How to be an Ally to the LGBT+ Community

By: Abby Poulos

After finishing with the Spectrum Assembly at the beginning of April, I’ve been thinking a lot of what to do next. We gave the Upper School a lot of knowledge and things to be mindful of during the assembly, but where should we go from there?

Upon reflection, I’ve decided to put together two lists of things that are good uses of allyship, bad uses of allyship, and things that are not allyship altogether.  

Things you shouldn’t do:

Use gay slurs or slurs against transgender people. There is so much weight and gravity that these words hold, and the damage done when people use them is tremendous. You also shouldn’t tolerate people using these. Speak up. It’s different if speaking up could threaten your safety, but if your safety is not threatened, please speak up. If you’re confused on what is okay to say and what isn’t, you can always look it up.

Use gay/queer as an insult. People’s identities aren’t insults. Saying things like “I don’t mean gay as in the sexuality I mean gay as in bad” completely ignores the reason that people starting using gay to mean bad, which is derived from homophobia. Don’t equate gayness to badness. This also goes for tolerating people saying it as well.

Talk about people’s sexualities or gender identity unless they are comfortable with you talking about it. Coming out is a personal process, and the person should be able to decide who they want to be out to and when that happens. If you’re not sure about how out someone is, just ask them. It’s a lot better than accidentally outing someone, which is extremely hurtful and could possibly threatens someone’s safety.

Speak over someone LGBT+ when discussing LGBT+ issues or experiences. Let them tell you what they know from actually being in the community, listen, and take it in. As an ally, do not speak for them, but stand with them.

Misgender someone. Please use the pronouns that people are comfortable with, and use the name that people are comfortable with as well. If you make a mistake, apologize and correct yourself, but always make a big effort to use the correct pronouns and name. If you’re not sure about how someone identifies or what pronouns to use, you can always ask them what pronouns they are comfortable with using. A good rule of thumb is to always use gender neutral pronouns like “they/them” before you ask or know what pronouns someone prefers.

Things to Do:

Support LGBT+ things! This includes events, brands, artists, businesses, clubs, and more! Support is one of the most important parts of being an ally, so instead of supporting anything that has a history of being anti-LGBT+, support things that are!

-As stated before, call out people if you hear them using gay slurs/slurs against transgender people, or using gay/queer as an insult. Again, your safety comes first, but if your safety is not threatened, call people out!

Use people’s preferred pronouns and preferred name! This is a huge part of supporting someone’s identity.

Support people at whatever point they are in discovering their gender or sexual orientation. It’s a process, and if someone confides to you during that process, make them feel validated and supported!

Make your friends and people around you feel loved however they identify. Let them know with your actions that they can trust you and feel safe with you.

Challenge heteronormativity and gender normativity. Not everyone is straight or cisgender, and a great way to be an ally is to stop assuming that people inherently are, and help the people around you stop assuming so as well.

Educate yourself and the people around you. There are so many amazing online resources that you can use or that you can direct someone to if you or they are confused about something.  

Challenge stereotypes. The LGBT+ community is vast and intersectional, and stereotypes only serve to hurt it.

Prepare yourself to make mistakes, learn, and listen.

Being an ally is so important, and there are so many online resources that can help you with that. Allyship is essential and everywhere, and being a good ally is incredible and impactful!