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Tips on how to be an ally to the LGBTQ+ community

June’s history as Pride Month spans three presidential administrations, and its evolving official title reflects society’s developing views towards the LGBTQ+ community. In 1999, President Bill Clinton first declared June as Gay and Lesbian Pride Month, and later, President Barack Obama changed the title to be more inclusive, naming June as LGBT Pride Month. This year, President Joe Biden has extended the reach even further by declaring June as LGBTQ+ Pride Month.

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In the years since it was first announced, the country has set aside June as the month to raise awareness about LGBTQ+ ((Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer/Questioning and other gender and sexually expansive identities) issues for good reason. Since the Stonewall riots in June 1969, when the gay community in New York City protested police raids, we have come a long way in accepting LGBTQ+ individuals, but there’s always room for improvement. In spite of increased awareness and acceptance, coming out as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or other gender and sexually expansive identities remains difficult for some people. Fears about the reactions of family, friends, coworkers, and society as a whole can contribute to anxiety, depression, isolation, and suicidal thoughts. Consider the following data:

Coming out can be liberating as LGBTQ+ people learn who they are and discover a community of support. Indeed, we all have a role to play in supporting LGBTQ+ family members, friends and coworkers. Below are some suggestions on how we all can be more supportive of the LGBTQ+ community.

Create an atmosphere of acceptance

  • Be open and approachable, and consistently convey you are supportive of LGBTQ+ concerns.
  • Be sensitive and respectful to all orientations and identities. Avoid making assumptions about a person’s gender identity or sexual orientation. Don’t assume that everyone is heterosexual.
  • Use inclusive language and preferred pronouns. Choosing to include your pronouns in introductions to others and in email signatures can eliminate confusion for some and foster an all-around more inclusive environment. This practice helps minimize mis-gendering and can be an important strategy toward inclusivity.
  • Seek out information and educational resources to increase your understanding.

Listen and be willing to talk

  • Listen without judgment. Often, your LGBTQ+ family members, friends, or coworkers need someone to listen as they share their feelings and frustrations.
  • Ask what you can do to better support them, while not asking intrusive questions.
  • Be an ally and offer empathy and support.

Speak up

  • Normalize the discussion around LGBTQ+ issues by speaking supportively across different settings, such as social, work, or places of worship. Doing so helps to make others comfortable doing the same.
  • Say something if you hear someone make a disparaging remark or tell a joke that stereotypes LGBTQ+ people. Silence can convey acceptance.

Provide resources and assistance

  • Share helpful resources when appropriate, such as the Gay-Straight Alliance Network (www.gsanetwork.org) or It Gets Better (www.itgetsbetter.org).
  • Validate concerns, experiences, and feelings. If someone shows signs of distress or depression, contact local support groups or your company’s Employee Assistance Program (EAP) if you have access to that benefit.
  • Be aware of resources available for urgent or emergency situations. For example, texting “HOME” to 741741 will connect you or a loved one to a crisis counselor, or the National Suicide Prevention Hotline can be reached 24/7 at 1-800-273-8255.

June as LGBTQ+ Pride Month is a reminder to embrace differences. We’re not all the same, and recognizing that makes us better as individuals and ultimately as a society. As you drive by a rainbow flag hanging from a storefront, restaurant, car or home window, pause to remind yourself of your role in being an ally to the LGBTQ+ community.


9 Comments. Leave new

It’s also important to remember that people change. They may identify at one point in time as their birth identity or as heterosexual or bisexual and as time goes by, as non-binary or trans or as Bi or queer or pansexual or….. And they may identify as lesbian and gay and then find that they are attracted to someone of the opposite sex.

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John Angelopoulos, EdD
June 16, 2021 3:21 pm

Most excellent….thanks

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Several clients in my psychotherapy practice are young adults who are getting in touch with their LGBTQ identities. Across the board, they benefit from being heard without judgement and validated as worthwhile human beings. I consistently feel it is my privilege when clients are able to share their innermost thoughts, ideas, and feelings with me.

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I completely assist when my clients ask for documentation for sex change operations. After consultation to determine if there are any concerns, I get right to the task of writing to assist clients moving forward with self determination.
Divora Stern LCSW California

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Mindelle K Seltzer
June 16, 2021 11:42 pm

Additionally I have counseled parents of LGBTQ+ children. Getting them to accept their children and not feel guilty about their children’s choices can be challenging.

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Good article… thank you

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Marit Isaksen
June 18, 2021 10:36 am

Thank you for addressing the need for unconditional acceptance and support of the LGBTQ+ community. Please continue to inform and educate.

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Julie Boswell
June 18, 2021 5:50 pm

Thank YOU for the visibility and necessary info for Providers. Our office has been linked with the local LGBTQ+ community center since the onset of mental health coverage thru Beacon. We’re grateful to provide a safe place for folx to grow therapeutically.

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I am working with two lesbian women. One, Chinese, in 20’s and fighting for understanding from parents, especially mother and feeling traumatized and unsafe. The other a Black woman, 40, married with children, finally understanding she is queer and must find a way to live with authenticity. My ability to accept both their backgrounds as well as sexual preference, has been invaluable to them. I am very glad they trust me as their therapist and can be open in exploring their issues. Another is a young Black woman who is bot yet sure of her sexuality and is eager to explore her preference.

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