The importance of being an ally

In honour of Pride month, Ellie Freeman, Project Manager in our Modern Work team, talks about the importance of being an ally and the steps we can all take to better support the LGBTQ+ community.

The last year has impacted everyone and every aspect of life. To the point that I don’t need to add anything else to that sentence, I could leave it there and everyone would understand – and agree. But out of turmoil, positivity shone. Almost unanimously created by diverse communities uniting for a greater good.

Neighbours who had never previously exchanged more than a ‘hello’ went shopping for those stuck in isolation. Tradespeople needed money but instead, offered free services to the elderly and vulnerable. Celebrities fought for those with no money. Hobbyists crafted PPE for strangers. Volunteers became virtual friends with some of the loneliest. We all stood up and applauded for the NHS – no matter how directly or indirectly we were linked to them.

If anything can come from the past months, it’s the message that helping and supporting each other, despite different backgrounds, situations, and challenges is vital to success against a broader problem. And importantly, those with more privilege have more influence to be heard.

This is what is meant when we talk about LGBTQ+ allies. LGBTQ+ communities cannot make the required changes, without the backing and voice of the non-LGBT majorities. Allies can make space, give voices, defend our status when we are not around to protect our community directly.

It does not cost anything to be an ally – but it can make a world of difference. Many see the acronym and assume it has nothing to do with them because none of the letters describe them. As a cis-gendered, white, English female I can happily fly under the radar. No one looks at me and instantly targets a difference in my personality, outward presentation, or heritage. But I choose to speak out from my position of privilege, so that my more noticeably transgender, BAME, LGBTQ+ friends might one day be more accepted. I publicly accept them, support them, confront challenges on their behalf, and advocate for equal rights and fair treatment.

Being an ally does not have any entry requirements. Some of the ways you can be an effective ally include:

  • Staying informed by educating yourself and asking questions 
  • Speaking openly about LGBTQ+ topics
  • Supporting equality – challenge rules or policies that appear to be unfair
  • Speaking up against offensive or derogatory language – let people know if their words are not acceptable and give others the courage to speak up too

These may sound like big scary steps which could not possibly be achieved without a lot of time and effort. But day to day, the little things can make a big difference in turning the tide. 

Not only can you change the current situation, but you can also proactively amend future actions

Ask for pronouns when you meet someone new; educate yourself as well as friends and family about LGBTQ+ communities; participate in LGBTQ+ days, even if they do not include your identity; or buy from LGBTQ+ inclusive businesses.

Small actions help to normalise behaviours. It is easy for an evidently cis-gendered female to proffer that they use she/her pronouns. Starting the conversation breaks the ice for our transgender and non-binary friends to reciprocate.

We made it normal to wear a mask in public. Make it normal to introduce yourself with both your name and pronouns.

Read more thoughts from across Agilisys in another of our series of interviews to celebrate Pride and visit the Pride in London website to learn more about Pride month.

 

We stand in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement. Read the first in our blog series where Louise Ah-Wong, Senior Partner – Digital Transformation, details how Agilisys is committing to support staff and fight racism.