What does it mean to be an ALLY?

Allies are people who chose to support faculty, staff, and students who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, or other sexual and gender minorities (LGBTQIA+).  Upon joining this group, ALLIES are given a small 4x5 placard to let others know that they support LGBTQ+ people.  The decals or emblems will ONLY be issued to individuals, not departments or offices, so that LGBTQIA+ people can feel assured that they will receive support from the individuals displaying the rainbow triangle.

What does it mean to display the ALLIES Decal?


  • Faculty, staff, and students who support lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, or other sexual and gender minorities. Members are of many sexual orientations. It is never necessary to disclose your sexual orientation.
  • “Safe” people to talk with if you are dealing with questions about LGBTQIA+ identity – either your own or that of a friend, roommate, or family member.
  • Campus community members who provide support, recommend resources, and maintain confidentiality.
  • People who seek to educate the campus community, counter negative attitudes, and promote equal respect and treatment for everyone.
  • People who try to make campus activities more inclusive and comfortable for LGBTQIA+ members of our community.

What Do ALLIES Members Stand For?

  • I am an advocate for gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people.
  • I want to improve the campus community by developing skills of listening, mentoring, and supporting all individuals.
  • I am not afraid to stand up for what I believe in.
  • I am glad to be a “safe person” for someone who is LGBTQIA+ to speak with. I am glad to be a “safe person” for those who know others who are LGBTQIA+. I will respect and maintain confidentiality. I will provide information and reference support when needed.
  • I will work to confront negative attitudes on campus, and improve the climate for diversity throughout our community.

History of the Rainbow Flag and/or Symbol

Gilbert Baker is credited as being the creator of the original Rainbow Flag in 1978 in response to a request for a symbol that could be used year-round. The first rainbow design had eight colors:  hot pink for sex, red for life, orange for healing, yellow for sun, green for serenity with nature, turquoise for art, indigo for harmony, and violet for spirit. Not all of the colors were readily available, so some were dropped and others were changed leaving the current six-stripe version of red, orange, yellow, green, blue, and violet. The use of the triangle comes from WWII when prisoners of the Nazis were made to wear them to designate what group they belonged to.

In 2016, NMU's ALLIES logo was remade as a rainbow arch.


Your professional boundaries are the limits you set in relationships with people with whom you work. It is important to set appropriate boundaries for closeness and disclosure and to keep these boundaries when you contact the same people outside of your formal work setting. When you become an ALLY, you are expected to maintain the same professional, ethical boundaries you do with any other student. Do not take advantage of an ALLY relationship. Sexual thoughts and feelings are only part of being lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, or other sexual and gender minorities. Your task is to help those you ally yourself with as a person of support or resource, not take care of them. If someone has a serious problem, know when your competence reaches its limits. Don’t hesitate to refer those individuals to qualified helping professionals.

Coming Out

The term “coming out” (of the closet) refers to the life-long process of developing a positive self-identity and talking about this with the people in your life. Coming out can be a long and difficult struggle for LGBTQIA+ people who have either grown up with negative stereotypes and feelings of homophobia, or who have to confront homophobia and discrimination in their adult lives.

What if someone comes out to you?  You should feel honored if someone comes out to you because it probably means that person feels close to you and trusts you. The way a LGBTQIA+ person chooses to come out to others often reflects the way he/she feels about their identity at that time. When someone comes out to you it is important that you listen to both what the person is saying and not saying.

  • If the statement has a very negative tone, then this person might need some help finding a more positive approach to coming out.
  • Your response can make a difference. Positive responses help people feel more comfortable with the process of coming out.
  • Do not assume you know why the person has chosen to come out to you. LGBTQIA+ people come out for a number of reasons such as:
    • To be able to feel “whole” when interacting with others
    • To stop wasting energy by hiding
    • To make a statement that being “gay” is OK
    • To feel closer to significant people in their lives
    • Don’t rush anyone to come out. Do not assume you know what is best for anyone. Regardless of your own sexual orientation, you do not know what it means to them.
    • Some people never come out. The risk of being hurt is too great for them. They may fear gossip, rejection, harassment, loss of a job, or even physical violence. You must respect the choice to keep sexual orientation or gender identity private. However, they may notice your ALLIES decal and feel supported by your presence on campus.
    • Because sexuality and gender can exist on a spectrum or in more than one particular combination, you may feel confused if a person comes out to you with their identity at one point in time, but later state their identity differently through their own lived experiences. This does not mean that everyone will have fluidity in their sexual orientation or gender, but awareness that some people do helps build a more inclusive and safe society.


Homophobia generally refers to an unreasonable fear or dislike of homosexuals. The term has also been used to describe the negative feelings homosexuals have about themselves (referred to as internalized homophobia).

The term homophobia was coined by George Weinberg in 1972 in Society and the Healthy Homosexual. Weinberg used the term to describe heterosexuals’ dread of being in close quarters with gay men and lesbian women. Since first coined by Weinberg, the term has become widely used and is used in a variety of contexts.

Even though the term is commonly used, it is a problematic term. In the strictest sense, homophobia would be defined as a “fear of the same” – not fear of the same sex. Fear of the same sex would be termed “homosexphobia.” This term has been used by some researchers, but homophobia is more common and frequently used.

Research does not indicate that heterosexuals’ antigay attitudes can reasonably be considered a “phobia” in the clinical sense. Many heterosexuals who express hostility toward gay men and lesbian women do not manifest any psychological reactions to homosexuality that commonly would be associated with a "phobia". Phobias are usually associated with dysfunction and most individuals with antigay prejudice are generally highly functional.  Another problem with the term “homophobia” is the implication that antigay prejudice is an individual, clinical entity rather than a social phenomenon. Dislike of homosexuality and avoidance of association with homosexuals is rooted in cultural ideologies and intergroup relations.


While antigay prejudice remains widespread in the United States, attitudes toward gay men and lesbian women have become more accepting in recent years. Antigay prejudice remains widespread in the United States. However, most adult Americans continue to regard homosexual behavior as immoral, but the trend appears to be in the direction of less condemnation.

Are Some Heterosexuals More Likely to be Homophobic Than Others?

Empirical research shows that heterosexuals’ attitudes toward gay men and lesbians are consistently correlated with various psychological, social, and demographic variables. In contrast to heterosexuals with favorable attitudes toward gay people, those with negative attitudes are:

  1. Less likely to have had personal contact with lesbian women and gay men
  2. Less likely to report having engaged in homosexual activities or to identify themselves as gay or lesbian
  3. More likely to perceive their peers as manifesting a negative attitude
  4. More likely to have resided in areas where negative attitudes are the norm (Midwest and Southern U.S.; in rural areas or small towns; in the Canadian prairies)
  5. Likely to be older and less well-educated
  6. More likely to be religious, to attend church regularly, and to subscribe to a conservative religious ideology
  7. More likely to express traditional, restrictive attitudes about sex roles
  8. Less permissive sexually or manifest more guilt or negativity about sexuality
  9. More likely to manifest high levels of authoritarianism (dogmatism, rigidity, intolerance, or ambiguity)

Heterosexuals tend to have:

  • More negative attitudes towards gays/lesbians of their own gender
  • Greater negative attitudes among males rather than females

Source: Gregory M. Herek, Beyond Homophobia: A Social Psychological Perspective on Attitudes Toward Lesbians and Gay Men. In (1985) Bashers, Baiters, and Bigots: Homophobia in American Society. New York: Harrington Press.


Homophobia is generally an unreasonable loathing of homosexuals, but it is frequently supported by inaccurate statements about homosexuals.

Homosexuality is a behavior

Homosexuality is a matter of identity. People do not choose to be attracted to one gender or another, it just happens. Homosexuals are homosexual whether or not they act on their attraction to members of the same gender.

Homosexuality is a choice, homosexuals recruit

Many homosexuals would choose to be straight to avoid discrimination. The vast majority of homosexuals claim to have had no choice and only begin to accept their own homosexuality after a difficult process known as coming out. There is no evidence that people have ever been able to successfully change their sexual orientation under any circumstances.

Homosexuals are promiscuous and do not value relationships

Homosexuals have the same needs for companionship that heterosexuals have. To the extent that there are significant differences between homosexual and heterosexual pairings, they are likely caused by commonplace discrimination against gay people. Polyamory is a separate issue from target gender. There are also many documented instances of other species maintaining monogamous same-sex pairings besides humans.

Homosexuals are not good parents

Studies show that children raised by homosexuals are as likely as children raised by heterosexuals to identify as homosexual themselves and are also less likely to indulge in bigotry and intolerance.

Homosexuals are perverts (anal sex, pedophilia, beastiality)

Studies show that anal sex is much more common among heterosexuals than homosexuals. Criminal records show that pedophilia is dominated almost entirely by straight men. Beastiality is generally uncommon among both homosexuals and heterosexuals.

Homosexuals are disease-ridden

Homosexuals are more likely to know about and be motivated to use safe sex practices. Globally, AIDS is predominantly a disease of heterosexuals.

Homosexuality is unnatural

Homosexuality is common in nature, particularly in humans.

Homosexuality endangers the species

Homosexuals can’t breed and raise children. As with heterosexual couples who cannot have children they may use surrogate parents, artificial insemination, or adoption. Even if homosexuals choose not to be directly responsible for the raising of their own children they can help others raise children or perform tasks that those who are responsible for the raising of families find difficult to make time for.

Homosexuality is promoted by the media

Most images of homosexuality in the media are negative. Since homosexuality is not a choice, the idea of promotion of homosexuality is meaningless.

Homosexuality is against God

Since homosexuality is a matter of identity rather than choice, God must have created homosexuals as well as heterosexuals. By this logic, homophobia is against God

Homosexuals want my body

Unwanted come-ons are a general problem. Come-ons from homosexuals are loathed by some heterosexuals because these heterosexuals loathe homosexuals. If “No, thanks” doesn’t work, then try “You are bothering me.” Responding to come-ons from homosexuals with homophobia is ineffective because it gives the aggressor a weapon to use and a reason to use it.

Homosexuals flaunt their sexuality

Humans are sexual beings. It is absurd to ask homosexuals to hide their sexuality because it bothers homophobes. Even the most prudish heterosexuals will show affection for each other in some manner.

Homosexuals complicate same-sex bonding

People should be able to bond with each other without sexualization.

Homosexuals should not have special pride events

Events such as pride parades happen specifically because widespread homophobia has made the daily life of homosexuals a struggle.

The source for the preceding section comes from: https://www.bibble.org/gay/phobia/debunked.html


Let others know that derogatory gestures and jokes are not amusing. They cause pain and embarrassment. Challenge your colleagues and students who tell jokes at the expense of a sexual, racial, or ethnic minority. As with racial or sexist slurs, challenge students who use names, such as “fag” or “queer,” in a derogatory manner in your presence.

Use campus incidents of hate speech or violence to develop a “teachable moment.”

Be aware that an LGBTQIA+ student is often uncomfortable, invisible, isolated, and needs acceptance from you.

A student may not admit their sexual or gender identity due to denial, the pressure to conform, or the need for self-protection. Don’t confront a student who is reluctant. 

If a student comes out to you, thank the student for trusting you and keep it confidential. Listen carefully; don’t assume you know in advance what it means to this person. Keep the door open for further conversation. If the student needs help, Counseling & Consultation is available.

Seek opportunities in the classroom to introduce the contributions of LGBTQIA+ people or other underrepresented groups. If a key person in the field is gay, lesbian, or bisexual or a member of any other minority, say so.

Use inclusive language in the classroom.

Support colleagues and students in the process of coming out.

Encourage unbiased scholarship in the study of the LGBTQIA+ experience. Support and recognize your NMU colleagues who take the risk of integrating sex and gender studies into their research or teaching.

Integrate material about LGBTQIA+ material into standard courses where appropriate.

Look for new information on intersections between sexuality and gender experience and your field. The last few years have witnessed a blossoming of scholarship on LGBTQIA+ issues in many disciplines. Encourage students who may have interest to not be afraid write on such topics.

Look for an LGBTQIA+ caucus in your professional association. These organizations often provide assistance and compile useful information.

Advocate for domestic partner benefits for same-sex partners of employees and their children to make it feasible for gay and lesbian faculty, administrators, and staff to accept positions at NMU and help them to stay.

Silence encourages and helps perpetuate homophobia. Break the silence.


The University has created a variety of procedures for students to register complaints and seek resolution. These are outlined in the Preface to the NMU Student Handbook on page V. Student-to-student complaints as well as questions about the process to resolve a student complaint may be directed to the Dean of Students.

When someone comes to you for help and you don’t know where to turn, these offices can provide friendly support and knowledgeable advice:

X1554  Student Equity and Engagement Center

X2980  Counseling & Consultation

X1700  Dean of Students Office

“Northern Michigan University does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, gender, age, national origin, religion, sexual orientation, or disability in employment or the provision of services.”

NMU Affirmative Action Plan

Let us work together as ALLIES to bring these words to life.

ALLIES can be reached via e-mail at allies@nmu.edu