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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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‘I Will Not Stand by Silently’: Sotomayor Blasts SCOTUS Conservatives Over Their Latest Attack on Abortion Rights

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“The Court may look the other way, but I cannot.”

Justice Sonia Sotomayor expressed outrage at her conservative Supreme Court colleagues Thursday afternoon, after the six right wing jurists went one step further in attacking the constitutional guarantee of abortion.

Voting 6-3 against a women’s health care provider the Court denied a request by Texas Women’s Health, which provides abortion services, to change jurisdictions, which according to Justice Sotomayor the Court should have done.

“The lawsuit is now stalled with the Texas Supreme Court,” Rewire News reports.

Slate’s Mark Joseph Stern, a Supreme Court expert calls Sotomayor’s dissent “stunning.”

“This case is a disaster for the rule of law and a grave disservice to women in Texas, who have a right to control their own bodies,” Sotomayor writes. “I will not stand by silently as a State continues to nullify this constitutional guarantee. I dissent.”

She begins her dissent by explaining the case:

“It has been over four months since Texas Senate Bill 8 (S. B. 8) took effect. The law immediately devastated access to abortion care in Texas through a complicated private-bounty-hunter scheme that violates nearly 50 years of this Court’s precedents.”

“Today, for the fourth time, this Court declines to protect pregnant Texans from egregious violations of their constitutional rights. One month after directing that the petitioners’ suit could proceed in part, the Court countenances yet another violation of its own commands. Instead of stopping a Fifth Circuit panel from indulging Texas’ newest delay tactics, the Court allows the State yet again to extend the deprivation of the federal constitutional rights of its citizens through procedural manipulation. The Court may look the other way, but I cannot.”

In response the Guttmacher Institute, an organization focused on sexual and reproductive health and rights, accused the Supreme Court of “once again putting ideology over the rule of law.”

 

Image via Shutterstock

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Ivanka Trump Responds to Committee’s Invite by Saying She Called for End to Violence – Leaves Out ‘Patriots’ Part

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Ivanka Trump is responding to her invitation from the January 6 Committee by issuing a statement that is being seen suggesting she has no intention of accepting. Earlier Thursday the Committee sent the former First Daughter and White House senior advisor a lengthy 11-page letter asking for her voluntary cooperation.

A statement from her spokesperson given to CNN White House Correspondent Kate Bennett references a tweet posted by Ivanka Trump the day of the attack on the Capitol – a tweet she was forced to delete after massive outrage.

“As the Committee already knows, Ivanka did not speak at the January 6 rally,” the statement reads. “As she publicly stated at 3:15pm, ‘any security breach or disrespect to our law enforcement is unacceptable. The violence must stop immediately.”

But in the actual Ivanka Trump called the insurrectionists “American Patriots,” as CNN reported that day:

 

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Georgia Prosecutor Asks to Convene Special Grand Jury to Investigate Donald Trump’s Alleged Election Interference

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A Georgia county district attorney has requested to convene a special grand jury to assist in her investigation of Donald Trump‘s alleged election interference.

Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis in a letter to the county’s Superior Court chief judge writes that her office “has received information indicating a reasonable probability that the State of Georgia’s administration of elections in 2020, including the State’s election of the President of the United States, was subject to possible criminal disruptions,” according to the Associated Press.

Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger (photo) was forced to release audio of then-President Trump appearing to intimidate him into fixing the election in his favor.

Trump, in the audio, can be heard berating and threatening the Republican Secretary of State, demanding he “recalculate” the losing election results and “find 11,780 votes” for him, which would have enabled Trump to falsely be declared the winner. Raffensberger refused.

“So look. All I want to do is this,” Trump told Raffensberger. “I just want to find 11,780 votes, which is one more than we have. Because we won the state.”

“There’s no way I lost Georgia,” he added, falsely. “There’s no way. We won by hundreds of thousands of votes.”

Willis told the AP the scope of her investigation “includes — but is not limited to — a Jan. 2, 2021, phone call between Trump and Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, a November 2020 phone call between U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham and Raffensperger, the abrupt resignation of the U.S. attorney in Atlanta on Jan. 4, 2021, and comments made during December 2020 Georgia legislative committee hearings on the election.”

 

 

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