Learn about the basics of being a LGBTQ Ally.
What is LGBTQ?
LGBTQ is an acronym that stands for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer/Questioning. It can also be seen as LGBT and LGBTQ+. The LGBTQ community is an umbrella term for anyone who does not identify as cisgender or heterosexual. In essence, it is a term used to describe anyone who does not identify as 'straight', or anyone whose gender identity does not align with their sex assigned at birth.
What is an LGBTQ Ally?
An LGBTQ Ally is a person who is actively supporting the LGBTQ community. LGBTQ allies can be heterosexual and/or cisgender, and often support LGBTQ civil rights, transgender equality, and are often against societal discrimination against LGBTQ people. Anyone can be an LGBTQ ally, you do not even need to know an LGBTQ person personally.
Allyship takes many different forms, from supporting the LGBTQ people you know, to being an activist for LGBTQ acceptance, equity and equality. No matter how an LGBTQ ally shows their support, knowledgeability about the LGBTQ community is important for all allies.
What is Sexuality?
Sexuality is a person's inherent and enduring emotional, romantic, and/or sexual attraction to another person. A person's sexuality is based on the gender and/or gender identity they are emotionally, romantically, and/or sexually attracted to. Sexuality exists on a spectrum, with each individual falling somewhere on that spectrum.
Sexual orientation and sexuality are interchangeable. Identity labels refer to the labels used to describe a person's sexuality. Commonly used ones are Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Pansexual, Straight, or Asexual. Click here to learn more.
What is Gender?
Gender is the characteristics, feelings, and attitudes that society associates with perceived biological sex. This includes social and societal norms, roles, and characteristics assigned to a person's biological sex. Gender at its core a social construct and social identity. Biological sex is often assigned at birth by a medical professional assigns to a person when they are born based on their external anatomy. Biological sex exists as male, female, and intersex. Gender and biological sex are not the same things, although they are often referred to as such.
Gender Identity refers to a person's internal understanding of their own gender. Gender and conflict in a person's gender identity play a strong role in transgender, non-binary, and genderqueer individuals. Click here to learn more.
Coming out is when a LGBTQ individual decides to share their sexual orientation and/or gender identity. Coming out can be scary, stressful, and emotional for any LGBTQ person, and it is important that LGBTQ allies are accepting and supportive when someone comes out to them. It is also important that you respect their choice to tell you. If an LGBTQ person is not open about their identity, it is important to respect that decision and not "out" them. "Outting" refers to when someone discloses an LGBTQ individual's gender identity or sexual orientation without their consent.
What does it mean if someone doesn't come out to me?
It can mean a lot of things! In all cases, if someone does not come out to you specifically, it is not because they do not value or respect you. Some people choose not to 'officially' come out, some people can be too afraid to. All in all, each individual is different and each person has the choice in who they come out to and when.
My friend/family member just came out, what should I do?
Just be supportive! Nothing has inherently changed about that person, the only thing that has changed is they are now open about their identity.
Please be aware that the Youth Pride Association does not own or control linked third-party sites. The Youth Pride Association does not claim any responsibility for the accuracy of information on these third-party sites.
Last Reviewed: October 2021