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Being an Ally in the Wake of Orlando



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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First Lady Unveils White House Christmas ‘Gifts from the Heart’ Decorations – as Some Remember ‘Creepy’ Trump Holidays



First Lady Dr. Jill Biden on Monday unveiled the White House’s 2021 Christmas decorations.

“Inspired by the acts of kindness and experiences that lifted our spirits this year, decorated rooms in the White House reflect the Gifts from the Heart that unite us all: faith, family, friendship, the arts, learning, nature, gratitude, service, community, peace, and unity,” Dr. Biden said in a social media post, which included photos.

The Hill’s Alex Gangitano posted some images from today’s tour:

In a monumental gesture of inclusiveness and spirit of bipartisanship the Bidens even included a nod to Donald Trump and Melania Trump, the former President and First Lady.

But some were quick to remember the disturbing Christmas decorating efforts of the former White House occupants:


Video of Trump Saying ‘Christmas Will Be Canceled’ if Biden Wins Goes Viral After President Refuses to Sign COVID Bill

‘Praise Be!’: Melania Mocked for ‘Handmaid’s Tale’ White House Christmas Trees Video

After ‘Give Me a Break’ Complaint Melania Mocked for ‘Pretending to Like Christmas’ as White House Tree Is Delivered


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DeSantis Courts Anti-Vaxx Voters by Changing Unemployment Rules to Give Them Benefits if They Get Fired: Report



Florida’s DeSantis administration is expanding the Republican governor’s anti-vaxx policies by altering state unemployment insurance rules to allow those fired for refusing the coronavirus vaccine to be eligible for benefits.

“Extending unemployment benefits to the unvaccinated is just the latest in a series of proposals aligning the GOP with people who won’t get a COVID shot,” Axios reports, noting that Iowa, Kansas, and Tennessee have also changed their rules to favor anti-vaxxers.

“Republicans see a prime opportunity to rally their base ahead of the midterms. No matter how successful their individual efforts, the campaign is a powerful messaging weapon,” Axios adds.

Up until now being fired for cause – for refusing an employer’s requirements, including being vaccinated – has made terminated employees ineligible for unemployment benefits.

“The general proposition is that it is lawful for an employer to mandate the vaccine and so if an employee doesn’t get it, it’s a choice,” labor attorney Domenique Camacho Moran told CBS News in October.

“It’s like if your employer said, ‘Come in at 9 o’clock and you said, ‘Thanks for sharing, I’ll come in at 11.’ If you engage in deliberate misconduct like that, you won’t be entitled to unemployment benefits which are designed to be provided to those who are separated through no fault of their own,” he added.

But DeSantis and his administration have been downplaying COVID and the coronavirus vaccine, promoting expensive COVID treatments over vaccines – treatments that financially benefit one of his top political donors.


DeSantis Hires New Surgeon General: A Hydroxychloroquine-Pushing Physician Who Appeared in ‘Demon Sperm’ Doc’s Video

Revealed: Ron DeSantis Has Been Taking COVID Advice From a California Psychiatrist Pushing Ivermectin

DeSantis Says ‘Deal With’ It as Coronavirus ‘Waves’ Rage Through Florida

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Trump Supporters Have New ‘Ambitious Plan’ to Have Loyalists Oversee Elections Across America: Report



Donald Trump and his supporters are enacting an “ambitious plan” to place loyalists in key positions overseeing elections after his unsuccessful efforts to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election, which was won by Joe Biden.

“In Michigan, local GOP leaders have sought to reshape election canvassing boards by appointing members who expressed sympathy for former president Donald Trump’s false claims that the 2020 vote was rigged. In two Pennsylvania communities, candidates who embraced election fraud allegations won races this month to become local voting judges and inspectors,” The Washington Post reported Monday. “And in Colorado, 2020 doubters are urging their followers on conservative social media platforms to apply for jobs in election offices.”

The report comes as Trump continues to push his “Big Lie” of election fraud, releasing a Sunday statement falsely claiming the “2020 Election was rigged and stolen.”

“Citing the need to make elections more secure, Trump allies are also seeking to replace officials across the nation, including volunteer poll watchers, paid precinct judges, elected county clerks and state attorneys general, according to state and local officials, as well as rally speeches, social media posts and campaign appearances by those seeking the positions,” the newspaper reported. “If they succeed, Trump and his allies could pull down some of the guardrails that prevented him from overturning Biden’s win by creating openings to challenge the results next time, election officials and watchdog groups say.”

READ: Trump has a plan to make it easier to ‘subvert the will of the voters’ in 2024: CNN

There are QAnon-linked candidates running for secretary of state to oversee elections, including Rachel Hamm in California, Jim Marchant in Nevada, Kristina Karamo in Michigan, Mark Finchem in Arizona, and Rep. Jody Hice (R-GA) in Georgia.

Colorado Secretary of State Jena Griswold (D) warned how the focus has shifted from overturning the last election to overturning future elections.

“The attacks right now are no longer about 2020,” Griswold explained. “They’re about 2022 and 2024. It’s about chipping away at confidence and chipping away at the reality of safe and secure elections. And the next time there’s a close election, it will be easier to achieve their goals. That’s what this is all about.”

Read the full report.

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