Pride 2021: Being an LGBTQ Ally

Self-care means taking care of yourself so that you can be healthy, you can be well, you can do your job, you can help and care for others, and you can do all the things you need to and want to accomplish in a day. Self-care is vital to our mental health, physical health, and helps to combat the symptoms of anxiety and depression. Coping with daily stressors can become an overwhelming task if we are not caring for ourselves. Self-care empowers us to become active participants in our own well-being and overall health.

June 1st marks the beginning of Pride month, the month that invites LGBTQ+ communities worldwide to come together and celebrate being their true selves. While members of the LGBTQ+ community are primarily associated with Pride celebrations, LGBTQ+ allies are also invited to events to celebrate amongst their friends and family members.

What is an LGBTQ+ ally? Marriam-Webster defines an ally as “one that is associated with another as a helper: a person or group that provides assistance and support in an ongoing effort, activity, or struggle”. Adapting this definition to fit LGBTQ+ allies, an ally would be a straight and cisgender person who advocated for, joins with, and supports members of the LGBTQ+ community. As an LGBTQ+ affirming therapist and ally, I try to advocate for members of the LGBTQ+ community, and one way to do that is to help others become better allies for the LQBTQ+ loved ones in their lives.

GLAAD, one of the first organizations formed to advocate against LGBTQ+ defamation and discrimination, has identified 9 ways that straight/cisgender people can make better allies:

  1. Be a listener.

  2. Be open-minded.

  3. Be willing to talk.

  4. Be inclusive and invite LGBTQ+ friends to hang out with your friends and family.

  5. Don't assume that all your friends and co-workers are straight. Someone close to you could be looking for support in their coming-out process. Not making assumptions will give them the space they need.

  6. Anti-LGBTQ+ comments and jokes are harmful. Let others know that you find them offensive.

  7. Confront your own prejudices and bias, even if it is uncomfortable to do so.

  8. Defend your LGBTQ+ friends against discrimination.

  9. Believe that all people, regardless of gender identity and sexual orientation, should be treated with dignity and respect.

Through following these guidelines, allies can ensure that their LGBTQ+ friends, family, coworkers, and classmates can feel heard, accepted, empathized with, and supported.