The queer community’s long history is loaded with stories of struggle and violence. But, through the power of individual and group impact, we live in a time with more acceptance and pride than ever. Though we have made great leaps and developments we have yet to ensure the total safety of those within the community.
In a 2019 Trevor Project Survey it was found that:
39% of queer youth seriously consider suicide.
Less than half of queer students are out to an adult in their school.
71% of queer youth reported facing discrimination of their identity.
And 76% of queer youth find the current political climate to be impacting their mental wellbeing.
These disheartening numbers show us there is work still to be done. Fighting back against persecution and hate on a local and global scale is of the utmost importance to put an end to inequality. It’s sometimes hard to feel like your individual actions can make an impact, but it was through everyone’s collective efforts that allowed us to reach this point! Below I have provided 7 ways you can show support and help build the queer community.
1. Support Queer Creators and Businesses
It is still legal in 21 states to fire an employee solely based upon their identity. Because of the discrimination, many have faced in their workplace, many queer creators have been finding a living via YouTube, Instagram, Patreon, etc. Supporting those in their craft helps them put food on the table and clothes on their backs while being able to avoid excess prejudice from their managers, co-workers, or customers. Supporting queer creators can extend past just monetary means; reach out and share their work/business online or on community boards! Getting the word out and building a bigger audience will allow them to find financial security while also feeling the support from you! Buy from queer ran businesses and in turn, educate yourself on businesses that are anti-LGBTQ to ensure your money is being used responsibly.
2. Stand up to Prejudice
One of the most impactful actions you make to support the queer community is combating those who add to the anti-LGBTQ mentality. Stand up and challenge their viewpoint and show them that their hate will not be tolerated in any form. This hate can appear through language and actions alike. For example, if your friend casually spewing slurs in conversation, inform them of the issues queer people face and how their thoughts breed violence throughout the world. Or if you’re a witness to bullying, stand up and be the supporter that person needs to get out of the situation. Remember though, never initiate in a situation that would lead to your personal safety being put in danger. People with extreme mindsets can be very dangerous, so remember to take caution with direct confrontation. If it is too dangerous to interfere, reach out to the victim and lend a helping hand after the confrontation. Or, use your power as an ally to change the viewpoint of those perpetrating the violence.
3. Listen to Queer Community Leaders
With access to social media, the ability to hear messages from leaders within the community is easier than ever. Listen to their outcries of local violence and the stories they’re invested in to lead you down paths of where to spread your support. This is also a perfect way to immerse yourself within an active community and to find connections with other advocating queer people. You’ll learn a lot from seeing and hearing exactly what it is queer people want you to know about their struggles and the best ways that you can provide help to them.
4. Unlearn Personal Biases
None of us are perfect. Don’t punish yourself if you may be holding onto ideas that perpetuate unacceptance; you could have adapted this type of thinking from your parents, your social circles, or just unawareness of certain aspects of queerness. But, as long as you’re willing and wanting to change, unlearning harmful stereotypes and language may be your first step to supporting the queer community. Look inside yourself to see if you hold onto certain viewpoints that hurt others. Do you think gay men can only act a certain way? Do you think children can only be effectively raised in a hetero-normative family style? Do bi-sexual people have to “prove” their identity for them to be valid? If someone says what you’re saying is homo/bi/transphobic, listen to why that is and how adopting a new perspective on these issues is important. Unlearning certain ways of thinking can be difficult at first, but it is always possible to change.
5. Volunteer your Time
Consider volunteering at local LGBTQ resource centers or homeless youth shelters. One of the best-supporting factors you can give is your time and the ability to provide one-on-one connections with queer people. You will be directly impacting lives through these service centers and giving great relief to those struggling with the impacts of their identity. The food and clothing donated to these centers may be the hope a queer youth needs to prevent them from considering suicide as an option for their lives. You’ll also be supporting the centers themselves by taking off some of their workloads and allowing them the ability to reach out to as many of those in need as possible.
6. Support Transgender Resource Funds
Many transgender people struggling with money use online fundraising sites to meet their financial goals towards hormone replacement, affirmation surgeries, and name change fees. This is a great way to directly impact someone’s life in a way they can not achieve alone. Providing access to medical assistance could be a matter of life-or-death for some transgender individuals, so a little definitely goes a long way. If money is also a struggle for yourself, share the link to help them reach their goal! Here are some organizations you can donate to today:
The Trevor Project
20 Tiny Homes for Trans Women
COVID-19 Mutual Aid Fund for LGBTQI+ BIPOC Folks
The Attic Youth Center
Genders & Sexualities Alliance Network
The Point Foundation
7. Pay Attention to Legislation
The Marriage Equality Act was passed only five years ago. Reaching this point took a fight. Advocacy from those fighting for laws to ensure equality for all is what allowed us in the United States to marry whoever we love. Keep your eyes out for anti/pro LGBTQ laws being presented locally and nationally. Inform yourself on officials in office on their position on LGBTQ rights to make sure we don’t regress back into a time of intolerance. Be certain to use your power of voting to make the changes that you want to live in and to empower those fighting for the queer community.
No one should be punished for who they love or how they identify. Every action you make to support the queer community, whether large or small, will lead the world to a society of acceptance. Creating support systems and resources now will prevent any more unnecessary loss of lives. One day queer people will be able to live in a world without any fear, but that day is still in the future. Whether you identify under the queer umbrella or are an ally, your individual power will make an impact on how soon that time will come.
Written by Drew Valentine