Ever since the first Pride protest took place in London in 1972 – 50 years ago – Pride Month has been celebrated annually around the UK throughout June. June was named as Pride Month in the US first, specifically chosen to remember the Stonewall Riots that broke out in New York City in June 1969, after police raided one of the city’s most popular gay clubs.
From city marches to private events, it’s a month dedicated to celebrating the LGBTQ+ community – and celebrations often continue into the summer, with popular Pride events taking place in cities like London, Manchester, Brighton, Birmingham and more! And this year, in celebration of Pride Month, you’ll be able to spot a brand-new commemorative 50p coin in honour of this important milestone.
If you can make it to a Pride event near you this year, we’re sure it’ll be such a special and fun time! But, don’t worry if not. There’s plenty you can do to support and celebrate your peers, friends, family members, co-workers, team mates, flatmates, and even your favourite influencers and celebrities, too. Check out our blog to see how you can be the best ally this Pride Month.
1. Learn about the correct terms and how to use them
As with everything, language is constantly evolving – and it’s important we evolve with it! Be open to new concepts, terms and ideas, and familiarise yourself with the correct vocab you may come across in the news or media, and what can use in your own discussions. Not sure where to start? Check out the Stonewall glossary of terms.
Knowing what pronouns are and why they matter is a huge step in learning how to be the best ally. Introducing yourself using your own pronouns, making them clear in your workplace or displaying them on your social media profile helps society as a whole to destigmatise the use of pronouns – and ensures that people are always referred to using the correct terms.
2. Listen to the LGBTQ+ community
This might seem like a simple one, but often it’s easier said than done. Listening to your LGBTQ+ peers is one of the best ways to learn and understand their experiences. Hearing first hand from those close to you or in your personal life offers a unique experience and may even give you the opportunity to ask questions.
But remember, it’s not anyone else’s responsibility to educate you – a quick Google search has the answer to almost everything you could want to know. Also, it’s important you don’t pressure people to tell their story if they don’t want to. It’s best to let them lead the conversation knowing they have a friend to chat to in a safe space.
It’s also essential that you take real care when it comes to confidentiality and ‘outing’. Be mindful of your words and actions when discussing someone else’s sexuality. If someone comes out to you, check with them about who else knows and if they’re comfortable with you discussing it with others.
And it’s imperative that you don’t pressure someone to come out, or do it for them – you should never out a person to others.
3. Educate yourself on LGBTQ+ history
Earlier, we mentioned a quick overview of the history of Pride Month, so why not take this opportunity to delve a little deeper? There are plenty of sources online that have a host of information with all the important facts and figures to help educate yourself.
Whether its TV shows, movies, books, TED talks, YouTube videos or the news, there’s a selection of platforms and media you can access to inform yourself of important events, historic figures and milestones in LGBTQ+ history.
4. Think of ‘ally’ as an action, not a label
Now more than ever, it’s important to speak up. If you hear people make an offensive or homophobic joke, and it’s safe for you to do so, call them out. In your university, there will be a student support or welfare team that handles complaints like this, and they’re there to support anyone effected by situations like these. Do some research and find out which services you’d need to contact at your uni!
It's also a good idea to avoid assumptions when talking to someone. Though it might feel natural to use ‘he’ or ‘she’ pronouns, or ask someone about their girlfriend or boyfriend, use some more gender-neutral terms, like ‘they’, ‘them’ and ‘partner’.
Remember, you’ll mess up sometimes – we all do! You’re bound to make mistakes sometimes, whether it’s using the wrong pronouns or misgendering or mislabelling someone. Just apologise and ask for guidance.
5. Uplift marginalised voices
Keeping up to date with the news is essential to help us stay aware of a variety of social issues, including those affecting the LGBTQ+ community. Whether you get your news from the paper, the TV or Twitter, there will be conversations going on about all kinds of important topics.
Make sure you seek out these conversations and get involved where and when it feels appropriate – mainly, where you can be a helpful ally. Check out LGBTQ+ news sources for the latest updates, such as UK-based PinkNews.
As mentioned earlier, consuming LGBTQ+ media is a great way to support the community. For example, watch shows that cast gay people as gay characters, read books by queer authors about queer people, and seek out recommendations from queer people.
Lastly, while at university, you might find yourself with spare time to volunteer! Supporting charities is a great way to spend your time and help people, and there are a whole host of LGBTQ+ charities out there that would really appreciate any help you can offer! Get searching to see which charity you resonate with, and seek out any local charities that may help the people in your area directly.
Here at Sanctuary Students, we aim to offer you more than just a room! From well-being support, including our free Student Advice Line, to city guides with recommendations of the best spots to visit in your new city as a student, we want to do everything we can to make your stay with us a great one!
What’s more, we host the Sanctuary Students Big Night In – yet another excuse to have some fun with your flatmates! Enjoy some light competition and take part to bake or create something special. In the past, we’ve provided baking kits for Valentine’s Day truffles and hot cross buns at Easter, and very soon, we’ll share the 2022 Pride Month Big Night In too! Watch this space…