A group of runners on a track

Who doesn’t love watching the worlds greatest athletes do their thing? Sporting pros are often our first role models in life so we put together a list of just some of the sports pro’s working towards complete inclusion in sport. Be it opening up about their mental health, overcoming the odds or just being who they are; these stars are as cool as it gets.

1) Gareth Thomas –@gareththomas14

Gareth Thomas was a rugby player for Wales and is still one of their highest try scorers ever. As well as being up there with the greatest players to ever play the game, Gareth was one of the first professional rugby union players to openly come out as gay. To have the bravery to be a trailblazer for LGBT sports professionals in a very masculine profession is more than enough reason to be considered a fantastic role model but Gareth Thomas isn’t done there; he also does a huge amount of charity work. What a hero.

2) Amy Purdy – @amypurdygurl

After becoming a double amputee at 19 and being given a 2% chance of survival, Amy Purdy broke the laws of what’s humanly possible and took up para-snowboarding. Within a year, she achieved silver and bronze medals at the Paralympics and now runs an organisation to help other disabled people get involved in extreme sports. If anyone is proof that you can do anything with determination and hard-work, it’s Amy.


3) Sarah Taylor – @sjtaylor30

Sarah Taylor is a world-class cricketer who plays for England. Being the icon she is, Sarah was the first female to play men’s grade cricket in Australia. What’s really incredible about Sarah is that, despite cricket being male-dominated, she’s widely considered as the greatest wicket-keeper in the sport; be it the men’s or women’s game. Sarah Taylor has also been open about her struggles with anxiety and starting the conversation about professional athletes and their mental wellbeing.

4) Megan Rapinoe – @mrapinoe

What happens when you cross incredible football talent with selfless charity work? You get Megan Rapinoe. She’s just finished a fantastic tournament at the Women’s World Cup, with a winners medal, the golden ball and golden boot to show for it, and is one of the best players for the USA. Despite her glittering career, there is more to why we think Megan deserves her role model status. After coming out as lesbian, she’s become a leading advocate in the sport for LGBT+ causes and donates a percentage of her salary to football-related charities. Legend.


5) Danny Rose

Danny Rose was one of the first footballers to openly talk about the pressures of playing football at the highest level and the effect that has had on him when it crosses with his personal life. After being diagnosed with depression, Danny was asked to meet a club interested in signing him because they wanted to check he “wasn’t crazy’. We all know it’s absolutely ridiculous that these are still views people have in professional sport and he’s working to break them down by normalising the conversation. Danny, we think you’re doing a fantastic job mate.


6) Kevin Love – @kevinlove

Basketball is literally a marathon and a sprint. It’s not only an incredibly fast-paced game but the league is also played over 9 months of the year and all over the USA. Kevin Love has voiced his personal experiences with panic attacks and continues to be one of the biggest mental health advocates in Basketball, along with Demar Derozan and Nate Robinson. He said that speaking out has been one of the greatest things he’s ever done and if that doesn’t prove that anyone can be going through something and it’s better to open up about it, then we don’t know what does.


7) Yuna Kim – @yunakim

If there’s something to be won in figure skating, Yuna Kim has already won it. She is the first female ever to win every official figure skating title; including at the Olympics and World Championships and is regularly referred to as “Queen Yuna” in the media because of her prominence. Having the talent to be one of the greatest in your sport is already incredibly impressive but, to add to that, Yuna has donated around 2.6 million US dollars to charitable causes. Let’s all bow down to Queen Yuna.


8) Raheem Sterling – @sterling7

If you put a quick search in Google for the work Raheem Sterling is doing to battle racism, your screen will be filled with hundreds of articles. As well as being England’s most exciting talent, Raheem also made a substantial donation to those who were affected by the Grenfell tower tragedy and is vocal about the positive influence his mother had on him. Sterling’s doing just as much off the pitch as he is on and his work in the public to combat prejudice in the world’s most popular sport make him someone we think of as a great role model.


There are hundreds of fantastic athletes who are making strides to bring inclusion to all sports. Nigel Owens, Serena Williams, Robbie Rogers, and Heather O’Reilly are all worth a research (along with plenty of others) if you’re looking for more real sporting idols.

For more inspiration, cute pics and everything else, follow our instagram @ditchthelabel.

We are living a full Pride fantasy summer here at Ditch the Label, and as part of the celebrations, influencer, model and all round legend Max Hovey has written about his experiences of coming out.

Coming out is hard, but it doesn’t have to be.

It’s not really a big deal once you’re out, but in your own head, you might be visualizing literally every worst possible reaction from the people you love. It’s daunting, anxiety inducing, and before you come out, it can feel like you’ll do almost anything to hide who you really are. 

It’s better than you think it’s going to be, trust me. Whilst everyone’s experience is going to be different, and heartbreakingly some people have much worse experiences than others, it can be the most liberating thing you’ll ever do. I came out summer 2016, I was 17. There were ups and downs, but compared to some people my experience was relatively plain sailing. Here are the 8 things that I learned from my coming out experience.


1) Most people really don’t give a f**k.

periodt.

2) You don’t have to force yourself to tell people with some grand gesture, or make it a big deal.

Hell, I told literally everyone I care about by text (apart from when I was drunk at parties lol). Both of my parents, my entire family even, simply got the text “I’m gay”. So, don’t feel you need to sit everyone down with big news if you’re genuinely not comfortable doing so. It’s your thing, it’s your story, own it however you like.

3) You will lose people, but not everyone you lose is a loss.

I lost a large group of friends very quickly, and growing up in an all-boys school as a gay man was hard. Trying to fit in, pretending I liked girls (because sorry girls, I’m 110% gay, like not even remotely hetero and never will be). So, it was hard to come out in that environment. It had also taken me a long time to gain the respect and friendship of a lot of the guys in my school, which very quickly vanished from a lot of them. All it showed me was who my true friends were. I had a large group of people who really didn’t care that I had come out, and a lot of them were guys, and I will be forever grateful for the support and kindness that they showed me.

4) It’s like a sigh of relief

For anyone that has seen Love Simon (for real I cried throughout this entire film because it just hit home), do you remember the scene when he talks to his mum? If you’ve not seen it just go with it. She says “It’s like the last few years you’ve been holding your breath, you get to exhale now Simon”, and I’ve never heard such a perfect explanation of coming to terms with your sexuality. It is such a sigh of relief when you can finally be honest with the world, and happily be who you want to be. Thinking back to how much I had to worry and care what people thought saddens me, but without those restraints, I am thriving.

5) You will encounter hate, but it’s how you deal with it that matters.

After I’d come out, I actually had someone from my school shout fag**t at me out of a car window driving past. In the moment I was shocked, then I just broke down because it was the first time I had experienced up front personal hate. The fact that it exists today is heartbreaking, and in some cases it can reach physical and even life threatening hate. All we can do is continue to be ourselves. We’ve come a long way, but there is still work to be done.


6) Now on a lighter note, pride is DOPE.

Growing up seeing the LGBT+ community from the outside can give you mixed emotions. You may not want to be part of it as you’re not accustomed to your new feelings, you may feel FOMO when seeing all of the people living their best life as exactly who they were born to be. When you’re out, you get to fully embrace the LGBT+ community at its finest. I recently went to London pride, and what warmed my heart was seeing the whole of London full of people being unapologetically themselves, and nobody batting an eyelid, everyone was full of pride. So yeah, I learned that gays know how to throw a party, and not care what people think.

7) Dating can be tough.

Like it’s not even discriminating, it’s a straight up fact that it is harder to find gay people than straight people (unless you know where to look). You’ll have that “are they gay or are they straight? Dilemma. As if it’s not daunting enough going up to someone in a bar, let alone when you could have their sexuality completely wrong. But hey go for it, like I said most people don’t care, so what’s the worst that could happen? 

8) You will be able to proudly find love

Now for the best part (that I am yet to experience due to the above point). You will be able to openly and proudly find the love of your life, and show them to the world. In most places now you can get married (don’t worry if you can’t, we’re working on it and we WILL get there). You can start and raise a family with the person you are meant to be with. Now if the thought of that doesn’t warm your heart and make you want to this whole exciting side of you, I don’t know what will.

For more from Max, follow him on Instagram @max_hovey

If you have a question about sexuality, Pride, coming out, or anything else, you can reach out to the Ditch the Label Community here.

Tell us about yourself in one sentence

‘My name is Addison Rose Vincent, I use they/them pronouns, I am 26 years old, Canadian, and a proud transfeminine genderqueer non-binary person.’

Tell us a bit about your experiences as a transfeminine genderqueer non-binary person. 

‘Every transfeminine and/or genderqueer person has their own unique experience and definition of that terminology. As someone who was assigned male at birth (AMAB), currently taking oestrogen, now has breasts and curves, and has a full beard, my experience is definitely unique. For me, “non-binary” fits how I don’t feel like a man or woman but somewhere between or outside those binary points. “Transfeminine” aligns with my social (and medical) transition from masculinity to femininity, especially in my gender expression and presentation. And “genderqueer” refers to how I express myself in a way to intentionally play with and challenge traditional notions of gender and the binary.’ 


You’ve been a really vocal trans rights activist – what started that for you? 

‘When I came out as trans and non-binary at the age of 21 and as a student at Chapman University, I already knew and was repeatedly reminded that this society was not designed to support or empower people like me. I quickly learned that if I wanted to survive and thrive in this world, I needed to be fearless, take space, be unapologetically visible, and fight back. I also learned how important it was to be intersectional in my work, to prioritize, centre, empower, and follow those most vulnerable and marginalized by violence and oppression, keeping in mind that none of us are free until all of us are free.’ 

Why do you think it’s important? 

‘It’s important for me to be vocal because not enough people are. I hope that by sharing my story and the story of my trans and non-binary siblings on social media platforms that aspiring allies will understand how they can support and empower our community. But even more importantly, I hope that by being unapologetically visible that I can be a possibility model to people of all ages and inspire them to explore their own genders and expressions, to find the joy in journeying beyond the binary, and to know that they are not alone.’ 

What do you want the future to look like for trans rights in the US and the world? 

‘There’s so much to say! I would love to live in a future where trans people can access medical transition medication and procedures easily and affordably (ideally free), and not have to sacrifice fertility by transitioning (access to fertility banks and storage); where trans people are not reduced to our genitals, medical transitions, or as objects of desire or experimentation; where trans people can work, attend school, use bathrooms and locker rooms, love openly, and live without harassment or judgment; where trans people are visible in all sector and forms of media, not because of our identities but because of our skills and qualifications.’

Why did you start @breakthebinary? 

‘I started @breakthebinary as my own personal social media platform, and “break the binary” was a phrase I loved and constantly used as a personal motto. Over time, I grew more followers and recognized that I could use this platform to share my journey, my transition, my story, and my beliefs. My account has grown a significant following in just the past couple months since I started growing out my beard and adding more hashtags in my posts. 

I’ve been so grateful and humbled by the outpouring of love and support I’ve received, and messages from strangers thanking me for my visibility and the impact I’ve made on them always make my day. A few weeks ago, I also received a lot of hateful, threatening comments and messages, one describing me being hit by a bus, which is why I changed my comments setting so that only people I follow can comment on my posts. If only I had a setting like that for real life haha!’


What do you love about Pride month and pride celebrations? 

‘I love being around community! I’m so grateful to be living in Los Angeles, and during Pride I feel like I have a whole month to be even more unapologetic in public spaces with how I present myself. Pride month also gives me and so many others a chance to understand our history, to honour our trailblazers like Marsha P. Johnson and Sylvia Rivera, and reflect on where our community is 50 years after Stonewall and so many other pivotal moments like Compton’s Cafeteria and Black Cat Tavern (here in Los Angeles).’ 

What does Pride mean to you? 

‘To me, Pride means celebrating my identity and showing the world how wonderful and amazing my identities and gender expression are. Pride means peeling back the layers of shame and stigma I have accumulated throughout my life (especially during my childhood and teen years), and replacing them with foundations of joy and self-love. Pride means walking out my front door each day as myself and into an often violence and hateful world to spread the message of love, peace, and freedom.’ 

For more from Addison, you can follow their Instagram @breakthebinary

If you have a question about sexuality, identity, relationships or anything else, you can reach out to the Ditch the Label Community here.

Pride month may be over, but we still cover lots of different types of LGBT+ bits and bobs all year round. We wanted to share our list of 8 key things to remember when your sibling comes out to you so that you can support them and be there for them the very best way you can. 

1) Keep it to yourself

Just because they have come out to you does not mean they are out to anyone else, including your parents. It’s important to remember that this is their coming out journey, and even though it’s great to help and support them, this is their business to tell, even if it means you have to keep it from your parents for a little while. 

2) They are still your sibling, no matter what 

It can feel like a lot to deal with when your sibling first comes out to you. The most important thing to remember is that this does not change who they are, and they are still the same sibling you have had your whole life. 

3) Remember, it matters to them 

It is really tempting to use phrases like “it doesn’t matter to me” and “it’s no big deal”. We know, and they will probably know, that this you trying to be accepting. Remember though, it matters to them enough that they wanted to sit you down and tell you this. Why not try something like “that means so much that you told me” and “I will love you no matter what”. 

4) Let them say what they need to say 

This is their time, and a huge step that they are taking. Whilst you might have opinions or things to say, let them say everything they need to first. They have probably had this conversation in their head a hundred times before actually sitting down with you, so let them get through it in their own time. 

[full-width-figure image=”https://www.ditchthelabel.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/07/robert-bye-9Is6e9qfCvY-unsplash.jpg”]

5) It might affect you, but the this is not the time to talk about that 

So, with the above in mind, make a bit of a mental note of the things you want to ask them and the stuff you have to say and wait for them to invite you to speak. If you have a lot, try and be supportive in the moment and hold off. Remember, this has been a huge deal for them to tell you, and they might still be getting to grips with it themselves, so they might not be able to answer all your questions. Keep them in your brain, or write them down somewhere private until you can sit down and talk about it.

6) Have a think about the plan for coming out to the rest of your family… 

If your sibling has told you before anyone else, it’s probably because they would like a bit of moral support when it comes to telling the rest of the family, especially your parents. Have a chat about what their plan is, if they have one, and work on it together. They will probably be super grateful for all the help and support. However, if they want to sit the parents down on their own and tell them, don’t push in. It can seem tempting to protect them, but you need to respect their wishes.

7) … and have a think about what you’ll do if it doesn’t go well

In an ideal world, no one would be homophobic, no one would have to come out and this would never be an issue. Unfortunately, this is not always going to be the case. If you think your parents might not react that well for whatever reason, try and have a think about what you will do. It might not be something your sibling can think about right now as it’s a pretty scary thought, but you should have a bit of an idea of how to help them, or how to talk your parents around. Read this article on coming out to homophobic parents to get a little help. 

8) Be there. 

Really, the best thing you can ever do when your sibling, or anyone else, comes out to you, is just be there for them. Let them know that they can come to you at any point during this process and that you want them to feel like they can still come to you with all the same relationship dramas and joys that maybe they used to before. 

If you have a question about sexuality, relationships, families or anything else, you can reach out to the Ditch the Label Community here, and we will listen to you.

Hi everyone! I’m Yasmin Benoit, a model and asexuality activist. I’m delighted to have the opportunity to write another article for Ditch the Label. This time I’m here to tell you how you can be the best ace ally during Pride this year – and all year round! It doesn’t take much to be an ally and make a real difference for an asexual person, or the wider asexual community. 

1) Educate yourself about asexuality

If you’re going to be an ally for asexual people, it’s important to understand what asexuality is, and what it means to be on the asexual spectrum. There loads of information online about asexuality. It might also be helpful to speak to an asexual person and ask them respectful questions, if they’re open to it. Keep in mind that there are a range of asexual experiences, which vary depending on where you are on the asexual spectrum, and what your romantic orientation is. If you want to find out more you can read about asexuality here and this article on 10 Things You Need to Know About Asexuality here

2) Don’t exclude asexual people from Pride events

Pride is supposed to be a welcoming and inclusive space for those who don’t fit into the heteronormative box, so there is definitely a place at Pride events for asexual people. Debates surrounding whether or not asexual people should be included in Pride celebrations are alienating for the community. If you want to be a good ally to asexual people, then you should support our right to celebrate who we are in an LGBT+ space, as part of the wider queer community.  

Yasmin posing in front of the asexual flag

3) Be morally supportive

There is nothing wrong or abnormal about being asexual, but pressures from our society can make asexual people feel like they’re broken. If you know someone who is coming to terms with their asexuality, listen to them and be encouraging, just as you would to someone who is coming out as gay or transgender. Don’t be dismissive of their asexuality, or think that you know more about their bodies and their minds than they do.   

4) Use inclusive language

Asexual people have a rather unique perspective of sexuality and romantic relationships. It’s important to keep that in mind with the language you use. Statements that make sex, sexual relationships and romantic love sound like a universal necessity for every human being might seem harmless, but they’re actually alienating for those who don’t feel that way. It’s important to remember that not all sexual identities or romantic relationships actively involve sex, and they don’t need to involve sex to be valid. 

Yasmin holding a pink sign saying activist

5) Include asexuality in the conversation

With Pride celebrations comes discussions around sexuality and relationships. These conversations are incomplete without an asexual perspective. Whether you’re just having a casual chat in the park or whether you’re hosting a panel in front of a hundred people, remember that asexual people exist and our experiences count. It doesn’t take much to add, “But not everyone’s interesting in that,” during a conversation, or to find an asexual writer or speaker to lend their voice on a larger platform. Anything that contributes to positive asexual visibility is helpful for the community. 

6) Do your part to spread the word

There are a range of resources online about asexuality – whether you want blog posts, journal articles, YouTube videos, fiction, or advice straight from the mouth of asexuality activists. Even if you have come to understand asexuality, there are many people out there who don’t, and this contributes to misunderstandings and stereotypes surrounding the community. Share asexual content with people you know. You might intrigue people who are eager to learn more about asexuality, as well as people who might be asexual themselves without realising it yet. 

For more from Yasmin, you can follow her Instagram here

If you have a question about sexuality, relationships, or anything else that might be bothering you, you can reach out to the Ditch the Label Community here, and we will listen to you. 

Coming out can be a long and pretty scary process for most people. As it’s Pride Month, so we wanted to share a little bit of wisdom on things to keep in mind for after you’ve come out!

1. Walk, don’t run

So it might feel like you want to run and dance and sing and throw yourself into the culture of the world that you are now a proud and open part of. It’s important to remember though that your life has changed between hiding your sexuality and being open about it.

Take a bit of time, think about all the other parts of you that might have taken a sideline whilst you were building up to coming out. Learn about your sexuality, talk to those around you about if they need more information, meet others in the community and outside of it, and enjoy this time as something for you.

2. Not everyone will ‘get it’ and that’s ok

You might encounter people who find it challenging to support or understand your sexuality; remember that this is their issue to work through and not yours. If this is the case with people close to you, try not to react in anger to their difficulties in accepting you. Give them some time and hopefully they will come around.

3. Never go back

As our lives continue to change, we meet new people, move jobs, cities – maybe even countries! It is important that you meet these new scenarios and people as your authentic self. Don’t undo all the work that you put in – embracing and accepting yourself as you are can take time. You’ve made it this far, so try not to revert back to old habits.

However, it is also important to trust your instincts. If you don’t feel safe, or think it is better to pause before you speak, do it. It sucks that the world can still be like it, but your health, safety and wellbeing should always come first.

4. There is no right way to live

Your sexuality is just a small fraction of who you are as a person. It does not define you. Our society still has many outdated stereotypes around gender and sexuality, but how you choose to live your life is entirely up to you. There is no right or wrong way to live – carve your own path.

5. Connect

A community is extremely important. Reach out and find people that accept you for you. Finding support and connecting with people who understand you and what you are going through, will help you deal with any changes and transitions that might lie ahead.

6. Don’t feel pressured to conform

Now you have come out, you might have expected to easily assimilate into your local LGBT+ community. There is a possibility that you might not feel 100% like you belong, or maybe you feel like you don’t fit in – don’t worry if this is the case. You are a unique individual and everyone expresses themselves differently, so don’t feel pressured to dress or act a certain way if it doesn’t come naturally. This is true for all aspects of life too, and all people, regardless of sexuality.

Remember that you are perfect just the way you are and not alone in sometimes feeling alone.

7. Life might not instantly get better

Not having to deal with the daily stress of having to hide your sexuality is a massive relief. But don’t be alarmed if things don’t fall into place as quickly as you would like or exactly how you imagined they would. For some people, it can get worse before it gets better. The freedom you are searching for will come, but it takes time.

8. Dating

This can be very nerve-racking, especially on a first date. Putting yourself out there is scary whatever your sexuality. You might feel paranoid that everyone is watching you, but they really aren’t. The good news is dating does get much easier as you become more comfortable with not having to hide who you are to others and yourself.

9. Keep reaching out to those who love you unconditionally

Keep reaching out to those that love you and support you. If you experience any negativity make sure you tell someone – even if you don’t want to report it, it is important you share with someone what you are going through.

 

If you don’t feel like you have anyone to talk to, you can always talk to us. For more information on coming out, sexuality and relationships, reach out to the Ditch the Label Community here, and we will listen.

It’s Pride month guys, and we are just as excited about as you are! Pride has become increasingly popular all over the world, with millions of people flooding the streets of cities such as London, New York, LA, San Francisco, Paris, Berlin, and hundreds more to support and celebrate gay rights. With the allyship movement also growing year on year, we ask, do we still need a pride month? 

Well, spoiler alert: the answer is yes. But why? 

1) Transphobia is still everywhere 

Trans people are still massively struggling for their basic rights. Things like being able to have your gender on your driving license or passport is something that can be a really long and difficult process for trans people. Being able to use a bathroom, walk home, use public transport or go to work feeling safe is something that most people are lucky enough to take for granted, but for trans people, all of these can still be a source of fear. It is 2019, and it has ONLY JUST been declassified as a disorder by the World Health Organisation sooooooo we think it is definitely still necessary. 

2) LGBT+ rights are still under attack across the globe 

When Brunei made being gay a crime punishable by death earlier in 2019, it was a pretty harsh reminder of what LGBT+ people go through all over the world in the continued fight for the basic right to love the people they want to love. Even in the UK, a teacher who wanted to teach about LGBT+ relationships in school received death threats from parents in the local community just shows how far society still has to go to achieve true equality. 

3) Violence against trans people continues to happen

Recently, the third trans woman of colour was found murdered in Dallas, Texas alone this year. The death of Chynal Lindsey only shows just how much more at risk trans people are of being injured or killed by violence, and for trans people of colour that risk is higher still. Violence against trans people happens all across the world on a daily basis, and the high rate in one city in America reinforces just how much action is necessary. 

4) LGBT+ young people are still at an increased risk of being homeless 

Coming out can be a really difficult process. For some, it can even mean losing their families, friends, job, and homes. LGBT+ Youth are 26% more likely to be homeless than their straight cis-gendered peers. If pride can help increase the awareness, understanding and tolerance of LGBT+ issues, as well as the number of people who feel safe in coming out, then hopefully this number will get lower. 

5) Homophobia/biphobia and transphobia is still everywhere, even if you don’t see it

There is still homophobia and discrimination everyday all the time, even if it is not out in the open. Like, do you know how often same sex couples get mistaken for siblings, business partners or best friends?! Also, people still stare, all the time. Even if the people who stare are not screaming homophobic slurs in the street, the stare says everything it needs to say. 

6) Basic rights are still a subject of debate

Some basic rights such as the right to marry, have children or follow a religion are still being debated every single day. Even in countries where all these things are technically legal, it does not stop LGBT+ people being discriminated against in real life. Everyone should have a basic right to do these things, and have these aspects of their lives be accepted all over the world. 

7) Visibility for some groups is dwindling

Everyone has probably at least heard of RuPaul’s Drag Race. Whilst it is a huge leap forward that a show about queer culture has won a collection of Emmy awards and is popular around the world, it is only a tiny part of gay culture, and other groups are waaay less visible in mainstream culture. For example, when was the last time you saw an ace person on TV?  Or can you name more than one openly LGBT+ politician? 

8) Being an ally is more than it is right now 

One thing to remember about being a straight ally is that it is so much more than following drag queens on social media and carrying a rainbow flag at pride. If you are interested in being a better ally, try watching some documentaries on YouTube about LGBT+ history and the struggle for rights. The more you understand what LGBT+ people have gone through and continue to deal with every day, the more you can know how to support them. 

Whether you are going to a Pride Parade near you this year or not, and whether that is as an LGBT person or an ally, Pride is still super important to all the people who attend. If you are straight, why not read up on how to be the best ally you can be in this article here

9) Forgetting is not an option

As much as Pride is a fun event that is often the highlight of many LGBT+ and straight ally calendars, it is also a time when the gay community can reflect and remember the people and the issues that came before them, and celebrate and pursue a right to exist without persecution. Pride means that LGBT+ issues remain visible and talked about so that equality can get closer every single day, and rights are never taken away again.

10) Love should always be celebrated

As much as Pride is about all of the things above such LGBT+ history and current issues, it is also just an awesome celebration of love, identity, uniqueness, queer culture and equality. Everyone who wants to support or be a part of queer culture is given a place at Pride, regardless of age, gender, race, religion or sexual orientation. In a world where everything seems pretty damn negative, THAT is something worth celebrating, and so so worth continuing.

 

 

Happy Pride Month, from everyone at Ditch the Label!

If you are thinking of coming out or have questions about your sexuality, you can reach out to the Ditch the Label Community here.

If you would prefer the easier to read version, please click here.

It’s International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia and Transphobia! Today is all about getting rid of prejudice and spreading the love for everyone! So, we thought we would celebrate by giving everyone a bit of a guide on how to an ally to the community!

According to DTL research, only 43% of young people identify as ‘traditionally straight’ and 76% of people surveyed believed that sexuality labels are important. Despite the shift towards a more open and fluid approach to sexuality, LGBT community are still up against a plethora of homophobia, bi-hate and transphobia.

An LGBT Ally is someone who is straight and cisgender but fights alongside the LGBT+ community to tackle prejudice and promote equality. Here at Ditch the Label we’re all about equality, so here’s a thing or two about how to be the best straight best mate.

1) Listen

Find out what they are up against. You may have an idea of the extent of homophobia in general society but have a conversation with your friends about their specific lived experiences, the reactions they have come across or homophobic encounters they may have had to endure. In doing so, you’re lending an ear to listen, a shoulder to cry on and a friend to stand beside.

2) Don’t be a bystander

Okay, we know we say this a lot but you just can’t let it slide. When you see homophobic abuse, report it. Stand up for your friends, stand up for strangers. No one deserves to be abused because of who they love. By not saying anything you are justifying their prejudice and betraying your own beliefs in equality.

3) Do your research

Know about LGBT+ issues and current affairs. All you have to do is go online to see what’s going on in the world. Simply being in the know is a good place to start. Form your own opinion and go from there. It’s no secret that LGBT+ issues are still underrepresented in the mainstream press and media but you can check out sites like Pink News for specifics…

4) Be there

Attend protests, pride parades, demonstrations and sign petitions. Just because you’re not LGBT+ doesn’t mean you’re excluded from political affairs relating to the community. If you feel strongly in favour of equality, then you should stand for what you believe in, support the community and be loud about it!

5) Challenge language

…“that’s so gay” is so last century, guys. When you hear someone using everyday language that is offensive to an entire group of people, try pulling them up on it if it feels safe to do so. Here’s an article on 7 Things We Need to Stop Saying Forever and *SPOILER ALERT*… “that’s so gay” is one of them!

6) Ask questions rather than assume

If  there is something you’re not clear about, most people will be open to answering your questions as long as they are polite, respectful and not too intrusive. Example: Asking someone which pronouns they prefer is fine (she/he/they). Asking someone what they have in their pants however, is not (bit of a no-brainer really).

7) Be mindful

There are everyday things we say and do as a society which exclude an entire community of people. You only have to watch TV to see the under representation of LGBT+ people and issues that they face in storylines and on reality television. Small things like how we speak to young kids depending on their gender all contribute to a society which assumes that straight and cis-gender is normal, and anything other than that is weird or abnormal. Just keep that in mind and make an effort to use non-binary language. Example: “Have you got a boyfriend?” assumes a person’s sexuality. Instead, try “Do you have a partner?” – it’s much more open.

8) Be yourself

You don’t need to be anything other than yourself. If you are a true ally, you believe in equality and overcoming prejudice, then that’s all you need to do: stand up for what you believe in and support others in the face of adversity.

9) Be kind

We just need to be kinder to each other. Jokes at somebody else’s expense are not cool. A persons’ sexuality is never something to laugh at, neither is their gender, or their race, or their disability – stick to bad puns and toilet humour 💩

10) Resources:

Finally, spread the word about these awesome Ditch the Label resources and support guides which are designed with expert advice to help people through tough times such as overcoming bullying, or tips for coming out to your parents:


trans ally

It’s International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia and Transphobia! Here at Ditch the Label, we definitely think this day is a pretty important one, as loads of people all over the world still get targeted daily for being gay, bi and trans. Here, we want to focus on tackling transphobia, and so put together this quick guide to being the best trans ally you possibly can!

A trans ally is someone who is cisgender but fights alongside the trans community to tackle prejudice and promote equality. So, whether you’re already clued up about transgender issues, or you’re not so sure and are always worrying that you’ll say the wrong thing – we’re here to help…

1) Backhanded compliments suck and need to stop…

“I never would have known you were trans…”- translates as “well done on passing as ‘normal.'” Newsflash: there is no normal! Also, this insinuates that if you had known, you might have treated them differently. Even if you meant it in the best way possible, just steer clear of things like this…

There are unfortunately many, many more of these so-called ‘backhanded compliments’ which most trans people will probably be familiar with. Steer clear of stuff like this, they have probably heard it all a lot and it certainly isn’t very complimentary – it usually comes from being uninformed or prejudiced. If you hear ‘compliments’ like this, try to challenge it by asking why they have said that.

2) See the person

Do you regularly ask everyone about what’s going on in their pants? The size, shape and history of their genitals? Didn’t think so! Please, pretty please don’t ask trans folks about it either! It’s deeply disrespectful and not ok…EVER! See the person, get to know them for who they are, being trans is only one small part of a person’s story and not their entire identity.

3) Don’t make assumptions about a transgender person’s sexual orientation

Gender identity is different than sexual orientation. Sexuality is about who we are attracted to, whereas gender identity is own personal sense of being male, female or outside the gender binary. Transgender people can be gay, lesbian, bisexual, asexual or heterosexual. Something else to remember is that it’s really none of your business what sexual orientation someone is until they decide to reveal it to you.

4) Ask questions rather than assume

If there is something you’re not clear about, most people will be open to answering your questions as long as they are polite, respectful and not too intrusive. So for example, asking someone which pronouns they use is usually fine (she/he/they). If you have anything else you want to ask, try having an open honest conversation in a safe space, and let them know that you have some questions, but they do not have to answer them if they don’t want to and that you mean no harm in asking them.

5) Shut transphobia down

When you see transphobic abuse, report it. Stand up for your friends and stand up for strangers when it feels safe to do so. No one deserves to be abused because of who they are and/or how they identify. By not saying anything, you are effectively justifying their prejudice and betraying your own beliefs in equality – standing shoulder to shoulder with the trans community to overcome hate and ignorance is the best thing you can do.

6) Do your research

Know about trans issues and current affairs. All you have to do is go online to see what’s going on in the world. Simply being in the know is a good place to start. Form your own opinion and go from there.

7) Be Yourself

You don’t need to be anything other than yourself. If you are a true ally, you believe in equality and overcoming prejudice, then that’s all you need to do: stand up for what you believe in and support others in the face of adversity.

There you have it! Seven quick tips on how to be the best ally to the trans community as you possibly can!

If you need support from a digital mentor or are dealing with transphobia or related issues, join the DTL community. There are a whole bunch of people who can help you today!

coming out mate

With International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia and Transphobia tomorrow (yeah we know that’s a bit of a mouthful), we thought we would share some important things to remember when a friend comes out to you. Lots of people choose to come out to a trusted mate before going public with a big announcement or telling members of their family. If that mate is you, here are some tips on how to react and how to best support your friend in their coming out journey…

1. Just because they told you, doesn’t mean they are ‘out’ to everyone else so keep it to yourself unless told otherwise.

2. Don’t treat them any differently than you did 5 mins before they told you. Nothing’s changed – they are still the same friend you always had.

3. Try not to say that it doesn’t matter either. To them, it’s really important and it does matter, just acknowledge the courage they’ve probably mustered up to tell you and explain that you want them to be happy regardless of their sexuality.

4. They told you because they trust you. Telling a trusted friend is usually the first step a person takes in coming out. Thank them for being open with you, and let them know that you’ll be there for them if they decide to tell others.

5. Check out this article if you wanna make sure you’re the best LGBT+ ally you can be… How to Be an Ally to the LGBT+ Community >>

6. They are probably still discovering things themselves, so try not to bombard them with questions too soon…

7. Steer clear of stereotypes… not all gay people like Cher (even though Cher is amazing)

[full-width-figure image=”https://www.ditchthelabel.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/05/becca-tapert-357541-unsplash.jpg”]

8. Let them speak. Chances are, they’ve probably run through this conversation a thousand times in their head before talking to you. Don’t interrupt and don’t assume, even if you already suspected something – it’s their story to tell, not yours.

9. Offer a safe place for them to stay if they get a bad reaction after coming out to family members or other friends.

10. Remember that this doesn’t instantly mean that they want you to set them up with the only other gay/bi/lesbian person you know.🙄

11. Remind them that there is an entire community out there who have been through exactly the same thing. 🏳️‍🌈

12. Reassure them that they can talk to you about any negativity they might face, and let them know that they have your support should they need it.

13. Direct them to our awesome resources and community to find additional support, help and advice, free of judgement….

If you are worried about coming out, have questions about your sexuality, or want to help a friend, you can reach out to the Ditch the Label Community here