May 17th marks the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia (IDAHOTB), which is a worldwide celebration of sexual and gender diversity. This day, which was established in 2004, was created to draw the attention of decision makers, opinion leaders, media and the general population to the ongoing violence and discrimination experienced by members of the LGBTQ+ community.
This year the theme will be Alliance for Solidarity. According to the official IDAHOTB website, this theme was chosen because no battle can be won in isolation. This focus creates a valuable opportunity for individuals to reach out to their current partnerships and other relationships to reinforce their bond, to reach out to new partners to raise awareness of their commonalities, and to engage in collective action around this issue.
This focus should also serve as a reminder of the need for solidarity within the communities of sexual and gender diverse populations, as the rights of one specific group cannot be secured if the rights of other groups are left unchallenged. Additionally, it is also important to highlight alliances with other vulnerable populations such as migrants and people living in poverty.
We hope you take this day as an opportunity to reflect on your own beliefs and behaviour to identify how you can be a better ally to the LGBTQ+ community. To learn more about becoming a better ally, please see information below created by Egale Canada.
- Listen to the experiences and perspectives of LGBTQ+ people, respect these experiences and perspectives and acknowledge their validity (even if you don’t understand them).
- Seek out information and opportunities to expand your understanding (learn through media, attend events, meet LGBTQ+ community members, and learn about local services and supports).
- Remember your learning is your responsibility – avoid asking LGBTQ+ people to answer all of your LGBTQ+ questions (not all LGBTQ+ people are comfortable acting in an educator role).
- Be open to feedback about how your behaviour is impacting other people.
- Reflect on and question the stereotypes and negative assumptions held by yourself and others.
- Avoid assuming how people identify. Listen for, or politely ask, how someone wants to be identified.
- When talking about LGBTQ+ topics, assume there are LGBTQ+ people or people with LGBTQ+ loved ones in the room and consider how they might be impacted by the tone, spirit, and direction of the conversation.
- Observe the way other folks around you act as allies, even in the smallest ways.
- Remember, everyone’s experience of gender and sexuality is different and it’s impossible (and unfair) to ask one person to speak on behalf of a whole group!
- Intervene when you witness offensive behaviour or language.
- Use inclusive language to ensure everyone feels welcome and respected.
- Challenge policies, practices, and procedures that create barriers for LGBTQ+ people.
- Apologize regardless of intent. Everyone makes mistakes in an ally role, what matters, is how you respond when it gets brought to your attention.
- Be courageous! Don’t be afraid to learn, ask for more information and provide support.