What does it take to be an ally? I love this list from the GLAAD website that shows ten ways you can be an ally to your LGBTQIA+ community.
1.Be a listener.
3.Be willing to talk.
4.Be inclusive and invite LGBT friends to hang out with your friends and family.
5.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. (I’ll add - Don’t assume pronouns or that everyone identifies as man or woman).
6.Anti-LGBT comments and jokes are harmful. Let your friends, family, and co-workers know that you find them offensive.
7.Confront your own prejudices and bias, even if it is uncomfortable to do so.
8.Defend your LGBT friends against discrimination.
9.Believe that all people should be treated with dignity and respect, including those who identify as a different gender or sexual orientation from you
10.If you see LGBT people being misrepresented in the media, contact glaad.org.
Let’s focus for a moment on that seventh step, “Confront your own prejudices and bias.” What an important component to be an ally! Often people who present themselves as allies unknowingly act in a way that can make queer people feel uncomfortable, unwelcome, or unseen. While the intent may not be to harm anyone with your words or actions, it can still be damaging to the person on the receiving end of your behaviors. The truth is, straight and cisgender people can’t fully relate to being a queer person, and vice versa. It’s inevitable that this will create blind spots and potentially cause any well-meaning ally to act insensitively. As a person who identifies as straight or cisgender, how do you check your privilege?
1. Are you aware of how much space you are taking up?
3. Do you hold your LGBTQIA+ loved ones to a certain and/or unrealistic standard?
Take a moment to explore these questions for yourself. You may choose to ask your queer friends and family their experience of you. Remember to be open hearted to their feedback. If you find that you have hurt your friend, apologize and repair it. Taking responsibility for your actions and working to fix it is showing love and support. Confronting your bias can be uncomfortable, but necessary. Challenge yourself to always be open to growth and learning.