With marriage equality being halted in Utah and with Chris Kluwe speaking up, I’m reminded of how frustratingly hard it can be to be LGBTQIA. I’m sharing this again as a reminder to myself and others…
We cannot become complacent.
WHY I AM A STRAIGHT ALLY
Occasionally people ask me, “Why are you so outspoken about gay rights?” My response is usually, “Well, replace the word “gay” with “human.”
could SHOULD be the end of the discussion right there. What human wouldn’t empathize with human rights?
I’ve also been asked if I’m a lesbian or bisexual simply because I’m an ally. I’m flattered and say so; however, I feel compelled to follow up with a “no” because it’s important to show people what “straight allies” are – especially those of us who are outspoken about it.
To be snarky or walk off with a “gotcha” attitude, as good as it might feel, wouldn’t be fair. As straight allies, we need to recognize opportunities for education.
I have the good fortune of being loud, proud, and (mostly) unafraid. When I’m passionate about something, my friends and family, Facebook and Twitter communities will hear about it. I am the extrovert you want on your side when you need support. I march with my friends, I share controversial and inspiring news and get into heated discussions, but I also know when to use a kind, gentle approach with those who are fearful of the LGBTQIA community. We could all learn to temper ourselves in order to better serve those who have been misled and have questions. I see straight allies as not only support for the LGBTQIA community, but also as a bridge to understanding for people who are still apprehensive.
A friend I met through PFLAG said this about his family being slow to accept his new out lifestyle, “It took me 53 years to accept myself and come out!” He doesn’t pressure others to move faster than they are comfortable. I admire that. Change can cause discomfort, which in turn may lead to fear which triggers anger. Anger often causes us to do or say things we really don’t mean. All feelings are okay, but it’s how we process feelings that matters. It takes practice. And it can be frustrating. Enter the straight ally. Allies are typically wayyy over the uncomfortable stage, or were never there in the first place! Allies recognize the chances to engage in constructive dialogue with those who still struggle with their feelings about the LGBTQIA community. Recognizing this makes an ally a powerful agent for change.
But we want equality and we want it now! Again, frustration. Yet, we continue. The opposition often needs to see the struggle of the LGBTQIA community from a different perspective. Straight allies can be a bridge for helping people that are uncomfortable move to a better, more accepting place. Stay open for questions and opportunities. Never make someone feel ashamed who is misinformed just as we would never want our friends in the LGBTQIA community to feel ashamed. This is about all of us.
Be a role model for other allies. Provide resources and information to allies who wish to become stronger. We straight allies have it pretty easy in the US. Can you imagine the courage it takes to be one in Russia right now? As an informed and active ally, I recognize that advantage and will not waste it. Our global community needs us as well. It’s a good time to be on the right side of history.
There are resources to help you in all aspects of support. If you haven’t gone to a PFLAG meeting, GO! If you’ve never marched, MARCH! Just choose one of these things and I promise you’ll find many ways in which you can make a difference.
I go to support the LGBTQIA community but I always leave with an overflowing amount of love.
It’s the best part about being a straight ally. If you have friends or family members who are out — or even if they aren’t out yet — remind them that you love them…that you stand with them. You never know when those powerful words may support them in a time of loneliness or vulnerability.
To quote a friend, “It’s ALWAYS been about love.”
I am a straight ally. It means I educate myself. It means whether you are gay, straight, misinformed, or just confused, I am your friend. I have more than enough love and I’m proud to share it with a community that is struggling. I march, chant and yell. I sit quietly beside you when you cry. I cry when you cry. I will have tissues and I will listen. I rejoice in your victories. I hold your hand. I hug your neck. And when we part, you will know, unequivocally, I have your back.
I WANT to be that person.
Join me. It is breathtakingly rewarding.