The month of June marks both Pride month (although London’s main march is at the start of July) and the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall riots. As anti-LGBTQ+ sentiment continues to rise, white supremacists try to make ‘straight pride’ a thing, and LGBTQ+ folks still don’t have the full rights they deserve, I thought it might be a good time to use my platform and privilege to spread more awareness and encourage people to be effective allies to the people who need it most.

Disclaimer: I don’t personally identify as LGBTQ+, if you are and would like something amended, added or would like to use my platform to give more visibility to something, please contact me.

This post is not written from personal experience, it’s simply a gathering together of various resources that I’ve found online, to put it all in one place to hopefully make it easier to find information. So here’s some background on the history of Pride, and information about being an ally.

Pride history

Pride began as a riot

When talking about Pride many people think of parades and celebration, however the origins of pride are actually very different. Pride, as we know it today, began with Stonewall.

The Stonewall Inn was a gay bar in Greenwich Village, New York. the Stonewall riots began in 1969 when patrons of the bar fought back against a discriminatory police raid. These raids were common at the time, as homosexuality was still a crime, men could be arrested for wearing drag, and women could be punished if they wore less than three pieces of “feminine clothing”. Police raided The Stonewall Inn on June 28th, however the 200 patrons inside resisted arrest, then rioted for several nights.

The term Gay Pride Was Coined in 1970

While LGBTQ+ activists had been active before Stonewall, Stonewall was the first event that activists were prepared to commemorate publicly and nationally. After Stonewall, LGBTQ+ communities around America latched on to the riots as an event that brought attention to their cause. In 1970 a committee was formed to commemorate the riots, with the aim of holding a series of events to honour LGBTQ+ rights. They didn’t have a name until committee member L. Craig Schoonmaker suggested gay pride, with everyone else agreeing straight away.

People did not have power then; even now, we only have some. But anyone can have pride in themselves, and that would make them happier as people, and produce the movement likely to produce change.


Marsha P. Johnson, Sylvia Rivera and Brenda Howard are integral to Pride’s history

Because of the world we live in, it’s very easy for history to become whitewashed. Marsha P. Johnson, a black transwoman, sex worker and drag queen, was a key part of the foundations of Pride. Marsha is often credited with throwing the first brick that began the Stonewall riots. However, Marsha herself denied this, stating in an interview that the riots had already started by the time she arrived at Stonewall. The New York Times also suggests that no one can agree if a brick was actually thrown at all, while other research suggests that Stormé DeLarverie, a black biracial butch lesbian and drag king, threw the first punch that incited others to fight back against the police.

LGBTQ+ publication them argues that it doesn’t matter who started the riots, and that the riots shouldn’t be attributed to one person. Stonewall was a collective uprising, created by many people who fought for liberation.

This focus on the “first” punch/brick/molotov cocktail is intended to refute revisionist histories that undermine the labor of transgender women and lesbians of color (neither of which are mutually exclusive) within the LGBTQ+ community. But in our attempts to counter revisionism by uplifting the work and impact of LGBTQ+ women of color, we create and normalize false histories that fail to accurately recognize their legacies and those of countless others who jeopardized their lives to resist the police.

We should acknowledge DeLarverie, Johnson, Rivera, and Griffin-Gracy not just for their involvement in the Stonewall uprising, but for their lifelong work of organizing and activism. These women’s legacies did not begin or end with Stonewall.

Johnson’s contribution to the Pride movement, however, is still important, as often the contributions of transwomen of colour are left out of history. Following Stonewall, she was a founding member of the Gay Liberation Front alongside friend Sylvia Rivera, who was of Puerto Rican and Venezuelan heritage. The GLF was an activist group that was committed to eradicating homophobic laws. The group organised the first gay pride march, called Christopher Street Liberation Day (the street Stonewall Inn was on), which took place a year after the riots and included thousands of people. Brenda Howard, a bisexual woman known as the ‘mother of pride’ was also a key organiser of the march, which is also important to remember as bisexual erasure is a problem too.

In 1970 Johnson and Rivera also formed the Street Transvestite (now Transgender) Action Revolutionaries (STAR), a community activist organisation that also provided services to homeless LGBTQ+ youth. STAR accepted people from all races, gender identities and viewpoints, changing the public face of the LGBTQ+ community in the process.

“Before Stonewall, you had organizations that only allowed white people who were properly dressed to ‘represent’ the community,” Segal said. “We were black, brown and every other stripe of the American quilt.”


By the time the fourth-anniversary parade came around, however, organisers had banned drag queens for not presenting a respectable image, and mainstream gay rights leaders overwhelmingly became white men. In response, Johnson and Rivera marched in front of the parade banner, outside the official event. Johnson and Rivera were pioneers for trans visibility and trans rights, and their work for representation and equal rights is an integral part of Pride’s history and the work that still must continue on today.

The rainbow flag was created in 1978

Before the flag, a pink triangle had been used to symbolise the LGBTQ+ community. However, after this image was used during the Nazi regime as a marker of oppression of LGBTQ+ people, many felt it was no longer an appropriate or hopeful symbol.

In 1978, artist and activist Gilbert Baker created the first rainbow flag for a San Francisco march organised by Harvey Milk, and this flag has grown to be the most common symbol at Pride. While this flag is designed to represent the entire community, there are many other flags that you’ll also see at pride. This year marks the 20th anniversary of the Transgender pride flag, which was designed by Monica Helms, a transgender woman, activist, and author, in 1999. There are also flags such as the Bisexual Pride Flag, the Asexual Pride Flag, and the Intersex Flag. Additionally, many have now added black and brown stripes to the rainbow flag to represent LGBTQ+ people of colour.


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To learn about the different flags at Pride, read more here.

Pride as it is today

As time has gone on, Pride has morphed into what it is known for today: a celebration that includes concerts, parties and corporate involvement that is often viewed as pinkwashing. In recent years there has also been a growing movement to remove police from Pride, and an effort to move away from whitewashed mainstream parades. Since the 1990s Black Pride parades have started occurring across the world, with famous events including NYC’s “Pride in the City” and Detroit’s “Hotter than July”. Recently Latinx groups have also started holding their own parades, organisations such as D.C.’s Latino GLBT History Project have been integral to this.

In general, opinion is also split on whether Pride these days should take the form of a party or a protest. The celebratory aspect of the event is seen as a way to appreciate how far the community has come, but it’s also true that rights for LGBTQ+ people have a long long way to go all over the world. Ultimately, Pride is an event with a long and important history and, whatever your view on the month or parade, it is this history that should spur all of us on to stand up for LGBTQ+ rights every day of the year. As hate crimes continue to surge, if we carry the privileges of being straight, white, cisgender, able-bodied, and more, it is up to us to care for, stand up for, and protect those who experience more oppression and are more vulnerable than us. As Gabrielle Mckenzie Vogel explains so well when addressing straight people wanting to come to Pride:

You can still come to Pride! You can get your rainbow snow-cone and come see the LGBT talent at Pride events. But please, earn it. Align yourselves with the LGBT community. Research the things I mentioned, because I just barely scratched the surface. Look into the crisis of homeless LGBT youth, find an organization that gives you a way to help. Protest with your LGBT peers.

We have to wave the flag every day of our lives, and we don’t always get cheers and applause for doing it. If you’re going to celebrate with us, fight with us too.

Being an effective ally

To re-clarify, I don’t identify as LGBTQ+ so I’m not claiming to speak from my personal opinion or authority. I have, however, gathered resources from several other sites and compiled them here. Here’s what they had to say when it comes to allyship:

Educate yourself

Learning more about the LGBTQ+ community and its history, plus important laws and policies that affect LGBTQ+ folks, is an important place to start. Even if you are part of the community, it can be helpful to learn more about people whose sexuality or gender identity is different to your own. Stonewall has a glossary of terms here which can be a helpful start, and the internet and LGBTQ+ media contain a wealth of resources to educate and help you, GLAAD’s list of resources is also useful.

Also, while it can be useful to talk to LGBTQ+ friends and family about their experiences, do remember that you want to minimise causing them more emotional labour. Numerous resources already exist across the internet to educate you on LGBTQ+ culture, history and issues, so remember that you can always google something first. If you think your questions may be triggering or cause emotional labour, err on the side of not asking that person.

The process of educating yourself is also a helpful time to confront your own assumptions, bias or internalised prejudices. This may feel uncomfortable, but it’s important to unpack these things in order to move past them and grow into a better ally. Ultimately, it’s important to make your allyship about bettering the lives and fighting for the rights of those you’re trying to support, not centring your own feelings. Resist the urge to prioritise your discomfort, remain quiet and seek to learn more when you encounter these moments, instead of making it about you.

To learn more:

If you are in the USA: learn more about the Equality Act here and sign the petition in support here

If you are in the UK: sign the petition to protect Ken Macharia, who is at risk of persecution if deported to Kenya

Here is a list of pride exhibitions going on around the world this month

Pink News has a list of LGBTQ+ history films here

Penguin Random House has compiled the ‘Ultimate LGBTQIA+ Pride Book List’ here

Pink News has a list of LGBTQ+ history books here

Bustle has a suggested list of new books by LGBTQ+ authors here

Learn more about the flags at Pride here

Straight for Equality have created a guide to being an ally here


From Stonewall:

As allies to each other, we have to be able to listen, ask how someone is doing and be aware that other people’s lives and experiences will be completely different to our own, especially in terms of discrimination and prejudice. Remember that just because someone has come out to you, they might not be out to everyone. Be respectful to each other and enjoy learning about all the differences and diversity in the communities around us.

Understand intersectionality

Being an ally means being an ally to everyone, and understanding that each person has many intersecting elements that contribute to their identities. There isn’t space for TERFS, bi-erasure, racism or any other kinds of oppression in true allyship. Look into intersectionality, and educate yourself on varying identities and factors to consider, so you can work to be a true ally to everyone.

Use the right language

Language is incredibly important when it comes to LGBTQ+ rights; recent studies have shown that using the correct pronoun for trans people significantly improves mental health, including a 29% decrease in suicidal thoughts and a 56% decrease in suicidal behaviour. Considering this link is so clear, and that rates of suicidal behaviour in LGBTQ+ youth are staggering, the words we choose to use really do matter. Beyond asking for pronouns before assuming, respecting preferred pronouns and making sure not to deadname anyone, you can use language to encourage the consideration of pronouns. By giving your preferred pronouns when introducing yourself, or adding them to social media bios and email signatures, you can normalise the requests of LGBTQ+ for correct pronouns. Additionally, if you hear someone else use an incorrect pronoun or deadname someone, you can use your privilege to intervene and correct them.

Other important uses of language can include: asking someone if they have a partner rather than boyfriend/girlfriend as it moves away from heteronormative language, not asking invasive questions about fertility and pregnancy, and not asking questions such as ‘who is the man in the relationship’, because it’s not cool.

Use your privilege to stand up for others

If you see something homophobic or ignorant being said/done and it’s safe for your to do so, use your privilege to intervene. It’s our responsibility as people who aren’t oppressed for our sexual or gender identity to stand up for those who are, exercising our privilege and visibility for good.

From Stonewall:

When you hear people making negative comments or using hurtful or abusive language towards LGBT people, challenge it. If it’s online, report it. You might not always have all the answers or know exactly what to say and that’s OK. Here are some tips to think about:

  • Keep calm and say why bullying is wrong

  • Try saying something like, ‘Stop, this is wrong’ and explain why

  • Make sure you stay safe and don’t put yourself in danger

  • Check the person being bullied is OK

  • Encourage them to report it

The guide to being an ally also gives advice on how to stand up for others (page 29 onwards).

Influence others

Whether it’s a conversation with friends and family or your workplace and colleagues, use the platforms you have to amplify the voices of LGBTQ+ communities. In your workplace you can ask for gender-inclusive bathrooms, inclusively-worded policies, put your pronouns in your email signature, and campaign for specific policies that protect minorities and LGBTQ+ people at work.

Human rights campaign has a full guide to advocating for  LGBTQ+ equality in the workplace here.

On a larger scale, use your voice to boost LGBTQ+ voices, rally for LGBTQ+ issues, vote for candidates who support LGBTQ+ rights, and donate to LGBTQ+ organisations.

You can also check out the safe space kit which is designed to help educators create safe spaces for LGBTQ+ students, while Stonewall has multiple resources for educators too, including lesson and assembly plans.

When someone comes out to you

Human Rights Campaign created the Coming Out as a Supporter resource in 2014, made in partnership with Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG) National. The guide answers initial questions and shares facts, strategies, and ways to show your support as an ally. The full thing is helpful to read, but these are some of the key takeaways from the document:

  1. Be honest:  It’s important to be honest with yourself — acknowledging your feelings and coming to terms with them. And it means being honest with the person who came out in your life — acknowledging you aren’t an expert, asking them what’s important to them, seeking resources to better understand the realities of being an LGBT individual so that you can be truly informed and supportive.
  2. Send gentle signals: Showing and sharing your acceptance and support can be very easy. Many people often don’t realize that LGBT people keep watch for signs from their friends, family and acquaintances about whether it is safe to be open with them. It can be as subtle as having an LGBT-themed book on your coffee table.
  3. Have courage: Just as it takes courage for LGBT people to be open and honest about who they are, it also takes courage to support your LGBT friends or loved ones. We live in a society where prejudice still exists and where discrimination is still far too common. Recognizing these facts and giving your support to that person will take your relationship to a higher level and is a small step toward a better and more accepting world.
  4. Be reassuring: Explain to a someone who came out to you that their sexual orientation or gender identity has not changed how you feel about them, but it might take a little while for you to digest what they have told you. You still care for and respect them as much as you ever have or more. And that you want to do right by them and that you welcome them telling you if anything you say or do is upsetting.
  5. Let your support inform your decisions: It’s about working to develop a true understanding of what it means to be LGBT in America and trying to do your part to help break down the walls of prejudice and discrimination that still exist — for example, by supporting businesses with appropriate anti-discrimination policies, saying you don’t appreciate “humor” that demeans LGBT people when it happens or learning about where political candidates stand on issues that have an impact on the LGBT community.

Ultimately, this post is just a gathering together of resources I have found and an encouragement from me to you, lovely readers, to take LGBTQ+ rights seriously every month of the year. We are living in times where the rights and safety of LGBTQ+ folks around the world are consistently under threat, I hope you will take this post as a motivating force to learn more, and to donate your money and time to effective allyship in your communities and supporting organisations that are working to protect these rights.