How to be an ally?
Even if you don’t identify with the labels, showing your support that it is not ok to be homophobic, biphobia, transphobic and actively sharing and standing by this message is welcome by anyone irrespective of our sexuality or gender identity.
There is a lot of simply but important ways to ensure your support to the LGBTQI+ community:
- Don’t out LGBT friends to other people without their permission – this might be the most important point on this list. People’s identities and stories are theirs to tell. We are never able to tell what people’s reaction might be upon finding out and there is a possibility of putting someone unintentionally in danger. As such it is vital to keep that information to ourselves. While someone entrusted you with this information they might not want to share it with a wider audience.
- Don’t assume people’s sexuality. The truth is, we rarely know what is happening in other’s people’s lives. The ones close to you could be looking for support in their coming-out process of which you are not aware of. Not making assumptions will give them the space they need.
- Confront your own prejudices and bias, even if it is uncomfortable to do so. Once you know what some of your biases might be, it becomes easier to challenge them on an everyday basis. At the end of the day we all believe that all people, regardless of gender identity and sexual orientation, should be treated with dignity and respect. Recognizing our misconceptions about others and when they come from help us to grow and leave them behind.
- As much as the LGBTQI+ community is diverse it is also a one community. We should all be open-minded to various identities and sexualities and be able to accept them all without exceptions.
- Be mindful of the individual you are interacting with. There is no harm in asking for clarification when some things might be unclear. Take into account people’s individual stances, some might not mind speaking openly about their identity while others might prefer to discuss other things instead. Make sure to learn the proper way of addressing people (e.g. their preferred pronouns).
- Educate yourself. You can always ask the LGBTQI+ members about their views, experiences, clarification and so much more. But make sure you also educate yourself independently. It really shows you care about the community and its issues as well as you shape your own opinion not depending on the person relying the information to you.