More than 50 years ago, on June 28, 1969, the LGBTQ+ community experienced a monumental riff, catapulting it into a new era of activism, social change, and forward motion. During the Stonewall Uprising in Manhattan, New York, what began as a police raid at the Stonewall Inn – a practice common during that time – led to six days of events between police and LGBTQ+ protestors. While it is important to note that Stonewall Uprising was certainly not the first interaction between police and the LGBTQ+ community, nor did it mark the beginning of queer activism, it did serve as a pivotal moment in the movement towards the decriminalization of same-sex relationships and LGBTQ+ acceptance.
In 1970, on the one-year anniversary of the rebellion at the Stonewall Inn, LGBTQ+ activists gathered once again to commemorate the event with the first-ever Pride march; A true political statement proclaiming to the world that the LGBTQ+ community was no longer going to hide in dark corners or underground bars. They were here to stay. Throughout the next 50 plus years, queer individuals experienced strides in countrywide acceptance, leading to the end of many anti-sodomy laws, the lifting of many LGBTQ+ federal exclusions, the ability to serve openly in the military, and, finally, the right to legally marry.
This Pride Month, as we once again reflect on the history of this annual celebration and the progress we have made as a country, it’s difficult to not feel the weight of anti-LGBTQ+ – and specifically anti-trans – legislation currently sweeping the nation. With hundreds of bills in state legislatures aiming to curb LGBTQ+ rights in sports, medical care, and classrooms, 2022 is on track to set a record for the amount of bills introduced the negatively impact the queer community. Unfortunately, Ohio is not immune to this hateful legislative push, with our own lawmakers attempting to ban transgender girls and women from playing on sports teams, as well as forbid transgender youth from receiving lifesaving medical care.
As June comes to a close, it is not time for us all – including LGBTQ+ allies – to become dormant, waiting for the next Pride Month or earth-shattering legislative tactic to take action. Now is the time to rise up, to show up, and to strive for a more inclusive future. Below are some vital ways for allies stand alongside the LGBTQ+ communitiy year-round.
Get to Know Your State Representatives
Members of the Ohio General Assembly not only have a responsibility to create and pass legislation, but also to connect with and listen to constituents about the issues that matter to them most. Contacting your State Representative or Senator, whether by phone, email, or postal service, regarding anti-LGBTQ+ legislation can help lawmakers drive impactful bills forward OR stop policies that harm minority communities. Individuals can even submit written or in-person testimony for certain bills during weekly committee hearings. Looking for a place to start? Take action through one of the ACLU of Ohio’s Action Alerts, which sends letters directly to your State Representatives or Senators.
Incorporate Inclusive Language
LGBTQ+ individuals are everywhere – our schools, our places of worship, our work environments, our communities. According to a recent Gallup Poll, more than 7 percent of Americans now identify as something other than heterosexual, a nearly 4 percent jump from 2012. Taking small, meaningful steps to create inclusive environments for all can help others feel welcome, especially through language. From learning more about the importance of understanding pronouns to incorporating gender-neutral language in spoken and written communications, signaling to others that you embrace all identities can open the metaphorical floor for others to ask questions or reflect on their own language choices.
Help Prevent Discrimination in the Workplace
Ohio Business Competes is a nonpartisan coalition of businesses dedicated to creating welcoming work environments through advocating for statewide non-discrimination policies. This vibrant group of companies spans a variety of industries and is connected by each organization's firm belief that embracing and supporting LGBTQ+ Ohioans would enhance the state’s economic impact, leading to long-term benefits. Consider sharing Ohio Business Competes with your employer or local small business as a way to increase awareness of the coalition and help drive policies that create a more equitable future for all Ohioans, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity.
Connect With Your Community
Change often stems from thoughtful dialogue that not only involves sharing information, but also truly listening. To be an ally to the LGBTQ+ community means speaking up on its behalf beyond only in comfortable spaces, such as Pride Festivals. It requires engaging in conversations with those who possess different viewpoints, partake in harmful misinformation, and or may just be unaware of the current challenges plaguing the queer community. By talking with others openly about the struggles of LGBTQ+ individuals, as well as the joys, you can help amplify the stories of the queer community, while inviting others to experience a glimpse of someone else’s journey.
Vote in EVERY Election
From State Representatives and State Senators to County Councilmembers to judges to your local school board, every election contributes to the critical resources and wellbeing of communities nationwide. Each day, queer individuals make the brave and beautiful decision to show up as their true, authentic selves. It is vital to find candidates who are willing to show up for the LGBTQ+ community so that they can continue doing so. By taking the time to research candidates and voting for those who not just tolerate LGBTQ+ individuals, but who are committed to embracing and supporting them, allies can help shape government entities that drive progressive, equitable policies forward. Find sample questions to ask candidates about pressing LGBTQ+ issues in our Candidate Questionnaire and more information on voting in our online Vote Center.