With conversation around Taylor Swift’s gay rights anthem heating up, what LGBTQ+ allyship really looks like has become a hotly debated topic.
While one may hope for a day LGBTQ+ identities are accepted by everyone, many queer and trans individuals face negativity, hatred and rejection from their biological families, leaving them with no choice but to closet themselves or sever those relationships. They form chosen families, with people who can love them for who they are.
That’s why it means the world when the families we are born into and grow up with choose us back.
These are some of the most heart-warming tributes family members have done for LGBTQ+ loved ones, during Pride Month and beyond.
Kudos to the moms and dads who surround us with warmth
Sara Cunningham was at first hesitant about her gay son’s identity. She’s since fully embraced him — and strangers at Pride parades everywhere. As the founder of Free Mom Hugs, you can catch Cunningham and LGBTQ-affirming parents giving hugs at Prides around the world.
While most hugs the parents dole out are quick and joyful, for those with intolerant parents, it can be a cathartic experience. As father Howie Dittman noticed at the Pittsburg Pride march, those who missed parental love the most would hold onto him fiercely.
Cheers to family who make their support as visible as possible
Being seen is an important aspect of allyship. It can signal to LGBTQ+ loved ones that their family members aren’t ashamed of them, acting as the first step towards deeper support or a reminder to continue keeping up the good work.
Visibility can be as easy as posing for a vibrant selfie.
And no, you can never start too young.
Making visibility fun can be a family affair.
When University of Louisville student Adrian Brown turned 20, his mother wanted to throw him a unique birthday party. So boutique owner Heather Lundberg Brown cooked up a cheeky gender reveal photoshoot, complete with blue balloons and a giant teddy bear.
“I love you, I honor who you are and I respect your courage to be unapologetically you!!” Green wrote on Facebook.
Her son appreciated the beautiful gesture, telling ABC, “Even if no one else could accept me, I knew I had a support system and a family that loved me … it’ll get better.”
For family members with public platforms, that visibility can have a greater reach.
That’s the case for Detroit Pistons player Reggie Bullock. He made allyship a life-long calling, in honour of his late transgender sister, Mia Henderson; she was killed in 2014. He uses his public platform to speak out against transphobia and advocating for LGBTQ+ inclusion in professional sport.
Bullock told the Advocate he’s still learning how to be the best ally he can be and wanted to show his commitment in a permanent way. He has “LGBTQ” and “Mia Henderson” inked on his right leg, with her face on his left leg.
Respect to the grandmas keeping it real
Because really, is there anything as good as grandma approval?
Whether they’re pulling no punches ...
... or knitting a rainbow sweater for their bisexual grandchildren, whatever they do can warm hearts like nothing else.
They’re even there if you need a new bop. For tear-jerkers, listen to 79-year-old songwriter and ally Sherri Gray, a.k.a. Singing Grandma Sherri. When she found out her lesbian niece was getting married, she wrote a gay marriage anthem for the couple.
Gray has since written several moving ballads in support LGBTQ communities that are impossible to get through without bawling. Her touching tune dedicated to queer and trans elders last year includes lyrics like, “Your strength and your courage we’ll never forget.”
And of course, all the love to those who march with us
Whether it’s their first time ...
... or they’ve been with us every step of the way ...
When family members are LGBTQ+ allies, everybody wins.