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A Common Sense Guide For the Curious
If you’re reading this, there’s a strong chance you belong, or know someone who belongs to the LGBTQ+ community. Many of the people who sport Dapper Boi clothing belong to the community. We belong to the community.
And so, in honor of Pride month, we figured we’d write this guide on how to be an LGBTQ+ ally. Not just because we want to see our community thrive, of course we do. But also, because our mission as a company includes the lofty goal of revolutionizing gender binary norms through apparel. We make clothing for people. Regardless of which community they belong to.
We know this isn’t the most popular opinion right now, but we want to get to a place where we stop grouping each other into categories. Where we don’t just belong to gay or straight or trans communities. We belong to the human community. A community where we aren’t necessarily defined by what we are as a group. We’re defined by who we are as an individual.
But of course, that all starts with understanding. An understanding of which communities need help right now, and which don’t. An understanding that sexual orientation or skin color or gender can have grave impact on how you are treated in society, but it shouldn’t. Until that day comes, the best thing you can do is support the cause. The best thing you can do is be an ally. Here’s how.
This is one of the easiest and most crucial ways of being supportive to your LGBTQ+ friend or loved one. You cannot help solve issues you know nothing about. It sounds obvious, but just listening to an LGBTQ+ person’s stories or struggles is a big step towards greater understanding.
After that, you can take it upon yourself to learn the proper terminology, LGBTQ+ history, and the current problems facing the community. And yes, your friend or loved one may be open to answering certain informed questions, but be mindful that some topics may be difficult to discuss. Luckily, we have the internet.
As you become better acquainted with the LGBTQ+ community, it can be helpful to remind yourself that what may seem “strange” to you, is someone else’s normal. The best way to learn is to keep an open mind when confronted with something you don’t quite understand. That includes not making assumptions.
You will almost certainly make mistakes along the way. In many instances, allyship is more about the mistakes you make than the things you do right. It’s about how you address those mistakes moving forward. Nobody’s perfect, but we can all grow.
It’s unrealistic (and unfair) for your LGBTQ+ friend or loved one to expect you to fully understand what it means to be an ally right off the bat. Just as it’s unfair for you to expect them to answer all your questions, even the painful ones. Still, the best thing you can do is just be honest.
If a topic or action confuses you, don’t be afraid to talk about it. Understanding is the product of communication. As long as you are respectful, discussing difficult topics isn’t just ok, it’s crucial. And remember, the occasional disagreement is normal, healthy, and one of the pillars of knowledge.
Allyships work in war because a united front is powerful. When someone says something derogatory towards the LGBTQ+ community behind closed doors, and you say nothing, that united front vanishes. Sure, it can be awkward to speak out when someone says something offensive. But it can also educate, give others the courage to speak up, and change that person’s future behavior.
This is a tough one for a lot of people. But, being a strong ally means confronting your own bias, assumptions, and stereotypes you didn’t know you have. Self-examination, from the jokes you make to the language you use, is key to becoming a better ally. You have to be open to the idea that you may be wrong, and willing to improve.
This also extends to the things you don’t ever have to think or worry about based on your skin color, sexual orientation, gender, etc. It’s hard to fully understand the realities of someone’s situation without walking a day in their shoes. Instead, understand you may have societal advantages they don’t. And start thinking of how you could use those advantages to create a more equal society.
Bringing awareness to LGBTQ+ issues through social media is great. But at the end of the day, recognize that actions speak louder than words. Instead of broadcasting support, go out into the world and be actively supportive.
Join a march. Donate to an LGBTQ+ non-profit (if you have the money). Volunteer with local organizations. Simply put, be the change you want to see in the world.
Children are a blank slate. They aren’t born with bias or prejudice or hate in their heart. Often times they learn it through their parents. Sometimes, it stems from pressure to “fit in” at school. And while teaching your child it’s OK to be different seems obvious, it’s still not ubiquitous. If we’d like a better future for our children, we have to teach them how to be better.
Speak out against LGBTQ+ discrimination and prejudice when it is necessary. But remember to let those in the community take the lead. Remember it is their voices that need to be heard when it comes to their issues. Again, this is all about understanding and providing support. Just do your best and be mindful of what community leaders are saying.