How to Be an Ally: Supporting LGBTQ+ Family Members

May 28, 2024

June is LGBTQ+ Pride Month, a time to celebrate the diversity, resilience, and contributions of the LGBTQ+ community. Being an ally is crucial in fostering an inclusive and supportive environment, especially within our homes. This guide offers practical advice on how to be an effective ally, ensuring that your LGBTQ+ family members feel respected, valued, and loved.

Understanding Allyship

Allyship involves recognizing the privileges that come with being non-LGBTQ+ and using that privilege to support and advocate for LGBTQ+ rights. It’s about being proactive in learning, listening, and standing up against discrimination and bias.

Steps to Be an Effective Ally

1. Educate Yourself

Learn About LGBTQ+ Issues:

  • Understand the basics of LGBTQ+ identities, such as the difference between sexual orientation and gender identity.
  • Familiarize yourself with common terms and their meanings (e.g., lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, non-binary). See a full glossary of terms here.
  • Stay informed about the challenges and discrimination LGBTQ+ people face.

Resources for learning:

  • Read books like "The ABC's of LGBT+" by Ashley Mardell.
  • Follow reputable LGBTQ+ organizations, such as GLAAD, The Trevor Project, and PFLAG.
  • Attend workshops or webinars on LGBTQ+ issues.
  • See a full list of resources here.

2. Create an Inclusive Home Environment

Use Inclusive Language:

  • Practice using correct pronouns and names; if you make a mistake, apologize sincerely and correct yourself.

Visible Support:

  • Display symbols of support, like rainbow flags or inclusive stickers.
  • Celebrate LGBTQ+ milestones and participate in Pride events.

Challenge Discrimination:

  • Speak up against homophobic, biphobic, or transphobic remarks or jokes.
  • Educate family members on why such language is harmful.

3. Listen and Validate

Be Open and Non-Judgmental:

  • Listen to your LGBTQ+ family member’s experiences without interrupting or making assumptions.
  • Validate their feelings and experiences; avoid minimizing their struggles.

Ask How You Can Support:

  • Directly ask your family members what they need from you to feel supported.
  • Respect their privacy and boundaries.

4. Support Their Identity

Affirm Their Identity:

  • Respect their chosen name and pronouns consistently.
  • Encourage their self-expression in ways that feel authentic to them.

Be Their Advocate:

  • Support them in public and private settings, ensuring they know you are on their side. If you work together, take a look at how to support them best in the workplace here.
  • Educate others in your community about LGBTQ+ issues and the importance of acceptance.

5. Provide Emotional Support

Be Patient and Understanding:

  • Understand that coming out or transitioning can be a long and emotional process.
  • Offer a safe space for your family members to express themselves.

Encourage Professional Support:

  • Suggest resources like counseling or support groups if your family member is struggling.
  • Familiarize yourself with crisis resources like The Trevor Project's 24/7 helpline for LGBTQ+ youth. See a full list of resources here.

6. Advocate for LGBTQ+ Rights

Get Involved:

  • Support LGBTQ+ rights through activism and by participating in events.
  • Vote for policies and leaders that promote LGBTQ+ equality.

Support LGBTQ+ Organizations:

  • Donate to or volunteer with organizations that support LGBTQ+ individuals and causes.
  • Encourage others to get involved and support these organizations.

7. Reflect and Grow


  • Regularly reflect on your biases and privileges.
  • Be willing to admit mistakes and learn from them.

Continuous Learning:

  • Stay updated on LGBTQ+ issues and evolving language.
  • Engage in ongoing education and allyship training.

Being an ally is a continuous journey of learning, support, and advocacy. By creating an inclusive environment at home and standing up for LGBTQ+ rights, you can make a significant positive impact on the lives of your LGBTQ+ family members. Remember, your actions and words can provide the acceptance and love they need to thrive.

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