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Tips for Being an Ally to Lesbian, Gay,
Bisexual and Transgendered (LGBT) People

Develop Sensitive Language

  • Remember that many people you meet are gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender (GLBT).
  • Avoid using pronouns that assume the sex of a friend or partner.
  • Use inclusive examples that specifically use bisexual, lesbian or gay issues.
  • Use words like "partner," "lover" or "significant other" rather than husband, wife, boyfriend or girlfriend.
  • Avoid using terms gay, lesbian or bisexual as accusatory.
  • Avoid dehumanizing slang, e.g. -- queers, homos, fags, pansies, dykes, lezzies.
  • Include homosexual couples when speaking of couples.
  • Respect the privacy of those persons you know to be homosexual. If someone asks you whether or not "Jane Doe is lesbian" do you say "you should ask her" even when you know that she is a homosexual? What if Jane were heterosexual?

Challenge Your Own Assumptions and Behaviors

  • Do you look at a GLBT person and automatically think of his or her sexuality rather than seeing the individual as a whole, complex person?
  • Are you as supportive of your GLBT friends when they are sad about a fight or breakup as you would be of a heterosexual friend?
  • Do you change your seat in a meeting or workshop when a GLBT person sits next you?
  • Do you avoid asking about a person's same sex partner when you would regularly ask a friend about their opposite sex partner?
  • How easy is it to remember that when a GLBT person touches you, s/he is usually not making sexual advances?
  • Do you avoid confronting homophobic remarks out of fear of being labeled as GLBT?
  • Do you assume that because someone is speaking in support of gay rights or against the oppression of homosexuals that that person is gay, lesbian or bisexual?
  • Do you identify yourself as heterosexual when homosexuality is a topic of discussion or when confronting someone about their derogatory remarks?
  • Do you believe that women must have vaginal intercourse in order to reach orgasm?
  • Do you forget that GLBT people often wonder how safe the environment is for them—no matter where you are? Do you realize the cultural oppression of GLBT is perpetuated in social situations where physical affection is exclusively heterosexual?
  • Have you ever felt repulsed by a public display of affection between two gay people, but accepted the same affectionate display between non-gay people as nice?

Take Action

  • Confront your own fears, memories and bad feelings about GLBT people. Recall and release those feelings, thereby diminishing their hold on you.
  • Challenge heterosexism whether or not GLBT people are present. Do not always leave it to GLBT people to do so.
  • When speaking of your heterosexual partner, point out that s/he is the opposite sex, but imply that s/he may not have to be.
  • Where it is appropriate and mutually consensual, be physically affectionate with someone of the same sex.
  • Respond to newspapers and other media which put down GLBT people.
  • Participate in altering city ordinance or other laws which limit the freedom of GLBT people.
  • Participate in the acquisition of civil rights for GLBT people in employment, housing, public accommodations, insurance, credit, education, etc.
  • Protest the harassment of homosexuals by law enforcement officials.
  • When speaking to your (or other) children about sexuality, present homosexuality and heterosexuality as equally valid orientations and press other adults, administrators, etc. to do the same.