Be a Real Ally 365 Days a Year
Tips for Individuals
It’s Pride Month, the time of year when the world seems to turn rainbow-colored overnight. During June, people proudly display rainbow flags, join parties and parades, and make public statements of solidarity.
While Pride Month is an important time of inclusion, radical celebration, and protests for the LGBTQIA+ community, real allyship is 365 days a year.
Allyship was Dictionary.com’s 2021 Word of the Year. It is defined as “the status or role of a person who advocates and actively works for the inclusion of a marginalized or politicized group in all areas of society, not as a member of that group but in solidarity with its struggle and point of view and under its leadership.”
Many companies and individuals believe activism for the LGBTQIA+ community happens in June with a post, hashtag, and rainbow flag. The truth is that being a real ally can be challenging. It means engaging in hard conversations, admitting our responsibility, and being intentional about our behavior in ways that can feel uncomfortable.
In fact, allyship might feel so overwhelming that we decide to stand by the sidelines and watch those we think are more knowledgeable take on the role. We could feel unsure of making a misstep or saying the wrong thing. But allyship doesn’t have to be complicated, it just needs to be genuine. What might seem small can make a big impact and help make our world become a safer place for all.
Ideas to Get Started Being an Ally
Straight ally symbol flag
Support the people in your life who are members of the LGBTQIA+ community. Send them a message let them know you love them. Be willing to listen and learn from their experience. Apologize for the times you may have been discriminatory and let them know you’re learning. Ask them how you can be a good ally
Educate yourself on the current challenges and issues facing the LGBTQIA+ community. A google search is a good start. Follow activists on social media. Pay attention to what’s happening in your area and around the world. Learn and use the correct terminology.
Ask questions, be humble and listen. No one will expect you to be an expert. It’s appropriate to share that you’re learning and doing your best. Be open to feedback and do your best to apply it.
Speak up and call out discrimination. If you see discrimination taking place, call it out. Stand up for the person being discriminated against, or report it to the appropriate channels. But please remember the context and not to embarrass or make anyone feel unsafe.
Encourage others to become and ally. Share resources with them and explain what being an ally is and why it matters.
Use your vote to make systematic changes. Pay attention to the policies being worked on and vote in favor of the LGBTQIA+ community and sign petitions when possible.
Attend a protest or a rally, but remember it’s not about you. It should be about celebrating and lifting up the marginalized voices.
Financially support a vetted organization. If you don’t have the financial means to give monetarily, boycott companies or organizations who actively discriminate against LGBTQIA+ people.
Allyship isn’t performative. It’s a genuine effort to support those around us who may feel “othered,” who face discrimiation everyday and feel they have to hide who they are to be safe. We can make a difference and take a stand, but let’s go beyond the joy of June and be allies 365 days of the year.