In this blog, we are going to talk about being an ally for the LGBTQ+ community, from my perspective as a cisgender* heterosexual woman. Allyship is not limited to one community; we can use our voices to be an ally for many.
Discovering my voice
In my younger years, I thought that having gay friends and being a huge George Michael fan meant that I was an ally, and of course, the LGBTQ+ community would know I supported them. With age and life experience, I came to realise that this wasn’t enough, being a passive ally isn’t good enough. I had a voice and I should have been using it.
Now, this is where it can get uncomfortable, but if you’re going to be an ally you’re going to have to get used to it. What I can say for certain is that a few minutes of feeling uncomfortable or nervous is nothing compared to what the people you’re supporting have likely experienced just for being who they are. It’s time for you to challenge the language and opinions of those around you. Friends, family, your employer, your local MP, or even in my case, having difficult conversations with my husband on discrimination within the police force.
I would say that these conversations are something I’ve now become comfortable with and have no problem in calling out harmful language or behaviour in most situations.
Embracing diversity in the LGBTQ+ community
“If your pride flag doesn’t contain black and brown stripes. It’s outdated.” - this social media post from model and activist, Munroe Bergdof, reminds me to check myself.
It encourages me to not shy away from lesser talked about issues facing the LGBTQ+ community, especially issues that are more likely to be faced by people of colour. Issues like the epidemic of black trans women being murdered. It reminds me to do more research into subjects like how the criminalisation of sex work targets trans and queer people. It gives me the opportunity to learn more.
Being an ally means you acknowledge that you have not lived the experience of the people you are supporting. No matter how much you learn or read, you are not in their shoes and that’s okay.
Here are 5 ways we can all be better allies.
1. Research, research and more research - We have so much information available to us - read articles, watch films and documentaries, listen to podcasts, follow people on social media, attend the sessions hosted by The Pride Network and ask your LGBTQ+ friends questions, sensitively. Link to handy some resources here
2. Speak up in your own social circles - It starts with your own friends and family, it’s time to get comfortable with being uncomfortable.
3. Learn from your mistakes - No one is perfect and what we might have thought was acceptable 5, 10 or 20 years ago has changed. That’s okay as long as we learn from it.
4. Amplify the voices and messages of LGBTQ+ people and especially people of colour - Think about your own social media, your LinkedIn, your team meetings. What more could you do?
5. Don't practice “performative allyship” - Don’t only support people once a year or just for Instagram. This is a lifelong commitment.
To finish up this blog I wanted to ask for one thing from you, what could you do to be a better ally?
Me, I’m committing to using my voice better, continuing to amplify the voices of LGBTQ+ people, especially people of colour. Within my job role here at Camelot and on my personal platform.
Happy Pride Month!
Liz, Social Media and Content Planner
*A cisgender person (sometimes cissexual, informally abbreviated cis) is a person whose gender identity matches their sex assigned at birth. For example, someone who identifies as a woman and was identified as female at birth is a cisgender woman.