Maybe your friend recently came out to you. Maybe your friend has been questioning their sexual or gender identity, and you’re wondering what you can do to help them. Or maybe, you just want to learn how you can do better. You’ve taken a great first step. Here are a few tips on how you can be a better ally to the 2SLGBTQUIA+ community!
1. Check in with your friend about their experience.
Everyone experiences their identity in a unique way. Even if two people use the same label, their feelings and language regarding it may be completely different. Also, someone might not choose to use a label at all, even if you think that you know exactly what they should identify as. This is their journey, so try not to put them in any box based on what you’ve seen before. Simply put, talk to them—and really listen!
2. Give your friend the space to speak (or not speak!) without judgment.
Being in the 2SLGBTQIA+ community comes with its own unique set of struggles—ones that individuals may not know how to bring up with someone who is not part of the community, or simply hasn’t experienced what they are feeling. Members of this community may be scared of judgment, or making you feel uncomfortable. One of the best things you can do is acknowledge that there are some parts of their experiences you may never fully understand, even if you want to. They may not share this struggle with you at all—it’s important to respect that.
However, it’s completely ok to let them know that you are there to talk if they need you without insisting that they do so. If someone does choose to speak to you about their struggles with their identity, listen carefully. Emphasize that even if you feel hesitant around the topics, it’s only because you want to understand, not because you’re judging them. Ask for clarification on terms if they confuse you, and simply be there for them.
3. Try not to speak for your friend—support your friend as they speak for themselves.
Whether it be coming out, dealing with intolerant people, or generally going about their lives, people in the 2SLGBTQIA+ community face daily obstacles. Unless they ask you, let them speak for themselves. They are a person, just like you, who doesn’t appreciate when words are put in their mouth or when they’re treated like they can’t handle what is thrown at them. Instead, empower your friend(s) by supporting the actions they choose to take to help themselves. If people are using the wrong pronouns or name for your friend while they are not around, you can simply correct them. If you’re unsure, you can always ask your friend if it is alright to do this.
Overall, by supporting your friend with unconditional understanding and respect for their boundaries, you can become a better ally.
About the Author
Hey everyone! I'm going into my fourth year of psychology with the Faculty of Science. I joined hu because I want to make a positive impact on the university community by talking about mental health-- a topic I truly love.
I'm a people-loving introvert that spends her free time immersed in stories, whether it be video games, books, TV, or music. I also love to swim!