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What does it mean to be an LGBTQ ally?

Listen, learn and challenge yourself

Straight allies are those who identify as heterosexual or cisgendered and who support equal rights for all genders and sexualites and challenge homophobia, biphobia and transphobia. They play an important role in the LGBTQ movement and in changing the way society views and treats everyone.

Being an ally isn’t necessarily easy and it isn't a one-time thing—it takes work over a lifetime and is especially important in Indigenous communities to fight western partriarchal ideas about gender and sexuality.

Here are a few things to keep in mind as an ally:

Allies listen and learn

Listening is really the first step. Listen to your friends, acquaintances and the people around you. Listen to as many voices in the LGBTQ community as you can about their experiences and perspectives, acknowledging that all of these experiences are valid.

In this process it’s important to actively learn as well. Ask questions and look for information that will broaden your understanding about the lives of others. Egale and GLAAD in the United States are good places to start. You can also find a list of Two-Spirit groups and resources, many of which provide a lot of great information, in Canada here.  

Allies need to challenge themselves

It’s a constant process to engage with our own biases, and we all need to regularly challenge ourselves in these things. Be open to hearing others when/if they say your behaviour has an impact on them, question your assumptions and try not to assume someone identifies in a specific way.

They also need to take action—the label “ally” isn’t enough

It’s great to call yourself an ally, but using the word as just a label doesn’t cut it. Listening and learning, and challenging yourself, are all actions you can take. You can also intervene when you see something inappropriate happening or others behaving offensively, be intentional about your own language and donate time or money to advocacy groups that are working hard to create positive change.

Do you have any suggestions for how to be an ally? Share below in the comments section!

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