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Being an "Ally"

June is the month of celebration and creating awareness of the LGBTQIA+ community. While you may be aware, there may be some intentioned mistakes, eagerness or even hesitation to go about supporting this community for many of us.

The pride month warrants us not just to be aware of and celebrate the LGBTQIA+ community but also is a time for us to know how to be an Ally to the community.

Not all of us may be welcoming to these emerging identities. The first step, then, is to explore these concepts for ourselves and figure out where our stance is- friendly, affirming, uncomfortable but open to it or against it.

The second thing we can do is express our stance. This can be a public declaration across social media, or just adding your pronouns, the pride flag etc., into your profile. In physical spaces, it can be introducing yourself by your gender/sexual orientation if you feel comfortable or maybe just your pronouns.

When you have a friend who is from the community, be honest and speak to them if they have come out. Set boundaries and understand what you can and cannot talk to them.

Don't assume anyone's gender. Most people assume that people they meet are cis-het and this may curb anyone who's still in the closet from coming out.

Watch your language. Use gender-neutral terms and phrases- Eg., pronouns of they/them, partner.

Be aware of the stereotypes and prejudices you may hold surrounding the queer community. Watch your jokes and comparisons, confront and consciously change that.

When meeting them, check for queer-friendly spaces and ask them where they would be comfortable.

Know that you might make mistakes, but be apologetic, accommodating and ask for guidelines. Although there are common guidelines for handling people from the community, there are several differences individually within people and so it's pertinent and normal to ask them.

Lastly, relax. Becoming an ally is an active action-oriented process- it is slow, conscious and continuous- it will be figured out eventually.

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