I am a big believer in progressive changes within the LGBT community being not just the responsibility of those who identify as LGBT but of everyone that considers themselves to have a political opinion. We are all aware that the more voices that make themselves heard equals a better result than sitting back and letting a minority shout on its own.
The other day I tweeted my feelings about how everyone can get involved in the conversation.
You do not have to be part of the #LGBT community to help remove hate from our lives. You can be a strong LGBT ally and make a difference.
— My Two Mums (@MyTwoMums) June 13, 2016
Which prompted a fab follower of ours to ask advice on how to be a great LGBT ally. I felt this was a great question as many who respect the LGBT community and want to help perhaps have no idea where to start or how to get involved without offending etc.
So this list may not include every way in which you can become a great LGBT ally, but hopefully it will help those who are interested in what they can do to make a difference.
Join the conversation
Talk about current LGBT events, don’t be afraid to discuss your thoughts about the changes in equality laws or ask questions about topics you do not understand. As long as you are not being offensive, homophobic or judgmental your conversation is valid. I encourage questions about all aspects of the LGBT community. It’s a community I know and love and want to share my knowledge about.
Learn our history
We have a very colorful and sometimes quite sad, history that is still being made. Engaging in conversation can be aided by knowing the background of our community. Did you know the first Pride event was proposed after a riot that began in 1969 at the Stonewall Inn in NYC? Up until 1967 it was illegal for two men to engage in sexual relations in England and Wales (Scotland and Northern Ireland changed their laws much later).Los Angeles held the first Black Pride event with “At the Beach” in 1988. Same-sex marriage only became legal in England and Wales two years ago! There are some well made films that cover LGBT topics such as; Milk, The Laramie Project, Boys don’t cry and Pride.
Learn and respect the terms we use
A couple of times I have seen someone refer to themselves as an LGBT ally, before making a loaded homophobic joke or throwing around terms and words that offend the LGBT community. This is not cool at all. If you find yourself saying something is “so gay” then you definitely are not helping the LGBT community. Also listen to terms someone uses to refer to themselves or their other halves. Which pronouns do they prefer?, are they happy for you to call them a lesbian or would they rather you didn’t. I know the majority of people would rather be asked about the words they are comfortable with you using instead of the offense that can occur if you use words they wish you didn’t.
Attend a Pride event
Most towns now host some form of Pride event. Show support and go along in way of offering your voice to the celebrations. Most Prides I have attended are family friendly during the day, especially the parade if your local event has one. There can be people in various revealing costumes, so do not attend if you are offended by revealing clothes. Do not by any means go along if you just intend on staring, laughing, taking pictures for your own entertainment or to be abusive. Pride is intended to be a celebration where the LGBT community can share their overall message that “Love is Love”.
Do your work colleagues make homophobic jokes? Is a friend constantly using offensive homophobic terms towards you or other friends? Don’t wait for someone from the LGBT community to make a difference. Do your best to challenge words and behaviour you feel is offensive towards the LGBT community. You can help change views.
Use your platform to write about LGBT issues
We all have access to our own social media platforms now. There is nothing stopping you showing your support to LGBT issues by sharing a status, image or blog post to help raise awareness of current events. Nobody is asking you to write a page long essay, even a 5 word status could make a difference in raising support.
Do not assume the fight is over
You may feel many countries now allow same sex marriage or feel that celebs shouldn’t have to come out publicly anymore (because, you know 2016!). But that does not mean the fight is over. Same sex marriage is still illegal in many countries, with many homosexuals still being punished with death for loving someone. Celebs coming out in the public eye can make a huge difference to someone struggling with their sexuality. Any celebration and raising of LGBT visibility is a positive.
This post is just meant as a friendly guide and is not the rules of the land. There are a few affiliate links above just in case you fancy buying any of the fab films I suggested. A couple are on Netflix if you don’t fancy buying them.