Thursday, June 16, 2011

7 Do's and Dont's of being a good ally

This month I decided focus on issues that the LGBT community faces. This post is a compilation of things that make a good ally. It is Gay and Lesbian Pride month, and I feel like it should be our responsibility to be as aware and educated as we can. For this reason, here are 10 Do's and Dont's and resources for being a good ally. Whatever your age, your sex or sexual orientation make sure to read these and pass them along.

  1. Don't assume that just because you are a minority, or you are not homophobic, you can understand the issues that gay people go through. I am a Afro Caribbean woman, and I know what it's like to be discriminated against because of my race, ethnicity and gender. But I will never know what it's like to deal with islamophobia, for example, and definitely will never know what it's like to be discriminated against because of whom I love or want to be with.
  2. Be aware that being heterosexual gives you an 'advantage' in this society. You can kiss your significant other in public without people looking, you can get married to your significant other and have all the social benefits that accompany this. Even if you are a minority, you won't have to worry that in a job interview you will be discriminated against for being black and gay. Be aware of this, and be sensitive to it.
  3. Don't assume that just because you are not homophobic that you won't do or say something insensitive. Foot in mouth syndrome happens to everyone, so be aware that at any point you may say something tainted by society's stupidity. In that note
  4. don't assume that someone is heterosexual or gay. Under any circumstances.
  5. But Do ask questions. You'll have a better chance of being helpful if you are aware. If you are scared of foot in mouth syndrome, you can always Google, but in case you can't find it, just ask.
  6. Do speak up when you encounter homophobia. Do it however you feel comfortable; with humor, or even cussing if that's how you feel. But speak up. Remember:
    "Speak your mind, even if your voice shakes." - Maggie Kuhn
  7. And ultimately "Be aware and open to diversity" all kinds, regardless of sex, gender, and of course, sexual orientation. -Via Kevin.
Bonus Features:

Here are a couple of well written notes from friends, and a really good resource:

  1. A good ally is "Someone who doesn't expect anything in return; someone who recognizes that they have heterosexual privilege; someone who doesn't expect us to educate them, but takes steps to educate themselves" by Abigail Southworth.
  2. "I think the characteristics I most appreciate are respect, acceptance and, over all, equal treatment. It's one thing to be told: I respect and accept you, but hey, you're still gay, and another to be told exactly the same, but be hugged, called, talked to, and treated as you would treat anyone else. I think everyone can respect others and that's fine, but to be an ally of any kind (not only an ally for the gay community but also an ally of different types of thought) means to truly learn to respect, to appreciate and to value another person in a very humanistic way. Being an ally not only means supporting us in parades or handing fliers with us or protesting for and with us. It means being a friend, being understanding, being really interested in what we have to say (not only when talking about gay rights), and being compassionate for other human being, regarding us as human beings, not as gays that need or deserve rights. An ally sees the human qualities of the other no matter the differences." By Alejandro Giraldo Gil
  3. And a guide by PFLAG on being a straight ally. Check it out.
How about you? Do you have any tips or thoughts?

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