What does it mean to be an ally?
You may have heard the term “ally” mentioned from the acronym, LGBTQA, which stands for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, and Asexual or Ally. The “A” in LGBTQA can also stand for Aromantic, Advocate, or All. My personal definition of an ally is someone who not only supports homosexuality, but someone who supports people of all diverse backgrounds. An ally stands up for the rights of any individual, focuses on diversity and inclusion, and displays mutual respect and personal safety for people of all backgrounds. An ally is not so much of an identity, but a behavior. It is more about what you do than how you identify. Most importantly, being an ally means being a friend, a supporter, and a voice for those who can’t always speak up for themselves.
Why am I an ally?
My freshman year of high school, I joined the Gay, Straight, Alliance Club. I was asked by my best friend, who wasn’t out at the time, to join because he was too afraid to go to the first meeting of the year by himself. He wanted to meet new people and I was hesitant at first, not really knowing what this club would do for me, but I went anyways to support my friend. Looking back, joining the GSA club turned out to be one of the best experiences I had in high school. The club educated us on multiple topics, created a safe space for students, and served as a positive, inclusive organization at our school. This is where I first learned what it meant to be an ally.
After attending weekly group meetings, I really got to know the people who were once strangers to me. They told their stories, taught me how to listen, how to break down those judgmental barriers, and how to truly understand how it feels to be different in the world.
What are some things you can do to be an ally?
- Attend an event on campus that is diversity related, or something you wouldn’t ordinarily think about going to! Here is UMD’s Multicultural Center Events Calendar: http://www.d.umn.edu/mlrc/ocd/calendar/
- Take a class that touches on topics of race, gender, sexual orientation, disabilities, religion, etc.
- Join a club, maybe something out of your comfort zone that you would like to know more about! Here are all of the different types of organizations offered here at UMD: https://umd.collegiatelink.net/Organizations
Of Possible Interest:
- 5 Tips for Being an Ally
- Diversity Issues in the Workplace
- Women’s Issues in the Workplace
- GLBT in the Workplace