How to be an Ally to Your LGBTQ Friends
June is Pride Month. It is the time of the year when the LGBTQ community comes together to celebrate who they are. But, Pride Month is about more than one group showcasing their culture, it is a time for the rest of us to show support and learn how to be an ally to the LGBTQ community.
Being part of the LGBTQ community comes with a multitude of challenges that are deeply emotional and personal. Although we have come a long way over the years as a society working towards acceptance, there is still a lot of work yet to be done. As friends of the LGBTQ community, we hold the ability to be true allies. The more we show support for our LGBTQ friends, the more progress is made.
We all need friends, human connection, and we all want to feel accepted. The more society as a whole works to open their hearts and minds to the LGBTQ community, the more accepted and loved they will feel.
How can we support our LGBTQ friends?
There is so much more to the LGBTQ community than simply being gay. There is a whole spectrum of sexual identity. Sexuality can be complicated and fluid. In order to be a good ally, it is important to gain an understanding of the range of sexual identities. There is a lot more to a person than a title or category.
Use Small Gestures to Show Support
Little actions can go a long way in showing the LGBTQ community you care. Putting a Pride sticker on your vehicle, attending a Pride parade or other event with an LGBTQ friend, hanging a rainbow flag, etc. are all ways to show you care.
Use Appropriate Pronouns
The words you use to identify a person matter. You may not think twice about calling someone who was born a man, a “man” but for that person that word is huge. Show your friends respect and ask them how they identify, then refer to them that way.
Don’t Share Someone Else’s Story
Coming out as LGBTQ is a hugely emotional and personal thing. If your LGBTQ friend trusts you enough to share their story with you, to be open and honest with you, then keep their story to yourself. It is theirs to tell, not yours.
It is so easy to turn a blind eye when discrimination and hate are happening right in front of you. It is scary. No one wants to get hurt. But we can’t be complacent in other people’s hatred. If prejudice is taking place, stand up. You can do this by verbally displaying disagreement, or by not supporting businesses with anti-gay policies.
Remember It’s Not About You
All too often members of the LGBTQ community and Pride events are treated as entertainment. People attend Pride events to gawk and snap pictures with the LGBTQ community, almost like they are animals at the zoo. Attend Pride events to show your support but remember it isn’t about you. You are an outsider to the culture. Be part of the event but don’t overtake it.
Be a Listening Ear
Members of the LGBTQ community often face a variety of struggles. Not only are they dealing with the interpersonal struggle of figuring out who they are and coming to peace with their true identity, but they are also faced with the backlash of others. It is tough. If a member of the LGBTQ community puts their trust in you and comes to you for support, listen, be there, have empathy. Create a safe space for your LGBTQ friend to share their experiences and feelings. The best thing you can do is listen without judgment, share a hug, and/or some kind words. Be a friend.
Be Aware When Someone is Struggling
Know the signs of depression and suicide risk. If an LGBTQ friend is withdrawing from others, suffering from mood swings, having trouble getting out of bed in the morning, no longer participating in activities they love, etc. help to guide them to a counseling professional. A licensed therapist can help to teach healthy coping skills and get them the help they need to feel their best.
Ready to begin counseling in Pennsylvania?
Counselors at CW Psychological Services are professionally trained and licensed. We have openings for online, or telehealth, therapy appointments. Email us at [email protected] or call at (610) 308-7575. We are here for you.