LGBT al­lies: Show up, do the work

GA Voice - - Outspoken - By Ashleigh Atwell

Ashleigh Atwell is a queer les­bian writer and or­ga­nizer born and raised in At­lanta, GA. “I’ve seen this at Pride and in the gay clubs. Straight peo­ple love when a queen death drops and will rave about their girl crush on Ruby Rose but when it’s time to do ac­tual work, al­lies are few in num­ber.”

It’s of­fi­cially sum­mer and that means two things: it’s hot as the devil’s toe­nails here in Ge­or­gia and it’s Pride sea­son. LGBT folks across the coun­try are gear­ing up to march, spec­tate and shine at cel­e­bra­tions across the coun­try. This Pride sea­son is par­tic­u­larly spe­cial be­cause it will give the LGBT com­mu­nity a chance to dis­play our re­silience. The shoot­ing that oc­curred at Pulse night­club last month shook us to our core but even as we grieve, we thrive.

When news of the shoot­ing broke, straight peo­ple showed up and showed out. They were lis­ten­ing ears when LGBT folks needed a mo­ment and showed up in droves to do­nate blood when a dra­co­nian law pre­vented gay men from do­ing the same. A cou­ple of my own friends mes­saged me to check in when they saw that I was hurt­ing and I’m eter­nally grate­ful for them. I think I can speak for many queer folk when I say that I am thank­ful for our true al­lies. Still, there is work to be done. “Ally” is a loaded term among LGBT folks, es­pe­cially those of us that float in so­cial jus­tice cir­cles. Many peo­ple are sus­pi­cious of so-called al­lies be­cause some folks seem to be caught up on be­ing seen rather than ac­tu­ally fight­ing for LGBT rights. For many of them, their al­liance is con­di­tional and ends when an LGBT per­son pisses them off. They look like women, such as NeNe Leakes, that will adopt all the lingo and pa­rade their gay friends around like a hand­bag but will use ho­mo­pho­bic slurs at any man, re­gard­less of sex­u­al­ity, that pisses them off. Every time some­thing ma­jor hap­pens to the LGBT com­mu­nity, the per­form­ers rear their ugly heads. Rap­per Nicki Mi­naj is ex­tremely pop­u­lar among LGBT folks but was silent af­ter the shoot­ing. When she was called out by one of her fans, she un­fol­lowed him and bla­tantly ig­nored any other crit­i­cism.

Al­lies, I don’t ask much of you but there are two things you need to know: the first thing is ev­ery­thing ain’t about you. Yes, I do mean ain’t. When you are al­lowed into LGBT spa­ces, whether it’s a club or the pa­rade, you are a guest and need to con­duct your­self as such. Don’t draw at­ten­tion to your­self to show how pro­gres­sive you are. You don’t have to an­nounce how straight you are every two sec­onds. When you do that, it highlights your in­se­cu­ri­ties and it makes us queers sus­pi­cious. If you re­ally like our com­pany, en­joy it and don’t make a big deal out of ev­ery­thing.

That brings me to my sec­ond point: we are not here for your amuse­ment. When I’d go to the drag shows at my univer­sity, there was al­ways a sex­u­al­ity roll call. The host would go through each sex­ual orientation and ask for cor­re­spond­ing cheers if the la­bel ap­plied. The cheers from the straight folks were al­ways the loud­est. That wasn’t the prob­lem.

I got both­ered when the fol­low­ing weeks, at the LGBTQ al­liance meet­ings, those same peo­ple were nowhere to be found. I’ve seen this at Pride and in the gay clubs. Straight peo­ple love when a queen death drops and will rave about their girl crush on Ruby Rose but when it’s time to do ac­tual work, al­lies are few in num­ber. Just a cou­ple days ago, #het­ero­sex­u­al­pride was trend­ing, less than a month af­ter the shoot­ing. The only peo­ple I’ve seen com­plain are other queer and trans peo­ple.

I’m sick of it. I don’t like to think in bi­na­ries ex­cept for al­lies, get with it or get gone. Ei­ther you’re with us or against us.

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