How To Be A Real Ally For An LGBTQ+ Friend

Tuesday June 14, 2022

How To Be A Real Ally For An LGBTQ+ Friend
  (Source:Getty Images)

Allies have a critical role to play in the LGBTQ+ movement. It's also a term that's become muddied by virtue signallers and those who talk a big talk, but have little commitment to walking the hard walk with their friends in the queer community. How can you make sure you're being a wholesome, supportive ally to your LGBTQ+ friends? Let's take a look.

Be a Safe Space

Make sure you are a person your LGBTQ+ friends can feel safe around. Ask respectfully if you're unsure about pronouns and labels. Respect their wishes. Try to use inclusive language in regular conversations, and call yourself out on unintentional offensive language you may use by error. Stay safe online yourself, and help others do the same. There's some nice tips in this ExpressVPN infographic to take a look.

Listen and Learn

A critical part of being a supportive ally is learning when to hush your voice and when to speak up. Listen to your friends in the LGBTQ+ community, and make sure your own voice and opinions are not overpowering theirs. Ask questions respectfully, and don't expect them to always be the source of your education. Instead, take it on yourself to learn about LGBTQ+ terminology, history, and struggles. It's not their job to be your personal encyclopedia.

Embrace Privilege

Privilege has been co-opted into a "dirty word" of late. However, it's an important concept, and doesn't take anything from your personal struggles and triumphs, either. We all carry some type of privilege. We may be cis-gendered, straight, or able-bodied. It may lie in our class and education levels, or in our race. It doesn't mean you've never struggled or worried, but simply that there are areas of your life where your thoughts and worries have been different because of how you were born. Understanding where your own privilege lies helps you grow as a person, as well as empathize with marginalized or oppressed groups.

Ally is an Action Word

Ally isn't something you say, it's something you do. Be consistent in your support of LGBTQ+ rights everywhere, not just to your queer friends' faces. If someone around you is making harmful jokes and comments, call them out. Stand up for your friends even when they aren't there to see. Show your support in every way you can. Be bold and brave — they have to, so if you're standing together in the fight, so must you, too.

Seek your own Prejudices

We all have them, and pretending we don't won't help anyone. Think about how you use pronouns, the assumptions you make about people and their partners based on gender, sex, or looks, and how you choose to make jokes. Good allies know that everyone is human, and we all need to work to better ourselves. Even the LGBTQ+ community itself is not free of prejudices such as bi-erasure and transphobia. As long as we're always working to be better, it's a natural part of the growth process.

We All Make Mistakes

Always remember we are all human. Don't make the mistake of becoming defensive or needing to "flash" your ally status. Just do the best you can. If you mess up, apologize and correct yourself. The people around you will deeply appreciate your honesty and open attempts to do better and unlearn your previous stances.