For LGBT Pride Month (JUNE!) – Being a REAL Ally!

IMPORTANT NOTE: Lots of Useful and Interesting Links at the bottom of the blog! Check them out.

Traditionally, June is LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender) Pride Month commemorating the “Stonewall Rebellion” in Greenwich Village, New York in late June 1969. Led by a set of brave drag queens, patrons of the Stonewall Tavern boldly stood up to police harassment.
Ally final
To supplement the materials I provided in past years (see links at bottom of blog), this year I want to discuss the importance of “allies” for and within the LGBT community. Allies can be “heterosexual” people, LGB taking action as allies for trans folks, or LGBT acting as allies across other dimensions of diversity like age or race.

Webster’s dictionary defines an ally as “one that is associated with another as a helper.” What a great definition that goes well with the graphic I created for this blog! A true ally-helper is much more than a person who says they support someone; they go beyond that to take some kind of action to help their associates. According to Friendfactor, one of the leading non-profits in the US today working to educate and activate LGBT allies, 77% of Americans verbally state that they support LGBT inclusion, but a much smaller number, 14%, actually do something about it.

Some actions you as an ally can take:
• Support your LGBT friends by including them in your social activities and treating same-gender couples the same as your heterosexual coupled friends.
• Use inclusive, non-gender specific language like partner or spouse when describing your significant other and asking about theirs, to signal that you’re supportive.
• When you hear someone use a derogatory slur or make a stereotype about LGBT people, ask them why they think so and start a conversation about how they may feel if that slur or stereotype was made about them.
gay marriage poster
• Attend rallies and community activities advocated for LGBT equality, speak out as a straight person and even carry a sign or banner (see photo).

Finally engage with Friendfactor, contact [email protected] for more info on building an active ally program at your workplace or school. Visit for their excellent ally resources. And consider supporting or attending Friendfactor’s 1st Annual Ally Challenge Awards Dinner in San Francisco on July 26.

# # # # #
Here are some additional past blogs that can serve as LGBT Pride Month Resources:

LINK: Five things to never say to gay people

LINK: Five common misconceptions about gay people

LINK: Five Heroes of the early US Gay Rights Movement

LINK: Five Ways CEOs Can Show Support for LGBT Diversity

A Guest Blog: LGBT Gay Diversity in Direct Sales

LINK: Four Quick Points around LGBT Economic Development

LINK: The Intersection of LGBT and Aging

LINK: LGBT and Housing Issues

Part 1 of 3: The Diversity of Aging – General Life and Workplace Overview

NOTE: This blog contains many useful and interesting links. Explore them!

Several things have happened over the past month to inspire me to now write a blog series about one aspect of diversity – the aging or “mature” population.

• At a Sunday church service I recently attended at Imani Metropolitan Community Church in Durham, NC, “Miss Mildred,” a 93 year-old woman was slowly

Church pastor and author Rev. Marilyn Bowens spoke recently at a church service on the importance of valuing older members of our community.

Church pastor and author Rev. Marilyn Bowens spoke recently at a church service on the importance of valuing older members of our community.

assisted to the keyboard and played two hymns that the congregation sang. After the songs, Imani’s pastor Rev. Marilyn Bowens remarked how so often society simply discards or disregards our older citizens, even when they still have gifts and talents to share with us. Miss Mildred did a wonderful job of playing and she simply glowed as she enjoyed ministering to us through her musical talent.

• In April I was asked to present a short workshop on “The Intersection of LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender) Diversity and the Aging Population” at the Carol Woods Retirement Community in Chapel Hill, NC. Both the center staff as well as the residents were invited. The session was well attended and both the staff and the residents voiced a desire to welcome and being sensitive to aging same-gender couples who may want to live there. So often same-gender aging couples are invisible or treated poorly at retirement centers. Carol Woods is doing an excellent job welcoming LGBT seniors and even placed an ad in a recent issue of QNotes, North Carolina’s LGBT bi-weekly paper.

• While working with a project of the NC Justice Center (The NC Families Care Campaign), which works across business, religious, healthcare and other communities to advocate for earn paid sick days for all NC workers, Suzanne LaFollette-Black, NC’s Associate State Director of AARP (An Ally for Real Possibilities), spoke about how family issues also hit the more mature people in the workforce who are often sandwiched between caring for teen or grandchildren, and aging parents. She shared several useful resources from AARP. (Several links to be added into part 3)

For the first time, as mature workers stay on the job longer, there are four generations in the work place. In 2002, 14% of the workforce was 55 and older, in 2012 that rose to 19%! While there is now a decrease in the workforce aged 24 – 44, the highest growth rate is among 45 – 54 year olds. Over 50% of workers 45 – 70 state that they plan to work into their 70s. An article in the May 2013 of the the May SHRM (Society of Human Resource Mgt) HR magazine highlighted the growing trend of women to work well into their 60s and beyond.

Several factors such as better health and low returns on retirement investment accounts are contributing to people working longer. And last year I was featured in an articles about the fastest growing area of new entrepreneurs being the 55 – 65 age group (link to article) and about ideal second careers for retiring baby boomers (link to second article.)

In Part 2, I will further explore the intersection of LGBT and Aging Diversity, and in Part 3 I will expound on ways companies can benefit from older employees, some things they can do and also the importance of succession planning as older employees do actually retire. I will also add several links to useful resources.