“i don’t know if straight + cis people are fully aware of this, but literally the only function of including “allies” as a category to participate in scholarships, intra-group discussions, trips, etc. is to provide a cover for those LGBTQ+ people who are not out. that is it. that is the purpose of “allies,” outside of as volunteers or as monetary/moral support. if you see “allies included!” or anything like that for a program or service directed at LGBTQ+ people, the message is inclusion of those who, for whatever reason, cannot be out.
it is not for straight + cis people.”
This paragraph that came across my dashboard a while ago crystalized something that I had been unable to verbalize or understand for almost a decade. I know that this is one person’s opinion, and that this is not how the entire LGBTQIAGNC community feels about allies, but this neatly summarizes why I am probably not as active in the community as I would like to be. I am a “straight + cis” person who has a minor in LGBTQ studies, who supports and loves all of her LGBTQIAGNC friends and family, and tries to be an open and supportive person to every person no matter their orientation, gender, sex, race, ability, class, or sexuality.
I know that in many people’s eyes, including my own, I have no right to complain because I am a cis, white, straight female who has sexual, sex, gender, race, and class privilege. However, it is attitudes like this that led to an alienating college experience because I KNEW that this was what the events meant when they said “allies included” and that if I showed up and admitted that I was “straight” that I wouldn’t fit in. Simultaneously, I didn’t fit in with the straight people because their heteronormative and often homophobic mindsets made me uncomfortable.
I was the straight, white, cis girl who took the “open dialogue” classes on sexuality that were meant to foster and facilitate understanding between straight and queer people. I wanted to cry every time they split the groups up between the “straight” people and the “queer” people. I hated being with the straight people because they didn’t understand or empathize, and I couldn’t relate to any of them. I have the journal entries we had to write for that class and almost every entry was “I know I am straight, and I can’t change it, and I don’t want to change it, but I don’t fit in with these people, and I will never be accepted by the other side either.”
I don’t want to come off as all “BOO HOO MY LIFE SUCKS I AM STRAIGHT” because it doesn’t. However, to belittle and dismiss ally contributions and support overtly and covertly is damaging for the LGBTQIAGNC community. I reside in some weird, probably partially self-made, liminal state as someone who would have been tagged the “fag hag” from high school through undergrad, and who cringes every time I have to say I am straight and actually prefers the term “androphile.”
I was once told by a friend that she hated me at first because of my rainbow ally pin that I so proudly wear on my bag. I was startled and hurt, and it made me question how many people from the LGBTQIAGNC community look down on me for that pin when I wear it to try to create a better world, to let them know that they are not alone in their fight. I am an ally because I so very easily could have been on the other side of this societal line that has no bearing on who we really are and because I have immediate family and extended family and amazing friends who are discriminated against and who are in danger because of their gender and sexuality. I support them, and love them and am fighting alongside them so they can have a better life.
So the next time you snub someone at a mixer because they are “straight + cis,” or you look down on someone wearing an ally pin remember that we are more than just volunteers, monetary donations, and emotional/moral support. And even if we were “just” volunteers, monetary donations, and emotional/moral support, that is a big deal and can take a psychic and emotional toll. We aren’t here just for the party and the good times. I stand by my pin, I am an ally. However, many days I feel as though I am an ally without a place in the community I support.