15 min read

How to Be an Ally to the LGBTQ+ Community: Tips and Insights from Puerto Rico's Leading Activists

Learn how to be a supportive ally to the LGBTQ+ community with valuable tips and insights from Puerto Rico's leading activists

Understanding the LGBTQ+ Community in Puerto Rico


Before we dive into how you can be an ally, it’s important to understand the LGBTQ+ community in Puerto Rico. Historically, the community has faced significant challenges and discrimination. In fact, it wasn't until 2003 that consensual same-sex relations were decriminalized in Puerto Rico. While progress has been made since then, the fight for equality is far from over.

A Brief History of LGBTQ+ Rights in Puerto Rico

The history of the LGBTQ+ community in Puerto Rico is a long and complex one. Many activists fought for equality back in the 1980s and 1990s, paving the way for the progress we've seen today. However, there have also been setbacks. For example, in 2010, the Puerto Rican Supreme Court ruled that same-sex couples couldn't adopt children.

The Current State of LGBTQ+ Rights and Issues in Puerto Rico

Today, the LGBTQ+ community in Puerto Rico still faces challenges when it comes to their rights. While same-sex marriage has been legalized, discrimination and harassment remain rampant. Many members of the community also face higher rates of unemployment and poverty than their heterosexual counterparts.

The Importance of Allyship

As a member of the non-LGBTQ+ community, becoming an ally is essential to supporting LGBTQ+ individuals and advocating for their rights. Allies can help raise awareness, challenge discriminatory practices, and provide support to those experiencing discrimination and harassment.

Why Allies Matter in the LGBTQ+ Community

Having allies is essential to promoting equality and creating welcoming spaces for LGBTQ+ individuals. Allies help amplify the voices of members of the community and bring conversations around equality and discrimination into the mainstream. The LGBTQ+ community has historically been marginalized and oppressed, and allies can help to change this by standing up against discrimination and advocating for equal rights.

It is also important to note that allies can come from any background or identity. Allies can be family members, friends, coworkers, or even strangers who are committed to promoting equality and supporting the LGBTQ+ community.

The Role of Allies in Supporting LGBTQ+ Rights and Advocacy

As an ally, your role is to support the LGBTQ+ community in any way you can. This could include advocating for the community, attending events and rallies, and speaking out against discrimination and injustice. It is important to listen to the experiences of LGBTQ+ individuals and to educate yourself on the issues facing the community.

One important way that allies can support LGBTQ+ rights is by advocating for inclusive policies and legislation. This could include supporting anti-discrimination laws, advocating for equal marriage rights, and fighting against harmful policies such as the transgender military ban. Allies can also support LGBTQ+ organizations and charities through donations and volunteering.

It is important for allies to recognize their privilege and use it to uplift the voices of marginalized communities. This means actively working to challenge oppressive systems and speaking out against discriminatory practices. It also means being willing to learn and grow, and acknowledging when you make mistakes.

In conclusion, allyship is crucial in promoting equality and creating safe and welcoming spaces for LGBTQ+ individuals. Allies can play a vital role in advocating for LGBTQ+ rights and challenging discriminatory practices. By listening to the experiences of LGBTQ+ individuals, educating ourselves on the issues facing the community, and using our privilege to uplift marginalized voices, we can create a more just and equitable society for all.

Tips for Being an Effective Ally

While becoming an ally is a crucial first step, it's important to be an effective one as well. Here are some tips on how you can do this:

Educate Yourself on LGBTQ+ Issues and Terminology

One of the most important things you can do as an ally to the LGBTQ+ community is to educate yourself on the issues and terminology. This will help you better understand the experiences of members of the community and be better equipped to support them. There are many resources available online and in your local community that can help you learn more about LGBTQ+ issues and terminology. You can also attend workshops and trainings to deepen your understanding.

One important aspect of educating yourself is to recognize that LGBTQ+ experiences are not monolithic. There is no one "right" way to be LGBTQ+ and people within the community have diverse experiences and identities. It's important to approach your education with an open mind and a willingness to learn from a variety of perspectives.

Listen and Learn from LGBTQ+ Individuals and Activists

To be an effective ally, it's important to listen to the experiences and perspectives of LGBTQ+ individuals and activists. Attend events, join support groups and take the time to understand their experiences and challenges. This can help you better understand how to support and advocate for the community.

When listening to LGBTQ+ individuals and activists, it's important to approach the conversation with empathy and an open mind. Listen to their experiences and perspectives without judgment and be willing to learn from them. It's also important to recognize that not all LGBTQ+ individuals will want to share their experiences or perspectives with you, and that's okay. Respect their boundaries and don't pressure them to share if they don't want to.

Use Your Privilege to Advocate for Change

As a member of the non-LGBTQ+ community, you have privilege that others don't. Use this privilege to advocate for change and be a voice for the community. Challenge discriminatory practices and engage in conversations that promote equality and inclusion.

One way to use your privilege is to speak out against discriminatory practices, policies, and behaviors when you see them. This can be as simple as calling out a friend or family member for using a derogatory term or as complex as advocating for policy changes in your workplace or community. It's important to recognize that using your privilege to advocate for change can be uncomfortable or even risky, but it's a crucial part of being an effective ally.

Challenge Discrimination and Injustice When You See It

As an ally, it's important to speak out when you see discrimination and injustice. Calling out problematic language and behaviors, and making it clear that it's not acceptable, can create a safer and more inclusive environment for members of the community.

When challenging discrimination and injustice, it's important to do so in a way that is respectful and constructive. This can mean having difficult conversations with friends or family members, or speaking up in a public setting. It's also important to recognize that challenging discrimination and injustice is an ongoing process, and that it may take time and effort to see meaningful change.

Overall, being an effective ally to the LGBTQ+ community requires ongoing education, listening, advocacy, and action. By taking these steps, you can help create a more inclusive and equitable world for all.

Insights from Puerto Rico's Leading LGBTQ+ Activists

From Pedro Julio Serrano to Cristina Martínez, Puerto Rico has a long history of LGBTQ+ activists who have fought for equality and representation.

Pedro Julio Serrano 


Pedro Julio Serrano is one of the most prominent LGBTQ+ activists in Puerto Rico. He is the founder of Puerto Rico Para Tod@s, an organization that advocates for LGBTQ+ rights. Serrano has been a vocal advocate for marriage equality and has fought against discrimination in the workplace and in schools.

Cristina Martínez is another well-known LGBTQ+ activist in Puerto Rico. She is the founder of the organization, Puerto Rico Colectivo Se Hace, which focuses on creating safe spaces for LGBTQ+ individuals. Martínez has also been a vocal advocate for the rights of transgender individuals and has worked to raise awareness about the violence that they face.

Lessons Learned from Their Advocacy Work

One thing that all of Puerto Rico's leading LGBTQ+ activists share is the importance of community organization. By working together and supporting each other, the community can make significant strides towards equality.

Another lesson that can be learned from their advocacy work is the importance of intersectionality. LGBTQ+ individuals are not a homogenous group and their experiences are shaped by their race, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, and other factors. Advocacy work must take these differences into account in order to be effective.

Finally, it is important to recognize that progress is not always linear. There will be setbacks and challenges along the way, but it is important to continue pushing forward and fighting for equality.

How Allies Can Support Their Efforts

Allies can support the efforts of Puerto Rico's leading LGBTQ+ activists by attending events and rallies, amplifying their voices on social media, and supporting organizations that advocate for LGBTQ+ rights.

It is also important for allies to educate themselves on LGBTQ+ issues and to use their privilege to amplify the voices of marginalized individuals. This can include speaking out against discriminatory policies and practices, and advocating for inclusive policies in schools and workplaces.

Finally, allies should be willing to listen and learn from LGBTQ+ individuals. This means being open to feedback and criticism, and recognizing that allyship is an ongoing process that requires constant learning and growth.

Becoming an ally to the LGBTQ+ community is crucial to promoting equality and creating welcoming spaces for members of the community. By educating yourself on LGBTQ+ issues and terminology, listening to the experiences of LGBTQ+ individuals and activists, using your privilege to advocate for change, and challenging discrimination and injustice when you see it, you can be an effective ally. With the insights provided by Puerto Rico's leading LGBTQ+ activists, we hope that this article has provided you with the tools and inspiration to become a better ally to the community.

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