Every June, Pride Month celebrates the diversity of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex community. As Pride Month draws to an end, we invited Ricki Spencer, Media & Health Sociologist Co-chair of Inclusive Rainbow Voices LGBTIQA+ People with Disabilities to share her reflection on what volunteering and Pride Month means to them.
As the national peak body for volunteering, we advocate that volunteers should feel welcome to come as they are and contribute their time, skills, and passion to activities and causes they care about. We are guided by the National Strategy for Volunteering, which emphasises the importance of creating inclusive environments.
Volunteering through a queer lens
By Ricki Spencer (M Ed. BEd. BA BSW)
Volunteering plays a crucial role in society, and its importance is amplified in coinciding with Pride Month. I have been volunteering for over 30 years beginning in the late 1980s with the AIDS crisis in Australia and have never looked back on the importance to give back to our communities.
There are five key factors that I want to share with you why volunteering can enhance your life through helping others.
1. Making a Difference: Volunteering allows us to contribute our time, skills, and resources to causes they are passionate about. It enables us to actively support and create positive change in our communities. By volunteering during Pride Month, individuals can directly impact the lives of LGBTQIA+ individuals and contribute to the advancement of equality and acceptance.
2. Community Support: Volunteer work strengthens communities by fostering a sense of togetherness and solidarity. Pride Month celebrates the LGBTQIA+ community and provides an opportunity to come together, support one another, and increase visibility. As volunteers, we can uplift and empower LGBTQIA+ individuals by providing support, resources, and a safe space where our voices can be heard and develop a sense of continuity with others in the community.
3. Education and Awareness: Volunteering during Pride Month allows individuals to participate in educational initiatives and raise awareness about LGBTQIA+ issues. By engaging in conversations, organizing events, and sharing personal stories, volunteers help dispel myths, challenge stereotypes, and promote understanding, fostering an inclusive society. Events such as IDAHOBIT DAY, Trans Visibility Day, and other significant days threads the links that make as human and share our uniqueness that we bring to communities in regional, remote and metropolitan spaces and places throughout Australia.
4. Allyship: Volunteering during Pride Month is not limited to members of the LGBTQIA+ community. It is an opportunity for allies to demonstrate their support for equal rights and acceptance. Allies can use their privilege to amplify the voices of marginalized individuals, advocate for LGBTQIA+ rights, and help create a more inclusive environment for everyone. When we create safety for one community, it provides a pathway for safety for all in the community and reduces misinformation, stigma and fear.
5. Personal Growth and Empathy: Volunteering provides a chance to develop new skills, expand perspectives, and build empathy for others. By working directly with LGBTQIA+ individuals or organizations, volunteers gain a deeper understanding of the challenges faced by the community. This personal growth can help break down barriers, dismantle prejudice, and foster empathy and acceptance in society. What you may find is that we have more in common with each other, than what makes as different.
Volunteering during Pride Month goes beyond just a month-long celebration. It is an opportunity to actively contribute to the ongoing fight for equality, acceptance, and justice for the LGBTQIA+ community. By dedicating our time and efforts, we can help create a society that celebrates diversity, promotes understanding, and ensures equal rights for all individuals, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity. My life at 54 is embedded in the culture of connecting with communities for communities. Volunteering has given me a new purpose in my life and I hope that you too can join me and feel connected.