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As the month of June continues and we move closer to the end of the ‘Pride Month’ we must remind each other that celebrating gender and love with the LGBTQ community sure is a special month that recognises the impact and affirmations of the community – but it doesn’t start and end with a month alone. 

After the much awaited decisions, scrapping of section 377 in September 2018 saw a major shift in perspective of our society, with many people getting and giving more support from outside the ‘community’ as well. Social Media sure has stimulated a lot of conversations and has been a great tool in spreading awareness, catering to curious questions and busting misunderstandings around the subject. 

It’s heartening to see more people inspired and coming forward and opening up to these conversations. Workplaces are trying to establish Diversity and Inclusion Cells that take care of the diverse needs of the community which encourages a work-friendly and inclusive environment for them. In a recent judgement involving a same-sex marriage in Tamil Nadu, the judge took a step ahead and enrolled himself for a counselling session with a councillor who had expertise on LGBTQ issues. By doing so, he wanted to break his own preconceived notion. And that sets such a great example when leaders acknowledge they need to unlearn and re-learn before making judgments that would affect the lives of others they don’t understand.

While it is still in discourse, we have a long way to go when it comes to being a good ally. Needless to say that it doesn’t begin and end with just holding a flag or walking at the parade or changing display pictures into rainbow filters. All that is welcomed but working towards equality consciously at every step of the way is a big part of this behavioural change movement. 

Here’s a guide for anyone who wants to be a better ally and who better than the community itself to guide us! Welcome to ‘HOW TO BE BETTER ALLY 101’
Not just this Pride Month!

01. Educate And Ask

To begin with, ‘make a habit of asking for pronouns and use the correct pronouns’, adds
Shashwat (pronouns – he/him, gay) 

The smallest of things that can help lower the barriers, for instance asking for someone’s preferred pronouns. We see people putting up their pronouns in their Instagram bios these days. This not only tells us about their pronouns but also doubles as a safe space for the community. One of the easiest ways to be more inclusive is through pronouns. Pronouns are personal and should be respected.

02. Unlearn, Educate and Learn Again

Sachin suggests you ‘use your privilege and educate yourself. We as a community cannot possibly carry the emotional baggage of educating everyone. Fortunately, everything is one click away on the internet today!’

One can’t deny the fact that we have been brought up with a certain societal conditioning and in a heteronormative environment. As an ally, we must be open to unlearning and then re-learning. Be ready for some uncomfortable conversations with an open mind. Educate yourself and then engage with the community. A small step that we can take is to ask educated questions. Acknowledge your own privilege and use it in a good way. 

03. Amplify The Unheard Voices

‘It’s our fight. You can be a part of it but please know that queer spaces are not your one stop shop to collect activism points, and to put up a display of how much theory you have read. Don’t hijack our spaces, instead you can use your own ground to spread awareness and information.’ Ketaki Thakur, She/They, Queer 

Take a step back and listen. Be a witness to their narratives and try to understand their standpoint. Also use your platform to make the unheard voices of the marginalised, reach better. But make sure you are not occupying their spaces. You can talk for them but within a certain boundary and not from their position.

04. Initiate Such Uncomfortable Conversation

‘Please acknowledge that there is internalised homophobia and transphobia that widely exists. We all have been conditioned a certain way, but you must keep trying to unlearn it. Acknowledging it is the first step.’ Rio, he/they, non-binary queer

As cliche it may sound, but communication is the key to initiate those uncomfortable conversations in and around your circle. Talk about the deeply ingrained homophobia. Make these conversations open to children as well. Correct people if they are ever discriminatory or insensitive towards the community.

05. Be Generous And Donate

‘If you are financially stable, come forward and donate to LGBTQIA+ shelters and fundraisers for queer people and trans people. There are many of us who have either escaped abusive households or run away for our safety. That support would actually be of help to begin our lives again.’ 

You can take your online activism a step forward by donations. A lot of people from the community are ostracised by their families followed by mental and physical harassment by the people. At the same time, when it comes to job opportunities for them they are again pushed to the margins. Apart from donations, you can always find NGOs to volunteer with and support the cause in a better way.

06. Encourage Inclusivity in Every Way Possible

When we talk about inclusivity, we can always advocate for inclusive policies at the workplace. For instance, while we as an ally are privileged, there are many from the community who face discrimination and have lost their jobs due to the bias. Just being a better human being and not ‘other’ing them can go a long way. All we need to do is just be more human towards others. As it is rightly said,

“Treat others the way you want to be treated”. ‘Do better, for the sake of everyone around you.’ Adds Adarsh (he/them), raging genderfluid bisexual.

07. Lastly, allyship is not a service. It isn’t a favour to the community. To be an ally is a lifestyle. It is this way because nobody other than an individual can decide what labels they want to live their life by. Being queer is not something set in stone. It’s your identity, therefore it’s your choice, and to be an ally is to be open to this idea of freedom of being. At the end of the day, allyship is basically just being a decent human being. Basic decency towards human beings is not a difficult thing to do, and in the end, you will be better. 

There is a difference between being “okay” with the LGBTQIA+ community and being an ally. The latter comes with a sense of conscious responsibility. We must learn that difference before anything. All we need to do is evolve. Reach out with an open mind and a desire to learn. The process might be slow but as an ally you can play a critical role in strengthening LGBTQ+ identities by questioning the patriarchal norms that make way to a gender neutral environment.

Let’s make this world more inclusive by being more mindful and kind.

Written By Prachi Karnawat
Image created By Fathima Dhiya ft. Pattachitra Art
Crowdsourced From Some Beautiful People Representing The LGBTQ Community.

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