Advice for Allies: 10 Tips for Well-Meaning Straight People

Issue 280

Jessica Max Stein Jun 9, 2023

We in the LGBTQ+ community are so grateful for your solidarity this Pride month, especially in the midst of these harrowing culture wars. Here are 10 ways to be an even better ally!

1) Practice saying “LGBTQ+” so it rolls off the tongue as easily as your own name. So many straight people stumble through the acronym like it’s an alien tongue from the far-off Planet Gaydor! Say it like you mean it! Say it like you’re picturing actual people behind each letter! 

2) Learn our history. Remember that Stonewall was a RIOT! While Pride is indeed an opportunity to revel in our fabulousness, it’s mainly a commemoration of all the hard work we have done to resist our oppression. Remember that! Appreciate it! 

3) If you go to a Pride event, actually talk to LGBTQ+ people! We’re the reason that you’re there! Don’t just gawk at us like exotic zoo animals! Thank us for our service! 

4) Stop misgendering people all the time! And if you do, apologize! If you don’t know someone’s pronouns, just ask! And if you don’t like someone’s pronouns, don’t argue! 

5) In fact, stop gendering people all the time! I don’t care if you are from California, “dude” is not gender-neutral! Neither is “you guys”! Practice using gender-neutral terms like “friends,” “folks” or that Southern charmer, “y’all.” It’s really not that hard! 

6) Think gender euphoria, not gender dysphoria! Understand that many trans and gender-nonconforming people adore and revel in their bodies just as they are! The problem isn’t our bodies, it’s your binary thinking!  

7) If someone tells you their name, accept it! Don’t ask if it’s “short for something”! Don’t ask if it’s “on their birth certificate”! Just say, “Nice to meet you, _______!”

8) Remember that our LGBTQ+ identities are not just about sex! They’re about community, unity and solidarity! When we tell you we’re queer, we’re not telling you who we have sex with, we’re telling you we’ve got each others’ backs! 

9) Paradoxically, at the same time, honor that a big part of LGBTQ+ identity is sex! Stop sanitizing us! To invoke Emma Goldman: If I can’t fuck, it’s not my revolution!   

10) Finally, don’t expect us to thank you for your allyship! Some of us have been doing this work for decades — we are tired! Patting you on the back takes energy we don’t have! Don’t expect us to go to your Pride event, especially if we had no say in organizing it! What’s more, learn the difference between impact and intent! You might mean well, but we might still be angry! That’s okay! Do the work not for our gratitude, but because you think it’s the right thing to do! 

See you at Pride!

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