How Can You Support Your LGBTQ+ Friends
If you are an ally or have friends who identify as LGBTQ+, you may wonder how you can support them better. Although their sexuality and gender identity do not define them, they are meaningful aspects of their life experience that deserve to be affirmed. Here are a few ways you can better support your friends and the LGBTQ+ community at large.
Learn the Lingo
As the world continues to become more inclusive and people feel more comfortable speaking up about their sexuality, new terms emerge that cna be confusing for non-LGBTQ people to understand. It can feel awkward to ask for fear of offending someone you care for; we should be mindful of our loved ones, however, and avoid burdening them with explaining things and constantly serving as our educators when there are many different resources available to inform ourselves.
This glossary of LGBTQ+ terms by The Trevor Project can clarify common words. Remember that they are just words, and every person has a right to decide how they label themselves. A person who is attracted to people of both sexes, for example, may not call themselves bisexual, but that does not make their sexuality any less valid.
Offer to attend a Pride parade, or, if that isn’t an option due to the coronavirus, hang a rainbow flag in an act of solidarity. Small gestures make a big impact, and they help show your friend that you love, accept and affirm everything about them.
It’s not uncommon for non-LBGTQ+ people to question the purpose of Pride. If they accept people regardless of their sexuality, why does it have to be so openly discussed and continually celebrated?
The reality is that sexuality, gender identity and self-acceptance are often in conflict. Pride is not solely political; legal rights are important, but they only comprise a small aspect of the LGBTQ+ experience. The biggest aspect of pride is self-acceptance, embracing oneself for exactly who they are. For many, this is a time to honor aspects of themselves that may have been hidden, discriminated against or even attacked by others.
Honor Their Silence
Not everyone wants to share their experience or be open about their sexuality. If your friend has come out to you, thank them for their trust, but do not take it upon yourself to share their story. Whether they are gay, non-binary or questioning, everyone deserves the freedom to share their life on their own terms.
Continue to Educate Yourself
As an ally, you need to be informed. Learn about the history and meaning of the pride flag, the history of gay culture and read about experiences of real LGBTQ+ people. It’s important to humanize the movement and understand the beautiful abundance of diversity behind it.
Most importantly, listen to your friend, honor their experiences and continue to value them for the wonderful people they are!