Be that friend: How to be an Ally for the LGBTQIA+ Communities
by Josh Porterfield
D&I Committee Member
Allies for the LGBTQIA+ communities are everywhere — they’re in your workplace, they show up for our city’s annual Pride parade and celebration, and some may even be your family and friends. All in all, you know people in your life who are allies, but do you know what being an ally really means?
Point blank — allies are the straight men and women who care. They stand strong with the LGBTQIA+ communities, fighting “Karens”, conservatives and crashing homophobia.
I believe that being an ally is like working as a secret agent — there’s no bright rainbow pin that gets handed out to let others know you’re an ally. Allies work behind the scenes shutting down homophobia in and outside of the workplace. More importantly, they’re also out at drag brunch on the weekends having fun with their LGBTQIA+ friends.
Just like how you would keep watch for discrimination or harassment in the workplace for people of color or women, being an ally for the LGBTQIA+ communities works in similar ways. It’s about learning what phrases and actions are offensive and discriminatory. Although it’s also just as simple as following your intuition. When you hear anti-LGBTQIA+ comments or microaggressions, listen to your gut. Did that sound appropriate? Appropriate for the workplace? Appropriate at all?
Check out tips on how to be a great ally from GLAAD:
- Be a listener.
- Be open-minded.
- Be willing to talk.
- Be inclusive and invite LGBTQIA+ friends to hang out with your friends and family.
- Don’t assume that all your friends and co-workers are straight. Someone close to you could be looking for support in their coming-out process. Not making assumptions will give them the space they need.
- Anti-LGBTQIA+ comments and jokes are harmful. Let your friends, family and co-workers know that you find them offensive.
- Confront your own prejudices and bias, even if it is uncomfortable to do so.
- Defend your LGBTQIA+ friends against discrimination.
- Believe that all people, regardless of gender identity and sexual orientation, should be treated with dignity and respect.
Gays, lesbians and those who don’t identify with the gender they were given have been around for much longer than you think. For years and years, members of the LGBTQIA+ community have had to hide and keep their identity secret from friends, family, their bosses, colleagues and even the police.
Pride started as a riot — the community pushing back against all those cultural forces. If you’ve ever wondered why it’s important for LGBTQIA+ communities to be visible during the month of June in the streets of every major U.S. city during the month of June, then your questions will be answered:
- It’s Pride Month. Here’s what you need to know
- How the Stonewall Riots inspired today’s Pride celebrations
In the end, to be an ally, if you’re simply a nice person that has respect for others no matter their identities, you’ve got it right. Love always wins.
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