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Pride 2024: The Importance of Allyship in the LGBTQ+ Community

Pride Month (June) is a time for LGBTQ+ people, communities and organizations to come together to celebrate accomplishments and raise awareness of issues that still affect the community today.

As we enter Pride Month you may be wondering how you can be a better ally. Maybe you have friends or coworkers that identify as LGBTQ+ or maybe you’re reading this because someone close to you recently came out. Regardless of your reason, you’ve come to the right place. The first step to becoming a better ally is to understand the differences within the LGBTQ+ community. 

What does LGBTQ+ stand for?

LGBTQ+ stands for “lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer and more. Many people and organizations use “LGBTQ+” as a catch-all term for the non-cisgender and non-straight community, but the acronym varies depending on culture and style¹ Everyone’s journey is unique, therefore you shouldn’t make assumptions about how someone defines themselves.

A Breakdown of Definitions: What the Letters Stand For (According to the HRC)

Lesbian: A woman who is emotionally, romantically or sexually attracted to other women. Women and non-binary people may use this term to describe themselves.

Gay: A person who is emotionally, romantically or sexually attracted to members of the same gender. Men, women and non-binary people may use this term to describe themselves.

Bisexual: A person emotionally, romantically or sexually attracted to more than one sex, gender or gender identity, though not necessarily simultaneously, in the same way or to the same degree.

Transgender: An umbrella term for people whose gender identity and/or expression is different from cultural expectations based on the sex they were assigned at birth. Being transgender does not imply any specific sexual orientation; transgender people may identify as straight, gay, lesbian, bisexual, etc.

Queer: Queer has many meanings. For some people, “queer” is a general catch-all/ umbrella term, used as a shorthand to capture all non-heterosexual sexual identities, and/or non-cisgender gender identities. For other people, queer may reflect their sexual orientation, leading them to identify as queer as opposed to lesbian, or bisexual, or something else; for them, queer often reflects those who are attracted to/partner with people who are transgender, non-binary, or gender-expansive. Still others may use queer to define themselves as a reflection of their own non-binary or gender-expansive identities. This term was previously used as a slur, but has been reclaimed by many parts of the LGBTQ+ movement.

Sex assigned at birth: A person’s sex assigned at birth, usually male or female, is the designation that a doctor or midwife uses to describe a child at birth based on their external anatomy. Since this sex assignment occurs in infancy, and is decided by doctors and midwives rather than the person it applies to, it may not reflect a person’s own understanding of their gender, their gender identity or their sex as they grow and mature.

Non-binary: Describes a person who does not identify exclusively as a man or a woman. A non-binary person may identify as being both a man and a woman, somewhere in between, or completely outside these categories. While many non-binary people also identify as transgender, not all do. Non-binary can also be used as an umbrella term encompassing identities such as agender, bigender, genderqueer or gender-fluid.

Intersex: Intersex people are born with a variety of differences in their sex traits and reproductive anatomy. There is a wide variety of differences among intersex variations, including differences in genitalia, chromosomes, gonads, internal sex organs, hormone production, hormone response, and/or secondary sex traits.

Asexual: Often called “ace” for short, asexual refers to a complete or partial lack of sexual attraction or lack of interest in sexual activity with others. Asexuality exists on a spectrum, and asexual people may experience no, little or conditional sexual attraction.

Cisgender: A term used to describe a person whose gender identity aligns with the sex recorded for them at birth.

Educate Yourself

Google is a great place to start, but be mindful that it doesn’t always present the most accurate information. When you are looking online, be sure that you’re looking at reputable, trustworthy sources, like the ones cited at the end of this blog. Learning from podcasts, books, television and other forms of media is helpful but it’s important to spend time with those in the community who are affected and hear from them first hand.  

Empathy is important when you are listening as an ally. Listening with the intent to digest and understand what the other person is saying is key. It’s important to fully take in what the other person is saying despite your own personal beliefs or perspectives. Acknowledge that what the other person is saying is of importance and interest. It’s ok to ask questions, but do so from a sensitive place and a genuine wanting to understand. 

Allyship should come from a place of support, authenticity, and education. The more educated you become on a subject and advocate for that community, you have the ability to share that with the people around you and the ones you love. Having a compassionate perspective regarding love in the world and its ability to bring two people together no matter their race, religion or sexual orientation is impactful to share. 

Understand Your Priviledge 

Having privilege means having certain advantages that others might not. Many of us possess some form of privilege, whether it's related to race, gender, education, or being cisgender or straight. It can be challenging to fully grasp what privilege entails without experiencing the lack of it personally. Sometimes, people may not realize their own privilege until it is pointed out or discussed. 

For example, according to the National Center for Gender Equality, 1 in 4 transgender people have lost a job due to bias, and 3 in 4 have experienced workplace discrimination.² A cis white male would not have to worry about experiencing workplace discrimination based on gender or sexual orientation.  

Discrimination doesn’t just happen in the workplace, it can happen in other settings too like healthcare. 

And according to independent KFF polling³: LGBTQ+ people are more likely to report the following healthcare providers' experiences compared to non-LGBTQ+ people. The following had a healthcare provider: 

● Not believe they were telling the truth (16% v. 8%)

● Suggest they were personally to blame for a health problem (13% v. 8%)

● Assume something about them without asking (21% v. 11%)

● Dismiss their concerns (29% v. 16%)

Altogether, over one-third (36%) of LGBTQ+ people reported at least one of these negative experiences with a provider, compared to fewer than one in five (22%) non-LGBTQ+ people.³ This is not to say that non-LGBTQ+ do not have poor experiences in the workplace or health care issues. It shows that LGBTQ+ individuals experience this more frequently. 

Show Up and Speak Out

Establish and build relationships with all people: People from all cultures, ethnicities, races, sexual orientations have something special to bring to the table. Everyone has a different experience in life that we can learn from. 

Explore and learn about other people’s traditions and cultures: By learning more about the differences, you learn just as much about the similarities that bring us together.  

Check your own prejudices: We all consume so many different messages from mainstream media, television and more. There’s loads of misinformation out there. Check in with yourself.  

Create Safe Spaces: Foster inclusive environments at home, work, and social settings where LGBTQ+ individuals feel safe and welcome. 

Educate Others: Share what you’ve learned about LGBTQ+ issues with friends, family, and colleagues. 

Donate: Contribute to LGBTQ+ organizations and causes that work towards equality and support. 

Respect Pronouns: Always use and respect individuals' chosen pronouns. 

Voice your support: Stand up for injustices and prejudices when you see them. Participate in community events like Pride parades.  

As We Lead Into Pride Month:

Pride Month is a time for celebration, but also a time to raise awareness of how far we still need to go for equality. In more recent years, LGBTQ+ rights have come under extreme attack.  

In 2023, over 510 anti-LGBTQ+ bills were introduced into state legislatures across the U.S, that’s nearly 3x the number introduced in 2022. There has also been a shift toward new categories of bills. Just as states followed Florida’s bill that opponents labeled “Don’t Say Gay” — which restricts in-school discussions about sexual orientation or gender identity — several joined Tennessee in proposing bills that would ban drag performances. 

The power of allyship is more important than ever. Each voice adds to a vibrant, united community that can create lasting, positive change. 


1.  HRC - How To Be A Better Ally 

2.  National Center for Transgender Equality 

3.  LGBTQ+ Peoples Health and Experiencing Care (KFF Report 2021) 

4.  CNN: Record Number of Anti-LGBTQ+ Bills Introduced in 2023