Author’s note: This article is adapted from my forthcoming book, Network Beyond Bias.
June is “LGBT Pride Month” for the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) community. Every June, we honor the bravery of Stonewall Inn patrons in 1969, who stood up for their rights against all odds. This act of rebellion, of not staying in the shadows, of refusing to be arrested and beaten one more time, is often cited as the beginning of the Gay Civil Rights Movement.
Learn about LGBT Pride Month
If you don’t know the history of the Stonewall Uprising, I suggest PBS’s American Experience documentary on this topic. It is a well-researched, carefully crafted, and beautifully told collection of first-hand accounts. You can stream this video for FREE on PBS.org
Being an Ally Starts with Understanding
Honor the struggles and triumphs of the LGBT community. Start by educating yourself. Then, ask how you can be an ally.
- Do you know what transgender, genderfluid, queer, non-binary, cisgender, heterosexual, asexual, bisexual, gender nonconforming mean? Check out The ABCs of LGBT+ by Ashley Mardell. You can also google unfamiliar terms and concepts.
- Above all, avoid language that has been used to denigrate LGBT people in the past. When in doubt, ask.
- Listen to the personal stories of LGBT friends, family members, or total strangers. Listen without judging. Saying “I can’t believe that happened to you” conveys empathy. Saying “I don’t believe that happened to you” conveys disrespect.
- Print out and reference Catalyst’s “Flip the Script” guide . This guide will help you improve your workplace’s culture for Lesbian, Gay, and Bisexual coworkers
- Read books by LGBT authors or books about important LGBT leaders.
- An Underground Life: Memoirs of a Gay Jew in Nazi Berlin by Gad Beck
- Like Me: Confessions of a Heartland Country Singer by Chely Wright
- Becoming Nicole: The Transformation of an American Family by Amy Ellis Nutt
- She’s Not There: A Life in Two Genders by Jennifer Finney Boylan
- Borrowed Time: An AIDS Memoir by Paul Monette
- Bettyville: A Memoir by George Hodgman
- The Mayor of Castro Street: The Life and Times of Harvey Milk by Randy Shilts
- Alan Turing: The Enigma by Andrew Hodges
Recommended Reading: LGBT History and Memoirs
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