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February 9 2023
To be an LGBTQ+ ally is easy. If you agree on equality and fair treatment of people who identify as LGBTQ+ then already you are an ally. As you sit and read this you can bask in the warm glow and sense of self-satisfaction that you are a force for good in the world. Well done.
But really, as nice and as comfortable as it may be for you to sit at home and wish and will the world to be a better, fairer more inclusive place, there is much more you can do than simply lend your passive support to LGBTQ+ causes. If you’re going to transform yourself from an armchair supporter to an engaged and active LGBT ally it’s going to need some effort, and here’s a list of some great ways to get started.
You could begin by doing something as easy as reading a glossary of terms and teaching yourself the right language to use when talking with LGBTQ+ people. It’s a tiny but crucial step you can take to educate yourself and make sure you are using the terminology to be respectful to everyone around you and help yourself to feel more confident when discussing LGBT+ issues.
While you’re already on Google getting to grips with every letter of the LGBTQ+ alphabet you can explore the history of the LGBTQ+ movement. Getting to know the history of LGBTQ+ is an empowering act in becoming an LGBTQ+ ally. As well as honouring the effort and sacrifices of those that have come before, it’s important to appreciate how far we have come in the struggle for equality to fully understand how far we have left to go. Listen to podcasts, read books about LGBTQ+ history, and follow queer influencers on socials for soundbites from the community.
Once you know the history you can help to shape the future. Do some research into the specific battles that are being fought now and find out the obstacles that the LGBTQ+ community is facing. Discover specific campaigns that resonate with you so you can get active and focus your support to help really make a difference.
Sitting at home on the internet is the tip of the ally iceberg. If you really want to get involved in the cause it’s important to get out there and be active in your community. With LGBTQ+ History Month it’s easy to find LGBTQ+ events near you that welcome allies. Let the LGBTQ+ community know that you stand with them because your presence at events is a significant show of solidarity and support. Joining the conversation and listening to the experiences of the people you meet will undoubtedly broaden your understanding of what it means to be an ally and better your awareness of how to help to achieve equality for all.
It’s easy to imagine that when you come across discrimination or hateful language you will whir into action, righting wrongs and effortlessly challenging the behaviour and views of people speaking and acting in a hurtful manner. The reality can be very different and truthfully, sometimes standing up against discrimination can be an intimidating experience. The important thing is to let your voice be heard and although it’s not always easy, these are situations where being an ally really counts. It’s important to let those with bigoted views know that they are not in a world where they can marginalise or bully those that need our support - and this is really the essence of what being an ally is all about.
This blog originally appeared on Huffington Post