Many of us have friends that are finding their sexuality or identity falling somewhere on the LGBTQ+ spectrum. Equality within society today, for people who fall on this spectrum, belonging to a trans identity or sexual orientation, is not always guaranteed. Many people are still discriminated against for their sexuality and can find themselves feeling entirely alone and without allies, especially among the LGBTQ+ youth.
This is why it is important to make sure that people of all ranges of sexuality and gender have allies that can be there for them, regardless of gender.
You and Your LGBTQ+ Friend
In truth, it was always quite likely that you had at least one friend who fell within the LGBTQ+ community. But now that you have found out for certain that you have a friend on the spectrum, you would want to know what that means and how you can support them going forward.
Join us in this article to find out exactly what you can do to be a good friend and possibly even an ally for your LGBTQ+ friend.
Ten Ways to Support your LGBTQ+ Friend
- The first step is to be a good listener. Often having someone who will listen can be a great source of comfort for someone struggling with gender issues. It is probably not something easy for your friend to talk about, especially if they only came out very recently. It is important that your friend knows that you are there to listen if they want to talk and that you are not going to judge them.
- Be open-minded. If you do not know much about the LGBTQ+ Community, it can be helpful to do some research or to respectfully ask your friend some questions so that you can better understand their position or their gender. But make sure that your friend understands that you want to learn and that you are not going to judge them. There might be some aspects that you learn about that you won't necessarily be comfortable with, and that is okay, as long as you remember to be respectful of the community and a person's freedom of expression of their gender.
- Be willing to speak about things. If something is bothering you, be brave enough to speak about it, and if you are proud of your friend, be brave enough to speak about that as well.
- Include your LGBTQ+ friend in activities with your family and other friends. Do not make them feel left out and do not be ashamed of them.
- Do not make assumptions about someone's sexuality or gender identity. It is likely that some other people you know also belong to this community and that they are not ready to come out yet. Respect their decision.
- Stand up against anti LGBTQ+ comments. Even if it is your family that is making them. Stand up and voice how you feel, tell people that it is offensive and should not be used in polite conversation.
- If you have any biases or prejudices it is important that you address them within yourself. Even when this is uncomfortable, it is something that must be done.
- If your friend is being discriminated against, stand up for them.
- Believe and enforce the fact that everyone should be treated with respect, regardless of gender identity and sexual orientation.
- Do not believe everything you see on TV or everything floating around the media. A lot of what is out there is sanitized and not representative of real people's lives. Do not expect everything to be unicorns and glitter when it comes to gender issues.
The LGBTQ+ community is often quite vulnerable and there is a lot of discrimination going on that a cisgender person or even other straight people might not know about.
Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and other queer people are often discriminated against. Workplace discrimination is common, along with general everyday discrimination taking place in all walks of life.
We need to remember that LGBTQ+ people are often discriminated against on various different levels. If a person has a bias against LGBTQ+ people, depending on that person's position in the community, they can deny people support services, employment, housing, basic services, etc. based on their queer status, sexuality, gender identity, etc.
This is a constant struggle and is not nearly as rare, even in today's society as it should be. This is why the queer community needs support from cisgender allies. These kinds of allies also help break down the us-and-them walls that can exist in society.
Being an LGBTQ+ Ally
If you are looking for ways to become an LGBTQ+ ally then you have come to the right place. Here are some suggestions for how you can help support your LGBTQ+ friends and co-workers.
Remember that LGBTQ+ people are marginalized people, and all marginalized communities benefit greatly from a good ally.
Being an ally means making sure that people are treated equally with respect and dignity. In terms of this specific community that would involve making sure that people are not called by the wrong pronoun, that you work on your own prejudices, that you help fight for fair treatment for all and that you make sure young people find their place and identity.
You want to encourage gender expression in transgender people and powerful voices in queer people overall, but also want to function as a good straight ally to their cause. Support is a powerful thing, and standing up for the rights of others is fantastic.
Use the resources you have at your disposal, educate the world, speak out about lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and other queer issues. Be brave enough to have those difficult conversations. LGBTQ+ people often lead difficult lives and struggle with insecurity and gender identity problems outside of pressures that they may be under from the greater society. In order to be an effective ally, you might need to go out of your way to support your friends and co-workers.
Sometimes it might even be a good idea to not stop at work and talk, but to pour actual resources into your effort. Generally speaking, queer people make far less money than straight people do. So it might be necessary to help out financially if you can.
Many mistakes come from making assumptions. Although it is perhaps understandable that you can make some mistakes when you are starting out, it is important that you own your mistakes and keep yourself accountable to them. Use them as education opportunities, learn from them.
Your first step in the right direction is to really want to help, and not just make it seem like you want to help.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is it okay to refer to someone as queer?
Yes, although at one point the term 'queer' was used in a derogatory way, the queer community has claimed the word back and many now used it to describe themselves. So queer is an appropriate term to use to describe members of the LGBTQ+ community.
What kind of other words is okay to use?
There are a number of words and terms you can use as descriptors. The most important thing to remember is that if you are unsure it is better to ask so that you can ensure understanding than to assume and end up hurting someone. You can also try to search the internet, there are various sources where you can find the latest lists of acceptable terms. These sites are usually kept up to date by LGBTQ+ community members themselves.
For example, words like "gay", "queer", "bisexual", and "trans women" are all examples of acceptable words by current standards, although this might change over time. The community is always evolving and adapting.
I am a little bit worried about certain topics, would it be okay to bring them up with a friend or other member of the community?
It should be okay as long as you are approaching the topic with respect and care. This is an important conversation to have, and confirming understanding is always better than assuming and getting it wrong in a way that might be hurtful to an LGBTQ+ person.
It can have a real impact on the life of a trans person or other LGBTQ+ people when someone comes to them seeking knowledge and understanding about their identity, their sexuality, how their community works, etc. This is one way that they can share their pride and a great start in your journey of becoming an ally and a source of support.
What is the main goal of a supportive ally to a queer friend?
Your main goal should be to support. You want to help spread pride for sexuality, pride for any gender, pride for gender expression, and sexual orientation. You want to make sure that equality is respected and the well-being of people from all sexuality and gender groups experience equality in their daily lives.