If you would prefer the easier to read version, please click here.
It’s International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia and Transphobia! Today is all about getting rid of prejudice and spreading the love for everyone! So, we thought we would celebrate by giving everyone a bit of a guide on how to an ally to the community!
According to DTL research, only 43% of young people identify as ‘traditionally straight’ and 76% of people surveyed believed that sexuality labels are important. Despite the shift towards a more open and fluid approach to sexuality, LGBT community are still up against a plethora of homophobia, bi-hate and transphobia.
An LGBT Ally is someone who is straight and cisgender but fights alongside the LGBT+ community to tackle prejudice and promote equality. Here at Ditch the Label we’re all about equality, so here’s a thing or two about how to be the best straight best mate.
Find out what they are up against. You may have an idea of the extent of homophobia in general society but have a conversation with your friends about their specific lived experiences, the reactions they have come across or homophobic encounters they may have had to endure. In doing so, you’re lending an ear to listen, a shoulder to cry on and a friend to stand beside.
2) Don’t be a bystander
Okay, we know we say this a lot but you just can’t let it slide. When you see homophobic abuse, report it. Stand up for your friends, stand up for strangers. No one deserves to be abused because of who they love. By not saying anything you are justifying their prejudice and betraying your own beliefs in equality.
3) Do your research
Know about LGBT+ issues and current affairs. All you have to do is go online to see what’s going on in the world. Simply being in the know is a good place to start. Form your own opinion and go from there. It’s no secret that LGBT+ issues are still underrepresented in the mainstream press and media but you can check out sites like Pink News for specifics…
4) Be there
Attend protests, pride parades, demonstrations and sign petitions. Just because you’re not LGBT+ doesn’t mean you’re excluded from political affairs relating to the community. If you feel strongly in favour of equality, then you should stand for what you believe in, support the community and be loud about it!
5) Challenge language
…“that’s so gay” is so last century, guys. When you hear someone using everyday language that is offensive to an entire group of people, try pulling them up on it if it feels safe to do so. Here’s an article on 7 Things We Need to Stop Saying Forever and *SPOILER ALERT*… “that’s so gay” is one of them!
6) Ask questions rather than assume
If there is something you’re not clear about, most people will be open to answering your questions as long as they are polite, respectful and not too intrusive. Example: Asking someone which pronouns they prefer is fine (she/he/they). Asking someone what they have in their pants however, is not (bit of a no-brainer really).
7) Be mindful
There are everyday things we say and do as a society which exclude an entire community of people. You only have to watch TV to see the under representation of LGBT+ people and issues that they face in storylines and on reality television. Small things like how we speak to young kids depending on their gender all contribute to a society which assumes that straight and cis-gender is normal, and anything other than that is weird or abnormal. Just keep that in mind and make an effort to use non-binary language. Example: “Have you got a boyfriend?” assumes a person’s sexuality. Instead, try “Do you have a partner?” – it’s much more open.
8) Be yourself
You don’t need to be anything other than yourself. If you are a true ally, you believe in equality and overcoming prejudice, then that’s all you need to do: stand up for what you believe in and support others in the face of adversity.
9) Be kind
We just need to be kinder to each other. Jokes at somebody else’s expense are not cool. A persons’ sexuality is never something to laugh at, neither is their gender, or their race, or their disability – stick to bad puns and toilet humour 💩
Finally, spread the word about these awesome Ditch the Label resources and support guides which are designed with expert advice to help people through tough times such as overcoming bullying, or tips for coming out to your parents: