Happy National Coming Out Day!
No matter how you identify, this annual celebration of LGBTQIA+ identities is something all communities should honor. It’s a time to pay tribute to the bravery of the generations that have faced and confronted hardships—and to honor how that work has driven forward progress for all. After all, if inequality exists for one group of people, it is possible for everyone—and that reality underscores just how important allyship is.
That word sounds formal—but it’s anything but! In some ways, you may already be ally to the LGBTQIA+ community: if you love someone in the community and treat them with respect, if you work to communicate to your co-workers that you’re a welcoming and inclusive person, or even if you have gone the extra mile and donated to LGBTQIA+ causes or joined your organization’s employee resource group for the community. Today, as acceptance and understanding of what it means to be LGBTQIA+ are higher than ever before, being an ally to the community is just common sense.
But this National Coming Out Day, it’s important to remember that, even though the community has seen progress in recent years, that doesn’t mean challenges are in the past. In fact, nearly half of the states in the country still don’t outlaw discrimination against LGBTQIA+ people, meaning gay and transgender individuals could legally be turned away from employment, housing or public accommodations in much of the country—simply for who they are. And these systemic issues trickle down, with family rejection, depression and suicides rates all still soaring among the community.
It’s time for allies to step up. Here are a few small ways to deepen your allyship this National Coming Out Day:
Press for change
It can be easy to not want to rock the boat at work—especially around issues that, on the surface, don’t directly impact you. But if the culture at work allows for homophobia, sexism or other harmful ideas to exist, it’s time to take a stand and urge leadership to get involved. You can even demonstrate your allyship by getting ahead of issues before they crop up: Use pronouns in your email signature and urge others to do so as well, start an employee resource group for LGBTQIA+ communities if one doesn’t exist and press leadership to offer benefits and policies that treat all employees equitably.
Commit to learning
Lifelong learning is a valuable trait for an ally, of any community! Even if you are a loud and proud supporter of LGBTQIA+ people, there is certainly more that you can learn. So, educate yourself on what’s happening in the community, do your reading (beyond social media!) and keep an open mind.
Advocate outside of your organization
Showing your allyship at work is key but so too is getting involved in causes outside of the office. Volunteer your time or expertise at an LGBTQIA+ organization or offer to serve as a mentor to youth in the community, an avenue where allies can be particularly impactful.
Allyship doesn’t have to be hard. In fact, it can be pretty straightforward: Simply consider how you can use your experiences and skills to help create environments where people of all identities can live and work freely and are empowered to reach their full potential.
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Let’s work together.