I’ve had this on my heart for a while. Finally, I realized my straight privilege, and I want to use it for good. I’ve learned that straight people who are homophobic or transphobic are more likely to change if I talk to them than a gay person. So I’ve made the following steps hoping I could inspire other straight people to take actionable steps to make this world more inclusive and stand by the queer community.
1. Understand that Queerness is NOT a choice.
When did you realize you were straight? I was five when I realized I liked boys. I don’t think of myself consciously choosing to be straight, nor do queer people. Nevertheless, we must give our queer siblings the same grace and respect we give ourselves.
2. Don’t misgender trans or nonbinary people.
This step is a follow-up to the first rule. If you have a hard time remembering, practice remembering people’s pronouns! Or just use the person’s name. As a best practice, always ask for someone’s pronouns and don’t assume.
3. If you see another straight person misgendering someone, correct them.
Trans people are constantly misgendered, and sometimes it’s by accident. So for many people, it’s exhausting to remind others to use the correct pronoun. It’s scary at first, but don’t be scared. Sometimes the person will thank you for correcting them because it was an honest mistake. But if it’s intentional, call them out!
4. Don’t assume.
Gay people have preferences too. Don’t assume that gay women are automatically attracted to you because you are a woman. It doesn’t work that way.
5. Teach your straight/cis friends new terms to use that are inclusive.
I’ll go first. Cishet is short for cisgender heterosexual. So I’m a cishet woman, which means I am comfortable with my assigned gender at birth and am sexually attracted to the opposite sex, even though most men get on my nerves.
6. Share the mic.
Too often, cishet people control the narrative. Instead, ask a queer person their thoughts on topics and hire them to speak and write about things unrelated to their queerness.
7. Open your purse!
It’s a different world for our queer friends, especially our trans and non-binary siblings. Parents kick kids out of their homes if they find out their kids are gay or trans. The life expectancy of a trans woman is 35 years old. Many LGBTQ youths are housing and food insecure. So donate, donate, donate!
8. Amplify their voices!
Whether you have ten followers or 1 million, the LGBTQIA community needs your help. If you are cishet, use that privilege to talk about the problems the LGBTQIA community faces so real change can happen.
9. Let people change their minds
Many people were upset when Amandla Sternberg came out as a lesbian though she identified as bisexual in the past. We are all on this journey called life. Things change, people evolve, and we are constantly learning ourselves.
As cishet people, we need to acknowledge our privilege and use it to defend the marginalized, and those discriminated against for living their truth. Even if we stay quiet and idle, our inaction makes us complacent to the injustices that queer people endure. Then, even if we cannot make the bigoted and narrow-minded change their mind, we can continue supporting our queer siblings and try to make the world safer for them.
About the Author
Nydia Simone is a Blactina Media creator, Panamanian-American actor, writer and content creator, born and raised in New York City. She is known for her work amplifying Afrolatinx and Caribbean narratives in digital media.