To Being an Ally

The history of the LGBTQ community isn’t one that’s sparkled with fairy dust (no pun intended.) Despite the challenges the community faced along the way, there has been a great deal of traction in equal rights — especially in recent years. Even though marriage is recognized within the States, there’s still a percentage of the population that feels that homosexuality is immoral and wrong. 

This post is for those that may not know the proper way to approach the subject, those that don’t understand the attraction between same-sex couples or those that love their gays and want to do anything to support them. Basically, this post serves everyone — so I’ve rounded up a few FAQ and answered them in an easy sing-along format below:

So, what’s the big to-do and why are there rainbow flags all over Instagram?

First off, LGBTQ stands for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning. Some prefer to be known just as their letter ie: gay, questioning, etc. while others feel comfortable falling under the umbrella of queer. A word of advice: not everyone loves the word queer — so be sure that you discuss this with your friend, colleague, etc. before throwing it around willy-nilly. 

June is traditionally the month in which cities often host their Pride parades and parties. It’s a time for the LGBTQ aka queer folk (and their allies) to come together and celebrate. There are many things to celebrate, like living the life one’s meant to live, being true to one’s self and their feelings, the progression of equal rights and fair treatment and the growing network that supports the LGBTQ lifestyle. 

Alternatively, there’s also a deeper level behind the bright colors and shenanigans of Pride — one that calls for open hearts and sensitivity. It’s a time for remembrance and honor. A time to reflect on the struggles the community has faced to get to where we are today. As with many equal rights campaigns, there have been countless attacks on the community — both physical and mental. The rainbow flag stands for the united front of the LGBTQ community and those that stand with them for justice.

What do I do if my friend/family member/coworker hasn’t come out?

Rule number one, don’t out them. Although the world today is more accepting of LGBTQ people than it was even just ten years ago, it’s still a big deal to say the words aloud — especially to loved ones. Personally, I’d say the rules are fairly similar to the general rules of friendship. Let them know that you’re there for them (either by saying it verbally or through actions.) When I made the decision to come out to my best friend six years ago, it wasn’t because she sat me down and told me that I could count on her no matter what, but through her actions of being the definition of a true friend. LGBTQ rights discussions are virtually everywhere — there are plenty of natural opportunities to start a discussion about the topic to where you can show your support (without sounding like you’re saying, “Hey, I’m pretty sure you play for the rainbow team and I’m cool with it.”)

When it comes to coworkers, it’s a little more tricky. I’d say follow the general tone of your company — the last thing you want to do is to wind up in HR with a harassment claim. Luckily, the company I work for has a casual and open atmosphere and allows me to be the real me. My team supports me and my decisions and encourages me to be true to myself. Try and create an environment like that among your team — effectively letting them know that if they wanted to come out, they could. Another disclaimer: not everyone is open in regards to the blending between their personal and professional lives. Tread lightly until you can get a good gauge on how comfortable your coworker is discussing different personal matters. 

Cool, now how can I be the best ally?

To be the best ally for the LGBTQ community, you should follow these five guidelines:

  • Be yourself — unless you’re a dick.
    It’s highly unlikely that you’re a dick if you’ve gotten this far, so I’m not too worried. Really though, just be yourself. You’re likely a caring, sensitive and honest person. Having a healthy dose of sarcastic and witty banter and a fierce and sassy side that appears from time-to-time is even better. For the record, this is the first time in my twenty-six years of life that I’ve said the word “fierce”. I didn’t love it. 
  • Understand that not everybody fits into the stereotypical mold.
    Seriously guys, it’s important to realize this (and quick) that not all gays want to hold your purse and watch you try on seven pairs of jeans on a Saturday — not all lesbians wear flannels and make kombucha — and not all bisexuals want to get in your pants, let alone your significant others’. Some folks in the Queer community feel that it’s not even their scene — in this case, don’t push gay bars and drag shows on them — they may be fine with bowling and a sports bar.
  • Stand up for equal rights (and spread the word of the gay agenda)
    This is a biggie in my eyes. One of the many qualities that I admire about my previously mentioned best friend is that she’s taken a passion in fighting for my rights as if they were her own. She believes that I should be married, have (many) children and live a life that parallels opposite-sex couples — and she’s willing to fight for me to experience these moments and feelings. 

    Beyond that, my dear friend helps me spread the secret gay agenda. We’re working diligently to spread it during tastefully merchandised brunches, over short stacks and champagne. What is the gay agenda? Contrary to popular belief, we’re not coming after your husbands, wives or children — the gay agenda is nothing but wanting to live a life of love, light and happiness — we don’t anything that you don’t have.
  • Pick us up when we’re feeling down.
    There have been moments that I’ve felt discouraged and afraid for the community in which I belong. Hate crimes, dates that only care about getting into your pants and outdated laws are just some of the low points I can recall that have left me in a state of blue. It’s difficult knowing that there are people in the world that hate you — without even having met you. When things get dark, do me and my fellow friends a favor and act as our guiding light. Your support, no matter how small it seems, can make the world of difference. 
  • Help us celebrate the wins.
    Seriously, grab the champagne! Fighting for equal rights and fair treatment of LGBTQ people is no easy feat — and it takes a passionate, dedicated and gutsy community; one that you’re now a part of. When progress is made, it’s just as big a win for you as it is for us — it’s our win. Help us remember these moments — capture them and spread the love; after all, they say #lovewins

What can I do to BETTER support the LGBTQ community?

In addition to being a kick-ass ally, there’s an assortment of ways that you can support the Queer community. Stay tuned for this Wednesday’s BOLT ⚡️  where we’ll discuss the top five ways to support the LGBTQ people. In the meantime, get out there and celebrate with your friends. You’re already doing an incredible job — so on behalf of the entire community, thank you. There are no words that can fit the bill. Love to all, and Happy Pride. 💜