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101s and FAQs: How to Be an Ally

What is an ally?
An ally is someone who is "straight" identified who stands up for GLBTQ rights when their voices are silenced within the predominant culture. Allies are an important part of the movement to gain equal human rights for GLBT people in America.

How can I become an ally at CU Boulder?

  • The best way to become involved in the community and better understand the issues is to come and meet people. Drop into the resource center and volunteer or come in and talk to people hanging out.
  • Read up. Come into the center and check out some books from our library
  • Speak out. When you hear a gay joke or comment, don't be afraid to tell people that it is inappropriate and may be hurtful or harmful to a GLBT person.


  • Organize discussion groups at organizations/groups you belong to (a community of faith, education associations, social justice activist groups, etc.) to talk about GLBT issues.
  • Use neutral labels like "partner" or "significant other" instead of "boyfriend," "girlfriend," etc.
  • Bring up current LGBTQ issues in conversations with friends, at work, and in your community.
  • Interrupt anti-LGBTQ jokes, comments or any other behaviors that make homophobia and transphobia appear OK.
  • Put LGBTQ-positive posters at your work, community of faith, etc., and/or wear shirts, buttons, etc. that promote LGBTQ equity and straight ally visibility.
  • Don't make assumptions about peoples' sexual orientations or gender identities. Assume there are LGBTQ people in all classes, sports, meetings, at work, daily life, etc.
  • Don't assume that "feminine-acting men" and "masculine-acting women" are transgender or not heterosexual.
  • Don't assume that "macho males" or "feminine females" are heterosexual or not transgender.
  • Use your privilege as a straight ally to speak up for LGBTQ issues and rights whenever/wherever you can. Write letters to the editor, participate in marches, lend support to LGBTQ groups at work, a community of faith, etc.
  • As an ally to transgender folks, speak up when you hear slurs and attacks on people who express their gender outside of societal expectations. Educate people around you on the continuum of gender expression.

Adapted in part from the Gay/Straight Alliance Network @, and Boulder County Public Health, 2005.

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