Now, most young Indians believe themselves to be rather woke and considerate of others, their individuality and their personal choices.
We think that we are good allies to the LGBTQI community. In reality, though, some of us aren’t.
Simply being accepting of LGBTQI people is not enough, that is the bare minimum. Not having any prejudices against people is a great start, no doubt, but that does not qualify you as an ally.
If you want to be an ally, there are certain things that you need to keep in mind.
We asked 7 people from the LGBTQI+ community to share what can cis-het men & women do to be good allies to the community, and here’s what they had to say:1. Stand Up Against Discrimination When You See It - Prateek Shantaram, 24
Don’t be afraid of calling out someone out when they say something stupid, or inappropriate, especially, if they say those things in front of your LGBTQ friends.
The comments may not have been addressed towards them, but it certainly creates a hostile environment. Also, don’t be hesitant in calling your parents out if they say or do something that reeks of prejudice.
The idea is to change how people see and think about the community.2. Take Care Of Their Preferred Pronouns - Kautuk D, 19*
It is not wise to assume that everyone around you is straight and cis-gendered. This is especially true when you’re meeting someone for the first time. It is always better if you ask them what their preferred pronouns are.
It may not bother cis-gendered people, but for trans people, or queer people, this shows that you care for them and that you’re trying to create a safe space for them.
If you’re meeting someone for the first time and are concerned about finding out their preferred pronouns, simply introduce yourself, say what your preferred pronouns are, and then ask them what’s theirs. That way, you don’t have to worry about coming across as abrasive or rude.3. Google, Ask Questions & Listen - Shivam Dasgupta, 23
Take care of boundaries, but don’t be afraid to ask questions. If you feel that a question might be a little too personal, only put it forth to a close friend.
It is better to ask a stupid question, learn from it, and get rid of your preconceived notions than hold on to prejudiced all your life. Also, Google is a great place to go looking for answers.
Pay attention to what people say, listen very attentively. You might just learn something new.4. Language Matters - Aaroh Thadani, 19
Pay very close attention to the language you use. My elder sister is very supportive of me, but at times, without realising, she will refer to something lame, as ‘gay.’
Obviously, when you point this out to her, she will apologise and mean it, but like her, most people don’t pay attention to what they say when they are around their friends.5. Check Your Biases, Without Getting Defensive - Anumegha Teotia, 27
No matter how much you try, you will make mistakes. You might do something or say something that stems from some prejudice, because that is how we have been raised, to push away things that don’t adhere to society’s standards. In such a case, check your own biases, and apologise, while you ensure that you will at least try not to repeat that mistake. That is how people learn.
When you get called out for some problematic behaviour, don’t get defensive, there is no need to take this personally. Learn why what you did was problematic, how you could have done it in a better way, and move on.6. Never Out Someone - Varun M, 25*
Coming out is an extremely personal choice for someone. Whether they choose to come out or not, they have their reasons for the choice they make. If someone tells you in confidence that they are gay or lesbian, do not ever disclose this to anyone else, no matter what.
Even if the person has come out and has publicly acknowledged his orientation, it is not your job to go about announcing it. That choice is completely theirs, and theirs alone.7. Take That Extra Step To Create A Safe Space For Them - Avnesh Ray, 27
Some things just make people uncomfortable, for reasons that may be personal to them. Without trying to be too nosy, try and accommodate them.
Maybe your friend doesn’t like to go to a certain club or a restaurant because something bad happened with them there, maybe they were targeted somehow - if they request, avoid those places.
Similarly, someone in your group of friends may have been a little abrasive or hostile about another friend who happens to be gay. Sit that person down and have a one on one conversation with him, explaining that he’s making the other friend uncomfortable and that you will not let this pass.
The Bottom Line…
It may look like a lot of effort, to be a good ally, but it isn’t. These are some of the very basic steps that you can take as an ally. This is a good way to start, but definitely, not all that you can do. As a rule of thumb, don’t be a jerk to someone, if this seems too much to do.
*Names Changed On Request