For Straight Allies

There’s a lot of documentation on how to be a Straight Ally to someone who has recently come out as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or not quite sure where they are on the spectrum except it’s definitely not straight. You can be a supportive ally by first and foremost, accepting your friend/family member/coworker/etc as the same person they were prior to them coming out to you. Nothing magically changed when they told you they were not straight.

Secondly, be supportive. If that means quietly listening to your friend,  then do it. If they need a hug, do it. If they just want to sit and drink tea, do it. No harm will come to you for being a good friend at a time of need and you’ll feel better for being someone they can count on not to turn their back on them at a very vulnerable time in their lives. There are already scores of resources on how to help and be a good straight ally, and we’re going to give you some below.

The Life and Times of Bridget Adams has a wonderful post on being a good ally. Snipped from that post is: From Bridgets Guide to Screwing up with Style
* There is no such thing as a perfect ally. This is a tough one for those of us who really do care to learn. It is, however, true. You will screw up. Accept it. Learn it. Live it.
* People in the LGBT community will be understanding of the (very) occasional screw up. Where the trouble will come is if you try to justify the screw up. When you try to make the screw up about them. When you get defensive over being called out for the screw up. Odds are good that you didn’t set out to be offensive, duh. Explaining that fact doesn’t win you too many points, because, well, duh. Getting defensive when your intention doesn’t give you a pass on your impact loses you points. Fast.
* If someone calls you out on being offensive, it means you were offensive. This isn’t rocket science. You have screwed up. Apologize. Shut up. Listen. Learn. And remember, listening isn’t the same as staying quiet, waiting until the other person stops talking.
* Your one gay friend or your lesbian college roommate doesn’t speak for everyone. Just because he doesn’t mind if you use that phrase or she found it funny when you did that impersonation, doesn’t mean you aren’t currently being offensive. Don’t use them to defend your current situation.
* Online icons, club memberships, Pride attendance, etc. only go so far. These don’t make you bullet-proof. Hell, even reading (or writing for) The Betty Pages doesn’t make you immune to screwing up. Don’t hold any of these up as ways to deflect from the fact that you have just made a mistake.

And there you go. Mostly, it boils down to own your shit, rather than trying to pass it off. Remember, if someone is calling you out, you have hurt their feelings or made them angry. If you meant to do so or not, this should matter to you. Other people’s feelings should matter to you – especially if you are holding yourself up as someone who cares about their feelings.

There’s more than just these five, of course, but start here. Keep listening. Keep learning

PFLAG’s Friends and Family FAQ Page has some wonderful information, including terms you may have heard but don’t know the meaning of, as well as having terminology that you can use so you don’t offend your friends/family/etc during the coming out process.

Also on PFLAG’s page, there is a wonderful document, The Guide to Being a Straight Ally (pdf). We recommend this as a document to read for your own benefit and how to be a better ally to your friends/family/etc. *Document opens in a new window. Adobe Acrobat reader required to read/download the document*

GLSEN has information on starting a Gay-Straight-Alliance group at your school.

Wikipedia has an article on how to be a Straight Ally as well. Please note that Wikipedia is a resource that is editable by anyone with a Wikipedia log-in. We do not take responsibility for information posted on this page. If you find errors on this page regarding its content, please contact Wikipedia directly.

One response to “For Straight Allies

  1. Pingback: 2010 in review | The We Got Your Back Project

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