It’s Pride Month, and that means LGBTQ2+ communities around the world are coming together to celebrate the beauty of who they are. No matter your sexual identity, anyone can join in on the celebrations during Pride, and anyone can become an ally.
Being an LGBTQ2+ ally is less of a title and more of an action. Allies foster deeper understandings, are constantly learning and can bridge conversations to increase awareness. Below you’ll find some quick tips about becoming an ally that we’ve gathered from leading organizations across Canada, the US and the UK, as well as other resources for further learning and direction.
It starts with being open
If you want to support your LGBTQ2+ friends, family or the community as a whole, you should start by learning about their struggles.1 Listen to your friends and family members; hear their stories; ask them questions and be open to their answers.
We’re all human, and that means we’re all different. Not every person has a one-size-fits-all look. Men can carry purses and women can wear ties; we don’t have to dress like a female or a male if we don’t want to. It’s a good idea to get in the habit of not assuming anyone’s gender or pronouns. Previous partners don’t define a person’s sexuality, so you shouldn’t turn to that when assuming someone’s orientation. Use gender-neutral language until it is made clear by the person with you.2 Share your pronouns and encourage others to do the same. Finally, always respect the language others use when describing themselves.
Challenge your prejudices and unconscious bias
You may have stereotypes and assumptions about the LGBTQ2+ community you didn’t even know you had. Anyone can have these unconscious biases; they can happen quickly, and they get in the way of getting accurate information.3 Being an ally means you’re going to have to confront these biases and understand that you may have offended people in the past because of them. Identify the times when you made these mistakes, accept that you made them and work hard to avoid them in the future.
Speaking out and standing up for others can be tough, but it can make all the difference in someone’s life. People in the LGBTQ2+ community have heard all forms of negativity throughout their lives, and like anyone else, sometimes they may not have the courage or energy to stand up for themselves. But as an ally, you can help here. If you notice someone using harmful words or behaviors towards queer or trans people, speak up. Use your voice to step in, uplift and educate others. Work with LGBTQ2+ communities to help amplify their voices and work to reach a wider audience.
You’ll make mistakes, and that’s OK
It’ll happen. You may accidently use the wrong pronouns or assume someone’s sexuality. It might have even come up in a joke you’ve made (have you ever said “that’s so gay” to someone?) or just in your everyday language. When these moments do come up, it’s best to take a breath, avoid being defensive if you’re called out and always accept the other person’s feelings.4 Remind yourself that you’re trying and going through the learning process. Finally, don’t be afraid to ask for help. After an apology, asking for more help and guidance is a great way to show that you are working hard to become a better LGBTQ2+ ally.
More information on being a LGBTQ2+ ally
Above are just some of the many ways you can become a better ally. You can find more tips, guidance and support for LGBTQ2+ allyship in the resources from other organizations below.
Looking to do more for the LGBTQ2+ community?
As a Foresters member, you have access to amazing grants that can help you organize fundraisers, care kit drives and other inspirational events that can make a difference. Whether you’re raising funds for a recognized LGBTQ2+ charity with your Community Volunteer grant, or assisting local LGBTQ2+ people in your community with a Foresters Care™ grant, the possibilities to make a meaningful impact are endless.