Whether you know it or not, you probably have at least one cousin, aunt or nephew that identifies as gay or trans. Pride Month is a time when you can let these relatives know you love and support them if you haven't expressed that already.
LGBTQ-identifying people who don’t have supportive families are more likely to commit suicide or become homeless, according to a study by San Francisco State University. If you want to support your family and make them more comfortable during the rest of Pride Month and all year long, here are four really simple ways to do that.
1. Listen to them.
Even if you don’t truly understand what it means to be queer or trans, lending a non-judgemental listening ear to your loved one can be really helpful. Maybe they just want to talk about their identity. Just having a person they can be totally comfortable around will make a huge difference in this person’s experience this month and after. Be there for your family and let them know there are people who love them for who they are.
2. Don't be silent.
It doesn’t just take listening to a queer person to make them feel welcome, actively and publicly showing your support for them is also important. Advocating for queer people is also important. This may mean just using inclusive language, like partner instead of boyfriend or girlfriend or using the singular they pronoun when referring to a person of an unknown gender, instead of using he or she. But it can also mean calling out others when they say something derogatory or backing up your family member when they need it.
3. Educate yourself.
When it comes to listening to a person talk about their experiences and sticking up for them, it helps to know a little bit about that community. Do some research on the queer and trans community and the oppression they face. A good place to start is Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays — an organization that provides resources and education to queer people and their loved ones. There are tons of YouTubers talking about their experiences as well. Taking the time to understand queer people will really make a difference in your family member or friend’s life.
4. Donate to an LGBTQ charity.
As always, giving some money to an organization that directly benefits marginalized people is a great way to support them. Look for organizations near you, or your loved one, to see what the place to donate to is. A great place in Toledo is the Harvey House, which gives support to LGBTQ youth.