Being an “ally” is not a noun. It is not a state of being, but rather a state of ACTION. Supporting an individual or group of individuals with less privilege than yourself, is not enough. An “ally” works to eradicate and interrupt discrimination and oppression that they witness.
If you’d like to take your support of LGBT equality to the next level, or deepen your work as an ally, we’ve got some great resources for you.
The first thing an LGBT ally should do is make sure you are using the most inclusive, appropriate language. The Movement Advancement Project has the best resource available: “An Ally’s Guide to Terminology.” [link: https://www.lgbtmap.org/file/allys-guide-to-terminology.pdf] It’s got everything you need to know about what words can be hurtful to LGBT people, and how to talk to LGBT people and about some of the issues of importance to LGBT people and their families.
The National Center for Transgender Equality has a great short terminology guide for quick definitions of common terms.
“Coming Out as a Straight Supporter: A Guide to Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Americans” is a solid resource from the Human Rights Campaign. It includes practical guidance about how to respond to someone’s coming out story, how to avoid accidentally outing someone who is LGBT, how to engage in conversations with other potential allies, and much more.
No guide to being an LGBT ally would be complete without a mention of the wonderful people at PFLAG. They’ve recently launched a Straight for Equality campaign. PFLAG (Parents, Family and Friends of Lesbians and Gays) promotes the health and well-being of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender persons, their families and friends through support, education, and advocacy. PFLAG provides opportunity for dialogue about sexual orientation and gender identity, and acts to create a society that is healthy and respectful of human diversity.
They have many chapters across Wisconsin. If you’d like to connect with a chapter in your area, you can get the list of Wisconsin chapters online.
Our friends at GLAAD also have a great list of the 10 things you can do to be an ally and a friend to LGBT people:
- Be a listener.
- Be open-minded.
- Be willing to talk.
- Be inclusive and invite LGBT 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.
- Homophobic comments and jokes are harmful. Let your friends, family and co-workers know that you find them offensive.
- Confront your own prejudices and homophobia, even if it is uncomfortable to do so.
- Defend your LGBT friends against discrimination.
- Believe that all people, regardless of gender identity and sexual orientation, should be treated with dignity and respect.
- If you see LGBT people being misrepresented in the media, contact us at glaad.org. (We’d also suggest you head over to our action center [link] to get involved in what Fair Wisconsin has brewing!)
LGBT people need to be allies, too.
Whether you are an LGB person interested in learning more about being a trans* ally, or and LGBT person wanting to be an ally to communities of color, women, or other constituencies, we can’t forget that LGBT people have a role to play as allies to other communities.
If you’re looking for a deeper, though provoking piece on how to be an ally, we suggest “How to Be an Ally if You Are a Person with Privilege.“