I'm a white middle-class cis male this is how I learnt how to be an LGBTQ+ ally07/21/2019
I am half of the UK’s biggest LGBTQ+ podcast, A Gay and A Nongay.
I am not gay or part of the LGBTQ+ community – so I’ve never needed to ‘come out’.
I’ve never felt unsafe walking down the road with my other half and I’ve never hidden my sexuality to protect myself from discrimination at work.
I am not misgendered or stared at in the street and on Twitter people I’ve never met are not discussing if I ‘exist’ or not.
I’m also fortunate to not have any mental health or alcohol/drug problems – which disproportionately affect LGBTQ+ people.
I am also white, male and middle class – I have it easy.
But since 2014, there’s been a 144 per cent surge in LGBT+ hate crimes in England and Wales, which include offences such as harassment, assault and stalking. The number of transphobic hate crimes specifically have tripled from 550 in 2014 to 1,650 in 2018. These numbers are staggering.
It’s straight people that could stop LGBTQ+ people in Northern Ireland from getting married.
It’s straight people claiming science can ‘cure’ gay people when every major psychological body says it can’t and it’s straight people beating up girls on buses.
It’s straight people in my home city of Birmingham protesting in the streets because a school wants to teach children that gay people exist.
It’s straight people who are the reason half of the LGBTQ+ community are too afraid to hold hands in public.
It’s straight people who want to organise ‘straight pride’ parades despite not needing one, now or ever.
Enough is enough.
It’s time for us straight people to step up and be the best allies we can be.
And being an ally is incredibly simple.
It’s as simple as correcting your straight friends when they say something misinformed.
It’s as simple as using inclusive language and not assuming someone’s gender or sexuality.
It’s as simple as having an LGBTQ+ book on your coffee table or desk at work to help create a climate where someone who is struggling with their sexuality feels comfortable coming to you.
It’s as simple as not booking a holiday to any of the 12 countries in the world where the penalty for being gay is death.
It’s as simple as reporting offensive language on social media or checking to see if your local MP voted against LGBT rights.
It’s not difficult to turn up to your local Pride march and support your local LGBTQ+ community – whilst recognising that it isn’t for you.
As Brits, we often feel uncomfortable calling people out in public. It’s much easier to ignore it and say nothing, right? But transphobia and homophobia deserve no place in society.
It’s a lot more awkward for the LGBT couple getting beaten up or assaulted than it is for you. We all need to support them.
Three years ago I started the podcast with my friend James Barr and our conversations opened my eyes to so many issues the LGBTQ+ community face that I was only vaguely aware of before. We are inundated with messages every week from LGBTQ+ people in every pocket of the UK telling us that life for them isn’t easy.
I have been honoured to meet some incredible people, such as Kurtis, whose friend was gay and died by suicide.
I met Joshua, who doesn’t feel safe walking down the street and is an hour away from his nearest safe space.
I have spoken to a journalist who went undercover to investigate gay conversion therapy in Liverpool where he was expected to starve himself for two days straight.
There are so many incredible people in the LGBTQ+ community. They are brave, strong and powerful and I am in awe of them.
Pride may only last for a month but that doesn’t mean our support goes out of the window when the last bit of glitter blows away.
Join me in standing alongside the LGBTQ+ community all year round.
A Gay And A Nongay are performing live at the Edinburgh Fringe 17th-25th August, and at the London Podcast Festival on September 7th. See gaynongay.com for details.
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