How to be a good ally
Regardless of your gender or sexuality, you can always be an ally to the LGBT+ Community. Allies help to support LGBT+ people and amplify the voices of the community, who otherwise might not be heard, especially in places where cisgender, heterosexual people dominate in discussion. Here are 5 ways you can be a good LGBT+ ally:
1. Respect people’s identities – now, it goes without saying, but respecting others (apart from being a decent thing to do), is a key part of being an ally. LGBT+ people don’t necessarily expect you to understand what being us is like, but we would like you to acknowledge and respect our identities without being judgemental.
2. Use the correct pronouns – you probably don’t even realise it, but you’re using pronouns every day. Pronouns such as she/her, he/him and they/them are some common ones. If someone asks you to use certain pronouns, use them. Similarly, you can use gender neutral language in day to day life in order to avoid misgendering people.
3. Be open-minded – realise that the way you have been raised is likely to have included a lot of cisnormative and heteronormative ideas (assuming everyone is heterosexual or cisgender). There is nothing wrong with acknowledging the issues in society and trying to address them. Consider how often you might assume that someone was straight, or that they identified with a certain gender because of the way that they looked.
4. Make an effort to educate yourself – there’s no denying that LGBT+ identities and issues might seem complicated, especially if you’ve not been aware of any of it beforehand. There are lots of great resources both on the internet and also in the library (which at the moment has a lot of LGBT+ books on display!). If you’re still confused, you can always ask someone and, as long as you’re polite and respectful, it should be fine.
5. Don’t speak over LGBT+ people – sometimes allies can begin to talk over the LGBT+ people they are trying to be allies for and that isn’t really the point. The easiest way to make sure you’re not talking over LGBT+ people is to make sure that you listen well and don’t invalidate the experiences of others.