As Pride month fast approaches, we need to think about how we can best support and celebrate the LGBTQ+ community as allies. Before we discuss what allies can do, it is helpful to define what an ally is. An “ally” is defined as someone who supports a group that is commonly the subject of discrimination or prejudice, but who is not a member of that group. More specifically in LGBTQ+ terms, an ally is a straight/ heterosexual and cisgender person who supports equal civil rights, gender equality, and LGBTQ+ social movements, challenging homophobia, biphobia, and transphobia. An ally uses their position of privilege in a majority group to support the LGBTQ+ community and advocate for equality. Below is a list of things you can do to be an ally to the LGBTQ+ community in Scituate and beyond.
1. LISTEN Listen to what people in the LGBTQ+ community are saying. It’s not about you, your feelings, or opinions— it’s about theirs. If someone trusts you enough to come out to you, listen to how they are feeling and consider what they are going through, instead of focusing on how their honesty makes YOU feel.
2. GET EDUCATED It is not up to the LGBTQ+ community to educate you. Seek out books, articles, and social media that can educate you on LGBTQ+ issues. Questions are okay most of the time, but recognize when you need to do the work yourself. If being supportive matters to you, then you can make an effort to learn more on your own.
3. GET INVOLVED Join local groups that are working for social justice for the LGBTQ+ community. Subscribe to email lists and follow them on social media so you are aware of current issues and how you can be involved in the answer. Scituate Pride is one local organization that is actively supporting the LGBTQ+ community (www.scituatepride.com) and the UCC Open and Affirming Coalition is another organization addressing LGBTQ+ issues and helping churches become Open and Affirming (ONA) (www.openandaffirming.org).
4. SHOW UP When there are events that support or educate about LGBTQ+ issues, or you are invited to an event by an LGBTQ+ member, show up and give your support. These events are an important way to support the efforts of the LGBTQ+ community and show others that LGBTQ+ issues matter to you.
5. SPEAK UP When a friend, family member, or stranger says something hateful or ignorant, call them out on it. Silence allows oppression to continue. Speak in support of the LGBTQ+ community, but don’t speak over them. Transfer the benefits of your privilege to those who lack it, and let their voice be the one heard.
6. INTERVENE When someone is being targeted, either physically or verbally, intervene only with their permission. Focus on supporting them rather than engaging the aggressor. Be prepared to stand with them, but only if that is what they want.
7. WELCOME DISCOMFORT When you encounter something that makes you uncomfortable, don't dismiss it. Sit with it, and ask yourself 'why?' and welcome it as an opportunity to grow.
8. LEARN FROM YOUR MISTAKES You will make mistakes. When someone calls you out, do not get defensive. Listen, apologize and change your behavior going forward. Learn how to accept criticism with grace, even if it’s uncomfortable. A good response is always "Thanks for letting me know." There is no room here for embarrassment or ego.
9. STAY ENGAGED Even when the work gets difficult, stay engaged. Oppression is constant, and marginalized people do not get the privilege of "turning off." Marginalized communities are those who are targeted by oppression, including but not limited to people of color, Muslims, immigrants, LGBTQ+ people, women and people with disabilities.
10. DONATE Commit to financially support a local organization doing LGBTQ+ social justice work in the community. If you are interested in making a donation for Pride month, you might consider either Scituate Pride or the UCC ONA Coalition as previously mentioned, or the Trevor Project, which is the leading national organization providing crisis intervention and suicide prevention services to LGBTQ+ young people under 25 (www.thetrevorproject.org).
Adapted from "10 Things Allies Can Do" by the YWCA, with information from the following resources: The Guide to Allyship (www.guidetoallyship.com), How to be an LGBTQ Ally (www.nextavenue.org), Being an Ally 101 (www.theodysseyonline.com), and 6 Ways to Respectfully be a Better LGBTQ Ally (www.oprahdaily.com).
We, the people of First Trinitarian Congregational Church, UCC, of Scituate, declare ourselves to be Open and Affirming. With God’s grace, we seek to be a congregation that includes all persons, embracing differences of sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, marital status, age, mental and physical ability, as well as racial, ethnic, and socio-economic background. We invite all to share in the full life and ministry of our church, including: worship, sacraments, rites, covenants, fellowship, leadership, employment, commitments, blessings and joy. Whoever you are and wherever you are on life’s journey, you are welcome here.