This blog is the third in our National Coming Out Day 2021 series. For more information and resources on National Coming Out Day, click here.
So you’re a cisgender heterosexual, and think you’re a pretty good LGBTQ+ ally. You go to Pride, you know how to behave at a drag show, some of your closest friends are queer. But recently your allyship has felt stagnant. Read on for tips on how to continue growing as an LGBTQ+ ally.
- Examine your Assumptions
Do you find yourself assuming you know someone’s pronouns before they share them with you? Are you surprised when a new acquaintance mentions their same sex partner? Pay attention to these thoughts and reactions. As you become more aware of them, these thoughts will be easier to challenge.
- Educate Yourself
An important part of being an ally is educating yourself and not expecting people within the community to educate you. Listen to a podcast, watch a documentary, or check out a book to learn about the fight for LGBTQ+ rights. Not sure where to start? Look up: Marsha P. Johnson, Kate Bornstein, Larry Kramer.
- Use Your Privilege to Ask for Changes
Acknowledge the privilege that you hold, and use it to make change for LGBTQ+ folks. At work, advocate with HR. Look at your company’s policies and procedures. Are these written with straight, cisgender people in mind? Bereavement, family leave, and dress code are great places to start. At your place of worship, engage your spiritual leader in a conversation about how your congregation can be more welcoming to LGBTQ+ people. If you’re in school or have kids in school, speak up about forms that continue to identify parents as “mother” and “father.” These conversations might feel uncomfortable for you at first, but they are unlikely to result in the discrimination and retaliation that LGBTQ+ workers can experience when asking for these changes.
What laws are being proposed in your state that could hurt people in the LGBTQ+ community? Set aside half an hour to call your elected officials to advocate for LGBTQ+ rights once a week.
There are opportunities to live out our allyship and make the spaces in which we live, work, and move more welcoming and affirming to LGBTQ+ people on a daily basis. These conversations and actions become easier when we see allyship not as a badge we have earned, but as an ongoing process of reflection and action.
Cordelia Loots-Gollin, MSW, LCSW
IntraSpectrum Clinical Director & Interim LPC Program Manager
IntraSpectrum Counseling, Chicago’s leading psychotherapy practice dedicated to the LGBTQ+ community, is commemorating National Coming Out Day ALL WEEK – with coming out stories, blogs, and resources for LGBTQ+ individuals, friends and allies. Check back often, and take time to celebrate in your own way – even if coming out today doesn’t feel safe or comfortable, know that you always have our support. For anyone needing affirming and validating support in their healing, please click here or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.