What is an ally?
An ally is member of a historically more powerful identity group who stands up against bigotry, aligns themselves with historically oppressed groups, and consciously works on their position of privilege.
- An ally speaks out and stands up for a person or group that is targeted and discriminated against.
- An ally works to end oppression by supporting and advocating for people who are stigmatized, discriminated against or treated unfairly.
- An ally confronts injustice out of concern for the well-being of the community that is oppressed to achieve social justice.
What is privilege?
Privilege is social and institutional advantages that dominant groups receive while oppressed groups do not. Privilege means benefiting from a world that defaults to your experience; a person with privilege can look around and see images of themselves and their identities as the norm. Having privilege can mean not being discriminated or oppressed.
- White people have privilege people of color are not afforded.
- Heterosexual people have privilege lesbian, gay, bisexual and queer people are not afforded.
- Cisgender people have privilege trans* and gender-nonconforming people are not afforded.
- Men have privilege women are not afforded.
- Wealthy people have privilege poor people are not afforded.
Privilege is often invisible to those who have it, so it's important that allies acknowledge and work consciously to address their privilege.
How can I be an ally?
LISTEN. One of the simplest yet most important ways to be an ally is to listen. If someone comes to talk to you about being harassed, feeling excluded or just about their life in general, keep in mind that you may be the only person they feel safe speaking to. Be there to listen.
RESPECT CONFIDENTIALITY. Effective allies will respect the confidentiality and privacy of the person they know. Someone who is coming out may not want everyone to know. Assume that the person only told you and just wants you to know, unless they indicate otherwise. Informing others (outing someone) can create an unsafe environment.
BE CONSCIOUS OF YOUR BIASES. Effective allies acknowledge how homophobia, transphobia and heterosexism may affect their efforts to be an ally to GLBTQ people. They continuously work to recognize and challenge their own biases and their privilege.
BE OUT AS AN ALLY, BE VISIBLE. One of the most important parts of being an ally is making yourself known as an ally. Being visible as an ally will allow others to easily identify you as a supportive person. It can be as simple task of displaying a sticker, wearing a supportive button or wristband or even a simple rainbow bracelet. It can also be as involved as demonstrating and modeling supportive behaviors. These will let people know that you are a supportive ally without saying a word.
SEEK OUT KNOWLEDGE. Effective allies periodically brush up on GLBT-related language and current issues facing the GLBT community. Being an ally isn’t just about the person who came out to you, it’s about the whole community being valued.
BE A RESOURCE. An effective ally will also know when and how to refer someone to help. Contact The Alliance if you want to learn more about the resources in our community or to refer someone.
BE AN ADVOCATE. Stand up when you see injustice whether it’s at school, home, work, neighborhood, place of faith or wherever. Remember that allies have always been present in civil justice movements. Speak up when you know people are being discriminated and ensure that all people regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity are safe, valued, and celebrated.