LGBT people get to decide whether you are their ally; you don’t.

This email has been brought to you by questions from straight people like yours truly.

To “fellow allies” or whatever, I don’t know whether I’m an LGBT ally. I don’t talk about how much of an ally I am or about being an ally. That is because the decision is not mine.

My intention is to be an ally to the LGBT community, but as intentions are insignificant and a bit egotistical in the face of people feeling the excruciating suffocation of STOP PICTURING ME HAVING SEX AND THEN DECIDING MY RIGHTS ACCORDINGLY GODDAMIT, it is for LGBT people to decide whether my actions are helpful or hurtful in their effort of liberation from the weirdly sex-obsessed tyranny of people like me. There have been and are too many instances of a straight “ally” saying / doing totally offensive crap and then talking about how it’s okay because of ally-ness and so they actually support LGBT people and thus can get away with saying / doing totally offensive crap. Well guess what, straight person! You’re not an ally if an LGBT person says you’re not an ally because you’re not behaving like one. So you will have to find a different excuse for your behavior, like, “Actually, I’m a dunderface.”

To bigots / the perverts who can’t think about LGBT people without picturing them having sex, or whatever–yes, consider me your enemy.

12 thoughts on “LGBT people get to decide whether you are their ally; you don’t.

  1. Oh yes this!

    This is exactly why I don’t identify as an ally to people in oppressed groups I’m not a member of. I prefer to leave the ‘ally’ word out of it and say that I do my best to work against oppressions. Because it’s an ongoing project, you know? It’s not like you tick of X number of supportive things, get your ally badge, and the world becomes magically better.

    If you want to be called an ally, then you put yourself on the side-against-oppression, you do your homework, you STFU&L (oh, that &L bit..) while keeping your critical thinking hat on, you stand up for people any way you can, and if someone in that group tells you that you’re an awesome ally, then you take a moment to feel happy and thank them for saying so and then you get right back up there and keep on. And if someone tells you that you fucked up, you put your thinking-while-listening hat right back on and you read more and you learn more nuances and you do your best to not fuck up quite like that again and you place the blame right there on the kyriarchy and then you get over it.

    Because it’s always work and it’s always a project in progress.

    -A Dunderface (sometimes)

  2. janinmi

    “Dunderface” is a splendid word, so of course I looked it up (thinking it had to be “made up”). Bing sez it’s been used on some sort of discussion thingie at BYU (Brigham Young Uni), as a reference to HP in someone’s fanfic, and in an email to the LA Times. Checking on “dunderhead” reveals a similar definition, and both words are (vaguely) derived from the Dutch word for thunder, so, thunder + head.

    Thank you for providing today’s Weird Words entry. Your gold star will be mailed separately. :-)

  3. Perfectchild

    “My intention is to be an ally to the LGBT community,”

    Then you take the extreme with the subtle, the butt plugs as a sign of passion and tiny children who know about rimming for affection.

    The addiction is like watching too much TV.

    There’s nothing but walking around being upset with incompletion. And someone imagined is going to fill it.

    God, and by contrast, Womankind will do. Men made female.

    There’s the loyalty.

    The left-brain hemisphere voice is dead, long live the right-brain.

    There’s the reality gone.

    1. Perfectchild’s comment reads like a set of random sentences tossed together like salad, then laid on a plate. In short, it lacks direction and has no relation to the blogger’s entry.

      Interesting trivia: in the days when David Bowie was inserting potentially lethal substances into his nose (just after the Young Americans LP dropped), he wrote down random sentences on paper, then cut the sentences out and rearranged them to create lyrics. Oddly enough, some of those lyrics actually made sense.

      This comment does not make sense unless one is in an altered state of some sort. Not all altered states are beneficial.

  4. Kat

    I am going to have to disagree with you on this one! I do agree that people should not use the label of “ally” to justify crappy behavior, but it is important for straight people to be able to make a show of support. I spent all of high school heavily involved in lgbtq activism, and was the president of the GSA for two years. During that time, there were people in the queer community who flat out told me that I did more harm than good simply because I identify as bisexual. Some people told me that acknowledging bisexuality in any way hurts gay people because it makes people think that gay people just aren’t trying hard enough – as if my sexuality had anything to do with them. My point is, there are bigots and assholes on both sides of any issue, and you cannot let other people define you.

    I don’t have any hard data, but I do really feel that people saying they were allies has been really helpful overall. Every year in high school on National Coming Out Day, the GSA handed out “ally” stickers, and I had quite a few people tell me how much more accepted they felt seeing the stickers around, even if they never spoke to 95% of the people wearing them. Publicly identifying as an ally of the lgbtq community is a way of saying “I accept you”, without it having to be too personal. It can make people feel safer in their environment to know you you are around and you support them, even if they never interact with you.

    If it is for me, as a bisexual person, to define your actions as either helpful or hurtful, I might think this post is actually somewhat hurtful. I do not, however, think that changes your status as an ally.

    1. I apologize.

      I read the two first paragraphs again and can see my mistake. Perhaps I should have said I wouldn’t disingenuously brag about being an ally (while gravitating the attention toward myself)? That was more of the strain I was going for, and not that I wouldn’t openly identify as one especially when it is needed. Of course when it is helpful and productive to the LGBT community (and not a performance for straight people) I would never hesitate to show my support i.e. I’m not going to stand around silently and let people do whatever oppressive shit they want.

      Thank you, Kat. And I offer my apologies again.

  5. Pingback: Letter to Young Sisters of Color: On Waking Up, Fighting The System, and Choosing Allies – Nzinga's World

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