Ally: One that is associated with another as a helper
In the lesbian and gay community, the term ally is usually associated with straight folk who work with us to achieve GLBTQ equality.
I’m not going to lie, I have my issues with allies, mostly because at the end of the day they get to go back to their straight privilege and not think about the fact that I live as a second class citizen 24/7. While achieving equality may be a political victory for them, sometimes it’s literally life and death for me and my friends.
That said, I think the last of my walls is finally down to about waist height. Three specific instances just in the last week brought this change about:
- First, on the night I blogged about feeling left out it was my straight counterparts that came out of the woodwork to sympathize. Comments ranged from “Well, shit,” to “The last time I checked I was still an ordained Baptist minister so I’ll marry you if you need someone.” The love surrounding me and Marianne on the truly awful occasion was much appreciated;
- Second, I got to spend tonight with the Straight Brides for Gay Marriage ladies while we all phone banked for equality, educating people about the harms of Amendment One. Afterward, we went to Camino’s Bakery downtown and they offered to stand with Marianne and I as we said our vows for the very first time; and
- Third, I came home to the following note taped to our door:
The note is in reference to the “Vote Against” sign that I put in our front yard. Far from having the sign stolen (which was my fear), our neighbor actually wants one for her front yard. Yay!
Reality says I am an ally to many different groups everyday, so I’m still trying to wrap my head around why I can’t readily accept ally support when it is directed at me. It just feels very foreign to me is all.
Maybe because I’m so used to being a separatist and forging my own identity as a lesbian and as a lesbian functioning inside the GLBTQ community that when allies want to reach out and help it feels like an invasion of sorts. It’s like I’m constantly waiting for the other shoe to drop or for there to be a catch.
I’m learning bit by bit, thanks to the folks mentioned above and others, that there might not actually be a catch. Maybe allies want to help because they love me and because working for equality is just the right thing to do.
I’m still going to have my separatist moments and I think that’s good, spaces like CampOut allow me to recharge my batteries in a safe space, but I am finding it ever easier to return to the “real world.”
And honestly, seeing allies in action makes me a better ally in return. I have more time to focus on other issues, because I know my allies can handle the GLBTQ front for a bit. I no longer have to carry the weight of the world on my shoulders because there are others who are willing to share the load.
So yes, here’s to allies!