June is PRIDE Month, a time of celebration, reflection, and advocacy for the LGBTQIA2S+ community. Verity stands in solidarity with the LGBTQIA2S+ community and acknowledges the intersection between historically and intentionally marginalized identities and the experience of sexual assault. But what is allyship, and why is it important? As we reflect and honor the experiences of the LGBTQIA2S+ community, let’s explore allyship.

(Just in case, an FYI: LGBTQIA2S+: An acronym that stands for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender or Trans, Queer or Questioning, Intersex, Asexual or Agender, Two-spirit, and the plus sign indicates the inclusion of other identities.)

What is Allyship, Anyway?

The word “ally” comes from the Latin word “alligare,” meaning to combine, unite, and bind.” When people or communities are allies, it means they intend to act together and protect one another. In regards to social movements, allyship is a continuous, proactive effort to support and uplift marginalized communities. For those who are straight, cisgender, or whose identities align with none or some of the LGBTQIA2S+ community, being an ally means educating oneself about the issues faced by LGBTQIA2S+ individuals, speaking out against injustice, and providing support. For survivors of sexual violence in the LGBTQIA2S+ community, allyship involves recognizing their identities and lived experience and advocating with compassion and respect.

hand holding up rainbow heart with trees in the background

How to Be an Ally for LGBTQIA2S+ Survivors of Sexual Violence

Educate Yourself: Knowledge is power. Learn about the specific challenges faced by LGBTQIA2S+ survivors. Understand the historical and systemic barriers that contribute to their vulnerability and the stigmatization they often face. (You can start by learning about words and phrases associated with the LGBTQIA2S+ community at the Human Rights Campaign.)

Create Inclusive Spaces: Make an effort to create environments where LGBTQIA2S+ individuals feel seen and respected. This includes using inclusive language, respecting pronouns, and challenging discriminatory behaviors.

Listen and Believe: When a survivor shares their story, listen without judgment. Believe their experiences and validate their feelings. Your support can be a crucial part of their healing process. (This applies to survivors of all identities.)

Advocate for Inclusive Services: Push for inclusive policies and practices within organizations that serve survivors of sexual violence. Ensure that services are accessible and respectful of all gender identities and sexual orientations. (A PRIDE flag on display can go a long way in conveying that your organization is proactively inclusive.)

The Nuances of Accessing Services

LGBTQI2SA+ survivors of sexual violence often face unique challenges when seeking support. Fear of discrimination, lack of inclusive services, and past negative experiences with service providers can create significant barriers. It’s crucial for allies and service providers to recognize these nuances and strive to create supportive and affirming environments.

For example, this might look like ensuring that intake forms are inclusive of all gender identities, training staff on LGBTQIA2S+ cultural responsiveness, and offering support groups specifically for LGBTQIA2S+ survivors – these can all make a meaningful difference.

Supporting Local Organizations and Serve the LGBTQIA2S+ Community

In Sonoma County, several organizations are doing remarkable work to support LGBTQIA2S+ individuals:

Positive Images: Offers support groups, counseling, and educational workshops for LGBTQIA2S+ youth and young adults.

LGBTQ Connection: Provides a variety of services including community events, support groups, and advocacy for LGBTQIA2S+ individuals of all ages.

These organizations are crucial allies in the fight against sexual violence and deserve our support.

How to Help:

At Verity, we are committed to supporting all survivors of sexual violence, including those within the LGBTQIA2S+ community. This PRIDE Month, we invite you to join us in supporting the LGBTQIA2S+ community by educating yourself and others, advocating for equality, supporting LGBTQIA2S+ businesses and artists, celebrating LGBTQIA2S+ culture and history, and being a vocal ally. We invite you to donate to our mission to ensure all survivors have access to the services and resources they need to heal.

Together, we can make a difference.