Book Reviews / Other, 27 Mar 23
Review by Meg Nelis, Learner Advisor
The savvy ally: A guide for becoming a skilled LGBTQ+ advocate
Gainsburg, J. (2020). Rowman & Littlefield.
If you’re interested in being an effective ally to the LGBTQ+ communities then put this book on your required-reading list.

“Is this word okay?”

“How do I keep up with the changing times and trends?” 

We are all on our own individual education journeys on awareness around minority populations – but are forever learning how we can better educate ourselves, take meaningful action, and understand further the experiences of those in our society different to us. There are many resources and spaces you can refer to for expanding your own kete of knowledge and this book is a great place to start (or add on to) your repertoire. 

Minority groups have their common stereotypes and misconceptions, key values and protocols, specific language and culture, and the challenges and barriers faced from society’s current structure. The LGBTQIA+ and wider Rainbow community are of no exception – and this book is one of the best tools to equip any ally and delivers on its tagline on equipping people with the knowledge to be a skilled LGBTQIA+ advocate. 

Gainsburg’s way of writing and articulating themselves makes for an easy and enjoyable read that leaves you encouraged to come back for more, as opposed to bombarded and overwhelmed with heavy responsibility and duties that may have you fearful of opening the book in the first place.

The final two parts are where Gainsburg explores the ‘how’ of being an ally, now that the first half has given the why and tools to help you do it as informed as possible. The small but impactful things you can do along with the bigger and more meaty political, organisational, and societal shifts are all covered. This provides a vast range of actions for us all to adopt and do something with impact, no matter where you are on your own journey or where you work.

 The last section of the book is perhaps the best, for two reasons. Gainsburg reminds and enforces the importance of acting sustainably and being kind to yourself. Advocacy can, at times, be time and energy consuming – so the reminder of self-care does not go amiss. Referenced at the beginning, but located at the end, the Glossary is the Holy Grail for all terms you see but may not understand fully. If you only read this book for the Glossary – you’ll have made it worth your while. 

This is a go-to book and resource for an ally, regardless of where they are on their journey of knowledge, awareness, advocacy, and action. The content delves into takeaways that you can apply to your personal, professional, and community practice – regardless of your workplace and role responsibilities – in an easily digestible and encouraging manner. 

The four key parts of the book take you on a journey and covers some of the critical aspects of how to act in solidarity with the Rainbow community, whatever your context and situation. It begins with going deep into the intricacies of coming out and the spectrum of positions someone can be placed on for their gender identity and expression and sexual attraction and behaviour. After laying this solid foundation of knowledge and understanding, it’s then discussed how to respectfully navigate conversations with and about the LGBTQIA+ community. Overall takeaway? Listen with intent and just be a kind human.

Disclaimer: Please note these reviews are not intended as endorsements or recommendations from the Mental Health Foundation. This feature introduces resources that may be useful for individuals with an interest in bullying prevention, mental health and wellbeing topics.

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