You don't have to march in Pride to make a difference for LGBTQ people. Here's how.

You don't have to be at a Pride march to make a difference.

In June 1969, a group of New Yorkers decided they'd had enough.

Patrons of the Stonewall Inn, an LGBTQ bar in Greenwich Village, stood up to police officers who'd reportedly been repeatedly harassing and targeting them for their sexual orientations and gender identities. The demonstrations that ensued sparked the beginning of the modern LGBTQ civil rights movement.


The exterior of the Stonewall Inn in New York City. Photo by Stan Honda/AFP/Getty Images.

The Stonewall Inn riots inspired President Clinton to declare June "Gay and Lesbian Pride Month" in 1998. In 2009, President Obama expanded on the recognition, deeming it "Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Pride Month," as it remains today.

This June feels different though.

After years of having an ally in the White House, President Trump's administration — unchecked by a GOP Congress — is threatening to roll back rights for LGBTQ people. It's crucial we stand in solidarity.

If you can make it out to a Pride march in your area, excellent. But even if you can't (or just despise big crowds), you can still support the movement.

1. Help buy a bus ticket for a friend so they can go to the March for Equality in Washington, D.C.

LGBTQ Pride marches are happening in cities from coast to coast. But the most notable one this year will unfold in the nation's capital on June 11. The Equality March for Unity and Pride is mobilizing queer people and their allies in support of LGBTQ rights under a new administration that wants to take us backward.

You can do this anywhere, but if you happen to know someone in New York City who is interested in going but doesn't have the travel funds, you can buy them a bus ticket on Grindr's "Pride Ride" to D.C.

2. If you're visiting the East Coast this summer, treat yo'self to a scoop of big, gay ice cream.

There's nothing explicitly gay about the tasty treats at the Big Gay Ice Cream Shops in New York City and Philadelphia, of course. But the company, which started as a food truck in 2009 before expanding into storefronts, has been a proud supporter of the Ali Forney Center, a nonprofit that helps homeless LGBTQ youth.

When you scream for (big, gay) ice cream, you're also helping the business raise awareness and resources for young people in need. And that's a big, gay win-win.

3. Snatch up one of these glorious Pride shirts in support of LGBTQ youth in need.

Through an initiative created by Represent, 100% of profits from these shirts will benefit The Trevor Project, which focuses on suicide prevention efforts among LGBTQ youth, as well as the NOH8 campaign, which utilizes social media platforms to promote equality.

4. Or, if you're a basketball fan, maybe these Pride shirts are more up your alley.

Photo courtesy of the NBA/WNBA.

The NBA and WNBA partnered with GLSEN, an organization helping to make our schools safer and more inclusive for LGBTQ students, to create Pride shirts for every pro team. A portion of the proceeds will benefit the nonprofit.

A critical component in ensuring classrooms are inclusive is recognizing the accomplishments of LGBTQ people throughout history.

5. Commit this month to reading just one Wikipedia entry a day on LGBTQ history and queer pioneers.

School curriculums often gloss over the history of, and challenges faced by, marginalized groups. The LGBTQ community is no different.

It makes sense that many of us haven't learned about people like Marsha P. Johnson, Dan Choi, Edith Windsor, and Harvey Milk — some of the trailblazers who helped us get to where we are today.

Lt. Dan Choi, who came out as gay in 2009 while serving in the armed forces, became a pioneer in ending the military's homophobic "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy.  Photo by Mark Ralston/AFP/Getty Images.

Each day in June, take 10 minutes to read up on a famous LGBTQ figure or moment in history. Your teammates at the next trivia night will thank you for it.

6. Now that you're up on your queer history, email a local school or school district and ask that the students there are too.

Last year, California became the first state to mandate LGBTQ-inclusive curriculums in its history and social science requirements. As Vice reported, it may set off a chain reaction too, as other states look to include more diverse perspectives and historical figures in their classroom instructions.

Send an email — or attend a school board meeting or bring it up at the next PTA meeting — to get this issue on the radar in your city, if it's not already.

7. Drop in to a restaurant or store that supports its LGBTQ employees — and avoid the places that don't.

The Human Rights Campaign releases a Corporate Equality Index each year studying and ranking businesses based on how supportive their workplace policies are for LGBTQ people.

Many different factors — including if a company highlights LGBTQ protections in its anti-discrimination policies or if it offers transgender-inclusive health care benefits — are considered in the index.

Target — which adopted pro-LGBTQ policies and created specific Pride products for customers in recent years — was a top-rated company for its inclusive workplace in 2017.

Even if you're not marching in Pride, the way you spend your dollars makes a difference.

8. If you're not LGBTQ and new to this whole Pride thing, set aside 30 minutes to start learning about being a good ally.

Is your child — or your mom or dad — LGBTQ? What about a colleague or friend at school? Do you want to be there for transgender people in your community, but not sure where to start? GLAAD compiled helpful guides for allies to do their best supporting the LGBTQ people they know and love.

Photo by Yana Paskova/Getty Images.

Pro tip: Do this before breaking out any rainbow attire.

9. Drink some delicious wine while supporting queer artists and LGBTQ youth in need of stable housing.

In honor of Pride month, City Winery Chicago worked with four LGBTQ artists — Kelly Boner, James Schwab, Tennessee Loveless, and Sierra Berquist — to design the labels for its "Playing with Labels" campaign.

Photo courtesy of Dustin DuBois/City Winery Chicago.

With each bottle purchased, $10 goes toward Project Fierce Chicago, a nonprofit that provides supportive transitional housing to homeless LGBTQ youth in the Windy City. Can't make it to a Pride march in person? Drink up!

10. Paint your nails rainbow colors.

They'll serve as a great conversation starter with family or friends. You can mention Pride and what the month means to you.

Plus, they'll look great.

11. Choose one lesser known LGBTQ advocacy group and commit a monthly gift to support its work.

National organizations like the Human Rights Campaign and GLAAD are helping to save and better the lives of LGBTQ people across the country. Supporting them makes a difference.

But there are many other groups working under the radar that deserve our attention too.

If you're interesting in making donations, consider contributing to organizations like Fierce, Trans Lifeline, ACT UP, and the Sylvia Rivera Law Project, focused on more niche (but still crucial) issues facing the LGBTQ community, often with much smaller budgets.

12. There's a decent chance you have at least one Facebook friend who's in the closet. Write a supportive post noting that you're there for them, any time.

When you aren't open about your sexuality or gender identity, coming out can be a very scary thing for many LGBTQ people — especially if you have few (or no) accepting family members or friends.

Sharing a Facebook status letting any of your friends who are in the closet know that you're a person they can talk to really could change their life.

13. Set your calendars: Most midterm elections are Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2018, and the LGBTQ community needs you to show up.

Midterms never get the same media fanfare as presidential election years, even though, in many ways, they're of equal consequence. You'll have to do some digging on the candidates in your state vying for office in order to get a good understanding of who they are and what they'll fight for.

Mayor Peter Buttigieg is the first openly gay mayor of South Bend, Indiana. Photo by Derek Henkle/AFP/Getty Images.

There are many crucial issues that need our attention — climate change, fighting poverty, creating jobs, criminal justice reform — but LGBTQ rights is an issue on the ballot too. If you can't make it to a march, the least you can do is commit to learning about how your candidates plan to help (or harm) LGBTQ people in your area and keep their stances in mind on Nov. 6, 2018.

14. Make it a goal: For the next kid's birthday on your calendar, buy them a book or movie that's LGBTQ-inclusive.

The entertainment and toy selections available for kids need to get better at diversity, particularly when it comes to LGBTQ representation.

Reading fairy tales like "Promised Land" and watching short films like "In a Heartbeat" and "Rosaline" — all stories for kids that feature same-sex love interests — will help young queer people understand they have a place in this world, while teaching straight and cisgender kids that their LGBTQ peers are deserving of love and respect.

Photo courtesy of "Promised Land."

15. Learn about a pressing LGBTQ rights issue in your own backyard and follow a local Facebook group to stay up to speed.

Think local: What challenges does the LGBTQ community face in your city or state?

Just last month, legislators in Texas approved a bill that would deny trans students the right to use the bathroom that corresponds with their gender. Lawmakers in North Carolina recently tried to reverse marriage equality in the Tar Heel state. Across the country, LGBTQ rights issues are being sorted out and decided by local school boards.

It only takes a few minutes to find some local LGBTQ Facebook groups and follow them so you can stay plugged in to what's happening in your area and fight for what's right.

16. Share this powerful video about a transgender girl and her loving family.

Some of your friends on Facebook might be more hesitant (or outright against) watching it. But that's the whole point.

When we elevate stories that put ourselves in the shoes of someone with different life experiences, we tend to build bridges. It makes sense that when someone knows an LGBTQ person and hears their story, they're far more likely to support LGBTQ rights.

17. If you live in a state that's debating a bathroom bill, make sure to call your rep — preferably more than once.

So-called "bathroom bills" — which stop trans children and adults from using the restroom that corresponds to their gender — puts people who are already more at-risk of violence in even more uncomfortable and dangerous situations. These bills are born from fearmongering and myths about transgender people.

If you live in one of the 15 states where a bathroom bill is in the works, call your representatives in Washington and voice your concerns.

Rainbow flags and festive parades are important in unifying the LGBTQ community every June. But they're only one component of what it means to celebrate Pride.

This June, acknowledge all the positive change that's happened since those first rioters fought back outside the Stonewall Inn nearly 50 years ago. Then, commit to helping push that progress forward while fighting the forces trying to stall it, however you can.

We all play a part in ensuring equality.

Photo by Wojtek Radwanski/AFP/Getty Images.

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Whenever someone's words or behavior are called out as racist, a few predictable responses always follow. One is to see the word "racist" as a vicious personal attack. Two is to vehemently deny that whatever was said or done was racist. And three is to pull out the dictionary definition of racism to prove that the words or behavior weren't racist.

Honestly, as soon as refers to the dictionary when discussing racism, it's clear that person has never delved deeply into trying to understand racism. It's a big old red flag, every time.

I'm not an expert on race relations, but I've spent many years learning from people who are. And I've learned that the reality of racism is nuanced and complex, and resorting to a short dictionary definition completely ignores that fact. The dictionary can't include all of the ways racism manifests in individuals and society, and the limitations of dictionary definitions make it a poor tool for discussing the topic.

Since "racism" is such a loaded term for many people, let's look at such limitations through a different complex word. Let's take "anxiety." According to Merriam-Webster, "anxiety" is defined as "apprehensive uneasiness or nervousness, usually over an impending or anticipated ill."

Now imagine thinking that you understand everything that encompasses anxiety from reading that dictionary definition. Imagine thinking you could recognize the signs of anxiety in someone based on that definition alone. Ridiculous, right? The dictionary doesn't explain that some people's anxiety manifests as anger, even though it does. It doesn't say that anxiety sometimes manifests as withdrawal or aloofness. It doesn't say that you often won't see obvious signs of fear or nervousness in someone experiencing anxiety.

The dictionary doesn't offer anything close to the reality of what anxiety is or looks like. It would be silly to say that someone isn't experiencing anxiety because they're not clearly showing signs of nervousness like the dictionary definition implies. Just as the dictionary definition of anxiety is not comprehensive, neither is the dictionary definition of racism. Yet people keep using it to "prove" that something or someone isn't racist.

Fox News analyst Brit Hume just pulled that trick on Twitter to try to back up his claim that Donald Trump's "go back to" statements to four Congresswomen of color weren't technically racist.


The first Merriam-Webster entry for "racism" reads "a belief that race is the primary determinant of human traits and capacities and that racial differences produce an inherent superiority of a particular race."

Merriam-Webster

First of all, I'm not sure how this definition actually makes Trump's statements not racist. A belief is not always conscious, so even assuming that his racism is unconscious, a white man telling four women of color to "go back to" their countries of origin—despite three of them being born in the U.S. and the fourth being a naturalized citizen of the U.S.—is pretty objectively racist. No one knows exactly what is going on in the President's head, but such statements only being made to women of color would certainly be consistent with the behavior of someone with a belief in white people's inherent superiority.

But that simple definition isn't truly definitive, either. Shortly after Hume's tweet, Merriam-Webster pointed out a usage note for the word "racism," which clarifies that dictionaries do not provide the be-all-end-all definition of words.

Anti-racism advocates have tried time and time again to explain that racism is not as straightforward as someone saying, "I think I'm superior to people who don't share my skin color." Racism is almost never that blatant, and yet oodles of Americans refuse to call anything less than that kind of bold statement "racism." We have a long history showing exactly how white supremacy—the origin of racism in the U.S.—exerts itself in both strong and subtle ways, and thousands of hours and pages of education from experts describing how racism works on an individual and societal level. But people still insist on the simplistic narrative of "Racism=hating people of a different race."

I've seen many people, including Brit Hume, argue that the word racism has lost all meaning. Frankly, that's a copout. Racism—as both a conscious or unconscious belief of racial superiority and as a system of racial prejudice blended with power dynamics—has a broader meaning than one person hating another person for the color of their skin. But that doesn't make it meaningless.

I've also seen people complain that "everything is racist these days," but no, it's really not. We simply understand more about racism now, thanks to the field of race studies and to people of color offering their time and energy to explain it, so it's easier to identify in its various forms. In my experience, when someone's understanding of racism reaches a certain stage, they start recognizing it in places where ignorance or unconscious bias may have caused them to miss it in the past. That's not imagining racism where it doesn't exist or "calling everything racist these days"; that's simply seeing reality more clearly.

When you really dive deep into the historical, psychological, and sociological reality of racism in America, it becomes painfully obvious that racism is far more prevalent and enmeshed in our society than most people think. Until defensive, mostly-white folks stop automatically denying racism every time the word is used and stop throwing around dictionaries to avoid having to do that deep dive work, we're not going to make real headway on this issue.

Let's stop pretending that the definition and supposed overuse of the word "racism" is the problem, when the problem is racism, period.

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