8 Ways to Be an Ally to the LGBTQ Community
8 Ways to Be an Ally to the LGBTQ Community
Being a member of the LGBTQ community in Virginia, and beyond, comes with several challenges that are deeply personal. In the quest for freedom to love whomever they choose and the ability to express their true identity, the LGBTQ population is often met with prejudice, discrimination, hate, distrust, and disrespect.
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. What better time to learn how to be a true ally than June—the month of Pride.
Everyone wants to experience love, to feel accepted, engage in human connection, and to be themselves free of judgment and persecution. As a community, we hold the ability to allow our LGBTQ friends those gifts. After all “love is love.”
What are some ways we can be a true ally to the LGBTQ community?
1. Educate Yourself and Others
Being part of the LGBTQ community can mean a lot more than, simply put, “being gay.” There is a spectrum of sexual identity. Sexuality can be complicated and fluid. 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.
2. Show Support with Small Gestures
Small gestures can go a long way in showing the LGBTQ community that you support them. You can put a Pride sticker on your vehicle, attend a Pride parade or other event with an LGBTQ friend, hang a rainbow flag, wear clothing with supportive messaging, etc. Check in with your friends to see how their mental health is, encourage them to seek counseling or therapy.
3. Acknowledge and Use Appropriate Pronouns
The words you use to identify a person are important. They are a sign of respect and understanding. You may not think twice about calling someone who was born a man, a “man” but for that person that word is huge. Instead, ask what pronouns a person identifies with and use the appropriate one.
4. Respect Privacy
Coming out as LGBTQ is a hugely emotional and personal thing. If your LGBTQ friend trusts you enough to share their story with you, keep their story to yourself. It is theirs to tell, not yours. Mental health counseling can be helpful if your friend is struggling with their identity.
5. Don’t Be Complacent
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, speak up. You can do this by verbally displaying disagreement, taking appropriate action, or by not supporting businesses with anti-gay policies.
6. Don’t Make it About You
Members of the LGBTQ community and Pride events are often treated as entertainment. Visitors attend Pride events to gawk and snap pictures with the LGBTQ community, similar to animals in the zoo. When you attend Pride events to show your support, remember it isn’t about you. You can’t fully understand all the things they are going through.
7. Listen to Your LGBTQ Friends
Members of the LGBTQ community face many struggles. Not only do they have the interpersonal struggle of figuring out who they are and coming to peace with their true identity, but then they have to overcome the backlash of others. It is not easy. If a LGBTQ friend comes to you for support, listen, be there, have empathy. Create a safe space where they can share their experiences and feelings. The best thing you can do is listen without judgment.
8. Know the Signs
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 Virginia?
Whole Journey works with clients throughout the state of Virginia and North Carolina via our online and telehealth counseling platforms. 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.