The month of June is also known as Pride Month among the LGBT+ community worldwide. It is a month celebrating the freedom, equity, and joy of life. Most companies, non-profit organizations, and entrepreneurs are finding ways and possibilities to be inclusive and diverse in every single way, creating an equal environment for their employees. Every year during this month we remind ourselves and others of biases, misunderstandings, and fear within the LGBT+ community. But this month is also dedicated to those who are not “members” of this community, yet standing firmly beside them. They are a ray of hope, trust, understanding, and acceptance. They are called the allies.
Being an ally is more than just being a friend. It means being a bridge between at least 2 shores. It requires bravery, strong will, open-mindedness, and mutual understanding. A lot of allies want to help, yet struggle with the simple question of what can be done. The answer is quite direct. As long as the LGBT community should be out and proud, not being afraid to live their lives to their fullest, spread love and joy, so should each and every ally. As long as they have a voice to be heard, a note to be marked, and a dream to be shared, the truth will come its way.
On one hand, it is important to understand what LGBT+ members might be undergoing in their minds whenever a “gay joke” comes around or there is a question of “what are your pronouns?”. Coming out [of the closet] is a stressful process of self-acceptance and initiates a huge transformation of one's life. It is like standing naked in front of a mirror and constantly asking yourself: “Am I good enough, am I ready, will I be worthy of love, does that mean I am doomed to be unhappy?”. Most of the time, other questions follow as one doubts him or herself whether this coming out will drastically change their positioning in the eyes of others. An ally should be a lighthouse guiding the way out the closet. It should be kept in mind that coming out is not a one-time event. These same questions, thoughts, and doubts come back every single time before these words are being spoken out loud: “I am gay”. It might start with friends, continue with family, at a party, at work, in front of a client, or during a networking event. Every single time, there is this little voice trying to tame those words simply to avoid some typical biases or stereotypes that might follow.
After coming out and identifying as a gay person, the same questions always arise: “Are you sure? You do not look gay!”, “Don't you think your life would be much easier if you weren't gay?”, “Are you the man or woman then?”, or “Have you ever had a crush on me?” Or some biases might be triggered as well, such as: “It is just a phase, you will come around.”, “Nah, it is just trendy to be gay now, you are not gay, I can tell.”, “So pink must be your favorite color.”, “I am fine with you being gay, but please do not tell anyone else.”. Honestly, what does it mean to be a man or a woman in a relationship anyway? Are we still talking about what roles men and women should be addressed with? Or are we in the 21st century where a woman can easily fix a leaking pipe or be a successful business manager, and a man can make a wonderful dish and do the laundry. Next to this, what should a gay man or a gay woman look like so that one can tell they are LGBT? But, it does not always have to be a bad thing. Some questions are being asked just out of curiosity to help them understand. Some biases are coming from a stereotype and a perception of what society should look like.
If an ally really wants to help, then they should speak out. Open these topics and talk about them. Be the icon of understanding the pain and anxiety of coming out as well as curiosity and defensive pose of biases. Share awareness, clear the mist, repel the fear, and light the way towards a future with a rainbow shining above our heads. Whenever there is a slight vibe of bias from heterosexuals toward LGBT and vice-versa, speak out loud. Be the bridge, not a wall, aim to unite not to divide, and bring attention to everything that has to be said. It is important to try to identify LGBT+ topics, and talk publicly about them. To be an ally is a calling to be a beacon for two ships sailing towards a common destination, a destination of mutual understanding, equity, and inclusivity.