Active allyship involves using your privilege, platform, and voice to advocate for LGBTQIA+ rights, challenge discriminatory practices, and amplify marginalized voices. Kiana Shelton, LCSW, provides 10 tips for people to become active allies and champions for the LGBTQIA+ community.
Pride Month celebrates and honors the 1969 Stonewall Uprising in Manhattan each June. The Stonewall Uprising was monumental for the Gay Liberation Movement in the United States. Pride Month celebrates everyone who champions LGBTQIA+ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer/Questioning, Intersex, Asexual, and other related identities such as Two-Spirit.
The percentage of U.S. adults who self-identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, or something other than heterosexual has increased to 7.2%, according to a 2022 Gallup poll.
Generation Z adults, born between 1997 and 2004, are the most likely subgroup to identify as LGBTQ, with one in five adults doing so.
Allies support the LGBTQIA+ community and advance LGBTQIA+ rights and acceptance.
Being an active ally means taking intentional actions to advocate for and uplift the voices and rights of LGBTQIA+. Active allyship demonstrates a commitment to dismantling systemic injustices and actively promoting inclusivity.
Allyship for the LGBTQIA+ community goes beyond simply displaying a rainbow sticker or symbol. While these symbols can be meaningful and visibly show support, true allyship requires ongoing learning, actions, and efforts to create a more inclusive and accepting society.
Here are 10 tips on how to be an active ally and why it’s crucial:
- Educate yourself. Start by educating yourself about the diverse experiences, challenges, and histories of the LGBTQIA+ community. Read books, articles, and personal stories. Watching documentaries and shows, We’re Here and RuPaul’s Drag Race, reading books, All about Love: New Visions and The Book of Pride: LGBTQ Heroes Who Changed the World, and listening to podcasts, Queer as Fact, provides deep insights for all generations. Attend workshops or webinars that delve into LGBTQIA+ issues. Engage with LGBTQIA+ activists, organizations, and community leaders. Do not rely on your LGBTQIA+ friends to educate you. Understanding their struggles and triumphs will help you develop empathy and knowledge to stand as an ally.
- Listen and amplify. Actively listen to the stories and experiences shared by LGBTQIA+ individuals. Give them the space to express themselves without judgment. Amplify their voices by sharing their stories, art, or advocacy work on social media or within your network. Encourage others to do the same.
- Use inclusive language. Familiarize yourself with inclusive terminology and various pronouns. Respect and use individuals’ pronouns and gender identities. Avoid assumptions or offensive language that might perpetuate stereotypes or invalidate their experiences. By using inclusive language, you create a more welcoming and respectful environment.
- Speak out against discrimination. The LGBTQIA+ community is commonly affected by discriminatory remarks, actions, or policies. Use your privilege to address and dismantle homophobic, transphobic, or biphobic attitudes. Be prepared to have difficult conversations, offering factual information and personal perspectives to counter prejudice.
- Support LGBTQIA+ organizations and creators. Donate to LGBTQIA+ organizations or volunteer your time. These organizations advocate for LGBTQIA+ rights, provide resources, and offer safe spaces for community members.
- Be active in civic engagements. Engage with representatives who champion LGBTQIA+ rights and equality. Advocate for inclusive policies and legislation.
- Practice intersectionality. Recognize that LGBTQIA+ individuals can also face additional discrimination based on their race, religion, disability, or socioeconomic background. Embrace an intersectional approach, acknowledging and addressing the interconnected nature of multiple identities and experiences.
- Create safe and supportive spaces. LGBTQIA+ individuals often face hostility and exclusion, leading to higher rates of mental health challenges, self-harm, and suicide. As an ally, you can create safe and supportive environments where LGBTQIA+ individuals feel seen, heard, and valued. Your support can significantly impact their well-being, fostering a sense of belonging and acceptance.
- Celebrate and show up for LGBTQIA+. Attend local events. Be conscious of your presence. Try not to overstep or overshadow others.
- Give yourself grace. Part of being a better ally is a willingness to keep learning. If you get someone’s pronouns wrong, correct them and allow yourself space to relearn. Punishing yourself for mistakes will make it harder to learn and grow.
Allyship is an ongoing process, not just a one-time gesture. It requires consistent support and effort, even after Pride Month. Allies commit to learning, growing, and challenging their own biases continuously. They recognize that their support is needed year-round, and they actively engage in creating long-lasting change.
Being an active ally for the LGBTQIA+ community is not just about tolerance; it’s about actively promoting acceptance, understanding, and equality. Active allyship empowers the LGBTQIA+ community and inspires others to join the cause, fostering a collective movement towards a more equitable and accepting world.
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