Every year as June rolls around we see rainbow flags go up all over social media as the world expresses solidarity with the LGBTQIA+ community, and celebrates Pride Month. While these gestures of goodwill mean the world to queer folk around you, and let them know that you stand with them, there’s a lot more that goes into being a true ally. In simpler terms – someone that truly supports the queer community and advocates for their rights. Here’s how to be the best ally you can be as part of the wedding community, this Pride Month:
Amidst the celebrations and the sea of rainbow-coloured motifs it’s easy to forget that Pride is first and foremost a protest. It began with the Stonewall Uprising in June 1969 in New York City in response to a police raid on a gay bar. These riots are widely considered the birth of the gay liberation movement in the West. While India as a country has taken small steps forward in the fight for equality, it’s important to remember we have a long way to go, especially on the road to marriage equality.
The biggest impediments to the LGBTQIA+ cause are stigma and bigotry. There is no better way to be a true ally than to educate people around you on queer issues. Instill compassion in those around you for a bitterly marginalised community – colourful and creative people that have been side-lined because they have been misunderstood. Speak up when your friends, family or colleagues make homophobic remarks or discriminate against someone due to their sexual orientation or gender expression, and if you can, use your social media platforms to speak out as well. Your LGBTQIA+ friends will thank you.
Pinkwashing is a term used to describe strategies used by large corporations and governments to appear “gay friendly” just to be perceived as progressive or to benefit off the community. It is important, at a time like this to discern which organisations and causes are genuinely queer friendly and which ones are just using gay rights as a platform for personal gain whilst promoting anti-gay rhetoric within their walls. While this might be a hard question to ask yourself, take accountability for practices that may lean towards pinkwashing and adopt a more holistic approach to allyship. If you are running sales during Pride or speaking in favour of the LGBTQIA+ community online as a brand, make sure that you are speaking as loudly within your office walls too.
The importance of empathising with queer folk around you can never be understated. Most members of the LGBTQIA+ community in our country have been marginalised and discriminated against for most of their lives, and getting married is very difficult ini many ways for folks that come from homophobic families. Understand where they’re coming from and extend a listening ear and a helping hand wherever possible – it will mean more than any physical token of your solidarity. If you are planning a LGBTQ wedding, educate yourself on queer issues. Do not transfer the onus of educating you onto the queer folk around you.
Representation means the world. We’ve seen this time and time again. Normalising LGBTQIA+ weddings is incomplete without seeing them well-represented on social media. Doing your bit as an ally in the wedding industry involves actively creating and promoting queer content across platforms available to you. Awareness is the only way to win the uphill battle we are currently fighting for equality – which means shining the spotlight on LGBTQIA+ marriages year round.
On that note, remember that being an ally does not end as soon as the calendar changes to July! Being an ally to the queer folk around you is a full-time job. Queer issues do not resolve themselves after Pride month. Extend your kinship, compassion and understanding to those around you yearlong. It’s the only way to be an ally in the fullest sense of the word.
Pride is a beautiful celebration of being true to one’s identity and a time to remember that love is just love after all – in any form. Every June, queer folk use this visibility and their platforms to be a little extra out, extra loud and entirely authentic to their identities. To be unapologetically themselves. Support not only your queer friends and family year-round but extend this kindness to everyone around you. Your allyship makes this world a kinder place for all of us.