What does it mean to be an ‘ally’?
We’ve heard of this terms in reference to wars and soldiers, or countries supporting other countries in need of help. But, in this context, it means:
– Youth Engaged 4 Change
However, it takes more than just agreeing with the above statement to become an ally. If you want to be the best ally you can be then you need to be active in your actions to show your support.
How can I show my support?
We know it can be a struggle to be supportive of other people sometimes. Many of us fear we may use the wrong term to describe someone or inadvertently say something and cause offense, but we need to remember:
WE ARE ALL HUMAN so WE WILL ALL MAKE MISTAKES but, WE WILL CONTINUE TO LEARN AND GROW.
No one should judge you for trying to make an effort and wanting to educate yourself on an issue. All we would say is always proceed in a polite manner towards this subject and you’ll be fine. If you feel you have caused offense, then just acknowledge this and apologise. We all have to learn somehow—and surely it’s better to ask than making assumptions, no?
Here are some ways you can show your support:
#1 DO YOUR RESEARCH
Thankfully we’re living in the 21st century where we have all we could ever want to know about any subject right at our fingertips. So, get online (or read a book if you’d prefer) and do some research about different terms / identities within the LGBTQ+ community.
#2 USE YOUR PRONOUNS
Pronouns are used in place of a proper noun such as someone’s name (e.g. I bumped into Peter the other day, he said we should go for lunch sometime). So, in this example, HE is the pronoun.
You can do this both in person and on your social media pages!
Using your own pronouns conveys the idea to other people that you are comfortable with the idea of using them which can then have a positive impact by making those who already use them feel more comfortable and influence other people who had not previously used them to consider doing the same and therefore continues the process of normalising this within society.
#3 ARRANGE TO HANG OUT
The best way to get to know someone is by talking to them.
There’s so many options out there of fun activities / clubs and other places to go to. So, why not suggest going out for a meal or arrange an event and invite your LGBTQ+ friend(s) or colleague(s) along too.
Whilst there’s no pressure from either of you to ask questions about them as an LGBTQ+ individual, if you decide that you want to, and they are equally comfortable with having these questions put towards them (to check if they are okay with this then preface the conversation by saying if they don’t wish to answer or share anything that makes them feel uncomfortable speaking about that you’re totally fine with this) then some suggestions are:
These are just suggestions—remember not to make the entire conversation about this. They are still a person and deserve to be treated as such. Be sure to also ask about their hobbies and other interests too!
Make a judgement call on when best to have this type of conversation. It might be best to hold off until knowing them for a fair amount of time.
#4 SPEAK UP / SUPPORT
The LGBTQ+ community faces injustices on a daily basis. For example:
If you see an injustice happening then you need to take action. We don’t expect you to get directly involved but, depending on the environment and location of the incident, you need to source help from somewhere. This could be in the form of another colleague, your boss, a friend or family member or, in some circumstances, by contacting the police.
Even if you feel the issue isn’t worth reporting, you should still speak to someone and, at the very least, see what you can do to make a change to ensure the same thing doesn’t happen again in the future.