Pride for all: How to be an effective ‘ally’

Group of older adults laughing in the park

While Pride Month may have come to an end, the same can’t be said for LGBTQ2+ seniors’ ongoing struggle for acceptance.

You might be wondering what you can do to make a difference—after all, the problem of systemic discrimination is bigger than one person. But small actions can have a ripple effect that grows exponentially in ways we can’t always predict. Being a good and supportive “Ally” to someone in your community who’s being belittled, ignored or attacked (verbally or physically) for simply being who they are can have life changing consequences.

Standing up for someone isn’t always easy, but it’s incredibly important. Whether we witness an act of racism, sexism, ageism or homophobia, silent complacency is the enemy of progress. Being a strong Ally doesn’t have to mean shouting matches and fisticuffs with bullies in the streets (a costume and cape isn’t required for the job)—the best Allies are the ones who, above all else, empathize with the adversity faced by people who belong to marginalized groups and show it in small, but hugely meaningful, ways.

Some tips for being an effective Ally:

  1. Ask questions of LGBTQ2+ seniors about their experiences (and really listen to what they have to say). Listening goes a long way, and is often more meaningful than talking!
  2. Set an intention to not tolerate hatred of any kind. Make it one of your personal values to not let oppressive behaviour slide.
  3. When you witness discrimination, say something (even if that just means telling someone else appropriate so they can handle it, like staff at an establishment, for example).
  4. Learn about the history of oppression facing different groups of people, so you can bring a deeper level of understanding to what they’re dealing with today. Prejudice doesn’t happen overnight, and really knowing the full situation is important in choosing how to act appropriately.
  5. Be inclusive. Don’t assume everyone you meet is “straight”, or that you can tell everything about someone just by looking at them. Doing so, and getting it wrong, can alienate people who don’t “fit the mould”, causing them further isolation and distress.

The power of Allyship can’t be overstated. If we all reach out a hand to help someone, we can change a person’s world and, eventually, the world around them as well.

Happy Pride from all of us at CARP!

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