How to be an Ally

Dorka Borus, Editor

The word ‘ally’ gets thrown around quite a lot when talking about LGBTQ+ related topics, yet the word is not given a lot of attention. It is time to unwrap the word, and find out what it really means to be an LGBTQ+ ally.

The dictionary definition of an ‘ally’ is: “A person or organization that cooperates with or helps another in a particular activity.” This is easily applicable to the LGBTQ+ community as well; an ally is a person who does not identify as being a part of the community, but supports their rights, and challenges discriminatory actions towards LGBTQ+ people. It is important to remember that an ally isn’t just someone who supports the LGBTQ+ movement, but someone who stands up for people who identify as a part of the LGBTQ+ community, and promotes equality for all (Perez, 2016).

Allies are an essential part of the LGBTQ+ movement. Without them, LGBTQ+ people wouldn’t have gotten as far as they have today. Historically, the LGBTQ+ community has faced systematic oppression. Systematic oppression such as being beaten up, sometimes to the point of death and being denied jobs. Without the support of allies, this might still be a reality today. Stonewall Inn was a gay bar where LGBTQ+ people were constantly beaten up. Eventually, people, both heterosexual and part of the community, started rioting against these violent attacks. This was a catalyst for several other riots for LGBTQ+ rights, and took a significant part in changing the lives of people of the community.

Unfortunately, even today, people of the community face some oppression, a good example being the law against same gender marriage in China. This illustrates the importance of allies in the advancement of LGBTQ+ rights; to be the voice that they do not have. Other responsibilities allies to the community need to keep in mind are recognising the struggles of LGBTQ+ people close to them and making them feel safe and supported. Also, allies need to make an effort to facilitate inclusion within communities, as well as self acceptance.

Now, the million dollar question, how can you become an LGBTQ+ ally? There are actually quite a few simple steps you can take. First of all, it is very important to be educated about the topic. While you do not need to become an expert in the subject, it would be useful to know the general terms, such as the difference between sex and gender. If you are unsure about anything, don’t be afraid to ask people, do some research of your own, or refer to our LGBTQ+ vocabulary page in The High. It is also beneficial to know about the current situations regarding the LGBTQ+ community that are going on around the world.

The next thing that you can do is stand up to discriminatory actions that you may encounter. Instead of silently shaking your head at homophobic, transphobic, biphobic and generally hurtful comments, stand up for the LGBTQ+ community, and tell the people that what they are saying is wrong. Not only will you discourage them from saying similar things again, but you will also protect LGBTQ+ people from potentially scarring encounters, but you will also encourage others to stand up against these comments as well.

The next thing that you can do is very important; you need to support, and advocate for equality. While this might seem difficult to do, there are quite a lot of easy ways to do it. For example, if you are able to and there is one near you, join a protest against unjust policies or prejudice. In Switzerland, there is an upcoming referendum on the Swiss Civil Code in September 2021, concerning the same sex marriage law. You can also do something as simple as joining Pride Alliance in order to make school a better and more welcoming place. If you discover any discrimination, or unfair policies in school, don’t be scared to report it to a trusted adult in order to allow for positive change.

Lastly, you can let people know that you are an ally in order to show your support to the LGBTQ+ community. Even though you could also potentially face some slightly hurtful comments by showing support, the benefits of always being kind and supportive outweighs the fear of one not liking you. It is also important to remember to reflect on how much the opinions of certain people should worry you, specifically the opinions of people who aren’t willing to change either behaviors for a more accepting society. This allows LGBTQ+ people to know that you support them, and that you are there for them if they ever need you. It is essential that they know that they are welcome and accepted. (Engage.youth, 2021)

Allies are a crucial part for the improvement of current LGBTQ+ rights. They can be the voice for the cause when the LGBTQ+ community is silenced. On top of that, they are essential to help LGBTQ+ people accept themselves and are vital in helping others understand the importance of justice and equality for everyone. It is time for you to take part in this movement, become an ally and help improve the lives of your community.