TW: Anti-LGBT violence is discussed in the abstract, but no details are given or specific cases highlighted.
The challenge we pose to all who want to participate in the Week of Action is one that is so simple, it’s sometimes perceived as complicated or unclear – as if there’s a hidden meaning to it, a secret agenda of specific actions we want everyone to take coded within our posts. “What do you mean?” and “What should I do?” are common questions we receive before and throughout the event. If you’re someone who is still unclear about what this event is or what actions you can take to benefit the LGBT community, don’t worry! We’ve written up this post to help clarify the challenge and give all participants a bunch of ideas of where they could start.
First, allow us to repeat what we are asking participants to do: our challenge to everyone who wants to take part is to do something positive for LGBT community, whatever that means for them – something that makes the world a little better and a little safer for LGBT people to exist, in remembrance of those who lived and died in a world where that was not the case. The “action, awareness, and activism” aspect of the event is left intentionally as vague and open-ended as possible so that all participants can create interpretations that are meaningful to them and make the event their own. We don’t have specific actions we are asking people to do when they decide to take on the challenge. Whatever you feel compelled to do, whatever you feel would make a positive impact – this is your opportunity to do it. It can affect a whole community or it can affect just a single person. It can be something large and world-changing or it can be something small and simple. Give it some thought: what does it mean to you when I say, “do something positive for the LGBT community?” There is no one way to take action and there is no wrong way either.
After all, the force that drives the Week of Action is the concept behind it. We are a diverse group of people with diverse ideas about what actions will be most beneficial to the LGBT community who are united by the common goal of creating a better world for LGBT people – what exactly you choose to do is entirely up to you. If you’re not sure where to start, check out our list of fifty ways you could take action below and see if any of our ideas sound like something you’d like to try. You’re more than welcome to steal them or modify them as you see fit:
1. Make a point to talk about LGBT issues during the Week.
2. Donate to an organization that serves the LGBT community, especially local ones, or donate to a crowdfund set up by or for an LGBT person.
3. Pick a couple of names from the “In Remembrance” list on the WoA site and do some research into their stories. Who were they? What happened to them?
4. Share resources.
5. Speak out against racism, classism, ableism, etc., especially within the LGBT community.
6. Start, run, or join an LGBT-related club, group, or organization.
7. Connect or get together with some people in a similar position as you and have the conversations you need to have.
8. Alternatively, connect or get together with some people in a similar position as you and just have fun! Even activists aren’t all about the issues all the time.
9. Talk to others about the stories of those we’ve lost to anti-LGBT violence.
10. Accept and embrace who you are – and do something to remind yourself that you’re awesome.
11. Reach out to someone and let them know you are there for them.
12. Attend a rally, protest, or vigil.
13. Challenge your own assumptions and prejudices.
14. Combat queer-on-queer hate.
15. Casually bring up an LGBT-related issue in a conversation with friends.
16. Start an LGBT-related blog, project, or craft.
17. Consider putting up a safe zone sticker or something similar where people will see it. In doing this, you send a quiet yet powerful signal to LGBT people that you are a safe person.
18. Take part in an LGBT-related movement or project like the Stories Project, the You Have a Purpose Project, the It Gets Better Project, etc. There are lots!
19. Start a conversation with someone who is ignorant or ill-informed about LGBT issues and educate them.
20. Live another day because you are intrinsically valuable and worthy.
21. Call someone out when you hear them make a heterosexist (homophobic) or cissexist (transphobic) comment.
22. Wear an LGBT-related article of clothing – this is another quiet yet powerful signal that you are a safe person.
23. Reflect on how your experiences have shaped who you are (you can write it down if you’d like.) You don’t have to show anyone – it’s just for you.
24. Be an advocate for one or more of the groups often left out of the discussions. This includes but is not limited to: trans people, bisexuals, pansexuals, gender non-conforming people, asexuals, intersex people, and two-spirit people.
25. Remind someone that you love them today because they may not be here tomorrow.
26. Think critically about how your experience as an (X) person is different than someone else who is (Y).
27. Volunteer at an existing LGBT organization or a crisis hotline.
28. If your identity is one of the letters that the mainstream LGBT community focuses a lot of attention on, step back and listen to someone who isn’t. Their experiences and needs are different but no less important than yours.
29. Contact your legislators and show them their constituents support LGBT rights.
30. Allow yourself to feel and react to the stories of injustices and atrocities committed against LGBT people.
31. Ask for help and support if you need it.
32. Attend a GSA or PFLAG meeting.
33. Cut heterosexist (homophobic) and cissexist (transphobic) language from your vocabulary.
34. If you’re a teacher or other kind of educator, work an LGBT-related lesson into the curriculum that often erases them.
35. Blast the bigots. Not everyone, myself included, believes the marginalization of LGBT people will end if we just use kind words and try to educate people. Sometimes the brutal truth has to fly. Go for it.
36. Fight to change legislation, either by removing an anti-LGBT law or implementing a pro-LGBT law.
37. Share the names of some LGBT-friendly therapists in your area; you never know who might be suffering.
38. Come out – if and only if you feel safe to.
39. Make connections with members of the LGBT community – and don’t write off people from a different generation than you!
40. Take care of yourself. Self-care is an action, too.
41. Share your own story.
42. Ask yourself: what is something one of the victims of anti-LGBT violence cared about in life? Honor the human beings they were by taking action for their cause.
43. Teach yourself about microaggressions – and stop perpetuating them.
44. Listen to someone else’s story.
45. Talk to others about LGBT people who are doing awesome and exciting things. Positive, upbeat narratives are just as necessary and important as the tragic ones!
46. Write about an issue facing the LGBT community.
47. Help amplify the voices of others if you’re not interested in speaking yourself.
48. Challenge a discriminatory practice.
49. Ask someone, “What can I do for you?” or “What do you need from me?”
50. Challenge yourself and don’t feel limited to these ideas. However you take action is good enough if it is meaningful to you. We need everyone – quiet and loud, introverted and extroverted, backstage and center stage, who take big actions and little ones – to change the world for the better for LGBT people.
We’d also like everyone who takes part to keep this in mind as you start thinking about your own action plans: self-care is an action too, a form of action that can be downright revolutionary in a world that expects us to be unbreakable pillars of strength and control 24/7. I know many people who have personal issues surrounding this time of year and I certainly don’t always have the energy to do all that I’d like to. If this event is too difficult for you for whatever reason, it is completely okay to pass on participating or on trying to do something outside your comfort zone. The WoA is a challenge, not an obligation, and no one should sacrifice their mental health and well-being for the sake of the cause. If taking care of yourself is all you do during the Week, count that as a success and take a moment to recognize the level of badass it takes to survive each day. In the words of Mary Anne Radmacher, courage doesn’t always roar – sometimes it’s the little voice at the end of the day that says, “I will try again tomorrow.”