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Being an LGBTQ+ Ally

Published by: LifeWorks,

June is Pride Month, and there’s no better time to learn about issues that affect the LGBTQ+ community. Even if you don’t identify as someone within the LGBTQ+ community, you can always be supportive through becoming an ally. Here’s how to start.

Find out about issues of sexual orientation and gender identity. Become familiar with basic terms like “coming out,” “homophobia,” “sexual orientation,” and “gender identity or expression.”

Find out about pronouns. People have the right to choose what pronoun they’re addressed by (she/her, he/his, or they/their). If you’re unsure what to use, ask what pronouns the person would like to be addressed by. If you make a mistake, apologise and correct yourself. You can list your own pronouns in your email signature or on your name tag at events where you’re meeting new people if you want to signal that you understand and respect addressing people by their preferred pronouns.

Be honest and admit if you don’t know what a word means or what language to use. Don’t be nervous about using the “right” language. If you aren’t sure what words to use or what to say when talking with your LGBTQA+ friend or relative, ask for help or search online for the definition and use of the word.

Lead by example. Don’t be afraid to speak up when other people act in a discriminatory way toward LGBTQA+ people, tell offensive jokes, or engage in anti-gay behaviour. Don’t use insulting terms, even if you hear other people use them.

Be respectful of people’s privacy. Understand that some people may choose not to disclose personal information. Even if you suspect that someone might be gay, bisexual, or transgender, it’s their decision to share this. No one should ever be “outed” by another person as this is a personal choice and there could be unknown dangers that they could be exposed to.

Join efforts in your community to raise awareness about LGBTQ+ issues and to work for equality and non-discrimination. Participate in gay rights fundraisers or other “Pride” events, or volunteer at a support group or organisation.* Search online for organisations such as PFLAG, which helps those struggling to understand their gender identity and offers support for the LGBTQ community.

Treat others as you would like to be treated. Remember that actions speak louder than words.

* Be sure to follow local guidelines for COVID-19 restrictions on gatherings.

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