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.

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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

I Was a Victim of Stereotyping . . . and It Hurt!

I don’t often share personal experiences in my blogs but this time I will.

I often provide workshops on diversity and sensitivity training, and one of the modules explores stereotyping. I use an exercise called “Release the Stereotype You Have of Others” from Clyde W. Ford’s Book, “We Can All Get Along.”

"We Can All Get Along, 50 Steps You Can Take To End Raciscm" is an excellent resource by author / speaker Clyde W. Ford

Webster’s dictionary defines stereotyping as “forming a standardized mental picture that is held in common by members of a group and that represents an oversimplified opinion.” That includes denying the individuality of a person and jumping to conclusions about them.

Admittedly, as a white male in the US, I rarely am a personal victim of stereotyping. That does sometimes make it hard to teach about something painful that I may not experience often myself. But very recently I was a victim of being stereotyped, and it hurt.

I will speak in generalities since I do not wish to divulge the identity of the offending party. It began as I was trying to reach out to a regional leader of an organization I am involved with and a member of. One of the concerns I wanted to express is that a number of simple questions that I had called in or e-mailed to the organizational headquarters had gone unanswered.

When my request for contact got to the correct person, their initial reply to me was a curtly worded e-mail about how the organization is unable to promote the services of one consultant over another. When I received the e-mail, I was shocked! The person assumed that because I was a private consultant, that I was a cut-throat, aggressive operative who was only interested in how the organization could promote my business. And this was an organization I pay dues to and had performed community service with on multiple occasions. No “thank you,” no “how are you;” instead just an attack based upon a stereotypical view of me as a consultant. I truly felt insulted and minimalized as a person and as a professional.

The good news is that I shared my feelings with the offending party and we cleared up the misunderstanding.

Two recommendations:
• Do not stereotype. View each person you interact with as a unique individual.
• Don’t jump to conclusions about someone’s agenda based on their demographics. Ask first before responding or interacting.