4 Ways to Be An LGBTQ+ Ally
4 Ways to Be An LGBTQ+ Ally
Being a member of the LGBTQ+ community is not easy. Members of the LGBTQ+ community are often stigmatized by society and treated with disrespect and/or harm. But, it doesn’t have to be this way. There are many things we can do as a community to be better allies to the LGBTQ+ community.
Suicide is the second leading cause of death among LGBTQ+ youth. There is no question a lot of work needs to be done to be more inclusive, considerate, open, and accepting of the LGBTQ+ community. June is LGBTQ+ Pride Month and a great time to focus on what can be done to create change.
At Whole Journey, our counselors and therapists frequently work with members of the LGBTQ+ community as they struggle to find community, acceptance, and embrace their identity. We have put together a list of four ways all of us can be better allies to the LGBTQ+ community. Here they are:
1.) Respect Everyone’s Identity —
No one should feel the need to hide who they are or conform to others’ beliefs of who they think they should be. We all deserve the freedom to be ourselves. We all have the right to love who we want to love and live a life that is true to ourselves.
Respecting everyone’s identity means using the proper pronouns and identifying people by their chosen names, studies show this simple act can save lives. It means affirming the way members of the LGBTQ+ community choose to live. It means doing our best to stay judgment-free. It also means letting go of assumptions especially those about the gender of spouses/partners.
2.) Create Awareness Within Yourself and Spread the Word —
We all have things we say or do without even thinking about them, but these actions can sometimes cause harm to others. Things like not asking what pronouns a person would like to be identified by, failing to use a proper name, directing a person to the wrong restroom, or assuming the gender of a spouse/partner can be microaggressions, causing harm to others. By educating yourself and spreading the word to those around you, those actions can be corrected and you can offer better mental health support to the LGBTQ+ community.
Stand up for the LGBTQ+ community, and educate those around you on being respectful and considerate. Every small step counts. If you struggle with how to approach situations like this, share your concerns with a counselor or therapist. Clinicians at Whole Journey can help provide guidance and suggestions to help you through these uncomfortable situations.
3.) Be a Listening Ear —
So many mental health struggles come from people not feeling comfortable sharing what they are going through. They hold it in and feel alone and discouraged. Be someone members of the LGBTQ+ community can trust to share their struggles with or direct them to someone who can. Don’t judge, don’t pretend that you understand their struggles if you don’t, respect that it is not all about you, and keep any personal information to yourself. Anything they share is deeply personal and is theirs to share, not yours. Emotional support from others can be a huge step towards healing.
4.) Know the Signs of Mental Illness —
Mental illness is complicated and can be hard to understand and diagnose. Knowing the signs that someone you care for could be struggling with mental illness can go a long way towards healing. Symptoms like excessive feelings of sadness or worry, confused thinking, trouble concentrating, extreme mood changes (drastic highs and lows), prolonged or strong feelings of irritability or anger, avoiding friends or social activities, changes in sleeping habits, or feeling low on energy, abusing drugs or alcohol, and more can be signs that a person needs help.
Find information and resources from The Trevor Project, which provides a national, 24-hour, toll-free confidential suicide hotline for LGBTQ+ youth: 866-488-7386. Or, check out the It Gets Better Project, a campaign to share hopeful, inspiring stories.
A lot has changed over the years, but there is still a whole lot of work to be done. If you or someone you know is struggling with their mental health, direct them to a counselor, therapist, or another mental health professional that can help provide coping tools.
Ready to begin counseling in Virginia?
Whole Journey works with clients throughout the state of Virginia and North Carolina via our online and telehealth counseling platforms. We have office locations in Chesapeake, Richmond, and Charlotte. Our counselors are professionally trained in helping people to live healthier, happier lives. We want to see you thrive. Call our office at 757-296-0800 to schedule an appointment.