“Ally Week, taking place this year on October 21-25, 2013, is a whole week where we can engage in a national dialogue about how everyone in and out of school can work to become better allies to LGBT youth. Whether you’re a lesbian adult working to make schools safer for today’s youth, or a gay student organizing to create safe spaces for your trans friends, everyone has an opportunity this week to recognize their allyship and take action to become better at it.” – Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network
Allying for Diversity
By Joe Pope, Counseling Services
In preparing this blog post about allies for the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Questioning (LGBTQ) community, my initial left-brain response was to consider searching the internet for definitions of allies. However, as a gay man, I realized that I have some of my own ideas to share on this topic.
An ally is the friend in high school that remained true even while the cool kids were calling you names and making fun of you behind your back. An ally is the mother who said, “I don’t really understand why you’re this way, but I love you anyway.” An ally is the person who makes a point of going to the polls and voting for candidates who support equality, not because it affects their rights, but because any law that makes an LGBTQ individual a second-class citizen directly and very personally impacts their own quality of life. An ally is the person who speaks out for you when you think you don’t have a voice.
These days, the voice of allies is becoming a pop culture norm. Macklemore’s hit song “Same Love” won an MTV VMA. Former rugby player Ben Cohen’s Stand Up Foundation, which takes a stand against bullying and promotes equality, is pretty well known. And, a number of other celebrities have spoken out as straight allies: Beyonce, Jay-Z, Brad and Angelina Jolie-Pitt, Willie Nelson, Snoop Dogg, and the list continues.
As one of the Advisors for Spectrum, CPCC’s student organization for LGBTQ students and allies, I wanted to know what some members of our community think about allies. Here are two responses:
- JR: “To be an ally means that when we see someone in need we are there to help them as best as we can…to [use] your life to help those you care about.”
- CFW: “Allies aren’t passive or quiet. They speak up when they hear hateful language or see discriminatory practices around them. They are viable wherever they feel safe doing so, which is often in more places than the actual LGBTQ community can feel safe.”
The following are suggestions for being an ally from the University of Utah’s Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender Resource Center:
- Invite LGBTQ friends and family (and any significant other) to activities with your heterosexual friends.
- Learn to use the words gay, lesbian, bisexual, transsexual, and transgender comfortably and correctly.
- Be interested in their significant others.
- Join PFLAG, GLSEN, GLAAD, and other support groups.
- Volunteer for or contribute to organizations that support the LGBT community, such as Time Out Youth, the LGBT Community Center, or RAIN.
- Do not inform others of their sexual orientation or identity without prior consent.
- Let people know you don’t want to hear offensive slang, anti-gay jokes, stereotypical remarks, or put-downs of LGBT people.
- Write an editorial when someone prints a slanderous article about the LGBT community.
- Write a letter to your legislators encouraging them to defend the civil rights of the LGBT community.
- Report illegal discrimination, hate crimes, and abuse to the authorities.
Thank you to all the allies for your love and support! Please consider joining the Spectrum Club. We are a welcoming community that accepts all people, no questions asked. Spectrum has weekly meetings and participates in social events and service projects on campus and within the community. Find us on Facebook by searching for CPCC Spectrum. Fall 2013 meetings are held on Friday at 12:15 in WO 2126 on Central Campus.
Sources: University of Utah’s Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender Resource Center