My Thoughts As A Gay Therapist On Being An LGBTQ + Ally
June has been designated Pride month. And that’s a great thing. Happy Pride everyone! BUT Pride is 1 Month of the Year and as a gay therapist (and person) I know that gay people need and deserve support and respect the other 11 months of the year too, when no-one else is looking or noticing or thinking about the gay men and lgbtq + people of the world.
It seems as if the word ally gets thrown around so much these days. The stamp approval to say that someone is with a certain group of people and not against them. But being an ally goes beyond changing profile photos to show a rainbow flag in them temporarily.
Performative allyship is when someone is only an ally on the surface. But to be a true ally to a any group of people or minorities is more than just supporting them on the surface. The sentiment is there, sure, but it does not mean that someone is a true ally. And as a gay therapist who specializes in working with gay men, I can tell you that part-time ally-ship can do more damage than good.
So if you are any ally and reading this – keep reading! If you are a gay man or a member of the lgbtq + community, read on to learn what to say to your non gay / non lgbtq + loved ones and colleagues. And if you are a gay therapist or a gay celebrating straight therapist – I know I am preaching to the rainbow choir BUT please share the word and help make the world a safer and better place for everyone.
This post is not meant to call anyone out or to imply that they aren’t a true ally. That is not the intention at all. Instead, this post really is focusing on ideas of how you can be a true ally, 365 days a year. Not just a show of support during one month AND how you as a gay man or member of the lgbtq + community can advocate better for support and respect all year long. You, we and everyone deserves this.
Has pride month done major work for the lgbtq + community? Absolutely, there is no mistake in that. While more understanding, compassion, and acceptance is needed, there have been great strides for our community over the past decade(s).
But when you are gay, or bi, transgender, or non-binary – you aren’t just this during the month of June. Every month, every day, and every minute needs to have support. And that can start with people understanding what it means to be a true ally. Working with a gay therapist can help you learn to be in a pride state of mind / heart all year long.
Gay Therapist Tip #1: Recognize and Unlearn the Maladaptive Stereotypes You Know
Very rarely do most people question the things that were taught or learned along the way on their journey. So one of the first steps to being a true ally is to make sure that you are unlearning these things.
The truth is, there could be somethings that you say or think that you don’t immediately recognize as being counterintuitive to you placing that temporary social media profile picture up. It’s understandable. Unlearning things from the past that you never really thought about isn’t exactly a quick process. And it’s okay to not know. All of us are hopefully growing into kinder, better versions of ourselves over time.
But to be a true ally and go beyond the “performative allyship,” you should first take a look at the things that may be holding you back from being a true ally and if you are a gay man or lgbtq + person,hopefully taking a look at any stereotypes you may have about the lgbtq + community can also help to reduce your own anxiety about letting those around you know how to be a better ally.
In addition, becoming aware of and challenging stereotypes can help you to be a better ally to any fellow human being who happens to be a part of any minority group. I do believe it is all of our responsibilities to help lift everyone up.
Gay Therapist Tip #2: Please Don’t Keep Quiet
For decades upon decades, anyone who identities as being part of the LGBTQIA+ community has dealt with bullying, discrimination, biases, prejudice, and so much more. It seems as if the loudest, screaming voices are the ones that quiet and dim the voices of those who do not deserve it.
And this creates gay shame. Shame is the opposite of pride, which is why pride itself is such an important acknowledgement of each person’s intrinsic worth and beauty.
But as mentioned, this needs to be continuously reinforced throughout the year. Shame grows in silence. Pride grows in voices united celebrating out loud AND challenging anti-gay rhetoric and prejudice wherever it is found.
When you hear something being said or done against anyone in this community, speak up. If you aren’t defending or actively promoting the well-being and cause, underneath and on the surface, then you might want to take a look at how you can start doing these things. It’s scary, speaking out. But if we all kept quiet about the most important issues, the world would never get anywhere.
Gay Therapist Tip #3: Respect Pronouns
We are taught from a young age that there are two genders – male and female. And that if you are one, you can’t be the other. But we know now that this isn’t the case. Many people who identify as transgender or non-binary are the latest in this community who are struggling to be seen and understood by many people including by other members of the LGB communities.
In fact, in one study, one in three transgender people stated that they had to talk to their doctors about what it means to be trans. This shouldn’t be the case. As an ally you can help elevate the understanding of gender and sexuality. Please don’t leave it all up to your lgbtq + loved ones. Having to educate constantly is exhausting and an unfair ask.
When you are a true ally, you should be supporting everyone within the community. If someone corrects you on their preferred pronoun, they will understand that you may not have realized it. But, if they have to continue correcting you, that’s a whole different story. Don’t be that person, please!
Gay Therapist Tip #4: Donate And Volunteer
There are so many ways to show true allyship, but I’ll leave you with this last one. You don’t have to shell out a whole paycheck or even half of one, but make it your mission to donate a small amount of time or money every few months for a cause or organization that helps to promote and bring awareness for this community.
As a gay therapist who has worked with many lgbtq + people over the years, I can tell you that being a true ally goes way beyond the surface level of the word. Often times, in order to be a true ally, there needs to be a core shift in the very beings of our soul in order to become one. And when this core shift happens, you will be able to help countless people actually live better lives. Please do your part! Happy Pride Month, all, let’s get out there and let’s celebrate ourselves and each other all 12 months of the year!
I am a Licensed Mental Health Counselor in the USA and an Accredited CBT Therapist in the UK with over 16 years of experience. I specialize in anxiety, therapy for gay men and teaching the tools of self compassion for LGBTQ+ people. I have received advanced specialist training in using Cognitive Behavior Therapy and Compassion Focused Therapy which have been shown to be very effective.
If as a gay man or member of the lgbtq + community, you are looking for support from a gay therapist, or if you are wanting to learn how to become a true ally, let’s connect today. Please reach out to my Honolulu or London clinic for a free test drive session of my services.