An open letter to the heterosexual allies attending Pride Week:
It is finally the month of June, which means Pride Month is upon us. LGBTQ+ organizations throughout the nation have planned parties, festivals and parades for the LGBTQ+ community — even for their straight friends.
Contrary to popular belief, you don’t have to be a member of the LGBTQ+ community to attend your local community’s Pride Week. You can very well be a supporter of someone you know, or a supporter of the LGBTQ+ community in general. And no, going to Pride Week doesn’t “make you gay.”
For those who are attending Pride Week and are not a part of the LGBTQ+ community, you have one job, and one job only: be supportive. The support you show simply by engaging in the festivities at Pride could mean the world to your friend and/or the LGBTQ+ community. Doing little things like purchasing a little rainbow flag pin or bracelet to show your support for the LGBTQ+ community goes a long way and means more than you think. You are an ally, you are a necessity to the community.
Since you’re an ally, you may not understand all that happens during Pride Week. I’m not going to glitter-coat this: you’re going to be exposed to drop dead gorgeous drag queens, people with very little clothing, a crap ton of PDA everywhere you go, and glitter. Lots of it.
Now, you may feel uncomfortable with the way some people express their pride during Pride Week, and that’s totally normal. That being said, if you’re curious about something, or someone, that doesn’t make sense — I beg of you — please don’t stop and stare. If you find yourself curious about something, don’t ask questions that could potentially be offensive, or questions that you know you could easily google on your phone or ask a friend quietly. Pride Week is a safe space for people to express how they feel without facing the scrutiny that comes with being a member of the LGBTQ+ community.
For the photographers: we love you, and we love that you want to share your visit to Pride Week on social media, but we have one rule:
Be. Careful. Who. You. Photograph.
There are two reasons behind why I say this: The first reason is pretty simple and that is to have respect. Yes, Pride Week takes place in a public area where you can photograph anything, but use common sense. If you are dying to get a photo with a drag-queen, all you have to do is walk up and ask them. They don’t bite.
The second reason is that Pride Week is a protected environment, where people feel safe to express themselves down to the eight-inch heel. Just how you wouldn’t want your employer to see your inexcusable drunken photos on Facebook; Pride Week attendees wouldn’t want photos of them in g-strings and glitter bras to end up on the internet. You don’t know the situation of the people attending pride, meaning unaccepting families or work environments. So, essentially, one photo could potentially damage someone’s life.
So please, keep in mind, of what you photograph and post.
The last, and most important thing I’d like to ask of you is that if you are at Pride, and your friend comes out to you, don’t make a scene, don’t say things like “I always knew” or “I could tell.” Instead, thank them for trusting you enough to come out to you — acknowledge it takes courage for someone to come out. Then, ask “Who else knows?”
Regardless of the answer, keep your trap shut. The last thing you want to do is unintentionally out someone. Also, ask them “How can I help? Do you need anything?” This assures your friend that you’re there for them no matter what is bound to happen after they’ve come out to you.
At the end of the day, we don’t mind straight allies at Pride — we encourage the support, even — as long as you’re respectful and mindful of your surroundings.