There’s more to allyship than Pride and rainbows

A small (and fun) part of allyship is showing up to Pride once a year with your bestie, rainbow badges and flags in hand, and a mission to have one (or thirteen) drinks.

However, being a good ally is about more than showing up for a day; it’s about showing up for LGBTQIA+ people all year round. We asked our Foleon family how they show their support for the LGBTQIA+ community. Here’s what they had to say.

What good allyship means to us

Julie van der Weele, Director of Brand & Comms

Good allyship is about understanding your privilege. One of the most impactful essays I read in college was White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack, written by Peggy McIntosh in 1989. It’s all about learning to expose the small, everyday ways in which your privilege puts you at an inherent advantage, and then in growing awareness of our advantages, saying to ourselves, ‘Having described it, what will I do to lessen or end it?” It’s about speaking up. When you hear people making “jokes,” it is up to you to say something about it. If you see marginalized people being treated differently, it is up to you to do something about it. I once heard an analogy that compared allyship to being on a moving walkway — standing still isn’t good enough; you must actively walk in the other direction.

It’s about shutting up. Listening is one of the most important parts of being an ally. To me, being an ally means bearing witness to the wrongs that are being done, providing your compassion and energy, and holding space for those who need to share their stories. It’s about continuing to grow. You will say the wrong thing. You will inadvertently offend someone. I know I certainly have. But committing to being an ally means apologizing sincerely when I make a mistake, learning from that mistake, and moving on. It’s about doing the work. None of us can afford to be complacent and stand still on that moving walkway. It is up to us to continue educating ourselves and other privileged folks on the issues that marginalized groups face.

Rosana Jimenez, Customer Support Specialist

I support the LGBTQIA+ community by organizing comedy shows in Amsterdam and actively looking for LGBTQIA+ comedians to perform. I also look out for the community by helping where I can, whether it's a case of speaking up on their behalf or just being there when they need me as a shoulder to lean on.

I enjoy watching live Drag entertainment at venues across Amsterdam, and queer TV shows to learn more about the community. Some of my favorites are Heartbreakers, RuPaul's Drag Race, Legendary, and Euphoria. As I continue to educate myself further, I am always looking for new ways I can continue being an ally.

Ceasar Chevalier, SVP of Global Sales

Allyship, to me, is trying to lift the voices of people who might not otherwise have the space or confidence to speak up. It’s being deliberate about creating an environment where people feel safe and happy to be their authentic selves. It’s about realizing my own privilege, even at times when I’m on my own DE&I journey. It’s about respecting people’s pronouns and addressing them correctly, according to their preferences.

And lastly, it’s about being open to learning when you don’t understand someone, or a group’s, plight.

Claire Mulkens-Schouten, QA Engineer

Being part of the LGBTQIA+ community, allyship means not forgetting the last few characters of the acronym after LGB. It is easy to overlook transgender, genderqueer, asexual, and intersex people. Especially cisgender & heterosexual people tend to forget what the LGBTQIA+ acronym stands for and try to play it down by saying; “It’s too many letters, I can’t remember that,” or even worse, “I identify as a coffee table.”

That’s disrespectful and rude towards other human beings. In addition to that, I think allyship also means knowing, recognizing, and respecting boundaries. Before asking intimate questions, ask yourself this: Would I be comfortable if someone asked me about personal topics such as intimacy or private parts?

Megan van der Sman, Recruiter

I am lucky to come from a household where I never had to question acceptance and openness. I learned about the LGBTQIA+ community as a kid when I attended my first same-sex wedding, watching two beautiful women commit to love and honor one another. I'm a cis-gendered white woman, born and raised in The Netherlands. I know my privilege. I've learned that if we want to see change so that everybody has the same rights, it's everyone's job to stand together to shift the needle in the right direction. Being an ally means getting comfortable with being uncomfortable — that means speaking up for your friends and peers – every time you hear disingenuous remarks and statements that are offensive or politically incorrect.

We have to be more proactive in educating ourselves about marginalized groups of people in society. The world doesn't change if everyone waits for others to make the first move. You don't have to be an influencer or an extrovert to do so. Start with your circle by using your voice. It might not be fun, easy, or comfortable, and you will make mistakes. But I would rather be comfortable knowing I’m trying than uncomfortable knowing I’m not helping at all. How about you?

Daan Reijnders, CEO

Allyship, for me, is understanding the plight of the LGBTQIA+ community year-round. Living in the Netherlands, one of the world’s most tolerant countries, it’s easy to take open-mindedness for granted. The fact is that more than 71 countries (Statista) still criminalize homosexuality.

The LGBTQIA+ community needs attention and allyship because, for many of us, this message is not in line with how we view the world. Allyship is about treating people equally and not judging them on their sexuality but on their character and competencies.

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