Conversing with decent people is cathartic, magic, and above all things, tremendously rare.
After a lifetime of anti-queer attacks–from my family, former friends, and complete strangers–the universe is slightly working in my favor, showing me that human decency does exist. After a lifetime of suppressing my queerness, my soul feels unencumbered whenever I can express my queerness around people who embrace me for it, accepting that it is a vital part of who I am and that my queerness is something beautiful–and beauty should always be celebrated.
My coworker, Robert, is the embodiment of human decency. His kindness, genuineness, and ability to empathize with almost anyone is heart-warming. Without even trying, he became the closest thing that I’ve ever had to a big brother. Here’s a shocker: he’s a cis heterosexual male who is happily engaged to a beautiful woman. Here’s another shocker: he embraces me for the plus-sized fruit-loop I am today, and he is secure enough in his sexuality not to shout “no homo” anytime I inhale too deeply or sneeze too gently.
Robert believes that anti-queer straight people should mind their business and get a fucking life. His demeanor, which is shockingly–sometimes terrifyingly–calm, would probably change if he heard someone being nauseatingly homophobic. And although he’s very supportive of my queerness, he knows that he is not an LGBTQ ally.
“There’s a difference between supporting a community and fighting for that community,” he tells me. He realizes that there is a difference between basic human decency and being in alliance with the queer community. And most importantly, he realizes that his wholesomeness should be the norm, and he doesn’t expect a two-week-long jamboree for it. If you wouldn’t reward a fish for swimming, why would you reward a person for demonstrating decorum and not hating people because of their sexual preferences or gender identity? Isn’t that something a person should do?
Self-proclaimed LGBTQ allies are often decent people who are oblivious to what it means to be an “ally.” They don’t realize that simply denouncing homophobia from their smartphones does not make them an ally. Hot-gluing a decorated horn to a horse’s head does not make the horse unicorn; it makes the horse a victim of animal cruelty. And calling oneself an LGBTQ ally does not make someone an ally; it makes someone a person with good intentions.
Sometimes good intentions can be damaging. Let’s look at Wendy Williams’ Aaliyah biopic. That shit was a complete mess.
Now, I certainly can’t police the accolades people throw on themselves arbitrarily; however, I can give a few tips on how to actually be an LGBTQ ally.
1. Uplift our voices. Don’t speak over us.
Remember when Madonna, everyone’s favorite queer icon, compared homophobia to ageism? Imagine that! A rich white woman is compared her struggles as an aged pop icon to my father threatening to murder me if I ever came out as gay. p.s. I love you, Madonna. However, people who do not experience homophobia cannot speak over our struggles.
2. Recognize your privilege as a straight person.
Remember, the only reason you’re an LGBTQ ally is because you’re using your privilege as a heterosexual to aid us in our battle against homophobia. Dolly Parton was, and still is, the living embodiment of what an LGBTQ ally is. Before being an ally became “in,” Dolly Parton used her heterosexual privilege to uplift our voices, and anti-queer Christian people often demonized her for it. Though she received a lot of backlash by her anti-queer, country-music-loving fans, she continued to uplift and fight for the LGBTQ community.
3. Check your family and friends.
If you associate with anti-queer people, guess what? You’re as anti-queer as the people you associate yourselves with. You can’t be pro-LGBTQ with anti-LGBTQ friends and family. Homophobia is not an opinion; it’s an ancient method of violence used to suppress LGBTQ people. If you’re fighting alongside us, you must begin in your own households and with your friends.
After the very irrelevant and homophobic gospel singer Kim Burrell went on her homophobic rant, Pharrell, who made music with her and has shown a genuine camaraderie with her, denounced her hatred on Instagram. He also parted ways with her, refusing to perform their collaboration “I See a Victory” on Ellen.
4. Be genuine.
There’s nothing worse than someone who is insincere. I don’t think I have to go in-depth with this; this tip pretty much speaks for itself. However, if you need a pop-culture reference, let’s look at our very anti-gay president, Donald Trump. In the beginning of his election, he carried a rainbow flag and spoke highly of the LGBTQ community, stating that trans people should use whichever bathroom they felt was appropriate. Then, after he became the President, he announced on Twitter that transgender people would no longer be allowed in the U.S army.
5. Be honest.
We’re not perfect. We’re all fruity pebbles trying to make it in this black and white world. Tell us how you feel. If you don’t understand something, ask questions or use Google.