Queen’s Clubs aren’t showing true solidarity during Pride

Pride is about celebrating the LGBTQ+ community, not teaching allyship

Little believes clubs are talking over important voices. 
Credit: 
Supplied by Eliot Little
The first time I experienced queer joy was in June of 2019 at a local queer prom. 
 
I danced in red high-tops and a blue bow tie that I’d snuck out the house, changing out of the dress I’d said goodbye to my parents in. To me and many others in the LGBTQ+ community, Pride month symbolizes a time when we can unapologetically take up space in places where expressing our identity is otherwise minimized. 
 
Unfortunately, Pride has increasingly been appropriated by groups as a marketing tool, shifting the focus away from celebrating the queer community to straight allies. Although this practice is well-intentioned, claiming support by saturating Instagram feeds with statements of solidarity or explanations on how to be a better ally fails to celebrate queer progress or joy. 
 
This also applies to student groups at Queen’s. Though they may not be profiting off Pride like corporations, they still seek to gain social capital. 
 
Posting during Pride is an easy way for clubs to write statements of support without advocating for changes that benefit queer students. These statements of solidarity mainly serve to absolve groups of guilt. Not only do they fail to facilitate the safe space so many queer students seek in June, but they distract from our celebration and continued advocacy.  
 
Many groups speak to allies rather than to LGBTQ+ students in their Pride content. Clubs wanting to make a meaningful contribution to Pride should target the LGBTQ+ community with their messaging—Instagram posts explaining how to be a better ally are counterproductive. 
 
These posts redirect attention away from queer voices; June is not the month for allies to take up space learning about our history, challenges, and celebrations. Rather, Pride is a time for us to be unapologetically proud. 
 
If clubs want to educate students on how they can better include the LGBTQ+ community in their organization, they would be better off implementing advocacy training informed by resources developed by QTBIPOC students. 
 
Clubs too often assume all their followers are cis-het and need to be educated on queer issues, failing to acknowledge the presence of LGBTQ+ students. Our community continues to struggle being visible in academic and professional spaces, as we often tone down our self-expression in ways that help us fit in. 
 
When clubs fail to recognize that queer students are a significant portion of their follower base, it perpetuates the idea that we are not present on campus or involved with student groups. It's tough to find and make safe spaces if we are not recognized within the student body.
 
Real structural change is needed. Though solidarity and allyship are essential, they do not have a place in Pride conversations. This is our time to celebrate, not the time for us to help you navigate the discomfort and uncertainty of true allyship. 
 
Therefore, the demand for progress remains at the core of Pride. 
 
We have seen great strides since the Pride movement was born in 1969, but we are still far from achieving equity. Each year over 320,000 queer University students across the country experience discrimination based on their sexual or gender identity. Our community continues to experience disproportionate rates of violence, housing or food insecurity, and suicide. 
 
Queer organizations and advocates work tirelessly all year to address these inequities. Next year, clubs should consider focusing their support on LGBTQ+ groups and issues instead of spending time and resources developing content to demonstrate allyship.
 
If this work doesn't fall within your club's mandate, consider partnering with queer organizations aligning with your club. For example, Law student groups could consider volunteering at Legal clinics that provide services for the LGBTQ+ community. Volunteering is a great way to respectfully and effectively support your peers. 
 
Clubs need to address the correct audience with their Pride content—the last thing they should be doing is speaking over queer voices. Making space for students to proudly express their queer joy is the best way to participate in Pride, be it through donations or volunteering. 
 
Let us reclaim the joy that many of us were denied growing up. Give us space to dance awkwardly in our blue bow ties and red high-tops. Cheer us on—quietly, from the sidelines. 
 
 
Eliot Little (they/them) is a first year Law student. 
 

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