Ally is not a noun. It’s a verb.
As we celebrate Pride month across the globe, it’s important for people outside of the community to learn what it is to be an ally to the LGBTQ+ community. We’ve invited our friends at Outvertising, the not-for-profit LGBTQ+ advertising and marketing advocacy group, to share their guidance on how to be an ally.
Jonathan Palmer, co-director of learning and development at Outvertising, writes…
At Outvertising, we run training on how to be an LGBTQ+ role model, and also how to be an active ally for the LGBTQ+ community and other marginalised groups. One of the key things we talk about when we run ally training is that it’s so easy to sit back and think to yourself that you are an ally to marginalised groups. But unless you’re actively doing something to show your support, are you really an ally?
The key to allyship is to understand the ‘why’ behind the need for allies.
Every day it seems there are news stories about how marginalised groups are targeted. When you start to pay attention, you notice that these communities need allies now as much as ever.
COVID has taken its toll on people’s mental health. With this has come a surge in hate crimes across all communities. People have been locked in in unsafe environments, leading to a rise in people trying to access help lines. The problem is on the rise, especially amongst younger generations. Hate crimes in schools rose by 121% in just three years, with 71% described as racist according to UK police force data. This absolutely floored me when I first read it. We all hear the media talking about the younger generations being the “snowflake” generation, all liberal and gender/sexually fluid. This does not tally against the data that we see, and the question we need to ask is where is this coming from? Where are they learning this behaviour? At home? On social media? The playground? It’s only by identifying this entry level of hatred that we can attempt to stem the tide and start to turn this around.
This is also reflected in our industry workplace, with people across all minority groups claiming harassment, sexual misconduct and most importantly a lack of representation.
With our ally training, we stress that we aren’t expecting people to go out and change the world alone, or even make huge differences. What we advocate is that the small things that can make a big difference. People suffer from death by a million cuts, but we can do kindness by a million small actions.
What we advocate is that the small things that can make a big difference.
Small actions = big impact
We employ simple steps in which each of us can become an active ally.
Stand up and be counted
Being a visible supporter sends a very powerful message to others, for example by attending events and sharing what you have learned or telling people you are going or have attended. You don’t need to fight their fight; just show you stand with them.
Your voice is very important as an ally. Calling out things that are wrong is more powerful when an ally rather than a minority does it. You don’t have to embarrass people or put yourself in danger; you can subtly tell people why what they have just done is wrong.
Pick your battles
Sometimes you won’t win, people sometimes don’t want to change. Better to find out why they think that way than trying to force your opinion.
Do the work
Continue to educate yourself and never feel embarrassed about asking questions. The lingo evolves constantly and therefore so does our own self-education.
Listen without judgement
When people want to tell you their story, or explain their opinion, let them without using your own opinion as the correct way to think. People have their own views. Listen and learn and have conversations.
Throughout Pride month, we’re encouraging brands and agencies to think about how they can go past tokenism and lip-service under our ‘Beyond The Rainbow’ banner. The goal is authentic support and representation throughout the year. To find out more about Outvertising visit their website.