When I woke on Monday morning the first thing I saw was news of the mass shooting in Las Vegas, Nevada. My stomach dropped and it reminded me of the horror of waking to the news of a similar event, the Orlando Pulse shooting, in June 2016. I am deeply saddened for the victims and their loved ones, the city of Las Vegas, and America as a whole as it mourns yet another tragic loss of life and perception of safety.

This year I have seen continuing statistics and stories that events like the Orlando Pulse shooting and changing federal policies are resulting in many in the LGBTQ community going back into the closet. With hate crimes against LGBTQ people and other minorities on the rise it is easy to understand their fear and reluctance to present themselves as easy targets. Each LGBTQ person must assess their own circumstances and risk and make their own decision about whether it is safe for them to be out.

Each year the LGBTQ community and their allies come together to celebrate National Coming Out Day on October 11. It is my belief that, in the almost 50 years since the beginning of the LGBTQ movement for equality, LGBTQ people coming out to their friends and family has done more for their acceptance than anything else. A Pew Research study released last year found that almost 90% of US adults now know someone who is gay or lesbian, and 30% know someone who is transgender. It also found that almost 20% of US adults have changed their attitudes in recent years to be more accepting of LGBTQ people.

I’ve had several people ask me recently whether I see hope for the future of LGBTQ acceptance when considering our current climate of fear of those who are different? I do see hope, and a big part of that hope are allies. The percentage of US adults who consider themselves allies of LGBTQ people are now the majority with 51% of Baby Boomers and 53% of Generation X identifying as allies. Our community needs allies to work with us to create awareness and change.

Allies are the friends, family, and coworkers of LGBTQ people who know that their loved one is LGBTQ and is not only tolerant, but actively supports them through conversations and actions.  I could list ideas for how to be an ally and use your voice to advocate for LGBTQ inclusion but this month I want to list only one.

  1. Come out as an ally

This October 11 on National Coming Out Day, tell someone in your life that LGBTQ inclusion is important to you and why.  We need you as our ally.