Strategies for Being an Effective Ally
by SAMMY LOWE
Now that we’re back from Reading Week, it’s exciting to think that Pride Week is just around the corner (YAAAAS)! While there will be a plethora of fun events and activities throughout the week, such as a bake sale and a musical performance by award-winning musician Rae Spoon, Pride is first and foremost about celebrating our individual and collective identities regardless of gender, orientation, race, or ethnicity. It is a moment for us to stand united and celebrate each and every member of our diverse community.
It should be noted that this celebration is not restricted to members of the LGBTQ+ community, and that anyone is just as welcome to join in if they identify as straight and cis-gender. In fact, ‘Allies’ are absolutely essential to the LGBTQ+ community, as their acceptance and support can make such a huge difference in the lives of those belonging to a sexual or gender minority. Speaking from personal experience, I doubt that I would have been able to be open about my sexuality and feel like a normal human being without the love and understanding of my family and friend Allies.
Therefore, as Pride Week sashays closer and closer, it is important that we reflect on the ways that we can be effective and supportive Allies for all, regardless of who they are or where they come from.
If we want to be good Allies, we must first look inward and confront all of our own prejudices and biases. This confrontation can take many forms, such as deconstructing the idea that someone is ‘lesser’ or ‘wrong’ for possessing a sexual orientation or gender identity that is different from your own, or even stopping yourself from using derogatory language like “that’s gay”.
This type of internal adjustment can be quite difficult and uncomfortable, especially if it forces us to wrestle with ideas and values that we have grown up with or are shared by family members or friends. However, it is so worth it to go through this process, as it allows us to open up a space in our lives to someone and show them unconditional support. Anyone in our lives, be it brother or cousin or best friend, could be in desperate need of some to come-out to or listen to them. Be the support that they need, and I guarantee you that you will help change their lives for the better.
Allies must also be genuinely respectful and inclusive of LGBTQ+ individuals, and aid in defending them from discrimination. The golden rule applies here: show them the same kindness and decency that you would want to be treated with. Also, if you witness moments of discrimination such as someone making anti-LGBTQ+ jokes or comments, let them know that their words are offensive and have the potential to be quite harmful. Only by actively addressing and opposing discrimination and bigotry can we hope to establish true equality.
And so I invite you, my beautiful Allies, to join us in celebrating our fabulously diverse identities with open arms. Together we, Allies and LGBTQ+ persons alike, will continue to sustain the joyful sense of acceptance and community that has defined our campus and made Augustana a warm home for me and so many others.