a somber mood.
As such, this list might be less sunshine and rainbows, and more “cis people, can you just chill out?” But I think you’ll still get the gist.
- Use our pronouns. Ask what someone’s pronouns are (or check their bio if you’re interacting on social media), and then use them! Use our pronouns when talking to us directly and when talking about us with others. If you make a mistake, apologize quickly (“sorry, I meant they –”), and don’t make excuses or long-winded declarations about how “difficult” it is. Our pronouns aren’t fancy window dressing, they’re part of the way we communicate who we are to others. When you assume someone’s pronouns, use incorrect ones, or bemoan how “complicated” it is, you’re dismissing our personhood.
- Google things first instead of asking exhausting, invasive questions about queer or trans experiences. There’s a wealth of knowledge available online; your LGBT+ family, friends, and colleagues aren’t information vending machines. If you’re genuinely struggling to find answers from inclusive sources, ask if we’re okay with educating you or pointing you in the direction of resources to learn. We’re not all teachers.
- Support us politically. The fight for our rights is not over, and it’s about more than marriage for white cis gay people. Supporting us means making sure you’re voting for candidates who will prioritize issues that impact LGBT people (including housing discrimination, immigration and poverty), writing your current representatives to remind them that the work will never be over, and supporting and participating in movements like Black Lives Matter. LGBT people can also be Black, sex workers, Indigenous, undocumented, poor, homeless, HIV+, sexual assault survivors; you cannot separate our identities and pick and choose which of our struggles to champion.
- Don’t make us justify ourselves to you. “Are you sure you just haven’t met the right woman yet?” “Are you sure you’re not just a tomboy?” “What if you regret this?” “If you’re really what you say you are, then how come you didn’t tell me before?” These kinds of questions force queer and trans people to jump through hoops to “prove” our identities to people who tend to not to believe our answers anyway. Trust me, there’s no “are you sure” or “what if” questions that we haven’t already asked ourselves while staring at the ceiling at 2 AM. Our lives aren’t up for debate, so keep the urge to needle and badger to yourself.
- Shop at queer-owned businesses. It’s difficult to be a queer entrepreneur. You can help keep LGBT-owned businesses open by taking an extra second to find a queer-run alternative to the mainstream stores you might choose by default. Maybe you’re looking for some new bath or skincare products. Or some nerdy tshirts. How about luxury sunglasses? Or maybe you want to replenish your makeup. Perhaps some excellent porn?
- Read up on identities you’re not familiar with. The queer and trans community is constantly evolving as we continue to create and change terminology to give names to the nuances of our identities. Asexual, nonbinary, genderfluid, panromantic, agender – these words aren’t “weird,” they’re wonderful. It’s also important to remember that while these specific labels might be new (or new to mainstream conversations), the identities they describe have existed for all of human history.
- Don’t out us or make a spectacle of our identities. Homophobic and transphobic hate crimes are still happening in America. Queer and trans people have to assess every space we’re in and every person we interact with before deciding whether it’s worth the risk to be ourselves. Sometimes the risk is as small as being worried a coworker will become rude; oftentimes, it’s much more. If you expose us in your excitement to gossip or show off your cool queer friend, you’re taking that safety net away.
- Support the most marginalized among us, especially during times of disaster or economic stress. First and foremost, educate yourself on how to help Black LGBTQ people. If you’re able, donate to organizations like Trans Lifeline, the Audre Lorde Project, Trans Justice Funding, The Trevor Project, True Colors United, and The Okra Project. If you want to make an immediate difference for struggling individuals, check out the Twitter hashtag #TransCrowdfund for people in need (even if it’s just to share their posts), or reach out to your local LGBTQ center and ask about volunteering.
- Read queer blogs and magazines, even if you’re not queer yourself. Too often people limit themselves to hearing perspectives that echo their own; intentionally reading the work of LGBT writers will give you further insight into our experiences and struggles, and you’ll be better for it. Autostraddle and Wear Your Voice Magazine are both excellent online publications that cover everything from pop culture to current events. There are new, interesting articles updated daily.
10. Be willing to listen to LGBTQIA+ people. Too often, allies are more concerned with defending themselves (“I’m not homophobic, my best friend is gay!”) than listening to us and unlearning harmful behaviors. Gender reveal parties are fun (I guess?) and trendy, but even the woman who created them recognizes they reinforce cissexism. Telling homophobic jokes about two political leaders you don’t like is still hurting gay people. Putting your pronouns in your Twitter bio helps make spaces safer for trans people. Being an ally isn’t just about wearing rainbows and not saying slurs. It’s also about humbly accepting criticism on the little things you think your allyhood shields you from