Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and questioning (LGBTQ) people want to be treated equally just as others do. One third of non-LGBTQ Americans say they are uncomfortable seeing same-sex couples even holding hands. This number has decreased over time but one third of the population is still a great deal of people. Those who are accepting of same-sex couples need to speak out and share their support to show they are allies.
In order to become an ally there is one major aspect that is required. Acceptance. You do not have to advocate for others or attend rallies but you do need to be a friend. Allies play a big part in the LGBTQ community. Allies can help others to understand mutual respect and they help people in the coming-out process.
There are a lot of things an ally can do to help their LGBTQ friend/family member. It is important to confront your own prejudices to make sure you can be a good friend. Some people may think they can be supportive but end up realizing they are unable to set aside their own bias. An ally will also need to believe that all people, regardless of differences, should be treated with dignity and respect. This means you need to make sure to keep from making hurtful anti-LGBTQ comments or jokes.
These comments and jokes may appear to be harmless when said by kids in school. Unfortunately, bullying of any kind is unacceptable because it can open the door to more dangerous harassment. There have been LGBTQ people who have lost their lives due to physical abuse simply for being themselves. In order to curb this toxic behavior at a young age groups like Gay-Straight Alliances have been created at schools all over the country.
Many people are apprehensive about joining these groups because they fear they will be bullied as well. That fear is why it is very important for allies to join these groups. Do not be afraid to make new friends and stand up for them. Rejection can lead to suicidal thoughts and behaviors. Even having one person to count on that is accepting makes a big difference in that person’s life.
It is important for all people to treat others with respect. When someone is going through a hard time they need a friend to support them. You do not have to be going through the same thing to be kind to someone else. Being LGBTQ is not simply a lifestyle but who you are. Every single person has difficulty finding where they fit in but not all people have to go through fearing acceptance to get there. Being an ally to someone can help to keep them from becoming a target for harassment. Always keep your heart and your mind open to someone who may need a friend.
If you or someone you know is struggling with their identity, there are professionals that can help. If you would like to learn more about what you can do to help, please contact us!