This Pride Month Be a Better Ally

Daniel J. Downer
4 min readJun 2, 2023
Black, queer, and part of Boston’s history. Credit: The History Project

In a time when communities nationwide are experiencing an onslaught of homophobia, inequality, racism, transphobia, and other forms of dehumanization it is crucial more than ever before for some of us to transform our allyship from “performative allyship” — or passive displays of support primarily focused on ourselves to intentional demonstrations of solidarity and support of others. Pride Month is the perfect time to start (or continue) bringing justice and love to LGBTQ+ folk of all diversities.

First, identify your privileges and how you have benefited from them. If you are unaware of what those privileges are, Buzzfeed has a checklist that can help you measure how much privilege you may or may not, live with. Sylvia Duckworth’s illustration of the Wheel of Power/Privilege can also help you get a more intricate visualization of how your privileges bring you closer to the center of power while pushing those less privileged further from power. Until you recognize the imbalance of power between your privileges and those who are less privileged, you can never truly be an ally.

Intersectionality: Wheel of Privilege (as observed in the USA). Adapted from Sylvia Duckworth, Canadian Council for Refugees, and Olena Hankivsky, Ph.D.

Second, use your privilege to elevate AAPI, Black, disabled, female, Indigenous, and LGBTQ+ folk of all diversities. Once you become aware of the imbalances of power, using your voice (and your privilege) to bring attention to and raise awareness of, how people are being oppressed is crucial for the forward movement of equality.

It is not enough to love quietly behind closed doors. Anti-Trans legislation is sweeping throughout the nation. Discrimination and racism have made it extremely unsafe for many Black and Indigenous folk. Queer and Trans folk are dying at the hands of bad theology, bigotry, fear, and ignorance. You have to speak up and speak out to stop this. That means speaking out in person when someone says something unjust — including those closest to us whether it be associates, acquaintances, colleagues, family members, friends, or significant other.

To remain silent implies apathy and consent. You can not remain neutral (silent) and call yourself an ally.

Black Lives Matter protest. Credit: Jason Hargrove.

Third, put your money where your mouth is. Caring about justice and equality means you must reflect that care in every aspect of your life. Words of love and support mean nothing if you continue to fuel the problems of injustice with your finances.

Think differently about where you spend your money and what kind of policies and systems are being perpetuated with that money. Giving or spending money at businesses or institutions that support anti-LGBTQ+ policies, support conversion therapy, do not have explicit anti-discrimination statements, or are ambiguous regarding their stance on social justice continues to perpetuate a society of discrimination, hate, and inequality.

If you claim to support the LGBTQ+ community but continue to invest your money in ways that directly harm or limit our access to equality, then you are still living within your privilege, without thinking about those who live without it.

Protests against rainbow capitalism during Dublin Pride 2016. Credit: Aloyisius

Fourth, listen to the voices of the community. A lot can be learned by simply listening.

Transgender rights activists protest the recent killings of three transgender women, Muhlaysia Booker, Claire Legato, and Michelle Washington, during a rally at Washington Square Park in New York, May 24, 2019. Credit: Demetrius Freeman/Reuters

Challenge yourself to listen and seek to understand. Listen to the voices that are the most deeply impacted and affected by being a part of the minority. Educating yourself is a simple but powerful way of showing you care. And having a willingness to learn and grow is perhaps the greatest form of empathy.

You will inevitably make mistakes along the way. But if and when that happens, remain humble. Apologizing for your mistakes (without trying to justify why you made them) and simply listening to how you can do better next time is what makes a strong ally.

When you lay down your pride, use your privilege to elevate the voices of those oppressed, and have the integrity to stand by what you say, you help create a better, safer, and more loving place for everyone to live and thrive including LGBTQ+ folk of all diversities.

--

--

Daniel J. Downer

Champion for Black Queer rights, co-founder of the Black Boardroom Leadership Institute, and DEIB Consultant.