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Being an Ally in the Wake of Orlando

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Being a good ally is challenging. Here are some thoughts on how to do it better.

For me, the word “ally” is sacred. 

An ally, to me, is someone I can trust and turn to when I need help. It’s someone who’s not like me, but who “gets” me. Someone who does their best to understand, learn, and act.

There’s been a lot of talk this week about who is an ally and how to be an ally, especially on social media. But the thing is, there’s good action and there’s bad action, and this week, some folks have had a really hard time figuring out the difference between the two. 

Here are some tips I’ve got based on the social media interactions I’ve had recently: 

  • Don’t go to gay bars just to “show solidarity.” 

I know that in the wake of Orlando people all across the country are looking for ways to be supportive. For many, that seems to mean invading our sacred spaces. I can’t believe I have to say it, but, don’t do this. You’ve seen article after article describing how gay bars are our places of refuge, our sanctuaries, and some of the only places many of us felt like we were “home.” Please, let us have them to ourselves. If you’re invited to go to a gay bar with a queer friend, go and enjoy, but remember, this place isn’t for you, and you’re a guest. Be respectful. 

  • Don’t be self-congratulatory just for doing the right thing.

Being an ally is awesome, it really is, so let your work speak for itself. if you’re doing it truly selflessly and because you believe in the cause, you’ll get noticed, I promise. We still live in a world where being an ally isn’t the default. We notice when straight people are stepping up for us. There’s no need write an article or op/ed to tell the world just how fantastic you are becuase you’re treating a marginalized group with respect. Think of “ally” like a college nickname. You can’t declare it for yourself. You have to earn it through action. 

  • Listen to your LGBTQ family and friends. Seriously, listen.

The number of people who’ve told me this week that I’m wrong about how to be an ally to my own community is astounding. LGBTQ people aren’t shy about telling you what we need. Seriously, we’re not afraid to let everyone know what we want. Listen to us, and then act on that. If you’re not ready to put aside your own desires, you’re probably not ready to be an ally.

  • Ask good questions and respect our answers.

If you want to be there for LGBTQ people but you’re not sure what the best way for you to do that is, ask. Say: “I want to be there for you the best way I can, but I’m not sure what you need right now. What would you like from me?” From there, do what’s needed. It’s not glamorous to be the person who brings over a pint of ice cream and a bag of chips to a friend in need, but at that moment, it might be exactly the right thing to do. Every situation is different, but being a person we can count on and trust is universal.

  • Look inward, both personally and communally.

In my book, an ally looks inward – both at themselves and at their own communities. They are reflective and pensive and make changes internally. An ally’s job is to speak to the people who are like them. If you’re an active member of your church and you want to be an ally to LGBTQ people, start by looking at what systems of oppression your church is complicit in and work to take those down. Listen to the language your pastors and congregants use – is it inclusive or exclusive? Challenge the people who are like yourself before going out into the broader community.  

And if you’ve got a past full of anti-LGBTQ work and action? Before you can even think of becoming an ally you’ll have to overcome all of the damage you’ve done. Apologizing is just the first step. You’ll also need to actively work to reverse the policies and climate you’ve helped create.

  • Don’t confuse being a decent person with being an ally. 

Many people have said to me, “I can disagree with someone’s lifestyle and still respect them and not want to see them suffer from violence.” Yes, you can. And I would hope you wouldn’t want to see anyone suffer from violence, but that doesn’t make you an ally. That just makes you a decent person. A decent person values tolerance. An ally values affirmation and celebration. 

 (Also, you’re gross for continuing to use the word “lifestyle” when it’s not 1998.)

A decent person says, “I’m going to be nice to you even when the system says I shouldn’t,” while an ally says, “I’m going to help you change the system.”

  • When you’re called out, accept the criticism and change your behavior. 

If someone says to you, “I know that you’re trying to help, but what you’re doing actually hurts me,” don’t argue. If you’re not sure why, ask and listen to what they say. Too many times this week people have argued back when their so-called allyship was challenged. If you want to be an ally to a certain community, you must accept that community’s criticisms and take them seriously.

  •  Don’t threaten to revoke your allyship if you get called out.

More than a few times this week someone has said to me, “Good luck getting more allies with that attitude!” or “You better be nice to me – you NEED us!” In short? No. No we don’t. If your allyship is contingent on one person being nice you to you, you’re not really an ally. If your feelings are more important than the safety of the group you’re trying to help? Not even a little bit of an ally. 

Look, I get it. Being an ally is hard, it is. It’s hard to speak up for someone else when you have everything you need. It’s hard to put yourself into harm’s way when you could just as easily roll over and go back to sleep, safe and sound.  But that’s what allies do – they put themselves into challenging situations so that LGBTQ people don’t have to. They make themselves uncomfortable in order to make others comfortable. You’re probably not going to get kicked out of your house or fired for speaking up. We very well might be. 

Being an ally can be a thankless job – no one does it for the fame. But the great thing is? When it’s done right? We all get to enjoy the better world we’ve created, together.

 

Robbie Medwed is an Atlanta-based LGBTQ activist and educator. His column appears here weekly. Follow him on Twitter: @rjmedwed.

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POLITICIZING THE DOJ

DOJ Spokesperson Tells Fox News Bill Barr Is Opening Investigation Into Unmasking by Obama Administration During 2016 Election

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Dept. of Justice Spokesperson Kerri Kupec says Bill Barr has authorized the opening of an investigation into “unmasking” that took place before, during, and after the 2016 presidential election by the Obama administration. It is the latest move by the Attorney General to further politicize the DOJ in an effort to re-write history as President Donald Trump would like it told.

Barr has tasked John Dash, a U.S. Attorney in Texas, with conducting the investigation.

Kupac made the announcement on Fox News Wednesday night, telling host and frequent Trump advisor Sean Hannity that Barr has concerns about the “frequency” and the “motivation” of unmasking requests.

“When you’re looking at unmasking as part of a broader investigation,” Kupac told Hannity, “who was unmasking whom, can add a lot to our understanding about motivation and big picture events.”

Unmasking, the act of requesting to learn the identity of a U.S. individual caught up in Intelligence Community telephone intercepts of foreign actors, is perfectly legal, which Kupac noted.

The Trump administration escalated unmasking requests, nearly doubling them in 2018, as this LA Times Legal Affairs Columnist notes:

But Sean Hannity painted a far different picture for his Fox News supporters.

“I have been told by my sources now Kerri, for years, that there have been unmasking at an increase of three-fold in the second term of the Obama administration. Um… I’ve been told that even members of Donald Trump’s family have been unmasked. Members of the media have been unmasked.”

Hannity could have actually done some basic research to get actual facts.

It’s important to note that in administrations that don’t politicize intelligence and turn the Dept. of Justice into a weapon for the president’s re-election, any announcement of a major investigation would be made in a non-partisan environment like the DOJ’s press briefing room, and all regular media outlets would be included.

Watch:

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RIGHT WING IDIOCY

‘Political Hack’ Kellyanne Conway Destroyed for Condescendingly Comparing Standing in Line to Vote to Buying Cupcakes

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White House Counselor to the President Kellyanne Conway for the second time on Wednesday is drawing outrage for her offensive remarks. After painting a target on the back of the Twitter executive responsible for preventing disinformation and hoaxes, she’s now under fire for comparing standing in line to vote to standing in line to buy cupcakes.

On Wednesday, Conways remarks drove her to the number two slot on Twitter’s top trending items, just below the SpaceX launch.

“People are very proud to show up and go to the polls,” Conway told reporters. “They really are. I mean they wait in line at Georgetown Cupcake for an hour to get a cupcake,” she said, somewhat condescendingly.

“So I think they can probably wait in line to do something as consequential and critical and constitutionally significant as cast their ballot.”

Not all of America waits in line to buy cupcakes in Washington, D.C. And those who wait in line the most to vote generally live in poor and minority neighborhoods.

Americans can and do wait in line, often for hours, to vote. They shouldn’t have to. In the middle of a pandemic Americans want the opportunity to not contract – or spread – the deadly virus the President she works for has made even worse.

One American, U.S. Congressman Mark Pocan, Democrat of Wisconsin, had the perfect response to Conway’s condescension.

His remarks were echoed by others:

And still others had a few words to share about Conway’s comments:

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RIGHT WING EXTREMISM

‘Objective Is to Destroy Democrats’: Trump-Loving MAGA Broadcaster Admits He Doesn’t Care About ‘Being Factual’

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MAGA “life coach” and right-wing broadcaster Brenden Dilley admitted during his program today that he doesn’t care about the truth of the things he says and that he has no problem “making shit up” because his “objective is to destroy Democrats” and “anything that opposes President Trump.”

Dilley, who has openly admitted that he creates and spreads fake news several times before, chastised his viewers today for caring when he spreads disinformation.

“I don’t give a fuck about being factual,” Dilley said. “I make shit up all the time.”

“I don’t give a fuck,” he continued. “My objective is to destroy Democrats, OK? To destroy liberals, liberalism as an idea, Democrats, and anything that opposes President Trump. That’s my goal. I’ve never made any bones about that.”

“You don’t have to fact check me because I don’t give a fuck,” Dilley added. “I fucking make up shit sometimes, from time to time. I don’t care. I don’t care. Democrats know it. Republicans know it. I don’t mind admitting it. I don’t give a shit … When I get a chance to shit on the left, I don’t mind making shit up. No, not at all.”

On Tuesday, Dilley praised the president’s baseless accusation that MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough had something to do with the 2001 death of a woman who worked in Scarborough’s congressional office and urged his listeners to start “investigating” whether Scarborough may have also been involved in the 1996 death of JonBenét Ramsey.

 

This article was originally published by Right Wing Watch and is republished here by permission.

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