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Low Angle View Of Rainbow Flag At Brandenburg Gate Against Sky

Source: Frederike Wunsch / EyeEm / Getty

Saturday was the beginning of Pride, a month set aside to celebrate the LGBTQIA+ community and ensure that it knows they are respected, wanted and honored in our city or town. Because, while significant gains have been made to legally and socially support the community, there is still an extraordinary amount of work to do. At this writing, the ACLU is tracking some 515 anti-LGBTQIA+ pieces of legislation across the U.S. And for Black members of the community, the harm is multiplied and disproportionate, probably nowhere more so than among Black transgender women, the National Institute of Health reported. These are our friends, family and members of our community who “live at the intersection of racial and gender minoritized statuses.” Bigotry and white supremacy have ensured that too many of our children are born tied to the active railroad tracks. 

By 2021, Black transgender people were being killed at record-setting rates.

Similarly, the Williams Institute at UCLA School of Law reported that some 1.2 million people in America identify both as Black and LGBTQIA+ and beyond higher exposure to physical harm, they are subjected to social hardships that eclipse other people’s experiences. More Black LGBTQIA+ people are unemployed, for example, than Black cis-gendered, heterosexual people. A consequence of that is predictable: Black people who are also LGBTQIA+ suffer higher rates of food insecurity. 

Food insecurity. Financial hardship. Physical violence has upticked so badly that the Center for American Progress reported that in 2021, Black transgender people were being killed at record-setting rates.  For our LGBTQIA+ family, friends and community members, they are targeted because of the skin they were born into and the soul they were born with. Most of us who have known the violence of white male supremacy carry inside of us the ability to stand against it–for all Black people, knowing that when we ensure the people who are the least ensured in our society, everyone benefits.

Despite all of the socially imposed harms, though, we’ve seen the LGBTQIA+ continue to push ahead and push the limits, continue to Act Up. But as we know, changing the world often begins with changing our own homes and challenging long-held, but morally and scientifically, unsound beliefs.

 

To get started, here are 10 ways to support your family, friends and colleagues by fostering an inclusive, understanding and loving environment that allows all Black people to live, love, dream and imagine safely in.

1.   Actively Listen

Two African-American men outdoors, drinking, talking

Source: kali9 / Getty

Listening actively and empathetically to your LGBTQIA+ family and friends is powerful. Set aside your own judgments and hear, truly hear, their life experiences. Remember that differences have always existed within human cultures and we’ve all worked hard to name and have those differences seen and respected. Pay equity is a recent example, as is sexual assault. In the latter, many of us had to be quiet and actively listen to perspectives and experiences that had not gotten an appropriate public platform before. And laws and some attitudes changed. It is the same approach we must take when our friends, family members or even colleagues share their feelings.

Let them know that their identity is acknowledged and respected by not just what you may say, but by how you act. Queer Black people attempt suicide at a higher rate than white members, according to a report from the National Institutes of Health. So empathizing with your family and friends from the community is critical in ensuring their very lives. And you don’t have to be Queer to show empathy. You show it by listening to the impact being ostracized had. Remember a time when you were treated as “other,” and were ignored, misunderstood, not heard. 

 

2.  Educate Yourself

American Writer James Baldwin

James Baldwin, author, essayist, activist journalist and human being of the first order Source: Sophie Bassouls / Getty

Understanding the diverse experiences and challenges faced by LGBTQIA+ individuals is the first step to being an effective ally. Read books, follow reputable online resources, and attend workshops to deepen your knowledge about gender identities, sexual orientations, and the unique struggles within the LGBTQIA+ community. Books that may prove helpful are All Boys Aren’t Blue by George M. Johnson and Black on Both Sides: A Racial History of Trans Identity by C. Riley Snorton, Sister Outsider and other works by Audre Lorde, including A Burst of Light; Janet Mock’s Redefining Realness or Giovanni’s Room by James Baldwin.

 

Love takes off the masks we fear we cannot live without and know we cannot live within~James Baldwin

3.   Create Safe Spaces

Ensure that your home and social environments are inclusive and welcoming. Display symbols of support, such as pride flags, and establish zero-tolerance policies for discriminatory behavior in these spaces.

4.   Be Patient and Trust 

Recognize that coming out and navigating one’s identity can be a complex and ongoing process. Be patient and offer consistent support, even if you don’t fully understand their journey right away. Trust the person who is on the journey.

Establish zero-tolerance policies for discriminatory behavior

5. Respect Privacy and Boundaries

Respect your LGBTQIA+ loved ones’ privacy. Allow them to share their experiences and identity in their own time and on their own terms. Avoid outing them without their consent as it can have serious consequences for their safety and well-being.

6.   Use Inclusive Language

Language shapes our reality. Using correct names and pronouns demonstrates respect. Avoid assumptions about someone’s gender or sexual orientation. When in doubt, ask them politely what their correct pronouns are. And use gender-neutral terms until you know for sure (“They” as opposed to “She” or “He”). For instance, visit the UC Davis LGBTQIA Resource Center website to learn and understand the proper pronouns and when to apply them. 

7.   Celebrate Their Identity

White House in evening, Washington, DC

Source: Universal Images Group / Getty

Celebrate important milestones and events in your LGBTQIA+ family and friends’ lives. Whether it’s attending a Pride parade like the annual Pride March in New York City on June 30, or having a party on their coming out anniversary—or simply remembering to consider them in conversations about “us.” Include all of us. These gestures show acceptance and joy in their authenticity.

 

I may be crazy, but that don’t make me wrong ~ Marsha P. Johnson

8. Challenge the Bullies 

Don’t be silent when people are mocking Queer people. Speak out against homophobia, transphobia and any form of discrimination or prejudice against Queer people. Whether in casual conversations or more formal settings, addressing harmful behavior and language helps create a safer environment for everyone.

I cannot afford the luxury of fighting one form of oppression only. I cannot afford to believe that freedom from intolerance is the right of only one particular group~ Audre Lorde

9. Support LGBTQIA+ Rights

Elle Moxley for Black Child Suicide: LQBTQIA+

Elle Moxley Source: Irvin Rivera / Irvin Rivera

Advocate for policies and practices that protect and uplift the LGBTQIA+ community. This can include supporting anti-discrimination laws, donating to LGBTQIA+ organizations, or participating in pride marches and other advocacy events. Support grassroots policy and narrative change organizations the Marsha P. Johnson Institute, whose founder and CEO is a dynamic Black Trans woman, Elle Moxley, whose work around Tamir Rice and the Movement for Black Lives is forever enshrined. And even spend some time getting acquainted with Biden’s Presidential Memorandum on Advancing the Human Rights of LGBTQI+ Persons Around the World to understand and keep track of how 15 specific agencies are advancing progress and protection for the community.

10. Continue Learning and Growing

Being an ally is an ongoing journey. Stay informed about the issues affecting the LGBTQIA+ community, keep defensiveness in check by authentically seeking feedback from your loved ones about your behaviors and words and if they are or are not supportive. Be willing to grow from any mistakes and respectfully help others to grow. Organizations like GLAAD, The Trevor Project, and Bridges4Life are great resources for ongoing education and advocacy. 

Bonus: A Final Thought

Supporting LGBTQIA+ family and friends means committing to continuous learning, active allyship, and fostering an environment of respect and love. Your support can not make a significant difference in their lives, but in life of our society as a whole. We have never won by choosing to understand less, by choosing to love less, by choosing cruelty over compassion.

SEE ALSO: 

Love Takes Off The Masks: Our LGBTQIA+ Children Are Most At Risk of Dying By Suicide. Elle Moxley Knows We Can Change That.

Death of Missing LGBTQ Activist Elise Malary Renews Fears Of Violence Against Black Trans Women

The post 10 Ways To Support Your LGBTQIA+ Family And Friends appeared first on NewsOne.

10 Ways To Support Your LGBTQIA+ Family And Friends  was originally published on newsone.com

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