By Student Champion, Lottie Aikens
“I’m not like homophobic. I’m an ally!”
If you have watched Netflix’s recent hit series, Heartstopper, you may recognise this quote, which was stated by Imogen, who is one of the straight characters in the show. As a viewer, this quote did not seem convincing to me, after witnessing Imogen’s ignorant attitude and the way that she repeatedly negatively treats characters in the show who are openly LGBTQ+, even though she calls herself an ally.
I soon realised how easy it is to claim to be supportive, without putting the action behind the words. This moment in Heartstopper allowed me to consider how I, as a straight student, can establish my position as an ally and fully identify with this label. In support of Pride month, I have put together a list of ways in which we, as allies, can support the LGBTQ+ community.
Attend Pride events
A great way of showing our support and appreciation for the LGBTQ+ community is by attending Pride events. During Pride month, there are so many parades, protests and parties which are held to celebrate the liberation of expressing sexuality, gender and identity. Pride events are also so much fun because they are an opportunity to dress up and truly express identity, without judgement. Of course, these events are open to everyone so as allies, we can attend them to not only celebrate freedom of identity but to also learn more about the LGBTQ+ community and educate ourselves about the origins of Pride and how people around the world, still need to protest to be granted freedom, such as the rights to marriage and adoption.
Understand the importance of pronouns
Because a lot of us still use the same pronouns that we were assigned at birth, it can be challenging to understand why there are individuals who change their pronouns or do not associate themselves with gender binary (e.g they may use the pronouns ‘they/them’ instead of ‘he/him’ or ‘she/her’).
It is essential that we respect the pronouns of others and also know how to express our own pronouns so that everyone can comfortably reference one another.
I use the pronouns ‘she/her’ and, as a student, I can easily express my preference in my Instagram bio or even at the end of emails, beneath my name. As allies, we should not assume the pronouns of others and we should also recognise the importance of presenting our own pronouns, no matter how we display ourselves.
Follow LGBTQ+ creators
A way in which I like to educate myself is through consuming content, created by queer individuals. Especially through podcasts and blog posts, I feel that I gain a real insight into the struggles that these creators still face today and their constant fight against discrimination. Because there can be a lack of inclusivity and representation in the media, it is important to actively find content, created by minority groups, so that we can learn, as an audience. My favourite LGBTQ+ influencers are Jameela Jamil, Mae Martin and Bel Priestley.
It is important to remember that even as straight individuals, we still have the power to educate others about the LGBTQ+community. I have noticed that older generations can appear ignorant of Pride because in the past, people were not taught about different sexualities and genders as they are today. Therefore, it is essential that we use our knowledge to raise awareness of Pride and we should display its importance to our older relatives, for example. This can help to grow support for the LGBTQ+ community and also reduce discrimination because the more people are educated, the more they understand that everyone deserves to be treated as equals.
Wear a rainbow
Wearing a rainbow is one of the most simple yet effective ways that we can express our position as allies! It is a visual representation of our love and support for the LGBTQ+ community and shows that we view everyone equally, no matter their sexuality or gender identity. Wearing a rainbow on campus also establishes how our university is a safe space for all. Rainbow pins, t-shirts and bags are extremely accessible and available to order on a variety of online sites.
I hope that this blog post has allowed you to consider how to express your support for the LGBTQ+ community! Happy Pride month!