Being an ally is about being supportive and welcoming to LGBTQ+ people, whether you don’t identify as LGBTQ+, or do consider yourself part of the community. Allies are incredibly important in ensuring the wellbeing of LGBTQ+ people, especially as LGBTQ+ people are more likely to experience struggles with their mental health. Having a supportive network of friends and allies can drastically improve an LGBTQ+ person’s quality of life, and shows them that there are people who care for them and are there to support them no matter what.
For many people, knowing how to be an ally can be confusing and daunting, so here are a few tips to help you act as an ally.
- Ask people for their pronouns
- Asking people for their pronouns is always a good idea. Even if you think you know what someone’s pronouns are, you should always ask. This practice also provides an inclusive space for people whose gender identity doesn’t align with traditional she/her or he/him pronouns. If you slip up, or don’t use someone’s preferred pronouns, don’t panic, and importantly, don’t get defensive. Just apologise and continue to make an effort to use their preferred pronouns.
- Educate yourself
- Being an ally means you need to be knowledgeable on LGBTQ+ matters. You need to do research to be able to be an effective ally. You might realise you’ve been saying something wrong, or that you have certain prejudices or biases. A lot of discrimination and hate towards LGBTQ+ people is a result of ignorance, by educating yourself you will be better equipped to be an ally to LGBTQ+ people.
- Be a good listener
- Listening to LGBTQ+ people talk about their experiences is fundamentally important to being a good ally. You may not be able to know how it feels to be part of the community, but by listening you’ll be able to better understand their experiences. By listening you can also provide support for your friends and a safe space where they can express themselves freely.
- Being an ally means advocating and standing up for LGBTQ+ people even when you aren’t with them. Talk to your friends outside the community and educate them on LGBTQ+ matters. Speak up against discriminatory language and confront the prejudices of others. Report comments or posts online and promote content made by LGBTQ+ people. If you’re a member of any societies, check what their manifesto says about discrimination against LGBTQ+ people and advocate for change if it’s insufficient.
- Use your vote wisely
- Use your vote to support the LGBTQ+ community through governmental policy. Research the voting histories of politicians and check their stance of LGBTQ+ rights. You could even contact local politicians to ask them directly what their opinions are regarding LGBTQ+ issues, and what they’re planning on doing to improve policies which protect LGBTQ+ people.
These are just a few tips to give you an idea of how you can be a good ally. What’s important though, is that this list is far from conclusive. Speak to LGBTQ+ people around you and ask what being a good ally means to them. They might not personally agree with everything on this list, and will most definitely have something to add. So, just remember to be respectful, because regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity, we all deserve respect.