Tuesday, 14 June 2016

How To Be A LGBTQA+ Ally

From a position of privilege, it can sometimes be easy to think that prejudice doesn't exist or isn't really as bad as it's made out to be. However, this weekend's unspeakably tragic shootings in Pulse Night Club in Orlando, Florida which left 50 people and at least that again injured certainly suggests elsewhere. The biggest act of terrorism in the US since 9/11 and the countries deadliest ever mass shooting, homophobia is alive and well in our society and while we may temporarily make our Facebook profile picture a rainbow flag, in a months time, most straight people will go back to their comfortable lives, never thinking twice about kissing their partner in public or even holding hands. There's a lot straight people to can to help move LGBTQA+ rights forward so today we're going to talk about how to be the best LGBTQA+ ally you can be.

Understand Stereotypes & Why They're Harmful
Joking that'd you'd love a gay best friend might seem harmless, but when it then leaves non-camp gay men who don't particularly care for Lady Gaga and have zero interest in fashion feeling like they don't meet societies view of what a gay man should be, this is when problems occurs. Same with gay women. As shocking as it may seem to some, women can have short hair and not be gay. Women can have long hair and be gay. Open your mind beyond the stereotypes that society and the media has trained us to use as a benchmark of true gayness. 

To put it in very basic terms, heteronormativity refers to the belief that being heterosexual is the 'norm' or 'default'. Society conditions us to think of straight as 'normal' and anything other than straight as deviant from this so-called norm. Everything from the selection of 'Mrs & Mr' wedding cards vs. 'Mrs & Mrs' or 'Mr & Mr' in any card shop to clothes for young girls with 'Looking for my Prince Charming' printed across front. Stop assuming people are straight, because statistically speaking, there's a good chance they aren't. 

Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is
Good for you, your Facebook profile picture is a rainbow. That's your part done now, right? Wrong. Very wrong. It's all very well and good to think of yourself as an ally, but when you continue to make jokes about gay people, consume homophobic media and supports hateful politicians, how good of an ally are you really being? Have the courage of your convictions, call people out, boycott brands and refuse to stand by as people around you spread hate.  

Language & Labels
Know your terminology. Know how demisexual varies from of pansexual, know what cishet means, know what using Mx rather than Miss or Mr means. Know it and use it. Same goes for pronouns. If someone prefers he/his pronouns over she/her pronouns, you damn well use he/his pronouns. This is non-negotiable. Similarly, labels. As a whole, labels are generally pretty badly thought of. Most people don't like to be strictly categorised. However, many LGBTQA+ people take comfort in the security of labels, knowing other people who identify as that label can relate to them. Respect their choice to use or not use labels as they see fit.

Listen, Don't Talk
If you aren't LGBTQA+, you don't get the struggles. Sorry, but you don't. Same way if you're white, you don't get the struggle of people of colour, or if you're able bodied, you don't get the struggles of disabled people. A huge part of being an ally for any group is knowing that it's often important to just shut up and listen. Don't speak on other peoples behalf. Don't butt in. Don't attempt to offer a 'different perspective'. 

In the wake of of the shootings in Orlando, the world seems united against homophobia but I can't help to ask, for how long? Love is love I'm told by trending hashtags, but murder is murder and terrorism is terrorism too. If you happen to be in the privileged group that have never had to question your safety based on your LGBTQA+ identity or awkwardly correct someone as they assumed your sexuality, you probably don't ensurely 'get it', but that's okay, that won't stop you helping to progress LGBTQA+ rights by being a better LGBTQA+ ally.


  1. Thank you Sophie! This tragic event has made me take a long, hard look at myself tbh. I fall into the camp of being sexually flexible and not giving a toss if people are gay, straight, bi, trans, WHATEVER. But because it's such a non-issue to me personally, I'd forgotten how bad the LGBT community still has it, how they are depicted and how far there still is to go to achieve true equality. I need to start fighting and using my voice. x

  2. Absolutely loving this revamp Sophie, keep up the great work! <3

  3. Spot on.
    So many of my straight friends ask about how to be an ally and I tell them everything you've put here.

    Do your research. Listen to people's experiences. Amplify LGBTQ+ voices.

    Don't just wear the 'ally badge' on social media.

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