In a world that wants to knock down those who stand out, supporting the people in your life who are LGBTQ+ is paramount. Being a friend to LGBTQ+ individuals that you already know is a step in the right direction, but being an ally to the entire community is even better.
An ally is a person that wants all people to be accepted in society equally. They go beyond offering respect to others by taking action in their communities to show their support. There are many excellent resources available to anyone ready to put effort into being an ally.
Anyone can show their support for LGBTQ+ people regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity. Making a change in the world and improving life for LGBTQ+ individuals takes many people coming together. If you are eager to support LGBTQ+ individuals, here are ten things you can try.
Educate yourself on the many sexualities and gender identities under the LGBTQ+ umbrella
There are many things to learn about the LGBTQ+ community. It would be nearly impossible to educate yourself on everything. The important thing here is that you put in the effort and do your best. Learn the history of the movements this community has led. Research terminology, pronouns, stereotypes, and anything else you can think of to learn.
You can educate yourself by reading books and articles or watching documentaries. You can also learn a lot by participating in conversations with your LGBTQ+ friends. Listening to their experiences and stories of discrimination can provide you with a unique insight.
The LGBTQ+ acronym keeps growing for a reason. There is no way of knowing just how many sexualities and genders exist because new terms continue to be curated. There are now at least 46 terms to describe sexuality and at least 64 for gender identities.
Learning about the LGBTQ+ community will help you break down your prejudices and biases that you may not even realize you are carrying with you. As you educate yourself, stay open-minded and be willing to confront any issues you have.
Make an effort to use the correct pronouns for every person you meet
Using the correct pronouns is one way to show a person that you respect their identity. Most people will not mind if you ask them their pronouns, and if they do not feel comfortable talking about their pronouns at this time, move on. Never assume pronouns. Make a habit of using gender-neutral pronouns if you are unsure of the pronouns a person prefers.
If you accidentally use the wrong pronoun, it is best to say sorry and correct yourself. Make sure the person knows you did not mean to mess up. Slip-ups happen. They are especially common when referring to an old friend or family member who has recently changed their pronouns. If you catch someone intentionally using the wrong pronoun for someone, call them out.
Go further by adding your pronouns to your email signature and social media bios. If you wear a nametag at work, go ahead and stick it on there too. Even if your pronouns have never strayed from what you grew up using, you can still make a point to use them in this way. This practice can help show LGBTQ+ people that you are open-minded and ready to offer a safe space.
Purchase pride-related gifts for your friends or ally items for you
LGBTQ+ pride items make great gifts for loved ones, or maybe you want to rock them yourself. Our store carries a great collection of ally items. We also have great products for many identities. Pride clothes allow people to express themselves, and buying them for those you love is one way to show you support them.
When you buy from us, your money supports a business owned by LGBTQ+ individuals, unlike many large stores that sell pride clothes. We also donate 10% of our proceeds to LGBTQ+ foundations. You can read more about us here.
Stand up for people when you notice hate
Cyberbullying is a real issue in the world. Individuals who are Black, Latino, Asian, multiracial, or identify as LGBTQ+, often face terrible bullying. If you witness rude comments being made to LGBTQ+ individuals, either in person or online, be willing to defend them.
Homophobic jokes are never okay. Attempt to educate those who joke around in this way. Even if they choose not to listen to you, it is best to make a habit of trying. It can be nerve-racking to stand up to others, but so worth it.
If you have friends or family learning about the LGBTQ+ community, help educate them. They may say something that they do not realize is harmful. Correct them but do it kindly. It might be best to inform them later, in private, so they do not feel attacked.
Create a safe space for others
Keep an open mind. Never assume someone is LGBTQ+ or pressure anyone to come out until they are ready to tell you. Assumptions are no fun for anyone. Instead, be a good listener. If you do not understand something, ask. Most people will be happy to fill you in.
Watch what you say, and be sure to listen to your LGBTQ+ friends by not speaking over them. This action can make them feel dismissed. Instead, give them time to say what they need to say and make sure your replies are supportive.
If you work somewhere that could benefit from creating a safe zone, do it! These are a great addition to any school or university.
Attend LGBTQ+ related events near you
Real change occurs when people stand up for those in their community, so start showing up to LGBTQ+ events and be vocal! Be sure to share event information on your social media pages. These shares can encourage more allies to show up and fuel productive conversations on feeds.
LGBTQ+ events exist to give this community a space to celebrate themselves without judgment. Confirm that allies are encouraged to attend before the event starts so you can be confident that you are not stepping on their toes. Chances are they will be more than happy to have you there, but always be thoughtful.
Invite your LGBTQ+ friends to hang out with you
Make sure your LGBTQ+ friends know that you want them to feel included in your plans. Invite them to hang out with you and introduce them to other friends of yours. You may even consider bringing them around your family.
Do not introduce them as your LGBTQ+ friend. Although this is a part of their identity, they are not just their sexuality or gender. You might ask them beforehand if they would like you to tell your friends and family that they are LGBTQ+. Sometimes they will not want you to, but it can help them to know that the situation they are heading into is safe.
Stop thinking that cisgender and heterosexuality are the norm
It is surprisingly common for people who do not know much about the LGBTQ+ community to ask who wears the pants in a non-heterosexual relationship. When we assume that all relationships operate through a heterosexual lens, it is harmful to LGBTQ+ individuals.
Take a look at this map that depicts how many LGBTQ+ people live in different states throughout the United States. As you can see, there are many LGBTQ+ individuals in the United States. This map does not even consider those in other parts of the world. Stop assuming the majority of people are cisgender and heterosexual.
Donate to LGBTQ+ organizations and nonprofits
There are many organizations out there that are making a difference in the lives of LGBTQ+ individuals. If you have extra money, they will gladly take it off of your hands to help others. You can find some of the best LGBTQ+ charities here. Some do not ask for money but request time and voices to fuel their fight.
If you do not have any money to spare, that is understandable. These days nearly everyone creates a birthday fundraiser on Facebook. It is practically automatic. Once your birthday rolls around, all you have to do is pick which organization you want to support. By choosing one that supports the LGBTQ+ community, you will be vocalizing your acceptance on your feed while making a financial difference.
You may even consider organizing an event in your area to raise money on behalf of one of these groups. You can do this through your school, workplace, or even independently.
Understand that the fight is far from over
It is easy for anyone not a part of this community to assume equality exists in all spaces. Unfortunately, this is far from the case. There are many states where LGBTQ+ individuals are still not protected against discrimination. A lot of work needs to be done.
Continue to keep these conversations going and challenge those around you who do not support the community. Being an ally is critical in a world that can often be dark. Be a light to those around you, create safe spaces, and keep working hard to ensure that LGBTQ+ voices are heard.