Not only is it ok, but your support is welcome and very much needed. The unique “outsider” voice of allies is powerful and carries credibility. It can help draw attention to and raise awareness about the issues that lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ+) people face each day. Speaking up and acknowledging, through words and actions, that all individuals deserve to be respected and treated fairly makes other people take notice and gives them the confidence to follow your lead.
To achieve equality, LGBTQ+ people need the help of allies. When we work together, we can affect great change. We’ve heard all kinds of reasons about why people are allies. Some people have LGBTQ+ friends and want to make things better for them. Others have realized that discrimination against any group is wrong and needs to be stopped. Some believe that, in the words of Martin Luther King, Jr., “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere” and believe their voices count. Still others want the opportunity to change history. Check out some of the personal stories we’ve gathered over the years to learn more.
Many of us know about hot-button issues such as marriage equality, bathroom bans, and anti-LGBTQ+ bullying. But LGBTQ+ people often face a number of obstacles simply because of who they are. Many are concerned about being rejected by their families and friends, are worried about their physical and emotional safety, and are afraid of being rejected from their places of worship. LGBTQ+ people can still legally be denied employment, housing, and other rights in many states which can cause stress as well as unnecessary financial burdens. If you want to keep up to date on some of these issues Like us on Facebook or Follow us on Twitter.
Maybe – and we know that this can be an uncomfortable reality at first. In response, you can clarify that you are straight and/or cisgender, leave the question unanswered, or lead with why it is important to you to identify and take action, as an ally. This experience can offer a valuable perspective into the challenges LGBTQ+ people deal with all the time. Working through any anxiety you may have, and being able to have a good laugh about it, will give you the confidence and the tools to have a deeper discussion with others about the issue. Check out the guide to being a straight ally (fourth edition) for some suggestions on how to overcome this discomfort and anxiety.
This is always a possibility, but we’ve found that most people are respected and supported for their words and actions as an ally - even when people around them don’t quite understand why they would support equality. This is why it’s very important to think about why you’re an ally, and to be able to explain it to others, if you ever encounter a negative or indifferent reaction. Consider using our “I’m an ally because…” cards to come up with a quick and easy response.
The more you know, the more comfortable you will be if you ever need to speak up after hearing an anti-LGBTQ+ joke or comment. Education also helps you provide constructive and factual criticism of common arguments against equality that you may hear. Use some of our resources, such as our Glossary of Terms, the guide to being a straight ally (fourth edition), or the Straight for Equality in Healthcare Guide to learn more. Mental Health America also has a great publication called What Does Gay Mean? available for purchase that helps you find the language to discuss these topics with kids, with specific guidance based on a child’s age. You might also consider the American Library Association's Rainbow Book List and Family Equality Council's Book Nook to find age appropriate resources that will help create conversations with your children about diversity, inclusion, and families.
Based on the belief that real diversity and inclusion cannot happen without the support and commitment of allies at every level within corporations, Straight for Equality in the Workplace is a series of interactive learning sessions aimed at helping individuals become allies to the LGBTQ+ community. By creating allies, a company takes important steps towards creating a comfortable and inclusive work environment for all. This leads to increased productivity, developing a more inclusive workplace, attracting new talent, and building a dedicated customer base. Check out our available learning options or contact us to find out more and talk about how we can bring this program to where you work.
Straight for Equality is not about advocacy, and the word “ally” doesn’t necessarily mean “activist”. This program is about empowering allies to support LGBTQ+ people in small and simple ways that can be integrated in their day to day lives. There are simple, everyday things that you can do to help move equality forward. While advocacy work and/or activism are great Straight for Equality focuses on straightforward, non-political actions that you can take to create more welcoming communities for LGBTQ+ people.
Please remember that effective advocacy starts at home. So while political engagement is critical, having conversations about why this matters to you is a powerful tool that will help create new advocates.. Also, PFLAG National offers a number of online resources useful for advocates of any level and can connect you with a chapter in your area if you’re interested in bringing the message of Straight for Equality to your community. You can also visit PFLAG’s Online Advocacy Center. In just a few minutes, you can sign up to get Action Alerts, learn more about key legislation, and even contact your elected officials.
If you know which program you are interested in, or need more information about what would work best for your community we’re here to help.