How To Be A LGBTQIA+ Ally
An LGBTQIA+ Ally is someone who is straight and/or cisgender and supports equal civil rights, gender equality and the LGBTQIA+ movement. They also use their voices to speak up, challenge prejudice and promote equality. All sounds pretty great doesn’t it? But I bet you’re wondering how someone becomes an ally. Well you’ve come to the right place because here are my top tips on being an LGBTQIA+ ally.
I’m not telling you to get your ass down the library and check out every book about the LGBTQIA+ moment but doing some research is a great place to start your newfound journey of allyship. I mean how are you supposed to stand up and fight alongside us if you don’t know how far we’ve come and how far we still have to go. Google LGBTQIA+ issues and current affairs and get up to speed on what is happening in the world around us. LGBTQIA+ issues are still underrepresented in the media and pushed to the margins so start by looking at some LGBTQIA+ media outlets like Pink News, Stonewall & Queerty.
As I’ve already mentioned LGBTQIA+ issues are often under represented within the media. So add to our visibility, use your voice to uplift ours. Attend a protest, shout at a rally and march in a pride parade. If you’re truly passionate about promoting equality then be there. Stand beside us and hold that rainbow flag high!
As an ally we have to be able to listen to one another. As my lived experience is completely different to yours, especially in terms of coming out, prejudice and discrimination. By offering an ear we are there to support one another. It’s important to remember to be respectful as just because someone might choose to confide in you, or come out to you doesn’t mean they are ready to come out to everyone. Listening is truly special as it allows us to learn about the differences and diversity that exists within our community.
It’s far too easy to allow discrimination to go unchecked. When you hear or see someone being abusive of using discriminatory language challenge it, as long as it’s safe to do so. And if it isn’t make sure to report it. Language is incredibly powerful and although we’ve been saying; sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me for years now, words do indeed bloody hurt. I’m not just talking about abusive language used to insult someone but some discriminatory language often makes its way into everyday language and although it may seem harmless it adds to prejudice and inequality of LGBTQIA+ people. When I was younger kids at school would always say “that’s so gay” to everyone and although at the time it was considered one of those things that kids just say, to me a young queer kid petrified of coming out it further embedded the idea that being gay was bad or less than being straight. Which certainly isn’t the case. So next time you hear someone using any kind of discriminatory language whether abusively or not, challenge it!
Respect is part of what we’re fighting for here. To be respected and have the same rights as everyone else regardless of who we love or who we are. I understand sometimes we might get things wrong or say the wrong thing. It’s important to ask questions rather than assume. Asking someone which pronouns they prefer is perfectly respectful however asking them whats in their trousers isn’t. Be respectful about the societal norms that we are forcing on one another without even realising it. I remember going to family occasions before I came out and dreading the inevitable question of “so have you found a girlfriend yet” from some strange aunt across the dinner table. I’d always be consumed by fear and anxiety thinking if I didn’t lie right on the spot they would somehow see my gayness shining out of me. The problem with that my strange aunt asked me was that she was assuming I had an interest in girls to begin with and pushing her societal norms onto me. By asking “do you have a partner” for example you’re being much more respectful, however it’s still none of my strange aunts business!
Ta da! If you follow these tips your be a top ally before you know it. I know sometimes it can seem daunting to get invovled in a political movement you aren’t inherently a part of but being an ally is so important. So speak up, show up and support us because equality is a human right and we bloody well deserve it!