Allyship: How to Be a Better Supporter

LGBTQ+ allyship

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The iconic civil rights activist Audre Lorde said, “It is not our differences that divide us. It is our inability to recognize, accept, and celebrate those differences.” This statement highlights the importance of allyship – becoming collaborators, accomplices, and co-conspirators fighting injustice and promoting equity.1

As allies, we aim to improve conditions, policies, practices, and culture for marginalized communities. We can support them by building bridges, problem-solving, and identifying solutions.1

Key Takeaways

  • Around 4.5% of the US population identifies as LGBTQIA+.1
  • 86% of LGBTQIA+ youth consider themselves allies to support friends.1
  • Using correct pronouns is crucial to avoid invalidation and distress.
  • Only 16% of LGBTQ employees discuss personal lives at work.
  • Education and awareness foster effective allyship.1

Managerial Behavior for Allies

As an ally manager, your actions impact LGBTQ+ employees. Take responsibility for behaviors. Don’t expect colleagues to educate you. Proactively reflect on potential impact.2

By owning mistakes, you set an inclusive example. Continuously work to improve.

Responsibility for Behaviors

As a white male manager, take full responsibility. Don’t expect LGBTQ+ colleagues to point out shortcomings. Reflect on actions and impact on marginalized individuals.

Educating Yourself on Racism and Privilege

Learn about racism and discrimination faced by LGBTQ+ individuals. Acknowledge privileges as a white male. Understand how it shaped worldview and opportunities.

Continuously expand knowledge to better empathize with challenges.

Getting and Accepting Feedback

Actively seek feedback from LGBTQ+ and marginalized employees. Be open to hearing perspectives and experiences.

Use feedback to inform actions and decisions. Receiving constructive feedback is critical for allyship journey.

Approach conversations with humility and desire to learn.

By taking responsibility, educating yourself, and embracing feedback, you foster an inclusive environment. This empowers all employees.

Becoming an Informed LGBTQ+ Ally

To be an informed LGBTQ+ ally, seek well-sourced content and research. Learn about different LGBTQ+ identities and their lived experiences.

Understand the historical oppression and challenges the LGBTQ+ community faced. Appreciate the diversity within this community.1

Seeking Well-Sourced Content

Explore reputable sources like GLAAD, Human Rights Campaign, and academic journals. Gain deeper insights into LGBTQ+ issues.

Immerse yourself in personal narratives, historical accounts, and well-researched articles. Move beyond surface-level awareness.1

Learning About Identities and Experiences

Dive into the LGBTQ+ community’s diversity, understanding unique challenges. Learn about transgender, non-binary, intersex, and asexual individuals.

Respect correct pronouns, privacy, and avoid assumptions. Support the community with empathy.1

Becoming an ally is ongoing. Seek new information and listen to diverse voices.

Be open to learning and growth. Advocate and support confidently.1

Asking Thoughtful Questions

When engaging with LGBTQ+ individuals or colleagues, express humility and openness to learning. Request permission before asking questions. Be curious about the specific challenges they face.

Good questions might include: “If there was one thing you wish your straight colleagues would do more to improve the experience of LGBTQ+ people, what would it be?” Or, “If there was one thing we could stop doing every day, what would it be?”

By seeking advice and listening attentively, you can gain valuable insights to become a more effective LGBTQ+ ally.

Requesting Permission

Before asking questions, request permission from your LGBTQ+ colleagues or peers. This shows respect for their boundaries and creates an environment where they feel empowered to share their experiences.

Asking for permission signals that you’re approaching the conversation with genuine interest in learning, rather than making assumptions or imposing your own perspectives.

Curious About Challenges

Be genuinely curious about the specific challenges faced by LGBTQ+ individuals in your workplace or community. This could include barriers to resources, discrimination, or daily microaggressions that cisgender and heterosexual colleagues may not recognize.

By showing sincere interest in understanding their experiences, you can build trust and gain valuable insights to inform your LGBTQ+ allyship efforts.

Seeking Advice

Don’t hesitate to ask LGBTQ+ individuals for advice on how you can be a better ally. They can provide invaluable guidance on supporting the community, navigating sensitive conversations, and becoming a more effective advocate.

Be open to feedback and use it as an opportunity to grow, rather than becoming defensive.

Recognizing Your Privilege

Becoming an ally for the LGBTQ+ community requires acknowledging the advantages you’ve been granted. Others have been denied those privileges. This can be difficult, recognizing your success may not be self-earned.

However, understanding your privilege is crucial to becoming an effective ally. It allows you to leverage resources for good.

Many people have privileges, whether racial, class-related, educational, being cisgender, able-bodied, or heteronormative. Recognizing these is essential to dismantling systemic barriers faced by the LGBTQ+ community.3By understanding the open doors and assets granted to you, you can work to create equitable opportunities for those denied them.

Efforts to educate yourself about LGBTQ+ issues and experiences can lead to better allyship. Using inclusive language and joining supportive networks contributes to a safer environment.3The journey of allyship is ongoing. It requires acknowledging biases, even within the LGBTQ+ community. Embracing discomfort and learning continuously makes you an effective advocate for equity.


Accepting Constructive Feedback

Seeking and accepting feedback from LGBTQ+ individuals is vital for growth. However, be mindful of power dynamics.3 When marginalized groups offer guidance, invisible labor adds stress. To mitigate this, build trusting relationships where they feel empowered to provide honest feedback.

Acknowledge the inherent power dynamics in the feedback process.3 LGBTQ+ individuals may feel pressured when advising those in privilege. Allies must create an environment where feedback can be given freely.

Building trust fosters a space for honest, constructive feedback.4 Actively listen, acknowledge mistakes, and demonstrate a willingness to learn. With trusting relationships, feedback becomes a valuable tool for improvement.

Power Dynamics at Play

Recognize that LGBTQ+ individuals may experience added pressure when asked for guidance. Allies must be mindful and work towards an environment without fear.

Establishing Trust

Actively listening, acknowledging mistakes, and showing genuine willingness to learn builds trust. This fosters an environment where feedback is seen as valuable, not burdensome.

Being a Confidant and Listener

As an ally, you can significantly impact by being a confidant and active listener for your LGBTQ+ colleagues and peers.5 Over a third of LGBTQ+ people hide who they are at work.

Your role as a trusted resource and source of encouragement provides invaluable support. It fosters a more inclusive work environment.5

Make yourself available, listen genuinely. Try to empathize with and validate their experiences.6

A confidant’s acceptance, advocacy, and ability are essential. Being a good listener and connector supports LGBTQ+ colleagues in the workplace.

By positioning yourself as a trusted confidant, you create a space. LGBTQ+ individuals feel safe to open up and share stories.6

Self-disclosure impacts job outcomes positively. It includes increased job satisfaction and reduced anxiety.6

Quantitative research indicates coworker support impacts self-disclosure by LGBTQ+ employees positively. Self-disclosure correlates with improved psychological well-being.

Being a good listener means being present. Ask thoughtful questions and validate shared experiences.6

Self Verification Theory suggests individuals disclose invisible stigmas internally. They create self-views alignment and reinforce psychological coherence.

Providing a supportive and non-judgmental environment empowers LGBTQ+ individuals. They feel more confident bringing their authentic selves to work.

Ensuring Diversity at the Table

As an ally, you can promote diverse voices. Ask specific questions to those often overlooked. Recommend underrepresented groups for high-visibility roles.

By amplifying marginalized voices, you create inclusive processes. Step back from the spotlight to achieve this. Your actions demonstrate commitment to allyship.

Amplifying Marginalized Voices

In meetings, notice whose input is overlooked. Actively seek perspectives from LGBTQ+7, women, and marginalized colleagues. Make space for their voices.

Promoting equity leads to better decision-making. Diverse viewpoints and experiences drive innovation. Amplifying marginalized voices is crucial.

Stepping Back from the Spotlight

Recognize when you dominate the conversation. Consciously step back and create opportunities. Allow underrepresented groups to contribute and shine.

Empowering marginalized colleagues demonstrates inclusive leadership. Stepping back from the spotlight is allyship.

Intervening Against Discrimination

As an ally, be vigilant against discriminatory comments and behavior.8 Intervene decisively when you witness discrimination.8 Support marginalized individuals; don’t wait for them to react.9 Counter gaslighting tactics that invalidate experiences.8

Identifying Gaslighting

Gaslighting is emotional abuse making victims doubt reality.8 As an ally, recognize these manipulative tactics.9 Call out denials, minimizations, and victim-blaming.9

Responding Decisively

When witnessing discrimination, respond swiftly.8 Don’t wait for the targeted person to react.9 Make it clear such behavior is unacceptable.9

Sponsoring Marginalized Coworkers

As an ally, you possess power. Use it to uplift LGBTQ+ coworkers. Identify talented marginalized employees.

Advocate for their leadership roles. Challenge and encourage their growth. Highlight their skills and achievements.


Spotting Untapped Potential

Recognize the capabilities of LGBTQ+ staff. Look for those undervalued. Advocate for stretch assignments.

Recommend them for high-visibility projects. Don’t overlook their hidden talents.


Creating Growth Opportunities

Work to provide advancement chances. Suggest promotions for your protégés. Connect them with mentors.

Introduce them to influential contacts. Help them overcome barriers.


Broadening Professional Circles

Use your influence and connections. Introduce protégés to decision-makers. Connect them with industry leaders.

Facilitate potential collaborations for them. Expand their professional networks.

10LGBTQ+ allyship

Building a Community of LGBTQ+ Allies

As an ally, joining or forming a group of colleagues passionate about fighting discrimination and championing LGBTQ+11 equity is highly impactful. Look for like-minded people and collaborate with existing employee resource groups to amplify efforts.11

Finding Like-Minded Colleagues

Seek out fellow allies who share your commitment to LGBTQ+12 advocacy and support. Together, pool resources, share best practices, and create a powerful network driving positive change.

By joining forces, you’ll tackle larger-scale initiatives and create meaningful, lasting impact within your organization.12

Advocating for Organizational Change

Leverage your influence to push for organizational changes supporting the LGBTQ+ community. Advocate for robust anti-bias training, inclusive recruitment and leadership programs, or benefits catering to LGBTQ+ employees’ diverse needs.12

Focus advocacy on evidence-based tactics delivering small, tangible wins within your sphere of influence. Create opportunities for networking, mentoring, and professional development.11

The more allies band together, the greater the impact in creating an inclusive and supportive workplace for the LGBTQ+ community.11 By joining forces and pushing for meaningful change, foster a culture of true12 LGBTQ+ allyship, support, and advocacy.

Avoiding Saviorism Pitfalls

As an ally, be wary of the saviorism mindset.13 White savior complex is an ideology of superiority.13 White saviorism stems from Westerners’ belief in solving global problems.13 It focuses on immediate solutions, not long-term community needs.

Centering Marginalized Voices

As an ally, be supportive, not the hero.14 Avoid inadvertently centering yourself in efforts to help marginalized communities.14 Self-reflect, check your ego, and actively dismantle oppressive systems.14

Recognizing Community Strengths

Avoid portraying marginalized communities as desperate.15 This perpetuates deficit-based narratives and ignores their joy, assets, and diversity.15 Instead, center LGBTQ+ voices, build bridges with allies, and uplift community strengths.

Starting Within Your Circle of Influence

Consider where to begin your journey. The social barometer framework guides you. It helps understand where to start. It shows how to work with others. This depends on the “ally spectrum.” The spectrum ranges from “leading activists” to “leading opponents.”11

Reflect on your position and others’. Determine your goals and actions. Connect with them as an ally.

Social Barometer Framework

The social barometer framework navigates efforts. It outlines four key groups: leading activists, emerging allies, passive bystanders, and leading opponents.11 Understand where you and colleagues stand. Tailor your approach to engage and support the LGBTQ+ community.

Leading activists embrace actively. They drive change. Partner with them for guidance, resources, amplifying voices.16

Emerging allies want to support better. But need education and encouragement for action.

Passive bystanders are unaware or indifferent. Reach out and help them understand importance.16

Leading opponents actively resist or oppose inclusion. Approach them with empathy and patience.

Reflect on the barometer positions. Develop tailored strategies to connect. Build a supportive, inclusive community.1611 is ongoing. Every positive step impacts, however small.

LGBTQ+ allyship

LGBTQ+ Allyship Journey

Becoming an effective LGBTQ+ ally involves a continuous journey. It requires embracing discomfort and learning from mistakes.12 You won’t always get it right, and that’s okay. The key is approaching with humility.12 Acknowledge mistakes, apologize sincerely, and use experiences to learn.12

Embracing Discomfort

As an ally, you’ll confront biases, assumptions, and privileges.12 This process can be deeply uncomfortable but essential.12 Embrace discomfort as a sign of challenging yourself positively.12

Learning from Mistakes

You’ll inevitably make mistakes on this journey.12 When that happens, approach with humility and listen.12 Use feedback as an opportunity to improve.12

Remember, LGBTQ+ allyship is an ongoing process.12 Embrace discomfort, learn from mistakes, and commit to growth.12 This will make you a more effective ally.12


Becoming an effective LGBTQ+ ally involves educating yourself. Speak up against discrimination. Actively support the community’s rights.

Take responsibility for your behaviors. Recognize your privilege. Build a community of allies.

Contribute to an inclusive world. Embrace discomfort and learn continuously. Be a better ally.

The landscape is challenging now. Over 540 anti-LGBTQ+ bills introduced. 220 target transgender and non-binary individuals.

45 anti-LGBTQ+ laws enacted in 2023. Bans on gender-affirming care exist. Misgendering provisions and restrictions present.

Your role as an ally combats injustices. Create a just, equitable society for LGBTQ+.

Leverage your privilege. Educate yourself. Advocate for marginalized LGBTQ+ individuals.

Include trans people of color. Include transfeminine individuals. Make a meaningful difference.

Embrace discomfort, learn from mistakes. Build an ally community for change.

Create a world for thriving. Regardless of identity, everyone succeeds.


What is allyship?

Allyship is defined as supporting equity through relationships and advocacy efforts. Through these efforts, allies aim to improve conditions for marginalized communities.

How can allies support marginalized communities?

As an ally, build bridges and identify solutions. Take responsibility for behaviors, educate yourself about racism and privilege, and accept feedback.

What is essential for becoming an informed LGBTQ+ ally?

Seek well-sourced content to educate yourself about LGBTQ+ identities and experiences. Learn about historical oppression, challenges, and diversity within the community.

How should allies approach LGBTQ+ individuals or colleagues?

Approach with humility and a learning mindset. Request permission to ask questions, and be curious about specific challenges they face.

Why is recognizing your privilege important for being an effective ally?

Recognizing privilege means acknowledging benefits as a dominant culture member, while others were denied. This process involves acknowledging success isn’t entirely earned.

How can allies navigate the power dynamics when accepting feedback?

Establish trusting relationships where marginalized individuals feel safe providing feedback. Be mindful of added labor when seeking guidance from marginalized groups.

How can allies be a confidant and listener for LGBTQ+ colleagues and peers?

Make yourself available, listen genuinely, and empathize with their experiences. Be an active listener for LGBTQ+ peers and validate their experiences.

How can allies ensure diverse voices are heard and valued?

Use positions of authority to ensure diverse voices are heard. Ask specific questions of overlooked individuals or recommend high-visibility roles for underrepresented groups.

What should allies do when witnessing discriminatory comments or behavior?

Be alert for discrimination and intervene decisively. Don’t wait for marginalized people to react, as they’re often accused of overreacting. Provide support.

How can allies actively sponsor and support the professional development of their LGBTQ+ and other marginalized coworkers?

Identify talented marginalized individuals, help develop leadership, challenge and encourage them, and tout their abilities and achievements. Support their professional development.

How can allies amplify their impact through collective action?

Join or form colleague groups interested in fighting discrimination for the LGBTQ+ community. Collaborate with employee resource groups to amplify impact.

How can allies avoid the saviorism mindset?

Avoid centering yourself as the hero creating change. Play a supportive role, not the savior. Recognize joy and diversity within marginalized communities.

How can the social barometer framework guide allies in their journey?

Use the social barometer framework to understand where to begin allyship based on the “ally spectrum” of those around you.

What is the key to becoming an effective LGBTQ+ ally?

Embrace discomfort and learn from mistakes. Approach with humility, acknowledge mistakes, apologize sincerely, and use experiences to grow. It’s an ongoing journey.

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