What kind of ally are you?

Posted in Reading list by Nancy on June 17, 2010

Re-blogged from here

1. Active Oppression

  • Laughing at or telling jokes about LGBT people
  • Making fun of people who don’t fit traditional notions of gender roles and sexual identity
  • Verbal and/or physical harrassment
  • Working for anti-LGBT legislation, i.e. employment and housing
  • Gay-bashing or other forms of violence

2. Indifference & Ignorance

  • Business as usual attitude
  • Passive acceptance of actions by others which demeans LGBT individuals, i.e walking away and/or not contronting said behaviors
  • Ignoring the topic, i.e lack of discussions
  • Adopting a liberal attitude of “what people do in the privacy of their own bedroom is none of my business. I just don’t want to hear about it.”
  • Being friendly before you knew somebody was LGBT but ignoring them afterwards.

3. Oppression Through Lack of Action

  • If you hear a friend telling a demeaning joke, recognizing it as oppressive, not laughing at this joke but not saying anything about it either.
  • Being uncomfortable but not confronting homophobia
  • Labeling individuals based upon stereotypes – or not confronting those who use stereotypes to label others
  • Avoiding participation in events that might make others suspect you are a LGBT-ally, or LGBT yourself

4. Confronting Oppression

  • When you hear a homophobic joke, you confront the speaker about it.
  • Making a choice to participate in events (or spaces) that are LGBT-friendly/inclusive
  • Be aware and confront statements such as, “I’m not prejudiced but…”

5. Growing as an Ally

  • Read books/journals by and about LGBT individuals
  • Being sensitive to issues LGBT individuals face
  • Attending LGBT-friendly events (such as PRIDE!)
  • Educating yourself about LGBT-issues instead of relying on “experts”

6. Becoming Active as an Ally

  • Educating others, engaging others in LGBT-oriented conversations, presenting programs to others.
  • Be “out” as a supporter of LGBT issues and individuals
  • Encourage and promote respect for one another, and celebrate the differences between individuals.

7. Challenging Systems

  • Creating a climate where individual and cultural diversity is recognized and celebrated
  • Working for a LGBT-positive legislation
  • Addressing LGBT issues through training and workshops
  • Supporting “out” LGBT individuals
  • Changing and challenging discriminatory institutional practices and working to change such practices.

Of course this doesn’t just apply to LGBTTQ issues.

I think most people I know sit at 3 on this scale. This also makes me aware of my own inaction.

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Allies make sacrifices

Posted in Fuck yeah! by Nancy on June 16, 2010

People who are sympathetic to the plights of various minority groups are often called “allies”. But more often than not,  support from allies is silent or passive. When was the last time you saw a man demanding equal pay for women, or straight people speaking out against homophobic bigotry? The silence of privileged people who (deep down) believe in justice can be disheartening, or lead to the impression that only minorities care about their own rights.

So it was great to read about the stand taken by Reddit-user heterogay.

“Heterogay” is a straight cisgender man who was so disturbed by his family’s homophobia that he ‘came out of the closet’ to them as a gay man. He so strongly believed in gay rights that he couldn’t bear being a part of a family of bigots. He says his family have since disowned him, but he believes that if they don’t love him regardless of his sexuality then their separation is probably for the best.

“I’m a straight male. Very straight. I love women.

I also totally support gay rights – with all my heart. I can’t STAND bigotry and it really pisses me off that you don’t have equal rights.

I’m straight but if I have a son or daughter that’s gay I’ll be damned if they don’t have the same rights that I do….

My family however, is fairly homophobic.

They live on the east coast. I live in SF.

I’ve never let them say anything discriminatory in front of me without it being challenged and flat out calling them hateful bigots.

Anyway. Last week I flew back to spend some time with them… They’re my family after all and before this our relationship was good… I see them like 1x a year.

We’re having dinner and somehow the conversation turns to Obama and “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”.

Long story short, my brother in-law says that “fags shouldn’t be able to serve in the military” … and I lose it.

I stand up and say that it’s not right to discriminate against ANYONE regardless of sexuality, race, or religion.

… then it dawns on me… they don’t know that I’m NOT gay.

So I just come out of the closet.

I live in SF… I’m 35… I’m fit, fashionable, metrosexual even. I’ve NEVER been married. I’ve never even brought a girl home to meet Mom…

(though for the record I have plenty of girlfriends, ha).

They think I’m bluffing but once I stick to my guns (and they can see that I’m visually upset) it dawns on them that I’m homosexual.

My dad goes silent and just leaves the table. My sister calls me a jerk for coming out …my brother in law is pissed. My mother is crying.

At this point I decide I’m not going back. I’m going to be gay as far as they’re concerned for the rest of my life.

It was pretty heated… I left shortly after. My calls to the house aren’t answered. My sister says she’s ok with it but that I shouldn’t have come out of the closet….

In a way it hurts because I had a good relationship with my mother and father before this – however, I feel strongly that if they don’t love me regardless of my sexuality, then I don’t want them in my life.

So here I am…. one of you . I’m ostracized from my family. I’m out of the closet and kicked in the teeth.

This is harder than I thought.

Sacrificing privilege for a cause is always hard. A friend once remarked that people keep silent about issues that don’t directly concern them because of selfishness – why would you sacrifice comfort and perks for a seemingly never-ending struggle, even if you are an ‘ally’? It’s a good question: it seems like madness to forfeit privilege and join the losing team.

But I suppose each person has a different tolerance threshold for injustice. There’s only so much sugar-coated bullshit people can take before they wake up to the shit they are being fed. And what use is it coasting through a charmed life that is only made possible by the oppression of others?

Just like straight couples who refuse to get married and support an institution that discriminates against LGBTTQ people, heterogay refuses to protect an unjust system.