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Who is an ally?

An ally is someone who works alongside another person (or group of people) to reach a common goal. People can be allies to the LGBTQIA+ community to advocate for equal rights. Similarly, someone can be an ally to BIPOC individuals by calling out racism and working towards societal reform. Someone does not necessarily need to be a part of a specific group or community to be an ally; anyone can be an ally. However, allyship to a community does not equal membership to that group. Some things that allies might do are educating others on systemic racism or challenging their friends’ heterosexism. Being an ally does not mean speaking for marginalized groups of people, but rather uplifting their voices and validating their needs. 

Why are allies important?

Allies are very important to marginalized communities. This is because allies tend to be people who do not share the same identity as the marginalized individuals. However, allies care about social justice and the equal rights of others, so they use their privilege to advocate on the behalf of others. This is especially important as it can be burdensome and triggering for BIPOC and LGBTQIA+ people to advocate for their own rights and educate others. Moreover, because of intersectionality, even marginalized people can be allies to others. 

How can I be a better ally?

There are many ways to become a better ally. First, reflect on your own biases and ways in which you may oppress others or reinforce structural racism and homophobia. Acknowledge your own privilege and how you may have benefited from these systems of power. Educate yourself on these systemic issues, but do not go to BIPOC or LGBTQIA+ people as your educators. Listen to what other people have to say. Listen without judgment, interruptions, or counter arguments. Speak up and speak out against racism and homophobia. Challenge both racism and homophobia in your daily life by educating and correcting friends and family. Or, by speaking up for individuals you witness being treated unfairly. You can also donate to organizations that serve these communities. Finally, know that allyship is lifelong and you will always need to continue working and challenging these systems of power.

This page is part of the Roamers Therapy Glossary; a collection of mental-health related definitions that are written by our therapists.

While our offices are currently located at the South Loop neighborhood of Downtown Chicago, Illinois, we also welcome and serve clients for online therapy from anywhere in Illinois and Washington, D.C. Clients from the Chicagoland area may choose in-office or online therapy and usually commute from surrounding areas such as River North, West Loop, Gold Coast, Old Town, Lincoln Park, Lake View, Rogers Park, Logan Square, Pilsen, Bridgeport, Little Village, Bronzeville, South Shore, Hyde Park, Back of the Yards, Wicker Park, Bucktown and many more. You can visit our contact page to access detailed information on our office location.