In recognition of Pride Month, we asked ACON – a leading organisation supporting community health, inclusion and HIV responses for people of diverse sexualities and genders – how anyone can be a better ally to LGBTQIA+ people.
1. Having an open mindset around learning is key to effective allyship. For example, language is always evolving. You don’t have to know everything, but it is important to have an openness to using new terminology.
2. Take opportunities to understand the myths that circulate, and understand the challenges that the LGBTQIA+ community experiences. At work, this could mean opting-in to any available learning opportunities.
3. Read, watch and listen to books, videos, podcasts and other resources that explore diverse stories and voices. You'll discover and learn about people's lived experiences. Engaging with different perspectives enables us to consider what the experience is for others.
4. Being visible is about the promotion of allyship. There are visual and verbal signs of being visible. From a visual perspective, the LGBTQIA+ community is looking for cues to know whether a space is inclusive and that all people can be their authentic selves. Your actions don’t need to be big, they can be subtle. But if people can’t see your actions, then people don’t know. So, include the rainbow in an email signature or wear it on a badge.
5. Raise visibility of days of significance by sharing them on your platforms.
6. Share your ally story, whether it's simply ‘I think it's the right thing to do,’ or ‘I have family, friends or colleagues in the LGBTQIA+ community’ or ‘I have my own lived experience’. Because as we know, without allies saying yes, there would never have been a yes vote in the marriage equality plebiscite. It shows the power of allyship.
Be part of the solution
7. Normalise talking about pronouns. Using pronouns in your email signature — even if you sit in the gender binary, cisgender space — demonstrates that you acknowledge and understand that not everybody else does. You’re creating space for everyone.
8. Use inclusive language – say ‘Hi team’, ‘Hi folks’ or ‘Hi peeps’ in a casual setting and ‘Hi distinguished guests’ in a formal one.
9. At a minimum, call out inappropriate LGBTQIA+ jokes or innuendo in the workplace. Say, ‘hey, that's not appropriate’. Don't just let comments pass. They impact culture and they impact individuals. At least one in 10 people who identify with a diverse sexuality or diverse gender are experiencing some form of jokes and innuendo in the workplace. And that's consistent year on year. Respond to those moments. It sets the tone for whatever environment you’re in.
10. Never assume anything about anybody; create an open environment, that isn’t set in assumptions, where people feel like they can share.