Ally: A heterosexual and cisgender person who supports equal civil rights, gender equality, LGBT social movements, and challenges homophobia, biphobia, and transphobia.

Nearly 20 years of Gallup polls show us that today more than half of the country supports gay marriage and favors more protections for LGBT citizens. Don’t get us wrong — that’s a pretty incredible statistic, seeing as how less than a decade ago only about 25-percent of the country supported gay marriage! But being an ally of the LGBT community is a lot more than supporting same-sex marriage; it’s about creating a safe and accepting environment for all LGBT people.

With less than a month until the 29th official National Coming Out Day, below are a few ways you can better support the LGBT community.

Get informed.

As with joining any cause, the first step is to get informed — informed of the terminology, other advocates, and legislation. While you by no means have to be an expert on LGBT issues, it’s important to know the basics. If you’re close with someone who is gay, bisexual, or transgender, you can ask them honestly, “What do you feel you and the LGBT community need in an ally?” Sometimes, the answer is just someone who is understanding, compassionate, and accepting.

Be just as loud and proud.

Just like people in the LGBT community have to be honest about who they are, straight allies have to be open and honest about their support. Sharing stories online about and by LGBT people is a great way to make your support known and encourage other people to also become allies.

Start or join a GSA at your school.

The gay-straight alliance (GSA) is a club that many schools have started, amid growing numbers of LGBT middle and high school students. The goal of the club is to foster an environment of togetherness, regardless of your sexual orientation or gender expression. Not only does a GSA club make LGBT students feel more accepted, but it’s a great way for straight students to learn about the issues facing their gay and transgender peers.

Speak out against homophobic or derogatory speech.

Something as simple as saying that you don’t appreciate a homophobic joke is a clear way to make it known by others that you’re an ally of the gay community. If you fear that you’ll be putting your own safety at risk by speaking out against hate speech, the best thing you can do is leave the area, tell a trusted adult, or call the police if you fear someone is going to be harmed.

 

At CIRCLE CARE Center, our mission is to be the best primary care clinic in southern Connecticut specializing in LGBT healthcare. In addition to STI testing and treatment, we specialize in transgender care and offer additional services such as mental health services and support groups for all medical patients.