Ways You Can Support Your LGBTQ+ Loved Ones
Knowing they have your support can make a world of difference when it comes to loving and accepting their identities
As a queer person, sometimes being a minority can be very confusing, difficult, and even scary. It is important that we receive love and support from our family and friends.
Being an ally to your LGBTQ+ loved ones can help them to feel better with themselves, and knowing that they have the support from others can make a world of a difference when it comes to loving and accepting their identities.
What does it mean to be an ally?
An LGBTQ+ ally is someone who identifies as heterosexual and cisgender, but still loves, supports, and advocates for those in the LGBTQ+ community.
It should be known that there is a difference between being accepting and being an ally. An ally will advocate for queer people, encourage them to embrace their identity, and share with others their (positive) opinions towards the LGBTQ+ community. Others might be accepting of their loved one's identity, but not necessarily be an ally.
How can you be an ally?
Here are some tips to being an ally for your LGBTQ+ loved ones!
Be sure they know that you support them and love them no matter what.
Being queer often comes with a fear (ha, that rhymed) that the people who we love will no longer love or accept us because of our identities. Be sure to let your LGBTQ+ loved ones know that you love them regardless of their identity, and support them no matter what! You can do this by encouraging them to participate in queer events, supporting them during a coming out, or participating in pride events with them as an ally.
Do your research.
Although you might have an understanding of a couple of LGBTQ+ identities, such as lesbian or gay, someone you love may end up being something you've never even heard of! It's okay to not understand someone's identity, but there is a respectful way to go about it! Ask them respectful questions. How can you know if a question is respectful? Ask yourself if it would be something you would be comfortable asking someone heterosexual. Another option is to do the research yourself. There are hundreds of sites out there (including this one) where you can find answers to your questions and gain a better insight and understanding of someone's identity.
Remember that everyone is different, so try not to assume anything about someone's identity just because of what you read online. Do your research and then ask them about it. "I was doing some research online and I read that not all bisexuals are 50/50, is this true?" is totally acceptable. Our loved ones will be grateful that you've taken the time to try and get a better understanding of how they feel!
Keep personal information to yourself.
Coming out is often a very tricky topic for cishets (cisgender heterosexuals) to understand. Telling someone about another's LGBTQ+ is absolutely never acceptable without given consent of the said person. Outing someone is a huge no-no. If someone trusts you enough to share something so personal with you, don't take advantage of that trust by exposing their identity to others. If someone comes out to you, keep it to yourself, unless told otherwise by the person.
You should also never pressure someone to come out of the closet. That should be a choice that they make themselves as an individual. It is okay to share your opinion if asked about it, but unsolicited advice is not appropriate.
Validation helps queer people to become more confident and secure in their identity. Reminding them that their feelings are valid and perfectly normal will help them to create a healthy bond with their own sexuality and/or gender.
Provide them with the needed resources.
Depending on your relationship with this person, this may or may not be needed. Sometimes queer people need a bit of help when it comes to figuring things out and/or getting the additional resources and information they might need. You can help refer them to websites, clubs, LGBTQ+ programs, etc. If you know someone who is dealing with gender dysphoria you can ask them how you can help them through this. If you are a parent or close relative supporting a transgender person it is especially important that you make sure they are provided and/or assisted with whatever is needed for their transition.
Nothing changes when someone you care about comes out as LGBTQ+. The only thing that does change is that now you know! They're the same person as they were before they came out, so you should treat them as such. Give them all your love and support.