Do you consider yourself to be an LGBTQ+ ally? Check out these tips to learn how you can better support your friends, family members, colleagues and community members.
1. Treat allyship as an action rather than a label
While it’s easy to call ourselves allies, it’s important to remember that the label alone isn’t enough. In order to be an effective ally, we all need to be willing to consistently show up, take action, support LGBTQ+ rights and defend LGBTQ+ communities against oppression and discrimination.
Here are some simple ways you can actively show your support:
2. Confront your own assumptions
Confronting our biases, assumptions and stereotypes can be difficult. However, it’s an important step we all must take to become better allies. Take some time to reflect on assumptions you may still hold or stereotypes you may need to challenge.
Here are a couple of examples:
3. Accept that nobody is perfect
Did you accidentally use the wrong pronouns or say something that made another person feel uncomfortable without meaning to? It happens, even to the best of us. When you make a mistake, take a moment to apologize and correct yourself.
One way to address a potential slip-up is to say something like, “I’m so sorry, that wasn’t the word/phrase I meant to use. If you hear me misuse something, I’d really appreciate it if you could let me know so I can be better about it in the future.” This type of response lets the person know that you are actively trying to unlearn habits and are willing to make an effort to be more mindful and inclusive.
4. Listen to those in the community
You can learn how to be a better ally to marginalized communities by creating opportunities for meaningful conversations. Listen to what your friends, family members and colleagues have to say about their experiences, identity and concerns. It’s important to keep conversations focused on individual experiences and learning more about the other person. Avoid asking them to educate you on general topics, explain their politics or name resources.
Keep in mind that when someone talks to you about their gender identity or sexuality, assume that information is confidential. If someone shares that they are having a difficult time and you want to support them, take the time to ask how you can offer support. It’s also a good idea to ask what type of action is unhelpful, so you can avoid causing unintentional harm.