12 steps to becoming an LGBT ally

12 steps to becoming an LGBT ally January 6, 2013

Updated for 2016-2017

Happy Coming Out Day!


If you are a seasoned ally or just taking your first steps, I hope you will share your thoughts, struggles and celebrations from your own journey to becoming an ally.   If you are a gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender person I hope you will share your own suggestions for how folks can be allies.

I hope these will help you on your journey.

1. Sit – You may not realize it or you may be in blissful denial but you likely know someone who is LGBT.  LGBT folks are not just characters in gleeful musicals or sit coms about modern families – we are your sisters, brothers, aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews mothers, fathers, daughters, sons, pastors, teachers, students, doctors, nurses, librarians and law makers – in other words we are your family and your Neighbor.  Sit down for a while and think about the people in your life, what they add to your life and how you are called to be their friend and ally in a world that (more frequently than you may realize) relegates them to second class citizens, or worse, tells them again and again that they are worthless freaks to be fixed, shunned or even killed. Sit with this knowledge and know you can make a difference, you can even save lives.


2. Pray – Pray for courage to be vulnerable and the humility to be changed. Pray for eyes that can see, ears that can hear, a heart that can discern…

Gracious and loving God,
Mother Hen,
who was made known to us in the body of a babe,
born into poverty and despised by the state –
Our parent and brother
Help us
recognize the stranger as our kin.
Help us
listen attentively to our lives.
Help us
discern the murmuring of grace
planted by you in our hearts.
Help us
hear the the deep pain and soaring joy of others.
Help us
see our interdependence with others
Help us
to be your hands and feet in the world.


3. Invite

Invite the Holy Spirit into your heart to do a new thing.
Invite new ideas to your table.
Invite a gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender friend to lunch, dinner, out for drinks, or for a rousing round of mini-golf  and ask them about themselves.
Invite yourself to be fully present.
Invite your neighbor into your heart.


4. Listen
Listen to the stories of their life.
Listen deeply for places where their story might sound a bit like yours.
Listen for places where your stories intersect.
Listen for how their story is interwoven with God’s.
Listen to your heart.


5. Ask
Ask yourself if you are willing to hear honest answers.
Ask a LGBT person if you can ask them questions that seem weird or uncomfortable – not because you want them to feel weird or uncomfortable or because you are hoping to trip them up but because you need to learn a few things (yes, that means you have to acknowledge a little bit of ignorance and fear but that is actually wise and courageous).
Ask real questions, not veiled, loaded questions that are meant to corner, cajole or convert.
Ask yourself if you learned something new.


6. Hug –  God moves in the spaces between two people so create a loving space that welcomes the other intimately into your heart. Opening your arms is a great step toward opening your heart.


7. Read
Read A LOT about being LGBT.
Read books, blogs that are written by gay folks.
Read books and blogs by allies.
Read authentic voices sharing true stories.

And read your holy texts.  Read for all the ways God is calling us into compassion and justice. If you are a Christian and are reading the Bible, go ahead and count the number of scriptural references to justice and compassion as compared to the number of times homosexuality (as understood in a particular, historical culture) is mentioned.  And Christians who are called to follow in the footsteps of that rabbi who fed the multitudes without asking for a dime, healed the sick (on the sabbath) without asking for insurance and died a criminal’s death – please carefully read for what Jesus had to say about homosexuality.

Here are just a few resources for your reading list. Please add to this list in the comments below.

FAQ from PFLAG (Parents, families and friends of lesbians and gays)
The Ally Packet from The Stonewall Center
The Ally’s Guide to Issues Facing LGBT Americans
Answers to questions about marriage equality
Straight for Equality 

Rachel Held Evans – Check out her posts in the “homosexuality” category
Kathy Baldock – Canyonwalker Connections – The activism and blog of an ally

Love Makes a Family

Stranger at the Gate: To Be Gay and Christian in America by Mel White
God Believes in Love: Straight Talk About Gay Marriage by Gene Robinson
Torn: Rescuing the Gospel from the Gays-vs.-Christians Debate  by Justin Lee
Jesus the Bible and Homosexuality by Jack Rogers
Homosexuality and Christian Faith: Questions of Conscience for the Churches by Walter Wink

Whosoever: January/February 2013 –  Arise! Shine!


8. Watch – For the Bible Tells Me So.  It’s ok to cry.


9. Think – A lot.

Think with your intellect AND think with your heart.
Move beyond regurgitating what you have been fed by others.
Think for yourself.


10. Pray some more.  Pray persistently.  Pray by practicing the presence of God everywhere, in all that you do and in everyone that you meet.


11. Share
Share with others in your faith community, your work place, your school, on Facebook and in your own home how you are learning to be an ally. This is likely one of the most crucial pieces of the puzzle. Once you have made a choice to be an active ally follow the call to tell others.


12. Act – If you are a writer, write. If you are a speaker, speak. If you are a preacher, preach. If you are a lover, love. If you are an engaged citizen, find out what the issues are, find out how to get involved and for pete sake, vote.

Here are a few resources to help you get moving, please share more in the comments below.

Create a safe space on your campus, in your workplace, or at your school (from GLSEN)
Check out some resource kits (from GLAAD)
Explore a five part welcoming guide for faith communities (From the Religious Institute)
Dig into the Welcoming Resources (for faith communities) from The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force

Come out as an ally all year long…


October 20, 2016: GLAAD’s Spirit Day

November 20, 2016Transgender Day of Remembrance

December 1, 2016: World AIDS Day

January 16-20, 2017: No-Name Calling Week

March 27 – 29, 2017 : Out & Equal Workplace Executive Forum

April 21, 2017: Day of Silence

May 7, 2017: International Family Equality Day

September 23, 2017: Bi Visibility Day

October 11, 2017: National Coming Out Day

October 2017: GLSEN’s Ally Week (2017 dates TBA)

Browse Our Archives