How To Be An Ally
We need to be seen and included, not ignored.
Every year, LGBTQIA+ events are held in June in honour of Stonewall. As we approach June, it's important to learn how to be inclusive and welcoming during pride month - the one month of the year where the LGBTQIA+ community can be open and celebrated. Or, that's the way it's supposed to be, anyway. Even during pride, a lot of queer youth and adults feel excluded and afraid, especially living in specific communities. As a queer ally, it's important to stand up for your loved ones, and to stand up to those who make us feel threatened or scared.
Twenty percent of LGBTQIA+ people are threatened with bodily harm during a hate crime, including sexual assault. When compiling all data involving queer demographics, LGBTQIA+ individuals are nearly eight times more likely to be a victim of a crime than their cishet counterparts. * In America, seventy one states have failed to pass legislation protecting queer workers, and more than half of all LGBTQIA+ employees can be fired or discriminated against for their sexual or gender identities.
In recent months, the fight for queer equality has been threatened and questioned by those who have no idea how it feels to be oppressed due to sexual or gender identity. Don't Say Gay is a controversial and widely-talked about topic among the Americas, but the fact remains that laws like Don't Say Gay only further victimise and harm the LGBTQIA+ community.
We need to spoken up for. In 2o21, 7.1% of Americans self-identified as LGBTQ.** This is more than double the amount of LGBTQIA individuals that were out ten years ago. Obviously, this is to be expected. As the world becomes more progressive, the younger generations become more open, and the older generations become less feared over being discriminated against. There's a problem, though, when it comes to the allyship and acceptance of LGBTQIA+ individuals. At times, it feels the world is moving backwards, sending our queer youth and adults back into hiding. This needs to end.
How to be an ally:
1. Be accepting. It's easy to shrug aside things that aren't understood, or things that don't apply to you personally. Regrettably, I've done it. To be an ally, it's crucial to be accepting - even if it isn't really understood. So often, I see people responding to identities they don't understand with hatred and mocking, instead of taking a moment to support and self-educate. As human beings, we learn new things every day. Remaining open-minded is part of growing as a human. I'd find it both helpful and affirming if, instead of responding to my identity with mocking and threats, an ally asked how to be supportive, and took the time to learn what my identity means.
2. Be a good listener. Put effort into understanding and hearing what a loved one is telling you. Remember that listening and understanding is saving lives.
3. Use inclusive language. I cannot tell you how many times I've been laughed at because they is not a singular pronoun. When meeting someone new, or referring to a stranger, we have been conditioned to choose a gender based off appearance - though these two things are not intrinsically related at all. Never assume a person's gender or sexuality based off how they look. Understand that there is so much more outside of straight or gay and man or woman. If you don't know someone's pronouns, ask politely. Tell people your pronouns - especially if you aren't LGBT.
4. Stand up for injustice. Online especially, there is a lot of misunderstanding and prejudice toward those who are different. It seems so vast, so impossible for one person to stand up for everybody. Change is really about one action at a time. Stand up for those who are oppressed, and control who you communicate with online. Social media is filled with people who say hateful things, utter threats, spread misinformation. Even a small action like blocking those who make the marginalised feel uncomfortable is an action of allyship.
5. Educate others. Use your knowledge and understanding to stop the spread of misinformation about marginalised groups. With educating others comes educating oneself, and learning to change and adapt to new knowledge and perspectives. If something doesn't apply to you, it's quite easy to ignore. Instead of speaking for the LGBTQIA+ community, speak to us, and then use what you've learned to enrich the minds of other people. It's important, and a big part of allyship, to raise the younger generations to be more open than the older ones. By teaching our children about marginalised groups and the language that affects them, we can impact change on an entire generation.
6. Advocate for change. One of the most important parts of being an ally is helping secure the rights of others. This can be done by sharing your opinions online, signing petitions, attending rallies. Change cannot happen unless somebody speaks up for it.
7. Support people you don't know. It's great to advocate for friends and loved ones who have come out as LGBTQ. But their lives are not the only lives affected by homophobia and prejudice. By supporting people you don't know, you become a sort of safe space for those who have no one. Attend pride marches or rallies, support local LGBTQIA+ businesses, and show your support in any way you know how - even small gestures like hanging a rainbow flag, or putting out pronoun pins in a professional setting.
Being an ally is important to not only friends and family, but to every LGBTQ person who feels misrepresented or unseen. Showing support to just one person can make a huge difference - and after all, it only takes one of us to make a difference in the lives of someone else.
About the author
neurodivergent, trans writer and parent. canadian. lover of nature, animals, mythology, travel, and knowledge. doing my best to feel comfortable inside this flesh vessel i call home.
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