Be an ally, and don’t be afraid of “doing it wrong”: Since Donald Trump was elected, I’ve had a lot of conversations with friends and acquaintances, both online and offline, about allyship and advocacy. To paraphrase, this is what I most often hear: “I want to be an ally. I want to tell people I care about them. I am horrified by what’s happening, and I want to speak up for the marginalized. But I’m worried about doing it wrong.”
You can never please everyone, and the idea that allyship is an endeavor which could or would please everyone is unrealistic. It’s partly a fear of perfectionism—the most benign weakness to offer up in a job interview—and a fear of internet callout culture, where one misplaced word could result in a huge Twitter backlash.
But ultimately, this is a fear of vulnerability. A fear of being willing to live and learn and even fail out loud. A fear of exposing the darkest corners of your heart that you may not yet have come to terms with. A fear of fucking up and losing approval, or not winning approval in the first place.
And this strikes at the heart of the issue: Allyship is for the group of people you care about, but you, as an ally, are not talking to those people. This is a fundamental misunderstanding of the application of allyship.
Cis-het folks’ job as an ally to their LGBTQ+ friends is not to go to Pride or wear rainbows (although that is nice, of course); it is to have the hard conversations at work and at home, it is to discuss inclusive hiring with their managers, it is to donate to LGBTQ+ charities with the rest of us, it is to call their congresspeople and protest the discriminatory legislation, it is to boost awareness of the targeted murders of LGBTQ+ people so that, yes, America can see that in spite of marriage equality, it does happen here.
It is to help us be able to say, “It gets better,” and mean it.
This is how you support us, during Pride season and beyond: by working to affirm our dignity. Pride is not a one-time event any more than allyship is a one-off march with a pussy hat. We do not stop being gay or queer or trans or bi or genderqueer after June 30, and goodness knows that discriminatory legislation and hate speech will not stop seeking the corners of our bedrooms, our offices, our bathrooms, our commutes, our families.
Thank you for listening. Thank you for standing by us when so many have not. And thank you for loving us, exactly as we are.