Being a good ally

Rob Lauder · 24 June 2020

Prospect organiser Rob Lauder offers some tips how you can support and be a good ally for people that are different from you.

When I started writing this blog it was going to be about being a good LGBT+ ally, but with everything that is happening in the world, I’ve chosen instead to write about the importance of being a good ally in general.

Everyone can be an ally – all you have to want to do is support and help people who have a characteristic that you do not have yourself: be that sexuality/sexual expression, race, gender, disability etc. Being an ally is about supporting the goals and aims of the people you are allied to.

Below are some tips on how you can be a good ally:

  1. Listen and keep an open mind. You are there to support their goals, so in order to do this you should listen to what it is they are looking to achieve.
  2. Believe what they are telling you. Just because you haven’t faced this discrimination doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist. You are there to support the changes that they want to see – and the first thing is to believe what they are saying about the issues that they face.
  3. Educate yourself about the issues. What has happened? What was the outcome? What is their community looking to achieve? You can read blogs, books, social media, and use the internet. Learning the history of what happened is important to support the community you are allied to. Did you know that the Stonewall Riots were led by trans people, black lesbians and drag queens? Don’t just educate yourself though; help educate others about why these issues matter. It can be incredibly powerful to have allies help educate other people (if done in a sensitive way). It is always important to remember you are there to be an ally for their cause, not lead the cause itself.
  4. Advocate. Being an advocate is about taking any form of action against discrimination or hatred toward the community. These actions can be either big or small things. This can mean anything from speaking up on their behalf, attending meetings and rallies, advocating for policy/law changes, signing and sharing petitions, all the way down to just ensuring that you share social media posts and use relevant footer ‘badges’. For example to be a better LGBT+ Ally you may choose to put your preferred pronouns in your email signature to show support for non-binary colleagues.

These are very simple things that you can do to help be a better ally. And always remember that being “not sure” about an issue very rapidly becomes “not my problem”. Being a good ally is good for everyone.

Rob Lauder is Prospect‘s LGBT+ network organiser.

Join our LGBT+ network here

Join our LGBT+ network today, which is open to all members of the union.
Join up here