Allyship is not just for the month of June. Here are 4 simple ways to show up for your LGBTQ+ loved ones over the holidays.
This post is from my persepctive as a cisgender lesbian woman with white privilage. Please make room for other perspectives in your allyship journey.
Holiday events can be tricky to navigate, especially for LGBTQ+ people. They may not know who they can come out to, which events they are safe to bring significant others to, or if people will respect their gender identity.
With a little effort, we can help this season by merry and bright for all of our loved ones; here are 4 of my top tips.
Tip #1 - Be a welcoming space for your LGBTQ+ loved one and their significant others.
When I first came out, my grandma texted me and said she wanted to get to know the people who were important to me, and that anyone I was dating would be welcomed at family events. That text meant to much to me- not only did she love and accept me for who I was, but she wanted me to bring my whole self to our family.
With all the gatherings that happen around the holidays, make sure your guests know that you are a welcoming space for all. Consider adding a space for pronouns on nametags for large events, throw a rainbow magnent on your fridge, or -if appropriate- reach out individually via text to welcome significant others (thanks for the idea, Grandma <3).
Tip #2 - Examine your own unconsious biases.
All of us (including members of the LGBTQ+ community) carry unconscious prejudices and biases; these can come from ideas we were taught growing up or our lived experiences. Acknowledging this does not mean that you are a bad person- in reality, it is a critical first step in opening yourself up to growth and learning.
With curiosity and compassion, ask yourself: what ideas do I hold about the LGBTQ+ community? what biases do I hold toward gender nonconforming individuals? What experiences have lead me to these conclusions?
Tip #3 - Learn about LGBTQ+ services in your area.
Local resources are an excellent way to learn from and support LGBTQ+ individuals in your community. Many of these organizations host ally events, distribute educational resources, and provide DEI trainings and expert panels. Around the holidays, many of these groups also host holiday events for those whose families are not supportive of their identity.
Tip #4 - When in doubt, ask.
Each person's experiences and needs are different. If you want to know how to best support someone, just ask them. People can usually tell if you are asking questions because you genuinely want to understand, and most people are happy to share their story.
A caveat to this: the LGBTQ+ community is very diverse and nuanced. Expecting one person to be a spokesperson for the entire community and answer every question you have may eventually wear on them. See if you can find answers to some of your more general questions through podcasts, blogs, books, or social media.
Additonally, this does not extend to invasive questions about someone's sex life, gender affirming surgeries, or family planning. If you wouldn't ask it to a straight person, don't ask it to a queer person.
Allyship is a year round effort.
We can all work toward making our families and communities safer for our LGBTQ+ loved ones, especially around the holidays. Do you have any allyship tips? Leave me your thoughts in the comments below.