Tips for being a better ally

By: Samuel Smith, Columnist

National Coming Out Day is Oct. 11 every year. This is a day where we celebrate “coming out of the closet” as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or queer. It’s also a day many choose to come out themselves. If you’re not LGBTQ+, you can still celebrate Coming Out Day by being a better ally to those around you who are.

First, don’t ask invasive questions. I know it’s tempting, but please do research before asking questions, and ask yourself: would I be comfortable if someone else was asking me this? If so, continue with your question. If you wouldn’t be comfortable, then it’s pretty likely the other person wouldn’t be comfortable either. Also, ask the person you’re speaking to if they’re comfortable answering questions. Some people are, some people aren’t. Respect their decision. Some people have reasons why they don’t like being questioned, while others simply just don’t want to be. No means no. Accept that and respect that.

I know research can sound academic and heavy, but please do your research. There are many great sites, such as GLSEN (Gay and Lesbian Student Education Network) and PFLAG (Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays), along with tons of other websites, books, and videos on issues pertaining to LGBTQ lives and issues. Google is free, utilize it.

Be aware of your biases. Whether you’re white, cisgender, heterosexual or another “majority” status, you have some biases that are ingrained in your mind. This is of no fault of your own, but the fault of systemic hierarchies within society. Be aware of and wary of your biases. Learn what they are and how to overcome them.

Challenge the system. Whether this is doing work in your community to assist LGBTQ+ folks, calling out your homophobic uncle or just making a Twitter post to say you’re here, do the work to help others. The Center for Student Diversity is a great resource on campus, utilize it! Amplify the voices of LGBTQ folks around you. Don’t speak over us, speak with us. Listen.

 

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