Hop Against Homophobia and Transphobia

HAHAT 2014May 17 is International Day Against Homophobia & Transphobia, so I am participating in my usual blog-style, with a rambling and slightly preachy post 🙂

I don’t identify as Homosexual or Transgender, and though I don’t consider myself 100% “straight” I really have no place in the LGBT acronym. So I call myself an Ally, and I try to be one.

I don’t go around saying it, though. In fact I think this might be the first place I’ve actually said those words “I’m an ally.” I have an HRC bumper sticker on my car, and I have some Rainbow-ish love-is-love T-shirts, and I don’t tolerate any hate speak in my presence… but I never openly identify myself as an ally.

As it stands in terms of homphobia and transphobia: There are the people under the LGBT* umbrella, who are discriminated against, and then there are the people who are actively doing the discriminating. The rest of us are either silent witnesses, doing nothing to help (almost as bad as the discriminating assholes) or we are “Allies,” willing to stand up for what is right, even if only in small ways.

Promising to be an ally is awesome, because you are basically saying “I know the world isn’t always safe for you, but I promise to be a safe place, and to support you.” That is a beautiful sentiment, and a powerful vow.  I love it.

But “ally” isn’t an identity. It isn’t a thing you are. Rather, it is an action, something you have to do.

And in my opinion, it isn’t something to be proud of. It is something we all should be. Being an ally is like the bare minimum of  human decency. Men should be allies to women, people who are LGBT should be allies to each other, young people should be allies to the elderly… anyone with privilege should be an active ally to those living without that privilege. We should try to do better, all of us, every day.

I could totally go on a rant about Ally pride, and how much it pisses me off, but I don’t want to fill this post with negativity. This hop is supposed to be about positive change. And so I thought I’d list some ways to actually BE an ally, everyday. Beyond the shirts and the bumper stickers.

  • The way we teach our kids is a big way to be an ally, maybe the biggest. Kids depend on us to show them what is right and wrong, and showing them that acceptance is right and discrimination is wrong is a powerful way to create positive change. If you have kids, you know there are a million tiny ways you mold their opinions everyday. Do it carefully.
  • Speaking up is another way. And I don’t mean when someone is being actively bullied or harassed, though of course we should do that, I mean in the tiny everyday things we all see and hear. When my neighbor said “I have no problem with gay people getting married, as long as they don’t kiss in front of my kids.” I didn’t want to say anything, but I did. When I hear people say “That’s so gay!” I speak up, even if they all think I’m an oversensitive PC bitch. When my kid wants to paint his toenails pink, I let him, and I make sure anyone who suggests there is something “wrong” with him gets a verbal slap. We are all in situations like this every day, especially as allies. It is important to speak up.
  • Changing the way we think is a way that I think many allies might ignore. You might think that you are totally “in” the LGBT movement, are completely supportive. But I have heard a lot of negative comments among so-called allies. Little comments about bisexuals with partners of the opposite sex being in a “straight” relationship. People saying “I hope my kids turn out to be gay” or “My gay friend, Joe, is coming over later.” I’m sure I’ve also said tons of things that were offensive and hurtful, but the point is just that we should all try to do better.

I guess the core of it is, to truly be an ally (verb, not noun) we need to constantly acknowledge our privilege, try really hard to have empathy, understand that just because we don’t see oppression doesn’t mean it isn’t happening, and take action whenever possible. I’m trying.

I will leave you with this really awesome but slightly unrelated TED Talk, about building empathy and rejecting categorization:

❤ Don’t forget to visit the other great blogs in this hop! Click HERE to go to the main HAHAT blog hop page

One commenter will win a copy of my latest book, Love You Forever, in either signed paperback or e-reader format, your choice. note: If you want to win, you must comment and leave your e-mail when it asks (I think if you are a wordpress user it will not ask, it will just know) otherwise I won’t be able to contact you! This contest will be open until May 24 and one winner will be chosen at random.

But because giving away my own book really doesn’t cost me much, I will also donate $1 per comment (Only up to $25. Sorry, I’m poor) to Youth Pride Inc, an organization local to me that supports LGBTQQ youth and provides community education. So come on, talk to me!

(if comments aren’t visible below, click on this link or the title of the post to open this post in its own page for commenting)

46 thoughts on “Hop Against Homophobia and Transphobia

  1. Extremely well said on multiple points, but this especially: “Men should be allies to women, people who are LGBT should be allies to each other, young people should be allies to the elderly… anyone with privilege should be an active ally to those living without that privilege.” I’m bisexual, neither in nor out of the ‘closet,’ and that line really gave me a lot to think about.

    • The TED video was great, did you watch it? It really spoke to me. Especially on the point of being bisexual, or some not-quite-straight or not-100%-gay variant, and having to decide at which point your rights become impacted. Powerful, I thought.

  2. Great post! I have to agree with being an “ally”. Where I currently work, small town Wyoming, there have been problems lately with the LGBT community and some of our employees. I may not be the most outspoken person, but I have been letting my opinion known that I will not condone behaviors and comments that have become more prevalent since a certain lady was hired in our department. Thanks so much for this identifier though I know I need to do so much more to be a true ally, but I am definitely going to try!
    aegger.echo @ yahoo .com

    • Good for you for speaking up! I think it is those little moments that make a big difference. We are all more powerful than we think. By changing our behaviors, our speech, and what we tolerate from those around us, we really can change the world.

  3. This is very moving for me. Just lost my sister who was a lesbian. I miss her so much. She and her partner were not allowed to get married in our state which broke my heart. Love is love, that’s it plain and simple. No matter what people said to her about being with someone of the same sex she proudly held her head up. She was a great inspiration to all of us. This is a wonderful blog post and hop ❤
    kittyissweet@gmail.com

    • I’m so sorry to hear about your sister, what a terrible loss to live with. But I am glad that her memory is a source of strength to you. It sounds like she really was an inspiration to those who knew her, and in a way she continues to be one through you.
      Thanks so much for visiting my post 🙂

  4. loved your post….I identify as an ally, although, as I don’t actually have any family/close friends who are “out”, my support is almost exclusively online….I believe that love is love, and everyone should be treated equally

    leetee2007@hotmail.com

    • I think all support, even if it is mostly online, is helpful. And even if you don’t have anyone in your life who is “out”, you can still make a big difference just by speaking up for what is right, and gently calling out friends/family when they say things that are unintentionally harmful. 🙂 thanks for commenting!

  5. Awesome post, Amelia. Especially this:

    I have heard a lot of negative comments among so-called allies. Little comments about bisexuals with partners of the opposite sex being in a “straight” relationship. People saying “I hope my kids turn out to be gay” or “My gay friend, Joe, is coming over later.”

    The world needs more allies like you.

    • Thanks Kate 🙂
      I know it is hard for me to speak up sometimes, and I think it must be ten times as difficult for people who identify as LGBT to speak up when it is an ally who is saying something unintentionally hurtful/negative. (I’m remembering the facebook argument from last month particularly)
      I’m sure I’ve said the wrong thing many times, and probably will again, but I think as long as I can listen, and try to understand, and strive to do better, I can hold my head high.
      Thanks for commenting!

      • I think that’s all any of us can do — whatever side of the debate we’re on 🙂

  6. Amazing post. I to have no place in the LGBTQ, but I try to be the best ally I can be. I try my best to not influence my young son on toy choices or play choices that others may think aren’t things a boy should do. I have even corrected my MIL on occasion for doing so. It’s hard to speak up sometime when you are an introvert (like me), but I think that everyone doing as best they can to help can make a huge difference. Thank you for the great post and the giveaway. Thank you also for donating for my comment! 🙂

    jczlapin(at)gmail(dot)com

  7. I love, love, LOVE your post, Amelia! =) I went on an internal rant this morning about a very similar topic. It’s not enough to say we’re on someone’s side or that we want to help. At some point we need to get off our butts and support the sentiment with action. Otherwise they’re just empty words. Btw, I LOVE that you shared that video. I’m still thinking about it days later. Totally amazing!..and go ahead and take me off the entrant’s list since I’m not a hopper. =)

  8. This definitely got me thinking about what being an ally is, especially since (like many people) most of my support is online. It can be easy to kind of shrink back and be afraid of doing the wrong thing when the LGBT experience isn’t your own. Thanks for reminding us that that’s no excuse!

    • I know! I feel that way all the time. sometimes, the fear of saying the wrong thing, or using the wrong term or phrase or label, is so strong it is almost crippling to me. But I think that might almost be good, because it means we are not acting or speaking without thinking first. Another thing that has helped me is just acknowledging that I will certainly mess up occasionally. It is inevitable. But I’d rather apologize for an honest mistake than stay silent on these issues.
      Thanks for commenting 🙂

  9. I hope you get lots of comments so that you can donate more and more. 🙂 Also, you are so true in your statement here. “You might think that you are totally “in” the LGBT movement, are completely supportive. But I have heard a lot of negative comments among so-called allies.” I too have heard so many LGBT people talking ill of others. It’s utmost necessity that everyone stays united to fight for each other.

    • Thanks Ray 🙂
      You are so right. When there is a battle to be fought, unity is the strongest defense. It is understandable, when people have been hurt, that they will get angry and strike out at those they perceive as enemies – even if those “enemies” are members of their own oppressed group. But it’s still difficult to hear and see, and harmful to the cause overall.
      Thanks so much for stopping by ❤

  10. I’ve seen the video before, but it’s very profound. I’ve been an ‘ally’ of all kinds of causes for as long as I can remember. Many of the things you said touched me deeply. I have a transgender son who for 32 years of his life everyone thought he was a girl. It took some getting used to and I’m still adjusting, but I’d defend him to the death if anyone tried to hurt him. In fact, I’d stand up for anyone who was being put down for any reason. I know, as you said, that people think I’m an overly sensitive nut, but I don’t care. I do what my heart tells me to do. When my son came out to me, I can’t say I didn’t bat an eyelash. As a mom, I started to think of all the negative aspects of his decision, but I told him there was nothing he could say or do that would ever affect the way I loved him. Thanks for participating in the blog. I just look forward to the day there will be no need for one.

    • Oh, Lena, I know what you mean.
      I had a conversation once with a cousin of mine, who was worrying out loud to me about her son. I naively said “It’s not him who has a problem, it’s the rest of the world. He’s perfect just the way he is.” And she said, “Yeah, I know. But I don’t want him to live in a world that has a problem with him.”
      That just really made me think, and I still remember the way I felt that day. My own kids were so little then, and I’d never really considered things from that perspective. I think it might be one of the reasons I started to become more vocal in LGBT causes.
      Thanks so much for reading my post and commenting. I, too, look forward to the day we don’t need this hop. ❤

  11. Fantastic post. FANTASTIC. I couldn’t agree with you more. I remember a few of the words bullies said to me, but I remember every single silence from “friends” who stood by and allowed it to happen. Ally should be action, exactly as you say.

    My hat off to you.

    • Anastasia thank you. It is true the words (and the silence) that hurts stays with us longer and stronger than the words that comfort. Hopefully, we will build an army of allies to protect those who are bullied or shamed.
      Thank you so much for commenting!

  12. I ally for glbt right. I don’t believe sexuality or race should play a part in how someone is treated. Everyone deserves the right to live their life as they see fit.

    humhumbum AT yahoo DOT com

  13. I like how you said, “Promising to be an ally is awesome, because you are basically saying ‘I know the world isn’t always safe for you, but I promise to be a safe place, and to support you.’” I consider myself to be an ally as well.

    Thanks for taking part in the hop and making a donation! Have a great weekend!

    skeeterlee63 @ gmail.com

  14. I’ve always thought everyone should be treated the same. It should not matter who you love or what you look like.
    sstrode at scrtc dot com

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