As our world becomes more accepting of broader and more diverse identities, you may have questions about how you can better support the LGBTQ+ community, or what LGBTQ+ even stands for.
Every person has their own journey in understanding what it means to support LGBTQ+ people, whether you’re LGBTQ+ or not. We hope this resource can help you begin that journey.
First, let’s define what it means to be an Ally! An Ally is a term that gets used a lot in the LGBTQIA+ community. An ally is someone who stands up for, supports, and encourages the people around them regarding sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expression to improve the experience of and make the world a better place for people who identify as LGBTQIA+.
Allies can identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, cisgender, intersex, queer, questioning, or heterosexual. Allies are important and welcomed supporters of the LGBTQ movement, as they have one of the most powerful, influential voices. They help create a platform for activism to fight homophobia and transphobia, and they personally advocate for equal treatment for all people, regardless of their sexual orientation.
So, now that we’ve identified what an ally is, you may be wondering how you can be an ally to the LGBTQ+ community and that’s what I’m here to help share with you.
Below are several examples of ways in which allies help provide their support to the LGBTQ+ community.
An LGBTQIA+ Ally is someone who…
- supports equal rights for everyone – regardless of race, sexual orientation, gender, or religion.
- does what they can to call out discrimination and fight for equality.
- tries to make the world a better place for anyone who identifies as LGBTQIA+
- Is comfortable saying the words “gay,” “lesbian,” “bisexual,” and “transgender.”
- Believes that it is in their self-interest to be an ally to LGBTQIA+ individuals.
- Has worked to develop an understanding of LGBTQIA+ issues. Works to be comfortable with their knowledge of gender identity and sexual orientation.
- Works to understand how patterns of oppression operate and is willing to identify oppressive acts and challenge the oppressive behaviors of others.
- Tries to be an ally to all oppressed groups.
- Finds a way that feels personally in alignment to confront /combat homophobia, transphobia, heterosexism, and cisgenderism, by addressing/confronting individuals without being defensive, sarcastic, or threatening.
- Similar to how an LGBTQIA+ person “comes out of the closet,” an ally “comes out” as an ally by publicly acknowledging her/his support for LGBTQIA+ people and issues.
- chooses to align with LGBTQIA+ individuals, and represent their needs — especially when they are unable to do so themselves.
- promotes a sense of community with LGBTQIA+ individuals, and teaches others about the importance of these communities.
- Encourages others to also provide advocacy.
- Is aware that they may be called the same names and be harassed in similar ways to those whom they are defending. Whenever possible, a heterosexual ally avoids “credentializing,” (i.e. giving oneself ‘street cred’) which involves disclosing their heterosexual identity in order to avoid negative or unpleasant assumptions or situations
- Expects to make some mistakes and does not give up when things become discouraging.
You now know more about being an ally, and the steps you can take to become one. You don’t need to do ALL of the things listed above, but it’s essential to know of some options. Start by choosing one action to start with: go to a rally or an event, educate yourself on issues that are important to the community, or check in with your LGBTQIA+ mates after a particularly bad news day. The opposite of silence often starts with questions and curiosity. Do not be afraid to ask questions as they are often key to breaking down and challenging existing barriers within interpersonal dynamics in today’s society.
Remember: you really can make a difference to other people.
If you feel like you want to do more or want to show your loved ones your full support but don’t know where to begin, Solid Foundations Therapy is here to help. We pride ourselves on being an ally to the LGBTQ+ community and encourage you to visit our website at www.SolidFoundationsTherapy.com or give us a call at 630-633-8532 today.