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Allyship 101: How to amplify the voices in the LGBTQ+ community

Although June has been a tough month for the world, Pride still managed to continue the fight on the interwebs. After all, this isn’t the first time the community has been through hard times, right?

For straight individuals, problems with the pandemic and the economy are already challenging on their own. For the queer community however the fight for equal rights still trudges on, all while dealing with the world’s mayhem. In the UK, gay and bisexual men face discrimination by being excluded from COVID-19 plasma trials. In America, Black trans folks are being lynched. Closer to home, a number of already dwindling queer safe spaces like Catch272 and Today x Future have closed down.

A true ally won’t just press pause in helping the community because the community does not have that choice, even (and most especially) in a world crisis like this pandemic.

A true ally won’t just press pause in helping the community because it does not have that choice, even (and most especially) in a global crisis. So how can you help as an ally? Simple: Amplify the voices in the LGBTQ+ community. To help you get started, here’s a guide you can follow for the rest of Pride month and beyond.

Financially support LGBTQ+ bodies (not companies who profit off performative allyship)

It’s an unfortunate truth that money makes the world go round. Right off the bat, LGBTQ+ individuals already face employment discrimination—not a single Philippine company has SOGIE-specific inclusivity policies and 60 percent of queer employees have been the subject of slurs or jokes in the workplace, according to the 2018 Philippine Corporate SOGIE Diversity and Inclusiveness (CSDI) Index. What happens when LGBTQ+ individuals are already too busy fighting for survival before they can fight for their rights? 

What happens when LGBTQ+ individuals are already too busy fighting for survival before they can fight for their rights?

That’s an area where allies can provide concrete help. Support queer-owned businesses and hire queer employees if you’re in a position to do so. Channel your money directly to members of the community instead of multimillion-peso companies that are potentially using Pride as a marketing tool. Especially now when the economy is rough, queer creators could use all the support they can get.

Actively reject heteronormativity

Straights, we have grown up our whole lives being validated because our identity is treated as the norm. It’s inevitable that sometimes we subconsciously behave in ways that uphold a heteronormative system—like assuming a person’s gender identity just based on their birth name, heading straight for the Barbie section to buy our niece’s birthday gift or automatically using binary pronouns.

Straights, we have grown up our whole lives being validated because our identity is treated as the norm. It’s inevitable that sometimes we subconsciously behave in ways that uphold a heteronormative system.

You can begin actively unlearning heteronormativity through small acts. Declare your pronouns on your social media bio to normalize pronoun preferences. Ask your young siblings what they like instead of prescribing it. Use gender-neutral language as much as possible, like replacing “boyfriend” with “partner.” Merriam-Webster has also officialized “they” as a singular pronoun too, so you can practice using it in everyday conversations.

Be responsible for educating yourself, then further the discourse

Repeat after me: It is not your queer friends’ responsibility to continuously educate you. They have a lot more to worry about than explaining the same basic concepts again and again. If the same conversations on equal rights keep happening year after year, society can’t progress from tolerance of the LGBTQ+ community to acceptance. As an ally, you must pick up your own slack.

Repeat after me: It is not your queer friends’ responsibility to continuously educate you.

These days, it doesn’t even take much to access information. All you have to do is follow the right profiles and knowledge will come to you in convenient formats like articles, art cards, IG Stories or whatever floats your boat. Once you’re all caught up, you can be proactive. Pose questions and engage in thoughtful (and probably uncomfortable) discussions on how everyone can move past tolerance to acceptance of the LGBTQ+ community. No excuses.

Art by Renz Mart Reyes 

Read more:

Hey LGBTQ+ friends and allies, let’s talk acceptance vs tolerance

FYI: Straight allies are guests at Pride. Be a good one with these guidelines

An FYI on LGBTQ+’s long, long list of acronyms

Learn about the T in LGBTQ+ with this pay-what-you-can guidebook

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Giselle Barrientos
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