As Pride Month approaches, it is important to remember that LGBTQIA+ allies are important members of the queer community. They not only help achieve equality but also create a safe and accepting environment for members of the community to thrive in. You might be someone who already stands up for the LGBTQIA+ community but how do you know if you’re an ally? Being an ally means that you recognize and respect the rights of other people regardless of their sexuality, gender identity, or expression. It’s also important that allies don’t speak over marginalized groups but rather listen and learn from their stories so they can create an inclusive environment. Here are some recommendations when it comes to being an active ally:
1. Learn the history of queer people
PRIDE means celebrating the LGBTQIA+ community, but it also means learning about the community. If you are looking for ways to learn more about history, we’ve listed some super helpful resources below.
2. Prepare to learn and be called out
No one is perfect and you're bound to make mistakes. But it's your ability to learn from those mistakes and listen to other voices that's important. You might have a habit like saying “hey guys” or “hey girls” and that's not how someone wants to be identified. Being able to listen when others set a boundary and call you out on your mistakes is important to being an ally. (Learn more about pronouns, HERE).
3. Understand that “ally” doesn’t mean the same thing for all marginalized groups.
If you want to call yourself an ally, you have to understand that allyship takes many forms. Let's say that you consider yourself an ally for environmental concerns. Maybe you show this allyship by cleaning up parks in your spare time. But that's not the same as being an ally for someone in the LGBTQIA+ community. In this scenario you need to listen to how you can be an ally and a productive one at that. Listen to where members need help, whether that's just a listening ear, validating the thoughts of others, or helping educate other people on the topic.
4. Listen, listen, and listen some more.
Being an ally means that you not only want to help a specific community but you want to understand. This means that you have to listen to the voices and concerns of others within the community. Maybe you think you're doing something that is helpful but in reality it's not. That is okay. But just be sure that you're listening to those who are trying to provide you with direction and insight. At the end of the day this is not about you or personal gain. If you truly want to be an ally you want to be of any help that you can to people who are directly affected in the community.
Being an ally is a lifelong commitment, but you're making a big difference. If you ever have questions on how to be a better ally, check out the link below!