Statistics have shown that at least 10% of the general population consider themselves to be lesbian or gay, and many more consider themselves to be bisexual or another sexual orientation. It is very likely that you will meet individuals who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender.
"The first step in becoming an ally is to know oneself... is important that one first become aware of one's own feelings about lesbian, gay, and bisexual people so one can deal with any negative or uncomfortable feelings before offering oneself as an ally" (Rapp, 1995).
Personal assessment of homophobia/heterosexism: Knowing where you stand
- Do you stop yourself from doing or saying certain things because someone might think you're LGBTQ?
- Do you ever intentionally do or say things so that people will think you're not LGBTQ?
- Do you believe that LGBTQ individuals can influence you and/or others to change their sexual orientation?
- How do you think you would feel if you discovered that on of your parents, brother/sister were LGBTQ?
- Would you go to a physician/provider whom you knew to be LGBTQ?
- If someone you care about said, "I think I'm gay," would you suggest that the person see a therapist?
- Have you ever been to an LGBTQ function, bar, event, etc.? If not, why not?
Overall, try to be aware of, or remember:
- Don't assume that everyone is straight
- Confront homophobic behavior and statements
- Don't out me
- Advocate for LGBTQ issues against heterosexist policies
- Educate yourself about LGBTQ issues
- Ask questions
- How long have you known that you were LGBTQ?
- Is there someone special?
- Has it been hard for you...?
- Is there some way that I can be of help?
Language - The use of non-heterosexist language provides support and affirmation to LGBT individuals:
- Lesbian/gay/bisexual/transgender vs. homosexual
- Sexual orientation vs. sexual preference or lifestyle
- Familiarize yourself with the terms listed in "Common Terms to Know"