Allies are great.
They help us fight for equality and often offer love and support as friends, family members, and significant others. Where do you start? Here’s how I think you can be a good ally:
- Listen – Listen to those in the LGBTQ+ community and don’t talk over us. Wait for your time to talk and recognize when your opinion isn’t needed. Let people tell you what they need, instead of assuming. Listen to how your friend/partner/family member feels and what they need from you. An open mind and listening ears goes a long way, especially when someone is trying to figure things out or has just come out.
- Educate- Educated yourself about the community, all of the community. Learn different sexualities, genders, and romantic identities. Learn about LGBTQ+ issues and stay up to date on news that involves the community. Try to educate others, especially when other people are saying bigoted things or using slurs.
- Love- Everyone just wants to be loved. Respond to the LGBTQ+ people in your life with love even when you don’t understand what they’re going through. There’s no way you’ll be able to understand it all, but listening to them and loving them will make a huge difference.
- Vote- Voting is one of the biggest ways, in my opinion, that you can help our community. Vote against discriminatory laws, and vote for people who are going to bring about positive change. Do not stand idly by while bigoted people try to attack our community, especially right now.
- Respect- Respect everyone’s identity. Use the correct pronouns and preferred name for everyone you meet. Respect that someone may not be open to talking about their sexuality or gender, or being queer in general.
What did I miss? How can someone be a good ally to you?
A few months ago BuzzFeed released a video on how people’s style changed after coming out, and they had a group of people dress like their closeted selves for a day. Honestly I didn’t think other people had thought this through as much as I had.
Before I came out, and before I accepted my sexuality I was overtly feminine. I worse lots of skirts, dresses, jewelry, heavy makeup (ugh someone should had told me I looked terrible), and I had long hair. I never had a girly style before but I felt more pressure as I got older to trade in the messy bun and basketball shorts, for long curled hair and a mini-skirt. A lot of it was sub-conscious and I didn’t really realize what I was doing until years later.
I would see things I wanted to wear, but thought “no that’s too masculine.” In reality it wasn’t masculine at all, it just wasn’t nauseatingly feminine like I had made myself used to. After coming out something just switched. I wore whatever I wanted, which was usually still leaning towards feminine, but I felt more comfortable. I normally wear jeans, a shirt, and vans or clarks. So does sexuality affect style?
I would say yes and no. In some instances once people are comfortable with themselves and come out, then they feel they can dress how they’ve always wanted to. Like any culture or community there is a specific style that a lot of people follow. Some stereotypes are here for a reason, I mean a lot of lesbians do wear flannel, like a lot. I don’t think it’s bad thing though, unless you feel like you have to change the way you dress in order to be taken seriously or fit in.
My self-expression changed when I became comfortable with myself, and I think that’s true for a lot of people. When you spend months, years, or even decades being uncomfortable the second you stop feeling even a tiny percentage of that awkwardness, you never want to go back.
Did your style or general self-expression change after coming out?