Welcome to the Ally Guide @ UIS! This is a resource for ally students, staff, and faculty. Contained in this guide is information for anyone who is or would like to become a LGBTQIA+ ally. The guide is a tool to understand and review UIS services, local and regional resources, and helpful educational information. Please do not hesitate to contact the Gender and Sexuality Student Services (firstname.lastname@example.org, 217-206-8316) with questions and to suggest additions to the guide.
Allies are some of the most effective and powerful voices for LGBTQIA+ equality and inclusion. Not only can allies help people in the coming out process, they also help others understand the importance of equality, fairness, acceptance and mutual respect. An ally can merely be someone who is supportive and accepts an LGBTQIA+ person, or an ally can be someone who personally advocates for equal rights and fair treatment.
Allies Safe Zone Program
Safe Zone members are identified by this sign that they hang on their office door or living space, or by other Safe Zone visual indicators, and are trained to be better allies to LGBTQIA+ students. Members agree that they work to provide a personal space that is free from homophobia, heterosexism, and transphobia while serving as a resource to LGBTQIA+ and allied students. All students, staff, and faculty are eligible to join. “This is a safe place to talk about LGBTQIA+ and heterosexual issues and concerns.”
Ten Ways to Become an Ally
- Be a listener.
- Be willing to talk.
- Be inclusive and invite LGBTQIA+ friends to hang out with your friends and family.
- Don’t assume that all your friends and co-workers are straight. Someone close to you could be looking for support in their coming-out process. Not making assumptions will give them the space they need.
- Homophobic comments and jokes are harmful. Let your friends, family and co-workers know that you find them offensive.
- Confront your own prejudices and homophobia, even if it is uncomfortable to do so.
- Defend your LGBTQIA+ friends against discrimination.
- Believe that all people, regardless of gender identity and sexual orientation, should be treated with dignity and respect.
- If you see LGBTQIA+ people being misrepresented in the media, contact the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation at glaad.org.
Ways You Can Take Action at UIS
- Become a Safe Zone member.
- Join InQUEERy (Get a scholarship!)
- Stand up for LGBTQIA+ friends and associates
- Be active in speaking about being a LGBTQIA+ ally
- Come show support at any LGBTQIA+ sponsored event
- Take the LGBTQ & Allies Peer education class
I’m straight. Is it really okay to speak up for a group that I am not a part of?
Not only is it okay, but your support is welcomed and very much needed. The unique “outsider” voice of straight allies is powerful and carries credibility that helps draw attention to and raise awareness about the issues that lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people face each day. Speaking up and acknowledging, through words and actions, that all individuals deserve to be respected and treated equally also makes other people take notice and gives them the confidence to follow your lead.
Why should straight people be interested in issues facing gay, bisexual, and transgender people?
To achieve equality, LGBT people need the help of straight allies. When we work together, we can affect great change. We’ve heard all kinds of reasons about why people are straight allies. Some people have gay friends and want to make things better for them. Others have realized that discrimination against any group is wrong and needs to be stopped. Some believe that, in the words of Martin Luther King, Jr., “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere” and believe their voices count. Still others want the opportunity to change history.
What are the issues gay people face anyway?
Many of us know about hot-button issues such as same-sex marriage and anti-gay bullying, but gay people face a number of obstacles simply because of who they are. Many are concerned about being rejected by their families and friends, are worried about their safety, and are afraid of being rejected from their places of worship. Gay people can still legally be denied employment, housing, and other rights in many states which can cause stress as well as unnecessary financial burdens. If you want to keep up to date on some of these issues Like us on Facebook or Follow us on Twitter, Instagram, TikTok or Snapchat.
If I get involved in Safe Zone or InQUEERy, will people think I’m gay?
Maybe – and we know that this can be an uncomfortable reality at first. You can clarify that you are straight, or leave the question unanswered. This experience can offer a valuable perspective into the challenges gay people deal with all the time. Working through any anxiety you may have, and being able to have a good laugh about it, will give you the confidence and the tools to have a deeper discussion with others about the issue. Check out the Gender and Sexuality Student Services or Brookens Library for some suggestions on how to overcome this discomfort and anxiety.
What if I encounter a negative reaction to “coming out” as an ally?
This is always a possibility, but we’ve found that most people are respected and supported for their words and actions as an ally – even when people around them don’t quite understand why they would support equality. However, it’s very important to think about why you’re an ally, and be able to explain it to others, if you ever encounter such a negative reaction. Consider taking a Safe Zone class or stopping by the Gender and Sexuality Student Services for better ways to help you “come out” as an ally.
How do I become more comfortable talking about gay people and issues?
The more you know, the more comfortable you will be if you ever need to speak up after hearing an anti-gay joke or comment. Education also helps you provide constructive and factual criticism of common arguments against equality that you may hear. Use some of our resources, such as our Guides to help better understand LGBT people.
Do I have to be interested in advocacy to be an ally?
The word “ally” doesn’t necessarily mean “activist”. This project is about empowering straight allies to support LGBTQ people in small and simple ways that can be integrated in their day to day lives. There are simple everyday things that you can do to help move equality forward. While advocacy work and/or activism are great it is not a requirement to being a LGBTQ Ally.
Where can I get answers if I have more questions?
For more FAQ’s about LGBT and allies you can visit www.goaskalice.com. Go Ask Alice! is a health Q&A Internet Resource. It provides readers with reliable, accurate, accessible, culturally competent information and a range of thoughtful perspectives so that they can make responsible decisions concerning their health and well-being. Information provided by Go Ask Alice! is not medical advice and not meant to replace consultation with a health care professional.