Photo by Madison Inouye
In my last blog, I spoke about what an ally is, how to be an effective ally and what not to do as an ally. In these two blogs we are talking about being an ally to the LGBTQIA+ community, and more specifically to your child, however much of what I speak about can also be utilised for any marginalised group. Just in case you didn’t see it, I’ll do a quick recap, but if you want to know in more detail, head over to my last blog, ‘How to be an Effective Ally’, and take a read.
An ally is…
An ally is someone who aligns themselves with others, in support of, a marginalised group, to which they don’t belong. They stand up for injustices and stand alongside individuals and groups in both macro and micro contexts.
Talk over the individuals or groups they are representing. They do not speak for them without discussion and consultation. They are mindful to stand alongside and speak up for them when those from the marginalised group are too exhausted, afraid or not present to do so.
How to be an effective ally for your child and their community?
As discussed in my last blog, allies can do a fabulous job, by taking some of the following actions and this is without stepping into the realm of overt activism (that’s a whole other blog topic):
- Be a good role model
- Speak up when you don’t have to
- Remember that silence condones
- Stand beside your child and stand tall
- Love and support them unconditionally
- Educate others
- Stay in your lane
- Truly come to terms with your child’s sexuality or gender identity
- Be interested and curious
- Active Listening – Hear their pain
You might decide you want to be even more public and stand up against the big organisations, governments or societal norms and expectations. It may take some time till you get to this stage, however, I want you to know that the ‘smaller stuff’ is as important and perhaps sometimes more important.
Your child might like you to attend a Pride Parade with them, or they might prefer you to go with a parent’s group. Regardless, check-in with yourself and make sure you’re ready. You don’t have to be comfortable, because you are unlikely to be, until you do it a few times, but it’s good to feel ready. Being out of your comfort zone is virtually a prerequisite for being an effective ally.
That being said, self-care is vital. So how do you do that?
Self-care as an ally
It’s important to take care of yourself first so that you’re able to continue to take care of others. Putting your oxygen mask on first is no mistake. If we burn out, we’ve got no chance of continuing to be supportive and advocating. How can you take care of yourself as an ally? Below is a short list to get you started.
- Safety first – avoid compromising yours or anyone else’s safety. If you don’t feel safe to stand up, to protect others please call for help.
- Choose what works for you – whilst it’s important to get out of your comfort zone in order to be an ally, it’s also important to do what feels right for you. If verbally challenging a person doesn’t feel like the right thing for you in that moment perhaps it’s standing next to the person who is being treated poorly. Perhaps it’s using your body language or facial expression to send a message of disapproval, perhaps it’s not laughing at a joke.
- Educate yourself – staying informed is an important way to feel confident and clear, which will reduce stress and tension. You can do this in a variety of ways, books, blogs, courses, talking with others, articles, groups etc.
- Sleep well – being an ally or an advocate can be exhausting particularly if you are attending rallies and protests and being very active in the public or political space. So it’s important to get plenty of rest and sleep to keep your stress levels down and the brain and the body functioning well.
- Eat well – for the same reasons that sleep is important, having a nutritious diet will also keep your strength up and your focus.
- Communicate with your child – be sure to know their opinions and what they are wanting from you. Do they want you to speak up when they are there or would they rather you left it for them? How do they want that to look? When do they want you to stand up? How can they let you know in the moment? Is there a code word? Do they want you to come to rallies and protests marches etc. with them or would they rather you go by yourself or with a parent group? Remember this is their journey, don’t take it personally if they don’t want you to go with them, but know that they appreciate every bit of support that you give them. If communication is a struggle, perhaps it’s time to seek some support to improve that. This is a key element of one of my programs. If you’d like to know more, I’d love to have a chat.
Allies are such a crucial element of our society. They play all sorts of roles and are important in a variety of ways. You can be an effective ally, regardless of what stage you are at. Comfort zones are not a place that allies hang out in, a lot. However, self-care is vital for sustainable allyship. Be kind to yourself and always put your own oxygen mask on first.
What’s your favourite self-care strategy? Do you have any that are different to what I’ve mentioned? Let’s take care of each other and build a comprehensive list together.
If you are looking for support or strategies to get to the stage where you can feel confident and ready to be an ally for your child, please reach out, so we can have a chat about the various ways I can support you.