I’m a Mom. I have three children who I love and cherish. These three beautiful beings mean the world to me, and from the moment I first knew of their existence, I wanted to always be a safe place for them. I wanted to be the person who cheered them on, who pushed them to be their authentic selves, who fought for them when and if necessary, and above all, the person who loved them more than they could even imagine.
I view my alliance with my LGBTQ+ family and friends in the same way.
I am a Straight Ally.
Like many others, I grew up “not really knowing many people who were gay” nor any who were transgender in a time where being out about your sexuality or gender identity was not as commonplace. I was certainly naive, at times insensitive, and uneducated about the differences in others. All things that I hate to admit about myself now.
But, as I hope we all do as we grow up, I began to educate myself, I began to form my own opinions, I began to support others, and more than anything, I began to love more. Not in spite of other differences, but because of our differences.
The dictionary definition of an ally is “one that is associated with another as a helper: a person or group that provides assistance and support in an ongoing effort, activity, or struggle.”
For our LGBTQ+ friends, having allies is important. For all of us, it is our human nature to want to be supported, loved, and encouraged.
Much like motherhood, my allyship is something that is ever-evolving. It’s something that I push myself to become more knowledgeable in, such as learning and using proper terminology to staying up-to-date on current issues facing the community and looking for ways in which I can be of support. It is important for me to use my place in a majority to stand up and support others who are often marginalized.
This June, as the LGBTQ+ community celebrates Pride Month, I would love it if more people could step up as an ally to those in their lives. GLADD, the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation has a list of the “10 Ways To Be an Ally & a Friend” that are excellent:
- Be a listener.
- Be open-minded.
- Be willing to talk.
- Be inclusive and invite LGBT friends to hang out with your friends and family.
- Don’t assume that all your friends and co-workers are straight. Someone close to you could be looking for support in their coming-out process. Not making assumptions will give them the space they need.
- Anti-LGBT comments and jokes are harmful. Let your friends, family and co-workers know that you find them offensive.
- Confront your own prejudices and bias, even if it’s uncomfortable to do so.
- Defend your LGBT friends against discrimination.
- Believe that all people regardless of gender identity and sexual orientation should be treated with dignity and respect
- If you see LGBT people being misrepresented in the media, contact glaad.org.
I have people I love and respect in my life who make up every letter in the LGBTQ+ acronym. I cannot even begin to put myself in their experiences of trying to live their authentic lives in a world that isn’t always open to them. But I hope they know that in me they have safety and love; in me, they have a friend.