Friday, May 18, 2018

UN Free & Equal: Be there. Be an ally.

The video above is the latest from the United Nations’ “Free & Equal” campaign. The UN released the video on the International Day against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia to introduce a new mini-campaign “celebrating allies and the vital role they play in the lives of lesbian, gay, bi, trans and intersex (LGBTI) people”, as they put it in an email. It's a good effort.

The video highlights the different ways one can be an ally. As they put it in their YouTube description:
Being an ally is about more than silent acceptance. It’s about being there for your lesbian, gay, bi, trans and intersex (LGBTI) family members, friends, colleagues and neighbours. It’s about striving to understand their experiences, and helping them to understand yours. It’s about supporting one another in times of need. It’s about setting a positive example for others. And most importantly, it’s about creating a more inclusive and loving society where everyone is valued, no matter who they are or whom they love.
The website for the Free & Equal project has several suggestions on on how someone can be a better ally:
  • Come out as an ally! Be vocal of your support for the LGBTI community at school, at work, in your family, community and on social media.
  • Educate yourself about the diverse experiences of lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans and intersex people, their issues and concerns – in your community and around the world.
  • Reach out to organizations that are raising awareness and advocating to end criminalization, violence, discrimination and other abuses against lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans and intersex people – and ask them how you can support.
  • Respect safety, privacy and confidentiality – do not refer to, or reveal, a person’s sexual orientation, gender identity or sex characteristics without their consent.
  • Use people’s preferred terms, pronouns, genders and names. If you don’t know – respectfully ask.
  • Don’t make assumptions about people’s sexual orientation, gender identity or sex characteristics.
  • Confront your own prejudices and bias – especially if it makes you uncomfortable to do so.
  • Speak out when you hear bullying, insults and harmful myths and stereotypes against lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans and intersex children and adults. Avoid jokes, slurs and harmful stereotypes that can be hurtful to LGBTI people and let other people know that you find them offensive.
  • Speak out when you see bullying and insults against LGBTI children and adults.
I think this is a good idea. Being supportive of LGBT+ people is important, but heterosexual people are sometimes unsure of how, exactly, to do that. Providing specific information on how to be an ally, and why it’s so important, is a really good thing, these days especially.

I have to admit I was worried about the Free & Equal campaign after the change in Secretary General, because I wasn’t sure he’d have the same level of commitment as his predecessor. I still don’t know whether he personally does or not, but the project is still there and still trying to advance the cause for LGBT+ people worldwide. That’s a very good thing, indeed.

No one campaign or even organisation can make the world a safer and better place by itself, but everyone working together can—even just ordinary people acting as true allies. I hope this campaign helps more people become allies.

We need allies now more than ever.

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