What Can an Ally Do?
An ally can take many initiatives ranging from the personal to the professional, from individual to group activities, and from short- to long-term projects. Here are some examples:
- Don’t assume everyone is heterosexual, nor assume that anyone is gay/lesbian/bisexual. It’s highly likely you work with gays, lesbian, and bisexuals whether you know it or not. By not making assumptions about a personâs sexual orientation, you create an atmosphere wherin people are likely to "come out" to you.
- Avoid engaging in and confront anti-gay jokes and remarks whenever possible. Confronting such language is probably the most difficult aspect of being an ally because it may cause you to alienate friends, family, and collegues who hold homophobic values. The key is to combine confrontation with education. When you help educate others, you’ll be given respect for your convictions.
- Acquaint yourself with the gay/lesbian/bisexual community. Read books, attend seminars and workshops, attend cultural events, and listen to music by gay/lesbian/bisexual artists that address this community’s issues.
- Create an atmosphere of acceptance. By taking actions such as participating in WIU’s "safe space" program, hanging up posters exhibiting a pro-gay/lesbian/bisexual sentiment, and building an updated library of gay resources, books, articles, and periodicals, you will create an atmosphere where gays/lesbians/bisexuals feel accepted.
- Make yourself a resource for referral to individuals, organizations, students, and peers. An ally may not have all the answers, but should be able to refer people to those who can provide more information.
- Help publicize and celebrate National Coming Out Day (October) and Gay Awareness Week (April).
- Join standing committees and commissions within professional organizations that address multicultural and GLB issues.
- Educate the people around you. Utilize existing training programs like those developed by Student Services professionals or Affirmative Action staff to provide an educational program for your work environment. Encourage attendance at Safe Space and Ally training programs.
- Be a positive role model by avoiding the use of pronouns that assume the gender of the significant others of those around you. Use inclusive examples that specifically refer to gay/lesbian/bisexual people when discussing various issues.
- Surf the Net! The World Wide Web contains thousands of pages of GLB resources, articles, home pages, etc. What a valuable asset!