If you’re like me, you often get a question from one of our non-LGBT allies that goes something like this: “I’m not LGBT but I’m an ally. What can I do to help?”

In the past I’ve often suggested allies work with their local LGBT organizations. There have been organizations and initiatives focusing on marriage equality, those that combat homophobia faced by youth or that pay attention to the needs of trans people You and I could list numerous others here, but here’s a novel approach that came to me during the Comcast Impact conference I addressed last week.mark-segal

After a question-and-answer session about my new book, “And Then I Danced: Traveling the Road to LGBT Equality,” I was signing copies for the attendees. A man approached and made it clear that he already does donate his time to LGBT causes but felt there was more he could do.

After thinking it over for a while, one of my old mantras came back to me: Help the LGBT community become less invisible.

Many of us LGBT people have been in a public place where we have overheard something that was demeaning to LGBT people. If you can do so safely, you should make a point to that person or people that there might be LGBT people around who could be offended by those words. Allies can even add, “I’m not gay but I’m offended.”

And there is another way to confront this invisibility: Bring the subject up at family dinners or when out with friends, in casual settings. The best way to win full equality is to end invisibility, and the best way to do that is through education — and that only happens with real, honest discussion.


Mark Segal, Philadelphia Gay News publisher, is the nation’s most-award-winning commentator in LGBT media. You can follow him on Facebook at MarkSegalPGN or Twitter at PhilaGayNews. His memoir AND THEN I DANCED is available online and at your favorite bookstore.



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