Desert Companion

Pride and True

Wondering how to be a good ally beyond October’s parades? Community leaders have some advice

October is Pride month, at least in Vegas. In more temperate cities, it’s in June. Today’s Pride celebrations have their lineage in the march that was held on the one-year anniversary of the June 1969 uprising at the Stonewall Inn, a gay bar in New York City, leading to the ongoing fight for our rights. We commemorate this moment through a celebration of our kaleidoscopic identities, as symbolized by the rainbow flag.

But in recent years, Pride has become an extravaganza of corporate sponsorship, expensive parties, and surface-level support, dubbed rainbow capitalism. Such celebrations filter money into the hands of corporations and commodify our diverse spectrum of identities — as represented by our ever-growing acronym, 2SLGBTQIA+. Here, leaders of our local community provide some tangible ideas for change. If you are straight and looking to support us, read on, and remember that Pride happens once a year; we are here always.

“Straight allies showing support for two-spirit people is more than just calling them two-spirit. It’s taking it upon yourself to understand the deeper meaning of culture and traditions, as our existence itself is anti-capitalist. Advocating for our autonomy is the first step, but there are so many ways to show support, such as helping pay for bills ... giving rides for important meetings and appointments, buying someone groceries for the week, etc. With so many different avenues, it’s always a matter of knowing where to start — ask a 2SQT-BIPOC where you can begin to help them, and continuously show up.” 

—Yesenia Castro, Administrative Coordinator, Las Vegas Indian Center

“When going out to intentionally queer spaces, be sure to center the queer experience. These sacred spaces may be the only places many feel comfortable expressing their truest self. Honor them by leaving out patriarchal flexing and be aware of the space you take up.”

—Ashe aka A.C. Esme, Bodywork cofounder

“The best way straight allies can support the LGBTQ+ community this fall is to vote for pro-equality candidates in the November elections. With the recent overturning of Roe v. Wade, it is more important now than ever for pro-equality candidates to get elected at all levels of government.”

—Mark Sundermeier, steering committee co-chair for the Human Rights
Campaign in Las Vegas

“If you truly want to be an ally for someone who’s queer or someone who’s black or both, educate yourself. It’s come to the point, we are in 2022, I should not be educating you on stuff. If you truly want to be an ally, do the work.”

—Madame Aza, Creator and founder of Lilith: A Ladies Night and Madame
Aza Presents Kink Night 

“Among the LGBTQ folks in Southern Nevada, the trans community struggles the most with regard to employment. We are always looking for opportunities for businesses in the community to be more purposeful in their hiring practices. What we need from the wider community is folks to speak up and be advocates on our behalf.”

—John Waldron, CEO of LGBTQ Community Center of Southern Nevada

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