The Actions of Allyship: How to Become A Supportive and Affirming Ally to Members of the LGBTQIA+ Community

by Cierra Barker, Ph.D., HSP-P

Do you have a friend, family member, or colleague that is part of the LGBTQIA+ community and you are unsure as to how to support them outside of your individual relationship? Do you question if being an active ally and advocate really makes an impact? Do you identify as an ally and would like more information as to how to better serve the LGBTQIA+ community? Improving our understanding of the actions, impacts, and resources of allyship can evoke much needed change and advocacy, and may in fact save a life.

The Necessity of Support and Advocacy for the LGBTQIA+ Community

 According to the 2021 National Survey on LGBTQ Youth Mental Health completed by the Trevor Project, 42% of LGBTQ youth seriously considered attempting suicide in the past year, including more than half of transgender and nonbinary youth. Additionally, 75% of LGBTQ youth reported that they had experienced discrimination based on their sexual orientation or gender identity at least once in their lifetime (The Trevor Project, 2021). These staggering statistics reflect the prevalence and severity of LGBTQIA+ adverse experiences that occur within a significantly marginalized community, as well as mental health concerns from these experiences that propagate the importance of allyship. Conversely, LGBTQ youth who had access to spaces that affirmed their sexual orientation and gender identity reported lower rates of attempting suicide (The Trevor Project, 2021).


The 4 Steps Toward Allyship

 The path toward allyship of the LGBTQIA+ community has no end destination, but is an on-going journey of support, advocacy, and self-development. In fact, it is a lifelong process of relationship and support building through consistency and accountability within marginalized individuals and communities of the oppressed. Everyone has the ability to be an ally, which is defined as someone who actively promotes and aspires to advance the culture of inclusion through intentional, positive, and conscious efforts that benefit oppressed people as a whole.


The four basic components that comprise being an ally include; Awareness, Education, Skills, and Action. The following information was adapted from the San Diego State University Safe Zone Manual 2009 Edition:

1)    Awareness: Identify and foster self-awareness to challenge personal privilege, bias, and prejudice. Become more aware of personal differences and similarities to lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people.

  • Have conversations with LGBTQIA+ individuals concerning their experiences
  • Attend awareness building workshops or trainings
  • Engage in self-examination toward personal privilege and prejudice

2)    Education: Acquire knowledge about sexual orientation and gender identity and the experiences of LGBTQIA+ individuals.

  • Learn about laws, policies, and practices, and how they affect the LGBTQIA+ community
  • Educate yourself about LGBTQIA+ cultures and norms
  • Contact local and national LGBTQIA+ organizations for additional information  
  • Read LGBTQIA+ publications and articles to stay informed
  • Attend LGBTQIA+ events in the community
  • Examine the effect sexual orientation and gender identity have on people’s lives and development. Identify how race, religion, class, ability and gender intersect with sexual orientation and how multiple identities shape our lives.

3)    Skills: Utilize training and education to hone personal skills and networking toward supportive outreach and advocacy to communicate the knowledge that have been obtained.

  • Continue to attend workshops, training, and continuing education events
  • Develop support connections and networking through LGBTQIA+ organizations
  • Create an atmosphere of acceptance within your personal relationships, workplace, and community
  • Use inclusive and gender neutral language such a “partner” and avoid the use of heterosexist and cissexist language
  • Acknowledge and take responsibility for your own socialization, prejudice, and privilege.
  • Educate others through one-on-one discussions, group programming, and utilizing teachable moments.

4)    Action: Affect change in society as a whole through actions and expanding awareness, knowledge, and skills to others.

  • Support LGBTQIA+ individuals within your community
  • Actively work to support social justice and equality for all people regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity
  • Challenge homophobia/biphobia/transphobia and heterosexism
  • Interrupt prejudice and take action against oppression even when people from the target group are not present.

The Positive Impact of Allyship

Allies can be some of the most effective and powerful voices of the LGBTQIA+ movement through utilizing their privilege to evoke change. Transgender and nonbinary youth who reported having pronouns respected by all of the people they lived with attempted suicide at half the rate of those who did not have their pronouns respected by anyone with whom they lived (The Trevor Project, 2021).

Big or small, every positive action helps foster an environment in which marginalized groups can ask for what they want and feel confident that they will have the support they need to get it. Additionally, transgender and nonbinary youth who were able to change their name and/or gender marker on legal documents, such as driver’s licenses and birth certificates, reported lower rates of attempting suicide (The Trevor Project, 2021). May this serve as a gentle reminder that the term ally is a verb, not a noun. Your support, advocacy, inclusion, and acceptance genuinely make a difference.

Additional Resources

  • GLAAD — — Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation. “GLAAD works with print, broadcast and online news sources to bring people powerful stories from the LGBT community that build support for equality.”
  • GLSEN — — Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Education Network. “Every day GLSEN works to ensure that LGBT students are able to learn and grow in a school environment free from bullying and harassment.”
  • Family Acceptance Project — — “Research, intervention, education and policy initiative that works to prevent health and mental health risks for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) children and youth, including suicide, homelessness and HIV – in the context of their families.”
  • God Loves the Gays – – a queer son of a pastor who writes and shares resources with the goal of making people feel okay being queer and Christian
  • It Gets Better Project — — “The It Gets Better Project’s mission is to communicate to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender youth around the world that it gets better, and to create and inspire the changes needed to make it better for them.”
  • National Gay and Lesbian Task Force — — “The mission of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force is to build the power of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community from the ground up.” They also run Creating Change the “largest annual gathering of LGBTQ activists, organizers, and leaders within the LGBT movement” in the US.
  • The “Not All Like That” (NALT) Project – – videos of (awesome) Christians (mostly families) explaining how they fully support LGBTQ people and that being Christian shouldn’t mean being anti-gay.
  • The Transcending Gender Project:
  • PFLAG — — “Parents, Families, Friends, and Allies United with LGBT People to Move Equality Forward.”
  • Transgender Law Center — — “Transgender Law Center works to change law, policy, and attitudes so that all people can live safely, authentically, and free from discrimination regardless of their gender identity or expression.”
  • The Trevor Project — — “Crisis intervention and suicide prevention for LGBTQ youth.”


Works Cited:

The Trevor Project. (2021). 2021 National Survey on LGBTQ Youth Mental Health. West     Hollywood, California: The Trevor Project.

San Diego State University Safe Zone Manual 2009 Edition. <>