What is an Ally? An Ally is a (typically) straight and/or cis person who supports members of the LGBT community. In a workplace, good allies recognise that LGBT people can perform better if they can be themselves, and that everyone benefits from inclusion, and so allies use their role within an organisation to create a culture where this can happen.
Allies might be at the very top of an organisation or a colleague in a team. Either way, they recognise that it’s not just the responsibility of LGBT people to create a workplace culture that is inclusive of everyone.
Tips and Hints about Becoming an Ally
Educate and Empower Yourself
Doing some research, reading up online and learning a little more about the LGBT community is a great place to start. Even if you’re part of the community, find out about people whose orientation or gender identity differs to your own. Confront your own assumptions, prejudices, and biases. Google, YouTube and the LGBT media are your friends! Getting the language right can sometimes feel intimidating, so why not start with our glossary of terms?
As allies to each other, we have to be able to listen, ask how someone is doing and be aware that other people’s lives and experiences will be completely different to our own, especially in terms of discrimination and prejudice. Remember that just because someone has come out to you, they might not be out to everyone. Be respectful of each other and enjoy learning about all the differences and diversity in the communities around us.
Be Visible and Challenge
We want as many positive messages out there as possible. When you hear people making negative comments or using hurtful or abusive language towards LGBT people, challenge it, if safe to do so. If it’s online, report it. You might not always have all the answers or know exactly what to say and that’s OK. Here are some tips to think about:
- Keep calm and explain why bullying is wrong
- Try saying something like, ‘Stop, this is wrong’ and explain why
- Make sure you stay safe and don’t put yourself in danger
- Check the person being bullied is OK
- Encourage them to report it
Think about the opportunities you have to promote inclusion where you work. Whether it’s a conversation with friends, family or colleagues, organising a ‘lunch and learn’ at work, wearing a Rainbow lanyard or pin or putting up a poster. Use the platforms you have to amplify the voices of LGBT communities and share other people’s stories.
Being an Ally goes Beyond just LGBT
It’s important to remember that people have lots of different elements to their identities – someone might be bi and also a person of colour (PoC), or trans, gay and disabled, non-binary and dealing with a mental health issue. This may mean they suffer multiple levels of discrimination in their life. Being an ally is about listening to and learning from someone else's experiences and showing your support for them.
- Events and Training
Stonewall delivered an LGBT Allies workshop in September 2019. The workshop gave non-LGBT+ staff an opportunity to:
- Develop a better understanding of the language and terminology used by and about the LGBT community
- Explore what it means to be an LGBT ally, and why it’s important to have visible and active allies in the workplace
- Identify practical ways to step up as an ally and to commit to inclusive behaviours
If you are interested in attending a workshop and becoming an Ally, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Our LGBT+ Allies
I want to work in a community of vibrant, diverse, thoughtful and energetic colleagues.
I am a lecturer in the School of Mathematics and Physics and I have resolved to be a visible ally.
For a large part of my life I held very strong religious and anti-LGBT beliefs. When my views changed I became an ally. Now I want to be very open in creating a safe and supportive environment for all our LGBT staff and students, because everyone deserves to be valued and respected.
I am very proud to be a LGBT+ ally at Queens
I have always been a strong advocate in support of the LGBT+ community and it is a privilege to be able to bring this to my place of work. I believe that it is extremely important to be visible when advocating for equality and challenging discrimination. By being a visible LGBT+ ally at Queen's I aim to raise the voices of those in marginalised communities and shine a light on the challenges they currently face. I want to help promote a culture of acceptance, ensuring all our staff and students know they are welcomed, supported and understood.
I think it’s extremely important to be a visible LGBT+ Ally both at and outside work. It is estimated that around 10% of the NI population identify as LGBTQ+, which means that around 400-500 colleagues in this University may be LGBTQ+. Some will be out. Some may not be and still don’t feel comfortable letting others know.
While those decisions are obviously very personal, and unique to each individual, I would like to think that Queen’s is creating a sense of a safe, welcoming and inclusive environment, where one’s sexual orientation is not an issue.
We all have a part of play in making this University feel safe, welcoming and inclusive. Helping to promote tolerance and acceptance, respect for individuals, whatever their background. This is as true for the LGBTQ+ community as it is for others from different backgrounds, whether that is defined by their faith, race, nationality, gender or age – or any combination of those. Wearing the QUB rainbow lanyard is an expression of my allyship in work.
We can all express allyship this way or in other ways – by attending events, supporting PRISM, walking in the Pride Parade or stepping in if you ever see or hear inappropriate behaviours. We all have a part to play in making Northern Ireland, Belfast and Queen’s a more tolerant, inclusive and progressive country, city and place of study and work. Being a visible LGBT+ Ally is one small way of doing this.
I strongly believe that society should encompass and include everyone irrespective of all differences.
At an institution such as Queen's University Belfast we should not just take that as given but to para-phrase a quote from Bayard Rustin. "People will never fight for your freedom if you have not given evidence that you are prepared to fight for it yourself."
For me, it is important not just to be an LGBT+ ally, but to be seen as such, both on campus and beyond.
I can’t speak on behalf of the LGBT+ community, whose own voices should be heard first and foremost. But I can voice my support of my LGBT+ friends and colleagues; I can speak out for equality, and to challenge discrimination; and I can work to ensure this our corner of the world comes to be a confident, inclusive and welcoming place for all of us - for all our identities, and for all our differences.
Hi there, my name is Nichola and I hate having my picture taken. Wouldn’t it be great if I didn’t have to!
Wouldn’t it be even better if:
- My LGBT friends and colleagues did not have to decide whether to be open about who they are? If who they are was not an issue?
- If PRIDE was solely a celebration and party?
- If discrimination and homophobic behaviours were relegated to the history books?
- If there were no barriers for my LGBT friends and colleagues in terms of career, community acceptance and education?
Until then I think the first thing I can do is have my picture taken before trying to be the best ally I can be!
Thanks to Stonewall and our exceptional younger staff and students I feel better informed on LGBT+ issues than ever.
Stonewall allowed me to see the struggles our LGBT+ friends and family face. Society often treats them as secondary, dismisses or vilifies them. It's important to be a visible ally to show LGBT+ people the support they have and to show society that support so it can be normalised.
Diversity and inclusivity in our workplace build a more dynamic, inventive, vibrant workforce. We should all welcome it. The more Queen's LGBT+ people and allies the better for the whole university.
I am an Athena SWAN Champion for the School of Psychology at Queen’s and I am passionate about promoting equality and diversity both on and off campus.
Within QUB, I feel that it is vitally important for all employees and students to feel comfortable being themselves, whether working or studying, so that we can all get the most out of our experiences at QUB and in Northern Ireland. By being visible LGBT+ allies, we can support and encourage inclusion and diversity throughout the campus and foster a safe community for everyone.
I am the Assistant Estates Manager (Security) at Queen's University. I manage security operations across the campus to ensure students, staff and visitors can study and work in safe and secure environment.
Within the Security Service we are committed in treating everyone in a fair and consistent way. We embrace and recognise equality and diversity and celebrate the importance of difference. Over the last few years we have worked collectively to improve, develop and deepen our knowledge in this area of vital importance; always with a view to continuously improve our professionalism and expand our understanding.
I wanted to be an ally because I feel strongly that we should all be able to be exactly whoever we are, no matter where we are. I want our students to feel safe and supported, no matter how they identify, and I want our staff to feel that they are valued, no matter who they are.