• Dylan

What It Means To Be An Ally

When it comes to the LGBTQ community, many take the view that you’re either in or your out. And from a technical standpoint, I guess you can say that is true. But sometimes it’s not always best to look at things in terms of black and white. I was lucky enough to be born with a physical gender that matches how I feel mentally and a sexuality that society considers mainstream. Many others aren’t as lucky. This doesn’t mean their experience is any less valid than mine. Those who are different from who society expects them to be shouldn’t be ostracized; instead they should be celebrated. Because if there’s anything I’ve learned in my time on Earth, the majority of society’s expectations aren’t worth living up to.

When it comes to the plight of the LGBTQ community, it can be hard for a cis-gendered person to fully comprehend the hardships our counterparts have had to endure. You can learn about discriminatory practices, hate crimes, the pain of having to hide your true self for the sake of your safety. You can learn all these things, but you’ll never actually experience them, never have a true understand of what it is like. So then how do you be an ally? For me, it’s actually quite simple.

I like to start with myself. Before you can really know someone else, you have to know yourself. You have to know your beliefs and your values. Personally, just because I’m not LGBTQ doesn’t mean I don’t know what it is like to be an outsider. Growing up, I was always the kid in school who was a bit weird, a bit different. Who could stand on the fringes of many social groups but never truly fit into any of them. I remember being young and wanting so badly just to fit in. But, I also remember growing up, realizing how much it sucks to have to fit in, and how empowering it was to just be myself, even if it meant I would stick out or that some people wouldn’t like me. At the end of the day, you can’t control how others think. The upside is they can’t control how you think either. So it’s my belief that we all have the right to be our own individual. Your life is yours to live and yours only. Other may try to influence your thoughts and actions, but ultimately they only have the power you give them.

So where does all this fit in with the LGBTQ community and being an ally? Well, the same way I have my right to be my own individual; everybody else has the same right. Our LGBTQ friends aren’t different or abnormal; they’re themselves and have every right to be. When you really think about it, LGBTQ people and cis-people aren’t all that different. We all eat, sleep, and breathe. We all get out of bed and get dressed in the morning. We all go out into the world and share in both its splendors and its terrors. We all want to find meaning in life, to discover and do what makes us happy. These are not experiences that pertain to one sole group, but they are common human experiences, experiences that unite us all. That is why when it comes to being an ally, I don’t like to think of LGBTQ people as LGBTQ people. Instead, they’re just people, the same as you and I.

Being able to accept people for who they are is a great start to being an ally, but it’s not the only step. Just because you accept the LGBTQ community for who they are, doesn’t mean everyone else does. This is where being an ally really comes in. People don’t realize it, but being a cis-gendered ally gives you more power to help the LGBTQ community than they have themselves. If you witness someone being bigoted or discriminatory, step in and say something. Not only do you protect LGBTQ individuals in this scenario, but also the person discriminating against them will be far more impacted and likely to listen if it is someone like them telling them what they are doing is wrong. Sometimes people can get marooned on an island of hate, but if you offer them a bridge back home, they will want to take it. Being an ally is being that bridge. It’s being able to connect LBGTQ people and cis-people and say “look at how similar we are; look at how we are all the same. Let’s be united and not divided.”

Being an ally is about recognizing and teaching others that fighting for LGBTQ rights doesn’t take away cis-gendered rights. You don’t have to tear others down to boost the LGBTQ community up. The LGBTQ cause is about humanity, and ensuring every human has the right to be themselves. And the fight for the betterment of humanity is a noble one; a fight that participating in lets me hold my head high with pride. After all, are we not all just humans? If being an ally to the LGBTQ community means I can leave this world a better place for those who come after me, then I’m all in.

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