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Ashley Kumpula, our client fulfillment operations manager, is a bright, bold, kind voice of reason in every meeting. She’s someone who makes everyone feel valuable and supported. And Ashley is once again volunteering to run the Firespring booth at Star City Pride this upcoming week. We asked her about her thoughts on LGBTQ+ allyship and how allies can better support their LGBTQ+ loved ones through Pride Month and beyond.

Ashley Kumpula:

“I first volunteered for Star City Pride in 2019, and that was the first time I attended pride. Pride Month is a wonderful time of year that I’m happy to help celebrate, but the most important thing for me is to be an ally for the LGBTQ+ community 24/7. Consistent allyship is essential, because the LGBTQ+ community lives through both unjust and joyful events year round.

“It’s important to note that being an ally doesn’t make you a savior. As allies, we recognize that the LGBTQ+ community can raise themselves up. We simply champion their needs and help amplify their voice.

“And allyship isn’t a status you simply give to yourself. It’s a commitment to listening, learning, loving, supporting and self reflecting. Being an ally isn’t about you, it’s about supporting others.

“As allies, we need to understand our own privilege—these are the benefits you may have in society that members of the LGBTQ+ community don’t have. This can be hard to notice if you’re not very familiar with the struggles of the LGBTQ+ community, but members of the LGBTQ+ community are still faced with the daily reminder of how oppressive and unequal society can be.

“Simply, we’re all here to help each other. To learn how to better help each other. Star City Pride is an excellent reminder of that, and I can’t wait to see everyone this weekend.”

Here are a few ways you can practice LGBTQ+ allyship and activism in your life:

1. Actively consider pronouns in your day-to-day life.

You may know someone who uses specific pronouns or has recently changed their pronouns. A way to support them and the transgender and nonbinary communities is to actively think about pronouns in your daily life. Add your personal pronouns to your social media pages, make a conscious effort to use the correct pronouns for others and share your pronouns in conversation.

Anything you can do as an ally to make pronouns feel normal and routine will help the LGBTQ+ people around you feel comfortable. And each time someone learns to consider pronouns in their interactions, the use of pronouns will become more normalized for all.

2. Donate to LGBTQ+ causes.

There are dozens of amazing nonprofits around Lincoln and the country that are helping fight for LGBTQ+ rights, supporting LGBTQ+ youth and making the world a safer, happier place. An excellent way to show your support is to become a donor for an LGBTQ+ organization. Here’s a list of some Nebraska nonprofits and national organizations that we think are doing incredible work.

3. Support LGBTQ+ owned businesses.

The next time you’re looking for a gift on Etsy, perusing a local market or exploring your town, keep an eye out for LGBTQ+ owned businesses. Some shops may advertise the fact that they are LGBTQ+ owned, some may not. Regardless, your contribution as a customer matters.

Helping build a strong market of LGBTQ+ owned businesses creates even more opportunity for those businesses to thrive and provide more products and services specifically meant to benefit LGBTQ+ people.

4. Volunteer for nonprofits or events that help LGBTQ+ issues. (Or become an LGBTQ+ advocate!)

At Firespring, we are BIG fans of volunteering as a way to give back and show support. Volunteering gives you a chance to literally show up for your local LGBTQ+ community to help further their causes. Become a vendor or coordinator for your town’s Pride, spend a few hours a week as a digital crisis counselor for LGBTQ+ youth or pursue any opportunity to help that speaks to you.

You can also help advocate for local LGBTQ+ movements. If, for example, your friend is starting an LGBTQ+ advocacy organization, lend your talents to assist them. Design their logo, make phone calls, plan meetings, attend events or contribute any of your unique skills to the cause.

5. Let the LGBTQ+ people in your life know you love and accept them for who they are.

It’s simple: Love and kindness go a long way. The core of good allyship is genuine love and kindness, and being selflessly committed to making the world a better place for everyone. Be empathetic. Let people in the LGBTQ+ community lead the discussions about their experiences. Show up year round—not just for Pride. At the end of the day, being a good ally is being a good, caring friend.

Here’s to a Pride Month full of love, empathy, growth and support. Stop by Star City Pride this week to see how you can support and volunteer for the LGBTQ+ community—we’ll see you there!