Originally published by teenVOGUE on October 23, 3017
It's more important than ever.
As LGBTQ folks begin to be more visible, both in pop culture and also in everyday life, it’s more important than ever to understand how to be good a good ally. Here are some tips and tricks that will help you support your friends as they begin to understand and thrive while embracing their identity.
1.Don’t refer to them as your gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, or queer best friend.
Unsurprisingly, they are their own unique, multidimensional person who shouldn’t have their personality consolidated to one facet of their identity. Everyone should have the ability be identified beyond their sexual or gender identity.
2. While we’re on the topic, don’t out them to people they don’t know.
Just because your LGBTQ friends are comfortable sharing their identity with you, doesn’t mean they are ready for everyone to know. As a general practice, unless they bring it up first, don’t talk about it with other people.
3. Understand that in same-sex relationships no one is the “boy” or “girl” of the relationship.
Heteronormativity plagues us all, so don’t bring it up when your friend is talking to you about their newest relationship.
4. Validate and embrace your bisexual friend's identity.
Just because your friend is in an opposite sex relationship right now doesn't mean they're any less bisexual.
5. Try not to be upset if your friends ask for space to do “gay stuff.”
It doesn’t mean your friendship is fading, it just means sometimes queer folks need to spend time in queer spaces.
6. Don’t simply invite yourself into those queer spaces, but it’s always fine to ask!
There will be places and opportunities for straight, cisgender folks to join in on the party, but wait for an invitation, it’s just good manners.
7. Don’t be afraid to call them out for bad behavior.
Just because someone identifies as a gay man, it doesn’t give them a free pass to touch a woman’s body. If one of your LGBTQ friends is doing something that's not OK, you can call them out like you would with any friend. Oppressed people can still oppress people.
8. Listen to them when they call you out for something too.
Having a friend who identifies as LGBTQ does not absolve you from making homophobic or transphobic comments. We’re all still learning, so be open to the lesson.
9. Unless they start the conversation, don’t ask prying questions about their bodies.
If your friend has something going on underneath their clothes they’d like to talk about, they’ll bring it up — just the same as you would if you wanted to chat about your own body. If not, just tell them they look cute and keep it moving.
10. Stand up for them, even (read: especially) when they’re not around.
Just because your friend isn’t within earshot, doesn’t mean that hurtful comments won’t affect them in the long run. If you see (or hear) something, say something.
11. Stop saying you’re “a little bit gay” because you have a gay friend.
In the same way no white gay man has a “sassy black woman” living inside of them, no straight person has a “little gay man” underneath the surface either.
12. Sometimes, it’s better to Google than ask.
While teaching friends about the LGBTQ community can be wonderful, it can also be exhausting. Most of us have the wealth of the knowledge of the universe right inside our phones, don’t be afraid to utilize it.
13. Recognize and appreciate difference.
If you have more than one friend in the LGBTQ community, they are likely to have very different experiences. Don’t assume that just because you know one person’s journey you know them all.
14. Give them the space to be more than their stereotype, or to fit the stereotype exactly.
Gay people don’t get a special prize for liking RuPaul’s Drag Race, and they don’t get one if they’re not into it either. We can all be into (gasp!) more than one thing.
15. Give them free pizza.
Okay, so this one isn’t as important, but it definitely couldn’t hurt, right?