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Being an ally means taking concrete actions to support people in the LGBTQ+ community, acknowledging their realities, and defending their rights, in order to help them succeed and be accepted 💪🏾. Allies are generally cisgender and heterosexual people. That said, some LGBTQ+ people also choose to be allies to communities other than their own.

Source: Fondation Émergence

There’s no one-size-fits-all guide to being a good ally. You usually need to tailor your approach to the situation and the people involved. Above all though, you need to stay humble and ask yourself why you’re being an ally (“am I doing this for the right reasons?”). 🤝

Here are a few ideas of ways you can change things one step at a time

Listen
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Listening helps you figure out what you don’t understand. 👂 Being an ally means trying to put yourself in someone else’s shoes while recognizing that because your realities are different, you can’t fully understand what they’re feeling or experiencing. Accepting that you’re still learning can help you truly hear what someone else is saying and can help you be more helpful in understanding their needs.

Educate yourself
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LGBTQ+ people often end up having to educate everyone around them about their identities or the things they’re going through, and that can be exhausting. Being an ally means taking the time to do research yourself before asking the LGBTQ+ people you know. This helps make sure you aren’t adding to the already-heavy burden that people in the LGBTQ+ community have to bear. There are lots of ways to educate yourself, like looking things up online, following LGBTQ+ content creators on social media, and reading books. 📚 Just find the way that works best for you! 

Challenge your unconscious biases
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Most people have prejudices they aren’t even aware of, no matter how educated they are on something. The important thing is to recognize those prejudices and try to change them. Here’s a video (in French) that explains more about unconscious bias

Realize that you’re going to make mistakes
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Even experts slip up or get things wrong sometimes. It’s normal to not know everything. If someone corrects you, there’s no need to take it personally, it’s a natural part of learning. In general, if you make a mistake, the best thing to do is apologize and try to figure out what you can do differently next time. Otherwise, give the other person space and accept that even if you didn’t mean it, you still hurt or offended them.

Don’t assume someone else’s gender or orientation
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If possible, wait to see how the other person talks about themselves. That can tell you how to talk to (and about) them. For example, it can give you a hint about which pronouns (he, she, they, etc.) they use. You can also try to use more neutral language, like asking “are you with anyone?” instead of “do you have a boyfriend/girlfriend?” or using terms like “person” instead of “guy/girl.” They’re small changes that can make a huge difference!

Don’t speculate about someone else’s identity
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As the saying goes, you can’t judge a book by its cover; likewise, you can’t tell how someone identifies just by looking at them! And ultimately, a person’s sexuality and gender identity are their business.

Share LGBTQ+ content
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Follow members of the LGBTQ+ community on social media and share their content. It’s a small gesture, but it’s a way to inform yourself (and others) about different issues in the community. Besides, making your Instagram and TikTok feeds more diverse is always a good thing!

Shut down homophobia, biphobia, and transphobia when you see it 🚫
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It’s important to stand up against people who are being homophobic, biphobic, or transphobic (as long as it’s safe to do so, of course). That said, some people don’t want allies to speak for them. It’s important to respect that. If someone tells you not to speak for them, don’t take it as an insult. You did what you thought was right, and having that conversation can show you other ways you can be a better ally to that person.

What do you do to be a good ally?