Beyond Acceptance: 3 Ways to Facilitate Queer-Affirming Culture


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Are you a member of the LGBTQIA+ community or an ally? During Pride Month, there is a lot of celebration, but welcome to a perspective that can help you cultivate queer affirming culture throughout the year!


What is queer affirming culture? 


It is accepting. It is encouraging. It is simpler than you might think.


PRIDE. What an important time to celebrate and educate, but why should we stop there? It is unfortunate that Pride and LGBTQIA+ support has become something that is capitalized on or used to benefit those who may not even belong to the community. To be affirming is to recognize  and honor those identities year-round. Together, we can take steps to create and cultivate acceptance and affirming culture beyond Pride Month. Here are a few tips to help:


(By the way, you can listen to the Chill Counseling team discuss LGBTQIA+ Affirmative Care for clients here.)


1. Ask for pronouns


What are pronouns? 

They are the terms we use to refer to each other that often reflect a person’s gender identity. Pronouns that reflect the gender spectrum may include include he/him/his, she/her/hers, they/them, or ze/zir/zirs. 


When we ask someone’s pronouns we affirm their gender, as well as them as a person. Introducing yourself first with your preferred pronouns makes it easier for others to inform you of their pronouns if they are comfortable. Ex: “Hi there, my name’s Ben and I use he/him pronouns. What about you?” This helps prevent issues like assuming someone’s pronouns or gender based on appearance, mannerisms, etc. If pronouns confuse you or you just don’t get it, that’s okay. This is a great place to begin educating yourself so we can better affirm (and respect) everyone, whoever they are.


2. Don’t assume monogamy

What is monogamy? 

It is an exclusive relationship between two individuals, typically long term, engaged, married, or looking to settle down. Some people may prefer having only one romantic or sexual partner, while others may not. Non-monogamy exists within and outside the queer community. People who identify as a part of the LGBTQIA+ community may want one, two, or many romantic or sexual partners. If we assume someone is in a monogamous relationship, it could offend or come off as not affirming their personal preferences. Likewise, we should not assume non-monogamy which can be a stereotype for some identities within the queer community. Avoiding assumptions generally is a good practice for anyone, whether LGBTQIA+ or not.


3. Consider intersectionality


What is intersectionality? 

It is the interplay between the various identities someone may have: gender, sexuality, race, ethnicity, education-level, religion, spirituality and more! Every person you come in contact with has layers of diverse elements that provide a rich, unique, and valuable voice or perspective. The experience of, for example, a Black queer person is not just a summation of being Black and being queer; it is the way they navigate the world and treated by the world as queer person who is Black and a Black person who is queer. Both identities and the intersection of those identities have to be recognized in order to affirm them as a person. 




There are many other ways to cultivate affirmative culture, but these are a start. My hope is that you and those in your community can continue the celebration and education around LGBTQIA+ experiences. Queer affirming culture is an intentional, maintained effort. If you are an ally, thank you. And if you’re here to explore as part of the queer community, welcome.


Disclaimer: The above article is informational only and not a replacement for therapy or medical advice. You are encouraged to make decisions for your mental health in consultation with a licensed mental health professional.

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