How to Celebrate LGBTQ+ All Year Round
Since the 1970s, independent Pride events have been frequently celebrated in the month June.
Early Pride celebrations were done to commemorate the foundational Stonewall Riots where gay people were arrested at New York City’s Stonewall Inn. Following this, gay activism became much more common place.
Now, Pride month is celebrated around the world as a time to come together and promote positive change for all humans. If you’ve never been to Pride Celebration, they are genuinely inclusive celebrations of all types of people, from all types of backgrounds. The celebration includes people from all walks of life – gay, straight, gender non-binary, and cisgender folks of all ages.
And, Pride month has driven political action. Some important milestones along the way to LGBTQ+ inclusion by the US Supreme Court:
- The Lawrence decision that ended sodomy bans in 2003
- The Obergefell decision legalized marriage equality in 2015
- The Bostock ruling that stopped hospitals from turning away trans patients in 2020
While June is the height of LGBTQ+ awareness, there are lots of things you can do throughout the year to signal that you want to be an ally to the LGBTQ+ community…especially if you’re straight and/or cisgender.
Share Your Pronouns
There’s a lot of misunderstanding about pronouns. Cisgender people that identify with the same gender of which they were assigned at birth (based likely on their biology), think it’s obvious what their gender identification is. I identify as a female, I was assigned female on my birth certificate, why do I need to tell people that I prefer the pronouns she/hers?
By including your pronouns in your email signature, social media profiles, and video platforms, you are signaling that you want to be inclusive. People that are marginalized based on their gender identity now do not have to do 100% of the work to ensure they’re not misgendered. It’s one small step you can do to show you care and you understand that people have different gender identities and that you honor that identity and expression.
For example, I added my pronouns to my email signature, LinkedIn profile, and Zoom account. I didn’t think it was a big deal. It is pretty obvious (to me) that I am a female. Then, the mother of one of my daughter’s friends responded to one of my emails and said, “I saw your pronouns in your signature. I wanted you to know that my son is gay and I now know that it’s safe to share that with you. I’m never sure who I can tell. There are many people that will judge him and it is scary. Thanks for being an ally.”
Every day actions create inclusion as an ally. Oftentimes, it is the subtle acts of inclusion that have the biggest impact.
Facilitate Being Out at Work
The HRC reports that “half of LGBTQ employees in the U.S. remain closeted at work.”
Let that sink in…
If someone is gay, transgender, or gender non-binary, they are not bringing their full self to work. There’s no way you could be yourself if you have to cover or hide a huge part of your identity. That means no small talk about what you did on the weekend, no mention of your partner, or no reveal of your transgender identity.
That means we know a lot more LGBTQ+ folks than we realize because so many are still not comfortable enough in their environment to share with us.
How do you signal you want to be an ally for LGBTQ+ folks at work? Try some of these techniques:
- Ask curiously and openly about someone’s weekend and/or family. Use gender neutral language. Show with your body language you are open and truly want to know. Don’t pry here, but show that you care and are curious! Simply listen and learn.
- Get involved in your LGBTQ+ or Pride Employee Resource Group. Keep in mind some programs and events are specifically designed to hold brave, psychologically safe places for the LGBTQ+ employees, but often larger organizations open up some programs and sessions to the broader ally community.
- Watch Disclosure. It is a gripping documentary about the transgender community and provides a window into the challenges they continue to face. Since most people do not know an actively out transgender person, it is a helpful resource to understand what you may not experience naturally. We have a full resources list for allies in training here with ideas.
- Display your Pride flag year round. Don’t just celebrate LGBTQ+ in June, do it all year round.