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How To Be An Ally During Pride Month

Radar

Stand strong

In the age of social media and increasingly mainstream, corporate-sponsored events, Pride Month can seem like one big party. What is often missed by allies witnessing sparkly parades and rainbow-filled social media posts is the profound grief and rage that accompanies Pride for many in the LGBTQ+ community. This is why one of the most meaningful things you can do for your LGBTQ+ family and friends this month, is to show up for them.

Here in the United States, the psychological, emotional, and even physical duress that the community often experiences has been further exacerbated by the current administration and an onslaught of legal challenges to LGBTQ+ rights in state legislatures. Here are some tips on how to support your loved ones this month—and every month.

Pulse Nightclub in Orlando, Florida / Photo via NPR

Check in with your people: Text or otherwise message your friends a few more times than you perhaps normally would this month. Ask to get coffee, to get drinks, to take a walk around the neighborhood. Tell them you’re thinking of them. Tell them you love them. One key date to keep in mind this year is the anniversary of last year’s Pulse shooting in Orlando, Florida: June 12. Forty-nine people were killed and 58 more injured during the gay club’s Latin night in one of the most horrific attacks of terror in recent American history.

Don't take it personally if you don't hear back: Pride is a month of celebration, but it's also a month of mourning, for the rise in hate crimes and the fact that our vice president actively endorses conversion therapy; for the elders we don't have who were lost to AIDS, an epidemic which became a state-sanctioned genocide under the Reagan administration. (Watch We Were Here on Netflix or YouTube.)

This month, we are reflecting on how far we have to go. As of 2015, the life expectancy for a trans woman of color was 35. The vast majority of LGBTQ+ homicide victims are people of color and, of those, more than 70 percent are trans women. Some months, it seems like queer media outlets are reporting the murders of trans women of color on a weekly basis. Just last week, a gay woman in Brooklyn, New York, was beaten unconscious on an MTA train—and that’s a city that many regard as a liberal haven. These are unacceptable realities that LGBTQ+ people live with on a daily basis. 

It’s not you: it’s society.


Martha P. Johnson, trans activist / Artwork by Micah Bazant

Devote time this month to self-education: Allyship is not an identity; it's a verb, an action, a process. It's a thing you do, and a thing you're always improving at. This is as true for LGBTQ+ folks learning to ally others in our own community as it is for cis-het folks learning to ally their LGBTQ+ friends and fam. There is no shame in not knowing something, only in refusing to acknowledge that you don’t know everything.

I'm here to tell you that it's okay you don't know, that Google is your friend, that GLAAD has a ton of resources aimed at the media but written in a really accessible way, and that you should definitely be reading AutostraddleThe EstablishmentEveryday Feminism, and other queer-friendly outlets to learn more (like the fact that the rainbow flag doesn’t apply to everyone in the LGBTQ+ community). 

Photo by Reza Rostempishah

Be an ally, and don’t be afraid of “doing it wrong”: Since Donald Trump was elected, I’ve had a lot of conversations with friends and acquaintances, both online and offline, about allyship and advocacy. To paraphrase, this is what I most often hear: “I want to be an ally. I want to tell people I care about them. I am horrified by what’s happening, and I want to speak up for the marginalized. But I’m worried about doing it wrong.”

You can never please everyone, and the idea that allyship is an endeavor which could or would please everyone is unrealistic. It’s partly a fear of perfectionism—the most benign weakness to offer up in a job interview—and a fear of internet callout culture, where one misplaced word could result in a huge Twitter backlash.

But ultimately, this is a fear of vulnerability. A fear of being willing to live and learn and even fail out loud. A fear of exposing the darkest corners of your heart that you may not yet have come to terms with. A fear of fucking up and losing approval, or not winning approval in the first place.  

And this strikes at the heart of the issue: Allyship is for the group of people you care about, but you, as an ally, are not talking to those people. This is a fundamental misunderstanding of the application of allyship. 

Cis-het folks’ job as an ally to their LGBTQ+ friends is not to go to Pride or wear rainbows (although that is nice, of course); it is to have the hard conversations at work and at home, it is to discuss inclusive hiring with their managers, it is to donate to LGBTQ+ charities with the rest of us, it is to call their congresspeople and protest the discriminatory legislation, it is to boost awareness of the targeted murders of LGBTQ+ people so that, yes, America can see that in spite of marriage equality, it does happen here

It is to help us be able to say, “It gets better,” and mean it.   

This is how you support us, during Pride season and beyond: by working to affirm our dignity. Pride is not a one-time event any more than allyship is a one-off march with a pussy hat. We do not stop being gay or queer or trans or bi or genderqueer after June 30, and goodness knows that discriminatory legislation and hate speech will not stop seeking the corners of our bedrooms, our offices, our bathrooms, our commutes, our families. 

Thank you for listening. Thank you for standing by us when so many have not. And thank you for loving us, exactly as we are. 

Photo by Rachel Dennis

Finally

"What do girls even do together?" This question, or some iteration of it, is frequently posed to me once someone finds out I'm bisexual or hears me mention my girlfriend, or if I make any reference to being interested in girls. I would be annoyed by it, but I have empathy because I know how hard this kind of information can be to find. In fact, the details of how two people with vaginas have sex isn't very widespread information. And, I know that I didn't really have all that much information about girl-on-girl sex before, well, actually having it myself. It's precisely this kind of situation that queer sex educator Stevie Boebi is trying to fix.

Boebi has gained a big following for her informational YouTube videos about how to use a strap-on, how to scissor, how to fist someone, how to choose a vibrator for yourself; any question you could have, she will get you an answer. She doesn't shy away from topics that people wouldn't be quick to ask someone about IRL, either, like BDSM. And she covers the kind of things that are definitely not what we're taught in sex education classes—likely not even in the most progressive curriculums. A study from GLSEN notes that only 4 percent of teens reported learning anything positive about queer sex in their sex ed classes, and points out that in some states, it's actually prohibited to mention queerness at all.

Particularly when it comes to sex with two vaginas, the lack of available public education leads to a general lack of understanding of how we have sex, which then leads to a lack of understanding in the queer community, too. "I just think that lesbian sex is so oversexualized, and we're the least educated," said Boebi when I asked her recently why it's so important for her to spread knowledge about queer sex in particular.

Boebi said that she started out on YouTube making videos about technology, but after she came out as a lesbian, her audience flipped from mostly male to mostly female, though she would prefer a less rudimentary gender breakdown ("the algorithm only deals in binaries, sorry," she quipped).

Ultimately, her sexuality led her to change her content entirely, because she wanted to educate people who couldn't find answers to their questions anywhere else—even on the internet.

"I started getting a lot of what I called 'stupid questions' from very confused teenage girls saying, like, 'How do I do it? Can I get AIDs from fingering someone?'" Boebi told me. They were questions that probably should have had easily Google-able answers, but, when Boebi looked for lesbian sex education content to send to fans who were asking her, she came up empty-handed. "I couldn't find anything. I think I found, like, two articles on Autostraddle, and that was it," she said. "And then I was like, Well, shit! If no one else is going to do it, then I guess I will."

Boebi's audience is mainly comprised of 13- to 24-year-olds, so she keeps in mind that she's helping people who may not be experienced, or even out yet. She uses her own experiences to inform her work sometimes, but also researches extensively and talks to people she knows who "have fancy Ph.Ds in sexology and shit," who can answer her questions or point her to resources she should be referencing.

Boebi's charm is in her relatability; even if she's talking about things we've been conditioned to feel shame around, she does it in such an open and honest way that all that shame disappears—as it should. She does this by perfectly meshing professional talk with jokes and sarcasm, and even uses characters based on star signs. She knows the importance of taking on taboo topics, because there are so many people who won't otherwise find answers to their questions. "I don't actually struggle in my everyday life asking people if they've ever been anally fisted before," Boebi joked with me. "I'll take that burden."

And keeping her tone light and humorous is of the utmost importance to her. "When people are laughing, they're comfortable, and I want people to feel comfortable," Boebi said. "And I want people to know that I'm comfortable talking about sex, and they can be, too." It helps also, Boebi told me, that her audience is separated by a screen, and she's not "in a room with a 12-year-old talking about my labia."

Beyond instructional sex videos, Boebi also deals with other rarely discussed facets of sexuality and physicality. Boebi is polyamorous, and talks openly about it, confronting the stereotypes and the misinformation about the identity head-on. And, she was also recently diagnosed with Ehler's Danlos Syndrome after going years without a diagnosis, and she aims to start working more with disabled queer sex educators to make her work more inclusive of people with disabilities. Though she pointed out to me that her work was already encompassing of disabilities, she "hasn't been a part of the disability activist community for very long," and so she has a lot to learn.

And, though Boebi's happy that she has the platform she does, she wants a more inclusive array of sex educators to join the scene. "My voice is my voice, and it's unique to me, but I think there should be way more," she noted. "Especially people [with intersectional identities]. That would make me so happy if we could diversify sex educators."

And, though Boebi says there's no "ideal way" to educate people about sex, she's definitely on a better track than the public education system, and she makes clear that there's nothing shameful about sexuality—in fact, it's just a part of being human, and a really fun one, at that.

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Photo by Nicholas Hunt / Gareth Cattermole / Getty Images.

This photo makes me so happy

It can't be understated how big of a phenomenon the Spice Girls were during the late '90s. Their impact was felt from the bustling streets of London to the dry desert land of Scottsdale, Arizona. The latter place is where a young Emily Jean Stone was so immersed in fandom that she asked her second-grade teacher to call her Emma, after Emma "Baby Spice" Bunton. Fast-forward a couple of decades, and Emily is the Academy Award-winning actress Emma Stone. What's even better, she's still a huge Spice Girls fan.

Stone went to the Spice Girls reunion tour at the Wembley Stadium in London and finally met the woman who inspired the name the actress is now known by. Bunton shared a photo of the two of them outside of the venue on her Instagram. She captioned the photo: "When Emma met Emma."And even added the hashtag #2become1. I can't figure out if I want to cry from sentimentality or serious envy.

As for Stone, she once cried when Mel "Scary Spice" B. sent her a video message so I can only imagine what this moment felt like for her. Let this be a reminder that even Oscar winners can be stans.

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Screenshot via YouTube

The band shared details about their new St. Vincent-produced album that will drop "you into the world of catastrophe"

Sleater-Kinney just shared more information about their St. Vincent-produced album and dropped a new single.

Per Billboard, Sleater-Kinney revealed that their new album, which they've been teasing since early this year and will be their first since No Cities To Love from 2015, will be called The Center Won't Hold. It's due out on August 16 via Mom + Pop Records. "We're always mixing the personal and the political but on this record, despite obviously thinking so much about politics, we were really thinking about the person—ourselves or versions of ourselves or iterations of depression or loneliness—in the middle of the chaos," Carrie Brownstein said in a statement. Corin Tucker further noted that the new album will "[drop] you into the world of catastrophe that touches on the election."

Janet Weiss noted that the band will "explore a different sound palette" with this album, and pointed to St. Vincent as the reason behind it. She said that St. Vincent "has a lot of experience building her own music with keyboards and synthesizers so she could be our guide to help us make sense of this new landscape and still sound like us."

To satiate us until then, the band released a lyric video for new single, "The Future Is Here," which is very grungy. Bump it, below.

Sleater-Kinney - The Future Is Here (Official Lyric Video) www.youtube.com

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This is so satisfying!

Even Jon Snow knows just how unsatisfying the final season of Game of Thrones was, and he's ready to apologize. Well, a deepfake of him is at least. A heavily-edited version of Snow's speech from the fourth episode—just before the bodies of those lost in the Battle of Winterfell get burned—now features Snow apologizing for the conclusion of the show and lighting the script on fire.

"It's time for some apologies. I'm sorry we wasted your time," Snow begins. "And I know nothing made sense at the end. When the Starbucks cup is the smallest mistake, you know you fucked up! We take the blame. I'm sorry we wrote this in like six days or something," he adds, before signaling to his peers to light the script with torches and "just forget it forever." "Fuck Season 8," he says before the pages begin to crackle and burn.

If there were more lines left to alter, we would have loved to see Snow also tackle how messy Brienne of Tarth and Jaime Lannister's story line ended up, as well as Bran's kingship, Cersei's boring demise, and the water bottle appearance.

Watch the entire deepfake and try to heal the wounds left by HBO below.

BREAKING: JON SNOW FINALLY APOLOGIZED FOR SEASON 8 youtu.be

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Photo by Darren Craig

It premieres today, exclusively via NYLON

In LP's song "Shaken," the most recent single from her 2018 record Heart To Mouth, she tells the story of seeing her lover out with someone else—ouch. Today, exclusively on NYLON, she releases a cheeky animated music video that pokes fun at the song's heightened drama and perfectly demonstrates all the angst that comes with falling hard for someone.

"She looks at you like I used to/ And I'm just sitting in the corner sh-sh-shaken," LP sings, as the visual—with art by Maayan Priva—depicts the singer hanging out in a bar, watching the girl she likes meet up with another girl. Despite the situation's inherent drama, "Shaken" is less of a ballad and more of an upbeat bop. LP told us she loves the way "this little video captures some of the fun of the song, and its inherent comical anxiety." Sure, heartbreak isn't that funny, but our (sometimes) overly dramatic reaction to it kind of is.

"'Shaken' feels like a bit of a wild card on this record," LP says. "It's the closest I've come to writing a musical, which I hope to do one day." We heartily endorse this idea: Please, LP, give us the queer jukebox musical we crave.

Until that day comes, though, you can watch the music video for "Shaken," below.

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