Today I want to talk about Allies. Specifically LGBTQPIA+ allies. Let me note now that this acronym stands for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer/Questioning, Pansexual, Intersex, Asexual (and others). The ‘A’ does not and will never stand for Allies.

Allow me to explain it in a different way. When the ‘A’ in a acronym is used to mean ‘Allies’, rather than ‘Asexual’, you are erasing a term representing marginalized people and inserting yourself (as an ally, you would be heterosexual) into a space where you do not belong. In other terms, if people who fall under the LGBTQ+ umbrella term are seen as a soccer team (or any other sports team), the allies are meant to be the supportive crowd of the team. They do not play the game. They do not try to be the coach. They do not gather with the team for the team picture. They are supportive, and that is all.

Allies are supposed to be the crowd at a sporting event. And yet.

Obviously this is not always the case. For some reason, heterosexual “allies” (and I put that in quotation marks because they are not allies) think that they should be the center of the LGBTQPIA+ movement and that their voices should be heard over everyone and that they are above any critique from LGBTQPIA+ persons.

In my post about Macklemore and the problems with his song “Same Love”, there was a comment that I had to reply to. I usually [almost always, except in this one case] do not reply to comments on my posts, regardless of whether or not I agree with them or they agree with me. Honestly, this comment is what spurned this post [though, it’s not the only thing, as this type of idea is rather widespread throughout people who think they are allies.]

The comment-er said, at the very end:

“If we’re going to get to a society where gay people can be accepted by everyone, you’re not going to claw it into existence all by yourself. You need us, the straights, to get in on the plan too. And I’m glad Macklemore is throwing his hat in the ring. Because he, and I, and the rest of us are going to keep going with or without the approval of the gay community. Because it’s the right thing to do.”

This is revolting.

People who believe this -that they do not need “the approval” of the “gay community” [a phrase which is disgustingly limiting and erasing of other identities] and that they can do whatever they want -and even further, that we should be happy because they are so supportive and any critique is a horrible offense -are not allies. I repeat, people like this are not allies. They are only people who want to feel good about themselves, and they are selfish and narrow minded. They only want to help themselves, not anyone else. They do not truly support the cause, because they don’t even understand it.

This is a show of privilege.

This is also tone policing.

The tone policing bit comes in when they [I’m using this pronoun in favor of he or she] write “You need us, the straights, to get in on the plan too” -it is implied, then, that the LGBTQPIA+ Community must ‘be nice’ to the heterosexual people in order for them to “get in on the plan”.

Let me be clear: No marginalized group owes their oppressors ‘niceness’. If you require someone to be nice to you in order to support their cause, you are not an ally, and you do not believe in the cause, you just want to feel good about yourself.

If you want to be a true ally -or, the phrase I like much better, a person who is “currently operating in solidarity with” LGBTQPIA+ people -maybe just consider how you benefit from a system and culture that systematically discriminates against LGBTQPIA+ people. Maybe you could educate yourself by looking at online resources written by LGBTQPIA+ people, by people of color, by disabled people, and not immediately jump to the defensive “WELL NOT ALL (insert privileged group here) ARE LIKE THAT!”

The post from Black Girl Dangerous linked above (and here too, because it’s just that good) has a wonderful list of what you can do as a person who wants to act in solidarity with marginalized groups.

Meanwhile, if anyone wants to talk about this post or has questions or ideas, I will gladly respond to the comments under this topic, as this is a very important topic to me. If we want to do better and make this a better world, we need to have a base understanding for what it means to be supportive of other people who’s lives are different from us.

Advertisements