What is an ally?
Allies are those who are typically not LGBT+, but would like to show their support and help others. LGBT+ people can be allies to each other as well. Anyone could be unfamiliar with certain terminology, and may not know what topics are safe to talk about, and there are also people who would like to help out, but don’t know how. So here’s some suggestions you can incorporate into your personal approach to help you be more inclusive, welcoming, and supportive of your colleagues, network, and the wider LGBT+ community.
1. Read and learn: There are many online resources available to learn about being LGBT+. Even if you’re already LGBT+, there may be more things you can learn about other orientations and gender identities. Check out Young Stonewall for an introduction, Stonewall for terms & history, the It Gets Better Project for stories (also one featuring myself), the UK Government plan, Wikipedia for a range of topics, and LGBT+ films, books, magazines etc.
2. Listen to and respect others: Everyone has their own set of experiences, backgrounds, hopes, feelings, beliefs and opinions. The most important thing you can do to help others is to make yourself available to hear other's thoughts and provide a way for them to breathe and be themselves. Coming out may sound trivial in today’s age, but nearly one third of countries in the world still treat homosexuality as illegal. For most people coming out is a huge deal, so it's important to respect each other's confidence. When it comes to terminology, we do all makes mistakes, and so might not get everything right all the time, so the best way to respect others is keep an open mind and be willing to accept things at face value - and stay objective.
3. Show your support: Stonewall ‘Get Over It’ posters, T-shirts and stickers – anything with a rainbow is great, even rainbow laces. You can also show your support on social media, by taking part in LGBT parades and events, volunteering or donating to charities, or even just defending people from discrimination and bullying and encouraging reporting it (if you don’t stand up against injustice, it means nothing changes).