6 Things to Do Besides #PrayforOrlando
Advice from LGBTQIA people for straight allies
We awoke to horrifying news today. #PrayforOrlando trended across social media. Peak hypocrisy was achieved before 8 AM:
Prayer, for the faithful, is an appropriate first reaction to this act of domestic terrorism. But it’s not an appropriate only response.
I asked friends for one concrete thing straight people can do today to end hate crimes and homophobia. Here are their responses, in their own voices.
1. Use Your Privilege Effectively
Straight people need to use their privilege to call out homophobia at every opportunity, especially in spaces where there are no queer people. Too often, I only see straight people be allies amongst the queer community but they don’t say shit when their straight friends make homophobic or transphobic remarks or jokes on social media. Allyship doesn’t take a break when you’re no longer around queer people. You’re either an ally 100% of the time or not at all.
— Ashley Moon (she/her) @lunarfleece
Stand up when someone makes a joke. It’s that easy. Don’t let people misgender. Don’t let people slut shame. Don’t let people use slurs. Correct and let them know it’s not ok. End of story.
— Kira Alex (she/her) @ladylimps
Use your own privilege to clear space for queer and trans folks to speak and act.
Donate to the survivors, share how to help, and absolutely do not be silent when someone posts or says something homophobic or transphobic, whether it was meant as a joke or truly with malicious intent. Kick those people out of your life, personally and professionally. Make it known that oppression will not stand, in any capacity, ever.
— Amanda Summers (they/their)
2. Learn Thoughtfully and Ask Questions
Make no mistake: we encourage actions like the terror in Orlando when we say “faggot,” demonize gay people, spread misinformation, or otherwise create situations to make a certain group feel unsafe. Our own prejudice validates those who want to harm and gives them confidence. We need to think, every moment, about how we can bring more people closer together; not about how we can elevate ourselves above at-risk groups. My advice? Go online and search. Read people’s stories. But, above all, ask questions. Be curious, not afraid.
Always be a student: observe, absorb, and apply (but don’t demand that marginalized people teach you everything). share what you learn with your community — don’t let hatred go unchecked.
3. Ask How You Can Do Better
Start reaching out to LGBT people in any community that you share with them to find out what their specific needs are. This could mean anything from people you work with, your audience or customer base, your patrons, your family, a group you’re in — basically anywhere you have a functional relationship with others. Find out how you can do better. Don’t wait until there’s a problem. No one likes being the squeaky wheel, but waiting until it’s too late doesn’t help anyone.
4. Follow the Lead of Queer & Trans People
Right now, the number one thing from straight people to end homophobia is to stop being passive. If they are really our allies, share our voices and our experiences and effectively fight oppression and violence along side us. Today and any day, not just when we get attacked, share our social media posts, the angry ones the sad ones whatever ones, but keep it in our voices as this affects the LGBTQIA community, not the straight allies. Don’t tone police and don’t tell us to calm down.
— Amanda Summers (they/their)
Allow queer folks space to grieve and take care of ourselves in the ways that we see best. Follow queer folks’ lead on what needs to be done. If it’s unclear, check with local queer organizers. Have something specific in mind that you can offer (e.g., free space rental, supplies, skills, money for events, etc.) but also take time to LISTEN to people’s needs and desires.
5. Don’t Prop Up Xenophobia on the Backs of Queer People
The worst mass shooting in US history was a homophobic attack on a gay club hosting a Latinx themed event. That matters. And every pol or pundit abashedly erasing that is part of the problem; one of the many forces that put those guns in the killer’s hands. The killer’s ancestry matters less than how his homophobic outrage could easily have been spoken by anyone regardless of race or religion. His “disgust” at the sight of men kissing? Same reaction that white Christians have used to legislate against us, destroying lives. The same “disgust” that many of them want to enshrine as a basis of law that treats us as second class citizens. That they would kill us slowly with more genteel methods that deny us liberty, or force us to kill ourselves, doesn’t make them better. I will not be used as a weapon against my Muslim sisters, brothers, and siblings.
5. Men: Don’t Reduce Queer Women to Sex Advisors
Straight dudes: queer/bi/lesbian women are not here to help you get laid. Stop looking to us as ‘vagina whisperers’. Every woman is different, so I can’t really offer any real insight to your situation without generalizing. And nobody likes that. So talk to her (the girl you like). Not me.
— Adrienne C. Gomez (she/her) @adriennecgomez
6. Support Grassroots Progressive Candidates
Come election time, don’t forget us, be involved with grassroots local progressive candidates. Get these hate speech spewing regressive bigots out of power immediately. Speak loud and often against them and show them for what they are, harmful socially and economically for all minority groups. Get involved with your school districts to improve education, especially sex ed, history, and diversity education. Get to know those campaigns locally which will allow children to know and understand each other so the next generation can do better and work tirelessly on progressive measures.
— Amanda Summers (they/their)
7. Take Care of Yourself, Too
Stay in tune with your own feelings about this situation and take care of yourself, too. Take time to investigate any negative reactions/responses that arise for you and work that out with a good therapist or advisor.