An Open Letter to Allies

October 1, 2014 in inQueery

1280px-Straight_Allies_protestingDear ‘Allies’,

We know your intentions are good. You are just trying to aid the queer community and show your support as a heterosexual and/or cisgender human being. However, many people, myself included, firmly believe you are going about it the wrong way. ‘What do you mean?’, you may be asking yourself. I am tired of being introduced as your “queer friend/relative.” I am tired of not being able to attend LGBT+ safe spaces and pride events for fear of it being overrun by ‘allies.’ I am tired of being told things like “you’re so brave” when trying to go about my daily life in public. And I know I am not the only one. However, please note that in this article I speak from personal experience and do not claim to know what goes on in every single person’s head. This article explores the reasons why your actions are unacceptable.

To start us off, let’s make it clear that ‘ally’ should not be considered an identity. ‘Decent human being’ is a better term. Respecting all identities does not mean you should get a gold star or a cookie, so to speak. Allies are not – by any definition – a part of the community. When you say that the ‘A’ in LGBTQA+ stands for ally, you are [also] participating in the erasure of agender/asexual/aromantic individuals – something you should be firmly against. You may stand with us, but that does not by any means make you one of us. While you likely face challenges in your life, you will never know what it is like to live as a queer person. This leads us to the point that there should be no such thing as ‘coming out as an ally’. Coming out of the closet is a term that is used solely for queer folks. There is no such thing as revealing to the world that you are a decent human being. Show, don’t tell, if you will.

Many of us, when hearing you call yourself an ‘ally’, will intentionally try to avoid you because of the inevitable conversations and comments we will have to endure (wanting us to acknowledge you for being an ‘ally’, telling us about your queer friend, etc). Remember that queer people have other interests besides LGBT+ topics. How about talking to us like we are normal people with human interests, which we are.

Many allies believe that it is okay to tell jokes by and for queer people. Many of us tell jokes about being LGBT+ with the notion that you can either laugh or cry about being an oppressed minority. When you take these jokes and tell them yourselves, it has an entirely different sentiment.

‘Well, how can I show my support?’ you may be asking yourself. For starters, drop the ‘ally.’ Being respectful should not have a label. Avoid attending queer spaces and events and consequently talking over our voices. In today’s society we have very few places where we can be free of judgement, and it is not your place to be there. Instead, try lending an ear to those who have frequently been made to be silent. Welcome their voices and their ability to represent themselves.

Written by a Guest Contributor at InQueery.