SURVIVOR SERIES: BEING AN ALLY
While seemingly removed from the situation, members of society who do not identify as a member of the LGBTQ community can still have the urge to help. And, for those of us who don’t identify as gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender, there’s still something we can do; be an ally. By being an ally, we can help create a welcoming world for our friends and family.
When turning in an essay, you would never give your professor a blank piece of paper with a big red “A+” at the top and insist that that’s the grade you earned. In the same sense that you put no effort into that, the same can be said for ally efforts. While labeling yourself as an ally can show support, a little effort goes a long way. Your engagement in the topics and issues can be seen as extremely helpful and beneficial, while maintaining a consciousness that is not offensive. There are really easy ways to show your support for the LGBTQ community. Here, are some ideas to get started:
- Be kind. First and foremost, don’t be judgmental. Everyone knows that the first step to being any kind of ally is respect. You get what you give, so why not give someone a smile.
- Educate yourself. Take it upon yourself to know what’s going on in the LGBTQ community. Look at both the history and current events taking place around the world. As an ally, you should know the correct and most appropriate information in situations when you’re defending your beliefs. Those beliefs being acceptance for individuality.
- Take a stand. If you see or hear anything derogatory or discriminatory, don’t be afraid to speak up. Talk to the person and (politely) point out their negative action. Explain to them why what they did or said was disrespectful. Have an open conversation as to how they could be more positive and accepting in the future. Keep in mind not everyone will be warm and fuzzy to this but in order to change the tide, letting someone know you don’t appreciate their ignorance or disrespect is key.
- Know when to stand down. Inherently, no one person can be perfect. When someone points out something derogatory or discriminatory in your actions, don’t argue. As an ally, you’re supposed to know what’s acceptable and appropriate, but understand that what you are doing could be understood offensively. If someone is being kind enough to tell you what you’ve misunderstood; listen. Adjust your attitude for the future and prepare to always learn more.
- Listen. Carefully listening to someone shows honest support for the speaker and allows you as an ally to learn a variety of positions within the same community. Remember everyone’s story and experience is unique. “As someone striving to be an ally, the most important thing we can do is listen to as many voices of those we’re allying ourselves with as possible,” says Jamie Utt, a journalist for Everyday Feminism Magazine. This is essential for a good ally because it proves that just because one person says something, doesn’t make it true for the whole.
Okay fellow allies, ready to start actively allying with our LGBTQ friends? You’ll be off to a great start if you can follow these five simple suggestions.
To read more on Jamie Utt’s article for Everyday Feminism, click below:
Written By Allison Flanagan, Peer Educator
Photo Cred: Kenzie Bailey