Saving up for your dream vacation, getting serious about training for a marathon, losing 15 pounds—these are the resolutions that usually get tossed around at the start of each new year.
Yet, instead of purchasing a gym membership that you’re probably not going to use past January, how about taking some action that will have a more extensive impact: specifically, resolutions that will contribute to the protection and advancement of the LGBTQ community? Here’s a list of several ways to make 2019 a safer, brighter, and better year for queer people.
Commit to a Monthly Donation
There are myriad organizations doing vital work on behalf of queer folks, all of which depend on monetary contributions in order to continue their work. Big names include the Human Rights Campaign, the Trevor Project, Lambda Legal, and SAGE. Smaller, more local ones are Rainbow Alley, One Colorado, and PFLAG Denver.
It doesn’t have to be a massive amount—we’ve all got bills to pay—but you’d be an integral part of the good that these organizations do for the LGBTQ community. Know you can’t commit to something like that each month? Any of these organizations would be happy to take a one-time donation as well.
Or Commit Your Time
There are a swath of local organizations with a wide range of volunteer opportunities. Rainbow Alley, which provides a range of services for LGBTQ youth and their allies, including a drop-in space, youth-led events and activities, counseling and support groups, and health services and life skills, currently has lots of volunteer positions listed on their website. You can do anything from “greeting visitors at the front desk to facilitating support groups to helping [them] grow Denver PrideFest into the third – largest pride celebration in the country.”
Another organization you can check out is One Colorado, the state’s leading advocacy organization dedicated to advancing equality for LGBTQ Coloradans and their familes. Their volunteers help out in a variety of ways, “ranging from phone calls or canvassing during elections, joining our team to staff events, data entry, or sharing your stories.”
Whatever organization you feel would best fit your skill set, know your time is just as valuable as money when it comes to keeping up the good work at these establishments.
Call Your Senators
Let your representatives (at both the state and federal level) know what you think of the work they’re doing on behalf of—or to the detriment of—the LGBTQ community. Keep up with where they stand and what they’re doing about hate crimes, employment and housing discrimination, and health care equality (just to name a few issues), and make sure you hold them accountable.
CallYourRep.co is an easy-to-use, online resource that allows you to quickly look up your congressional representatives and their contact information.
Canvas for Candidates
Denver’s municipal elections are closer than you think—on May 7, 2019, a slew of seats (including that of mayor and a lot for city council) will be up for reelection, and expect more than a few new ballot initiatives. Do some research on candidates who have a history of championing LGBTQ rights, and contact them to see if they’re taking volunteers to go door-to-door (we’d bet they definitely are).
P.S. Make sure that others know when they should be voting and whom they should be voting for.
Don’t Support Anti-LGBTQ Businesses
Everyone knows that Chick-fil-A has never been an ally of the LGBTQ community. But did you know that Urban Outfitters has a history of flip-flopping on the issue of marriage equality, or that Victoria’s Secret’s chief marketing officer recently made some terribly offensive comments regarding whether or not the brand would ever cast transgender models for its eponymous show?
Don’t waste your money on companies that are actively discriminating against an entire community of people. If you aren’t sure, the Human Rights Campaign has a handy resource called the Corporate Equality Index that rates workplaces on “lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer equality.”
Patronize LGBTQ-friendly Businesses Instead
According to Vocativ, Denver has the fourth-highest number of LGBTQ-friendly businesses per capita in the United States. That’s a lot of places to spend your money that aren’t Chick-fil-A. Denver is lucky enough to have a variety of queer and queer-friendly bars and restaurants. Choosing to spend your money at these places makes sure that the community has a place to gather, which feels increasingly vital in the current political climate.
Speak Out—Hell, Scream From the Rooftops
You’ve been hearing this since November 2016, but the time to let offensive homophobic comments slide is long past. Don’t tolerate intolerance from family, friends, coworkers, or anyone else (as long as doing so isn’t putting you in danger). Instead, let them know why their language and/or views are harmful.
So, put away the travel brochure, the new running shoes, and the fad diet. Instead, choose to make 2019 a more informed, empowered year for queer individuals by picking a few (or all!) of these resolutions.