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Celebrating Pride: How to Be an Ally to the LGBTQ+ Community

Written by: Amanda Levison, M.S., LMHC, LPC, CCBT

Here at our office, celebrating love, equality, and diversity isn’t confined to just one month—it’s a year-round commitment. At Neurofeedback Counseling Center in Pennsylvania, we stand in solidarity with the LGBTQ+ community, acknowledging both the challenges faced and the victories achieved. Love shines brightly from every corner of the spectrum, transcending boundaries and embracing diversity. We will always continue spreading love, support, and acceptance daily.

It is important now more than ever to show allyship. The community is a spectrum; there is no concrete or definite way someone identifies, so it is important to learn and listen. Someone coming out to you probably means they trust you, so you must maintain their trust. Everyone embarks on this journey differently. You may have LGBTQ+ friends, family members, or a romantic partner, or you may just want to learn about the community.

While it is important to ask questions, everyone must educate themselves. It is not the role of someone in the community to teach you everything. In this blog, we will discuss what it means to be an ally to the LGBTQ+ community. We hope to guide you in your journey of education and understanding.

Happy group of young people celebrating LGBTQ+ pride day.

Understanding the LGBTQ+ Community 

Before you can be an ally, you must understand the community. “LGBTQ+” stands for lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, queer, and the plus (+) meaning more and representing all other identities. There are way more identities than those five that fall in the community. Maybe you have seen the acronym LGBTQIA+ before, adding intersex and asexual identities. However, there is even more than that! There is a wide spectrum of different identities. LGBTQ+ tends to be used as the umbrella term for the community, even if it varies by culture and identity. 

People can and most likely have multiple identities falling into the LGBTQ+ spectrum. You can have gender identities such as trans, intersex, and nonbinary (and more) and sexual identities such as gay, lesbian, bisexual, pansexual, etc. Everyone has their own unique sexual identity, orientation, gender identity, and expression. All these journeys are unique and special. 

It is important to remember the uniqueness of the community and how different everyone is. In addition to different LGBTQ+ identities, everyone has a different race, age, socioeconomic status, upbringing, and abilities. All these overlap and shape how someone experiences life. 

Now that we have some defining terms out of the way, we can discuss what it means to be an ally. There are numerous ways to be an ally to the LGBTQ+ community. We are going to look in depth at how you can be an ally to individuals and to the entire community. 

Practicing Intersectionality 

Intersectionality is recognizing the overlap of a person’s many different identities. Everyone has many different components that make up who they are. This includes one’s:

  • Gender identity and expression

  • Sexual orientation and preferences

  • Race 

  • Socioeconomic background 

  • Age 

  • Abilities

Being a true ally to anyone (not just the LGBTQ+ community) means recognizing how all these components shape one’s experience in life. For example, someone who is gay, but also a person of color, will experience life differently than someone who is white. People who belong to many minority groups experience more challenges and struggles than those who do not. Amplify their voices and listen without speaking over them.

They can experience prejudices from different aspects of their life. LGBTQ+ people of color can experience racism from those in that community who are white. Those in the LGBTQ+ community and allies alike need to validate these experiences. Only then can we truly show allyship and move ahead towards a progressive future. Pride is for EVERYONE! 

Understanding What Someone Coming Out to You Means 

When someone “comes out” they are disclosing their identity in the LGBTQ+ community. Someone coming out can be a huge deal for them! They may have an unaccepting and unsafe family, the location in which they live could be unsafe, and they may be fearful and afraid of judgment. 

So, when someone comes out to you, it is a big deal. This probably means they trust you and want your support and allyship. They are inviting you into this part of their life. When someone comes out to you, it is important to be honest, ask clarifying questions, validate them, and show pride! Asking respectfully clarifying questions can help them understand their experiences and reinforce your role as part of their support system. It is equally important to recognize the importance of setting boundaries and not being pushy on topics they do not wish to address.

Even if trust is being shown, they still may fear judgment. It is important to express reassurance and validation. Tell them that you are happy that they trusted you enough to invite them into this part of their life and that you love them no matter what. This has not changed how you perceive this person. 

It is essential to remember that coming out is on their terms. This is their identity to share.

They may trust you, but this does not mean they trust everyone. Letting them come out on their terms to whomever they decide, especially if safety is a concern is important. They also may still be exploring their identity and experiencing confusion. They may have come out to you trying to ask for advice and what they should do. Being an amazing ally means understanding the bare minimum, like not outing someone. Show your respect to this individual.

How to Show Your Allyship

Someone has come out to you. You could have friends, family members, coworkers, students, or just anyone you know in the LGBTQ+ community. We’ve discussed showing support for every aspect of someone’s identity and how to show love and validation to someone coming out. But now what? How do you continue to actively show that you are an ally to the LGBTQ+ community? 

1. Work allyship into your everyday life. There are numerous ways you can achieve this!

  • Use inclusive language and incorporate affirming words into your daily life. For example, refer to your significant other as your partner. 

  • Add pronouns to your social media bios, email tags, or even a work website, even if you are cisgender. Encourage sharing pronouns when meeting someone new or asking about someone’s pronouns if you are unsure. (Remember here not to force anything; people will share what they are comfortable with). 

  • Refer to someone with their preferred name and pronouns, but do it on their terms. Someone may be out to you, but not others. So, they may want you to refer to them as their assigned gender and birth name when you are not in a safe space. It is vital to respect whatever wishes they have. 

  • Incorporate inclusive media into what you digest. Read books and watch movies and television shows that share LGBTQ+ experiences and stories. This goes for any minority group as well. We encourage digesting media that shares stories from cultures outside of your own to broaden your horizons and cultivate a more open mind.

  • Incorporate small ways to show you are an ally. An ally sticker or pin on your water bottle or bag is a small way to show someone that you are a safe person.

2. Stand up against those who are prejudiced. If a coworker makes a homophobic comment, call them out on it. Maybe out in public, someone is berating an LGBTQ+ couple, back them up if they need the support. There does not need to be someone who is LGBTQ+ around for you to stand up for them. Wouldn’t you want someone to defend you, even in your absence? 

3. Be directly there for a loved one. If they invite you to a pride festival, tag along! Part of educating yourself is socializing with those in the LGBTQ+ community. Listen to their stories and be there for support.

  • Note: while being at pride as an ally is important, it is crucial to not “invade” queer spaces. Pride is open to all, however, if there is specifically a, for example, “trans women of color” event, it is probably not the best event to attend as an ally unless openly invited. LGBTQ+ groups need their safe spaces, and respecting their boundaries is a critical part of being a great ally.

4. Do not speak over LGBTQ+ individuals. Allies are here to listen and amplify voices, not talk over them.

5. Show support for all identities and do not make assumptions. This is important for allies and for those who are in the LGBTQ+ community as well. There are often assumptions and prejudices made within the community itself. For example, queer people of color can often face racism, there can be biphobia within the community itself, and there are many other prejudices that can come from others in the community.

Do not erase anyone’s experiences or diminish them. Remember that every aspect of someone’s identity is unique and that we need to respect and validate them. Not making assumptions and generalizations is also important to respecting someone’s identity. This is why having an open and honest conversation is important. For example, the term “queer” has been used as a slur in the past but has been reclaimed by the community. While some are okay with the term, others may not be. Having a clarifying conversation about what they are comfortable with will help in the long run. 


There are numerous ways to be an ally to the LGBTQ+ community. This is not an exhaustive list but more of a general recommendation. Educating yourself, having clarifying conversations, listening to others, amplifying voices, and standing up for what is right is the best way you can be an ally and show your support. Be an active advocate while also respecting the space for everyone who needs it to be heard. When we make a conscious effort to show respect and be inclusive, only then can we truly make progress and head to a better future. 

We hope that this has been educational and will be a resource for those who need it!


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