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How To Be An Ally

Use the words “gay” and “lesbian” instead of “homosexual.”
The overwhelming majority of gay men and lesbians do not identify with or use the word “homosexual” to describe themselves.

Use non-gender specific language.
Ask, “Are you seeing someone?” or “Are you in a committed relationship?” Instead of, “Do you have a boyfriend/girlfriend?” or “Are you married?” Use the word “partner” or “significant other” instead of boyfriend/girlfriend or husband/wife.

Do not assume the sexual orientation of another person even when that person is in a
committed relationship with someone of a different gender.
Many bisexuals, and even some gay men and lesbians, are in different-sex relationships. Also, do not assume that a transgender person is gay or will seek to transition to become heterosexual.

Challenge your own conceptions about gender-appropriate roles and behaviors.
Do not expect people to conform to society’s beliefs about “women” and “men.” 

Validate people’s gender expression.
For example, if a person assigned male at birth identifies as female, refer to that person as “she” and use her chosen name. If you are unsure how to refer to a person’s gender, simply ask that person.

Speak out against jokes and statements that attack LGBTQ people.
Letting others know that you find anti-LGBTQ statements and jokes offensive and unacceptable can go a long way toward reducing the different phobias.

Educate yourself about LGBTQ histories, cultures, and concerns
Read LGBTQ-themed books and publications and attend LGBTQ events.

Support and involve yourself in LGBTQ organizations and causes.
Donate money or volunteer time to the LGBTQ organizations. Write letters to your political representatives asking them to support legislation that positively affects LGBTQ people. Support LGBTQ businesses and national chain stores (see the Human Rights Campaign’s website for information on LGBTQ-supportive corporations).

Adapted from The Stonewall Center, UMass Amherst, stonewall@stuaf.umass.edu

 

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