With the Manchester Pride Festival coming up 25-29 August, we want to make sure everyone feels comfortable and safe at all of the incredible events taking place as part of the celebrations. As such, we’ve created this guide of practical tips to help straight and cisgender people understand how to be good allies at LGBTQ+ Pride!
1. Understand the meaning of LGBTQ+ Pride!
While Pride can be a really great party, it’s also a protest. Pride has always been about improving LGBTQ+ rights, and it continues to fight for positive change for LGBTQ+ people today. Manchester Pride has a long history of fighting for LGBTQ+ liberation, and so by coming to Pride you are joining in on a social movement bigger than any one of us. To help with your understanding, here are some quick LGBTQ+ Pride facts:
Pride was created as an annual reminder of the Stonewall Riots
. LGBTQ+ people fought to change harmful laws, end police brutality and create safe and public spaces for LGBTQ+ people. While we have made a lot of progress, there are still issues we are fighting for today, such as improving healthcare (especially for trans people), improving access to housing, ending HIV stigma, and ending anti-LGBTQ+ violence and hate crimes. Pride is a deeply meaningful and valuable period for the community, and so it’s important to respect the significance of the occasion.
2. Be our guest!
Ask yourself: Why am I here?
Imagine you’re at someone else’s birthday party. Would you make yourself the centre of attention, or would you celebrate the person whose party it is? Hopefully, you’d be a good guest. And you should do the same at Pride. We’d love you to come and celebrate with us, as long as you remember what we’re celebrating. Pride is not an excuse to dance and drink just for fun, there’s a purpose to the partying. We’re here to celebrate LGBTQ+ people, their history, culture and liberation! This should be the focus of the fun.
To do this, try to make space rather than take space. While you are welcome to attend Pride, be aware of how much space you’re taking up. Here are some quick tips:
- Don’t dominate spaces. This means not spreading out, making yourself the centre of attention or being the loudest person present.
- Pride isn’t a place for you to share your bad takes on politics or your ‘devil’s advocate’ opinions. You are not entitled to an uninformed opinion, especially if it’s going to make Pride feel unsafe for LGBTQ+ people.
- Fly the Pride flag! Some people like ally flags, but let’s instead use this as an opportunity to celebrate LGBTQ+ people!
Importantly, Pride is not an opportunity to people-watch. This isn’t a space for you to gawk at those who are different from you, or get new and exciting content for your social media. Essentially: be respectful.
3. Educate yourself!
Being respectful of a different community can sometimes be tricky, so try to come to Pride prepared. We’ve got some key Practical Tips at the end of this list, but if you’re unsure of anything about the LGBTQ+ community, or if you have any questions about LGBTQ+ allyship, it might be best to research it before the event. Pride is not an opportunity for you to interrogate LGBTQ+ people about their identities or experiences, or to ask ignorant questions just because you’re curious. If you come upon something at Pride you don’t understand, best to Google it later.
To help you get started, here are some articles for you to read:
Want to learn more? Check out Visible Justice: An LGBTQ+ Inclusivity Handbook. 100% of the proceeds go toward supporting LGBTQ+ youth across Greater Manchester!
4. No assumptions!
No matter how much research you’ve done, try to live and breathe this one: don’t make any assumptions about anyone else attending Pride. Don’t guess what their sexual orientation is, what kind of relationships they have, what their gender is, or what pronouns they use. There are so many different ways to be LGBTQ+ and Pride should be a safe space for all of them.
- Just because someone is in an opposite-sex relationship doesn’t mean they’re not bi or pan (or a number of other identities).
- A couple might actually be part of a throuple, or might just be friends, or something else! There are many different kinds of relationship structures.
- How masculine, feminine or androgynous a person is does not indicate whether they are LGBTQ+.
- LGBTQ+ people can be any race, ethnicity, nationality, etc.
- A person’s race or ethnicity does not determine how LGBTQ+ inclusive they are.
- Someone may be wearing traditional religious garb but also be proudly LGBTQ+.
- Just because someone is at Pride doesn’t mean they’re anti-religious, and just because someone is religious doesn’t mean they’re anti-LGBTQ.
- People can be LGBTQ+ no matter how old or young they are.
- A person’s age does not determine their political affiliation.
- Remember that disabled people can be LGBTQ+, can party and can have thriving romantic relationships and sex lives.
- There are many invisible disabilities, though no matter how visible it’s important not to assume the abilities or limitations of others.
- Pride is a sex-positive space, avoid slut shaming but also don’t assume everyone at Pride is there for sexual reasons.
- Don’t assume other people are attracted to you (and don’t be offended if they are!)
- Don’t assume you have other people’s consent. Always get enthusiastic consent before any sexual or physical activity!
Essentially, let others take the lead in telling you who they are, what they need and what their normal is. And then from there: believe them!
5. Celebrate ALL LGBTQ+ people!
Following on from the above list, remember that Pride is for everyone!
If any of the below sound like you, perhaps consider staying at home this year:
- You support lesbians, gays and bisexuals, but not trans and non-binary people
- You’re a woman with gay friends but thinks lesbians are gross, or a man who has lesbian friends but thinks gay men are gross
- You don’t believe certain LGBTQ+ identities are legitimate, such as bi or pan identities
- You are fine with LGBT identities but take issue with any other queer identities outside that acronym
- You’re only okay with LGBTQ+ people so long as they’re monogamous and don’t express their identity or sexuality too openly
- You only support LGBTQ+ people of a particular gender, race, ethnicity, religious and/or political belief, etc.
We sincerely hope that everyone who comes to Pride this year will come to support the entire
6. Be a real LGBTQ+ ally!
Just because you are straight and cisgender and not a queerphobe does not mean you are automatically an ally to LGBTQ+ people, even if you’re attending Pride. An ally is someone who does active and intentional work in the fight for another group’s human rights and social liberation. It takes effort!
Here are some examples of what it means to be an LGBTQ+ ally:
- Shield LGBTQ+ people from hate. Step up in the face of any queerphobia you see and support the LGBTQ+ community (even if there are no LGBTQ+ people present!)
- Don’t speak on behalf of the LGBTQ+ community, follow LGBTQ+ people’s lead in the fight for their liberation.
- Support LGBTQ+ events, businesses, charities, groups and social justice initiatives all year round.
- Encourage LGBTQ+ inclusion in your workplace, and among your friends and family.
- Vote for leaders who support LGBTQ+ liberation.
- Donate to LGBTQ+ causes.
7. Practical tips for LGBTQ+ inclusion!
In addition to the above, please remember the following:
- Remember that Pride is a deeply meaningful period for LGBTQ+ people, so treat everyone kindly and respectfully. Try your best to make others feel celebrated and safe!
- Don’t interrogate people about their identities. If someone tells you who they are, believe them! You can always Google it later.
- Labels can mean different things to different people, so let people take lead in defining themselves and don’t impose your own ideas on who they should be on them. From there, use the terms and pronouns they ask you to use!
- Use gender-inclusive language, for example try ‘partner’ rather than 'girl/boyfriend’ or use ‘they’ pronouns for someone unless they specify otherwise.
- Never out someone! Meaning, just because they’ve told you they’re LGBTQ+ doesn’t mean you can tell anyone else. That includes not sharing that you saw someone at Pride unless they say you can share.
- Challenge any kinds of prejudice or hate, every time you see it. There’s no room for homophobia, lesbophobia, biphobia or transphobia at Pride, but there’s also no room for racism, sexism, islamophobia, anti-semitism, ageism, ableism, etc.
- Don’t expect others to meet certain social norms or standards, Pride is a place for all kinds of people, including across various relationship structures, forms of self-expression and lifestyles.
- Have fun, but not at the expense of others. Follow the advice above about making space for LGBTQ+ people, supporting all kinds of LGBTQ+ people and always getting enthusiastic consent.
- If you make any mistakes, apologise sincerely and quickly. Don’t make a big scene, this will make the space all about you.
- Respect the history and purpose of Pride, always.
‘A gay/bi/trans person’
‘A gay’ or ‘a trans’ etc.
‘Transgender’ or ‘cisgender’
‘Transgendered’ or ‘cisgendered’
‘They identify as’
‘Gender affirming transition’
‘Female-to-male’ or ‘born a girl’
‘Male-to-female’ or ‘born a boy’
‘Your name/ pronouns’
‘Your preferred name/ pronouns’