Happy National Coming Out Day. Today is a day of celebration and acceptance. Many people from the LGBTQ+ community are either commemorating the date they decided to embrace and live their truth, while others might be starting their journey on this very day. There are also many people who are struggling with coming out, for so many personal reasons.
That's why today is a day to show support, love, understanding, and acceptance to every single member of the community. Now more than ever, it's important for allies to be more active and come together to defend and fight for the life, freedom, and rights of the LGBTQ+ community.
That's why I wanted to share some ways you can become an effective ally and supporter to the LGBTQ+ community, and even inspire and encourage those around you to join the fight.
But before I start sharing, I want to emphasize what I'm referring to in this post when using the term ally. An ally is a straight and/or cisgender person who supports and advocates for LGBTQ+ people. As you can see, being an ally is a great responsibility but also an incredible opportunity to show acceptance, respect, love and kindness.
Because a straight and/or cisgender person is not technically part of the community and hasn't had to face the struggles, discrimination and persecution as the LGBTQ+ community, it might sometimes be hard to really understand certain situations. Even though an ally means well, they can sometimes, for lack of knowledge or experience, do or say things that aren't really helpful.
So today here are some simple suggestions to help you on your journey to becoming a more effective ally and supporter.
1. Acknowledge your privilege and use your position to benefit the community.
We live in a society that normalizes being straight and cisgender. So the first thing you can do is start by recognizing that you've benefited from this privilege and that now is the time for you to use your voice, position and influence to create new opportunities for a truly equal and inclusive society.
It's important that you understand the role you can play into advocating for equality and fighting to make the world a safer and more tolerant place for the LGBTQ+ community.
2. Constantly educate yourself about the LGBTQ+ community.
The world is constantly evolving and things around us are changing. You can't stay stuck in a place of ignorance and limited knowledge. You need to stay up to date with the issues that are affecting the LGBTQ+ community.
There are many resources available for you to check out like books, movies, documentaries, articles, and so on. You can also contact organizations that advocate and support the community so they can properly answer any questions you might have. The GLAAD Resources page is a good place to start. Other organizations like The Safe Zone Project, the Human Rights Campaign and Planned Parenthood also offer resources and information.
3. Listen with open ears, an open mind and an open heart.
If you want to be an ally to the community you need to learn to listen. Their experiences and life story has nothing to do with you. So don't make it about yourself. Whatever it is you think you know or feel, it's better to wait before opening your mouth. Don't assume and don't pretend like you truly know their struggles and issues, because you haven't actually faced persecution and discrimination for being yourself.
Instead, keep an open mind and heart. Be patient, accepting and respectful. If there is something you don't understand then get more information, ask questions and educate yourself. If you say something out of place, apologize and accept your mistakes and try to gain more insight into those specific issues you might lack understanding.
4. Actively show your support.
It's great that you advocate for the LGBTQ+ through social media. Trust me, every act of support means so much. But there will come a time when you'll have to actually voice your support. Maybe you'll stand up to a bully who is mistreating a member of the LGBTQ+ community, or call out someone for making an ignorant comment or joke.
Your active support can be shown in so many other ways like attending LGBTQ+ events, volunteering at organizations that advocate and promote equality and inclusion, and in some cases protesting, marching and contacting congresspeople, lawmakers and politicians urging them to protect the rights of the LGBTQ+ community.
5. Embrace all members of the community.
The LGBTQ+ community is vastly inclusive and there is so much diversity within it. Because they represent different sexual orientations, gender identities and include people from different ethnic, religious and cultural backgrounds, you need to embrace them all equally.
You can't claim to be an ally if you only favour one group. That's not how it works. That's why it's important to educate yourself and be open-minded.
You might be afraid of interacting with a specific group because you haven't educated yourself about their issues and what they represent. Remember to include every member of the community into your daily life and always treat them with love, kindness, and respect.
I want to end this by saying that as an ally myself, there are so many things I still don't know about the LGBTQ+ community. I'm trying my best to educate myself and be receptive to improving and growing. I don't mean to offend anyone in the community. I just want to share some ways we can all help and get involved, so we can finally live in a genuine inclusive society.
To my LGBTQ+ readers, know that I'm trying my best and I'm committed to doing better. Thank you for inspiring the world. From the bottom of my heart, I send you all the love and light. You are worthy, important and loved.
Until next time.