Steps to Becoming an LGBTQ+ Ally

October 11th is National Coming Out Day, and while we should not focus on LGBTQ+ people and issues on this day alone, it’s a good starting place in learning how to become an ally to those around you. It’s okay to learn and make mistakes––just so long as you’re making an effort to be inclusive and committed to making your space one that is welcoming and comfortable for all LGBTQ+ people. I’ve listed out below four important steps toward becoming an ally if you are still learning.

  1. 1. Do your research

    This is the most important first step in becoming a true ally. Educate yourself on LGBTQ+ history and culture, and don’t forget to read up about different types of gender identities and sexualities. In real-life scenarios, if you don’t know something, ask, rather than assume something about someone’s identity. It’s better to make an effort to learn and be inclusive of someone than wrongly assume and potentially cause harm.

  2. 2. Be intersectional in your support

    Sharon Mccutcheon

    LBGTQ+ people are not confined to one skin tone, socioeconomic status, religion, or part of the world. It is a necessary and undeniable key in allyship to accept all LGBTQ+ people regardless of their skin tone or economic status. Queerness does not begin and end with Ellen DeGeneres. 

  3. 3. Use correct pronouns and language

    Remember, it is always best to respectfully ask and correctly use someone’s preferred pronouns than to make assumptions about their identity. Additionally, try to use gender inclusive language in general conversation; rather than calling a group of people “guys” or “ladies,” try using “folks.” The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill houses a nifty handout on how to use gender inclusive language.

  4. 4. Use your privilege to speak up

    It is necessary to be checking our privilege on a regular basis. Try to empathize with the LGBTQ+ experience to understand better how to try to emotionally or physically support them. If you see someone using the incorrect pronouns for a person, don’t be afraid to correct them. It may seem like a small task for you, but for that person, it may mean the world to have someone else recognize and validate their identity. This can be especially helpful and useful in a classroom setting where someone might not feel comfortable correcting the class––use your privilege to help everyone else get it right. We all deserve to feel comfortable, especially in our learning environments.

I’ll admit, I have been ignorant in the past as to how my actions and comments could have potentially affected LGBTQ+ people. However, that is why we learn and correct ourselves when necessary. The last thing I’d ever want is to hurt a friend or classmate due to my own ignorance. We must all do better. As long we are making efforts to grow, learn, and use our privilege positively, we are on the path to becoming an ally to LGBTQ+ people everywhere.