We all need allies. Through the years, our heterosexual and cisgender allies have shown tremendous support to LGBTQ+ family members, friends and colleagues, helped to raise visibility and worked tirelessly alongside us to create vital political change. We are a family, and allies are an indispensable component of that supportive group.
During Pride, we know that many of our siblings, parents, neighbors and coworkers will be marching along with us, so we put together some tips for allies to help acquaint them with some of the best practices and etiquette, ensuring the LGBTQ+ community feels safe and respected during these celebrations.
1. Know your history
The NYC LGBT Pride March often looks like a big celebratory party. But understand this is much more than a parade: it symbolizes the struggles the LGBTQ+ community has endured and the hard-won progress it has spent years fighting for. The modern gay rights movement began as street protests in 1969 after police raided the now famous Stonewall Inn. The riots that followed lasted for days, and the March—the first of which was held a year after the Stonewall raid—continues to commemorate that uprising.
2. Be respectful
To call yourself an ally means you respect gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people of all races, sizes and expressions, so please refrain from gawking or making fun of people. Remember these celebrations are safe places for LGBTQ+ people and you may see them expressing themselves in unique and sometimes unconventional ways. As an ally, keep that in mind and help make them feel comfortable.
3. Be ready to get some attention
If you’re a straight boy in a gay bar in a gayborhood during Gay Pride, you need to be prepared to get hit on. For many in the LGBTQ+ community, bars and clubs have traditionally been the only safe places to meet and match. So if it happens, don’t be surprised—just take the compliment and avoid reacting rudely or with disruptive behavior.
4. Post with caution
There will be an endless stream of Instagram-worthy photos during Pride festivities: outrageous drag queens and kings, and maybe even a City council member or two. The streets, the bars and the parties you experience are all safe places, but the wide-open world of social media may not be. Some of these LGBTQ+ folks may not be out to their family members or colleagues, and given the international allure of the March, some gay people may be from countries where it is still illegal to be gay. So please ask permission before you post someone’s photo on the Internet.
5. Use proper pronouns
Being an ally means respecting pronouns, titles and names. We don’t expect you to know every term, so it’s totally OK (and welcome) to simply ask a person which pronoun(s) to use if you aren’t sure. You can also use gender-neutral terms (like “they,” “them” or “their”) to avoid mis-gendering somebody.
6. Don’t take over
Pride is a protest and a celebration with political and human rights themes. While we love celebrating alongside heterosexual and cisgender allies, it’s important to remember that first and foremost this is an event for the LGBTQ+ community to feel safe and have fun. Don’t crash the party—join in.
7. Tip well and donate
Lately, many lesbian and gay bars are struggling, and community organizations are receiving less support and funding—especially now as the political landscape has shifted. So if you dance in our clubs, drink in our bars and participate in our queerness, tipping and donating to keep those spaces open and thriving is greatly appreciated. Giving back to the community is one of the best ways you can help sustain it for future generations.