June 24, 2020
I’m an ally – here's how you can be, too
Danielle H. | Field People Officer | Atlanta, Georgia, USA
Get involved, make an impact and be therewhen your LGBTQ friends, family, classmates or coworkers need you to stand alongside them.
Allyship – you’ve probably heard this word a lot recently, maybe more than you've ever heard it before. This June, and beyond, we’re being called to be allies to Black Americans as well as to people who identify as LGBTQ+. But what does that mean?
As McDonald’s own Wendy Lewis put it, allyship is about investing your time, your whole self, and standing up and speaking out. Below, Danielle Harris, a member of the Black community and a proud ally to the LGBTQ community, shares the importance of different kinds of allyship and how you can practice allyship in your day-to-day life.
Being an LGBTQ ally is very, very near and dear to my heart. In fact, it's an important part of how I was raised.
I grew up in Los Angeles in a family that respected and accepted everyone. I don’t have any queer family members, but we were always very supportive of the LGBTQ community – my whole life, we went to AIDS Walks and Pride Parades. My childhood church even performed same-sex marriages – when I got older and realized some churches didn’t marry same-sex couples, I was genuinely shocked.
For me, a lightbulb went off when two of my best friends in college were noticeably struggling with an issue they felt they had to keep to themselves. After they came out to me, I realized the weight of that process and the fear it entails – and I committed to showing up more for them and the LGBTQ community as a whole.
Now, if I can help others come out or help people feel more comfortable with their identities, I want to. That’s my duty as an ally.
Here's my advice to those who want to be an ally to the LGBTQ community: Get involved, make an impact and be there when your LGBTQ friends, family, classmates or coworkers need you to stand alongside them. Be there when a LGBTQ stranger needs you to also stand alongside them. Use your voice to step in against negative comments and harassment, and let members of the LGBTQ community know they’re not alone.
My own community needs allies, too. I’ve had people ask me how to be a better ally to the Black community, and here’s what I can say: it is not enough to be non-racist, we must be anti-racist. To be a better ally, we need everyone to stand up against racism and call it out even when those who the comments are about are not present.
Listening is another great way to be a better ally to the Black community. Listen more, and be open to educating yourself in ways that may make you feel uncomfortable. The only way we are going to move forward as a country is if we all come together and stand up for what is right. Be a part of the change.
If you are already an ally – know that you are appreciated, you are mighty and most importantly, you are needed. Your contributions are meaningful in fighting the good fight.